Unforgotten Haven to receive award from Gloucester Township

Nonprofit has assisted over one million people in five years

In its continued effort to encourage business networking and progress throughout the township, the Gloucester Township Economic Development Corporation is hosting its 20th annual Business Breakfast Thursday, April 9 at The Palace.

“This has been a longstanding tradition of Gloucester Township that each year we bring the business community together to update them on what’s happening in our community while also recognizing existing and new business coming here as well,” Mayor David R. Mayer said. “It’s a unique way to disseminate information about what’s going on as far as business development. We’re focused on that and being able to bring in new businesses and jobs to the township.”

Businesses, individuals and nonprofits are also recognized with various awards each year. The event’s 2020 Community Service Organization Award winner is The Unforgotten Haven, a nonprofit located in Blackwood.

Award winners are decided each year by a group of members within the Gloucester Township Economic Development Corporation, according to Mayer. The Unforgotten Haven, Mayer says, was an easy honoree for this year’s event.

“The role that they play in Gloucester Township is the reason that they are receiving the award,” Mayer said. “That’s a role of caring for others that need assistance. They provide assistance to both those within Gloucester Township and many in other communities in our region that need all sorts of assistance.”

According to the nonprofit’s founder, Michele Gambone, The Unforgotten Haven currently operates 29 different projects throughout the year that provides assistance of various types to those in various municipalities, states and even countries.

For example, the nonprofit is well known in the area for delivering snack bags to those undergoing chemotherapy and for delivering blessing bags to the homeless in Philadelphia, as well as hosting additional homeless outreach initiatives.

“We’re honored to receive this award,” Gambone said. “It takes a lot of people coming together to keep this all going. We have 15 different managers running different programs throughout the week. We’re just very honored that they’re recognizing the organization … that is what we always ask because it’s a bunch of managers and volunteers that are able to make this all happen.

“We love serving Gloucester Township and we appreciate them acknowledging those that work hard to make our work possible.”

According to Gambone, the work the nonprofit has done in the past year and a half has accelerated. In its first three years as a nonprofit, The Unforgotten Haven had distributed a total of 25,000 chemotherapy bags. However, the nonprofit distributed 45,000 chemotherapy bags last year alone, according to Gambone.

“We’re in 20 infusion centers now and we just received a cargo van from Fox Roach Charities to help get all of these supplies where they need to go,” Gambone said. “And that’s just one of our almost 30 programs.”

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit has put a temporarily hold on all donations, ranging from snack packs for chemotherapy patients, cookies for another charity project and more. However, Gambone says residents interested in helping the nonprofit in its mission in the future can visit its website at www.theunforgottenhaven.org and follow the group on Facebook for updates.

Moving forward, The Unforgotten Haven is looking to relocate to a larger building within Gloucester Township, as the nonprofit is in need of additional space to store more supplies.

“We need at least 10,000 square feet of space to work out of and we’re currently working out of 2,000 square feet,” Gambone said. “We’re paying to store stuff at two places right now, so everything is scattered and not under one roof.”

Gambone says the nonprofit is placing an emphasis on staying with Gloucester Township and is hoping to find an organization or individual that is able to cheaply donate a location.

Mayer says the township is seeking to assist the nonprofit in relocating within the township.

“They’re miracle workers, they do it out of the kindness of their heart,” Mayer said. “We are actively working with them to find an additional location and additional space.”