Long Beach Island’s St. Francis Community Center Reopens

Maria Hayes In the Headlines

BRANT BEACH, N.J. — The St. Francis Community Center here reopened at the beginning of January, less than three months after Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the area. Some of the center’s services will return to the building as the recovery process continues.

“We’re starting slowly but surely to come about and do what we need to do for the community,” said Connie Becraft, executive director, in a Jan. 9 issue ofThe SandPaper, the weekly newspaper that covers Long Beach Island, where the friars have ministered for more than 80 years.

One of the center’s main concerns is helping the community recover from the hurricane which struck the N.J. shoreline on Oct. 29. The center is offering several Sandy related services, including:
   A free 10-week Hurricane Sandy support group beginning Feb. 13
   A free Hurricane Sandy legal clinic
   Supportive services such as utility, mortgage/rent and storm relief

Several programs including the St. Francis Food Pantry are still operating from temporary locations on the mainland, in nearby Manahawkin. The center’s staff hopes the pantry will be moved back to the Long Beach Island building by Jan. 18.

Though the pre-school and childcare programs resumed, the center’s outside playground was washed away during the storm and is not able to be reopened. Financial assistance will be required to replace the area, according to Becraft.

“Please understand we are in no way fully operational, but once we are back in the facility we can determine what will be required,” reads the center’s website.

The parish was also forced to cancel its annual polar bear plunge due to the state of the beaches, which are still badly damaged by the storm.

Last year, the center marked its 40th anniversary. From 2010 to 2011, its programs served more than 167,000 individuals.

More information about services offered by the center is available at (609) 494-8861. Those wishing to donate to the center can do so using its website.

Meanwhile, friars Kevin Daly, OFM, Stephen Kluge, OFM, and James Scullion, OFM, are continuing to celebrate Mass at St. Thomas Church in Surf City, N.J. St. Francis of Assisi Church in Brant Beach, took on roughly two feet of water during the storm and has to be gutted and insulated.

Updates can be found on the parish’s Facebook page, St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.