FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Teresa Ruiz
September 22, 2006 973-621-4404
ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO INTRODUCES ESSEX COUNTY’S
STATE-OF-THE-ART MOBILE CITIZENS SERVICES OFFICE
New Van is Part of Aggressive Outreach Program to Make Services
More Accessible to Clients and Improve Customer Service
Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. officially unveiled the
brand new Essex County Mobile Citizen Services Center during a visit to Renaissance
House in Newark on Friday, September 22nd. The state-of-the-art vehicle is the newest
tool in the Department of Citizen Services’ aggressive community outreach initiative to
make programs and services more accessible to potential clients and improve customer
“It is our responsibility to be proactive to reach out and help our residents. This mobile
office will enable our social workers to reach farther out into the community and meet
potential clients right in their own neighborhood,” DiVincenzo said. “The modern office
space in the van creates a comfortable and professional setting for our clients and
employees, and provides the appropriate setting to assure the privacy for our clients,” he
The handicap accessible van is equipped with four offices and state-of-the-art
technology, including laptop computers, wireless computer connections and cell phones
that enable county staff to expedite the processing of applications for services online.
Citizen Service employees who staff the van can begin processing applications for food
stamps, general assistance and other programs on the spot, and can provide referrals to
other social service agencies where clients may be eligible to receive additional
“The mobile office will provide access and increase participation in the Food Stamp
program for more people who need a safety net,” said Marybeth Schaedel, Assistant
Director of Food Stamps and General Assistance with the NJ Division of Family
“Residents who are working during the day, are looking for work or trying to raise a
family with limited resources may have a difficult time getting to our offices to apply for
assistance,” Citizen Services Director Anibal Ramos said. “Bringing our office into the
community helps us streamline the application process and makes our programs more
accessible to a wider range of residents,” he added.
On Friday, September 22nd, the Mobile Citizen Services Center visited the Renaissance
House in Newark. The community center works cooperatively with the Community Food
Bank in Hillside to distribute fresh produce to needy residents on a weekly basis. The
mobile office has also made visits to senior centers, adult day care facilities, community
centers and houses of worship. In the future, the vehicle will make stops at community
events, shopping malls and parks. Since the mobile office hit the streets at the end of
August, 65 potential clients have walked through its doors.
“By partnering with community groups and bringing our mobile office to community
events, we can target specific population groups who may benefit from our variety of
assistance programs,” Division of Welfare Director Bruce Nigro said. “Our new mobile
office gives us greater flexibility on how we can reach potential new clients and
increases our visibility in the community,” he added.
“I want to thank the County Executive for what he is doing to help the people of Essex
County,” Pastor Thomas Reddick of Renaissance Church of Newark said. “Renaissance
Church of Newark is creating partnerships with other agencies like the County to get
people on Food Stamps and into programs that can provide them the help they need.
This bus will only help reach more people,” he added.
The white bus emblazoned with blue and yellow stripes and the Essex County Seal was
funded entirely through a federal grant worth about $230,000. The Department of Citizen
Services received the grant as a Food Stamp Bonus Award for having the highest
accuracy rate for processing applications in New Jersey.
Other initiatives to improve customer service have included extending office hours and
working to overcome language barriers. In August 2004, the Department of Citizen
Services expanded its office hours to make applying for services easier and more
accessible. The Essex County Division of Welfare offices at 18 Rector Street in Newark
and 50 South Clinton Street in East Orange currently have extended office hours on
Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
Earlier this year, the Division of Welfare kicked off a pilot program in which employees
voluntarily participated in Spanish classes to learn phrases to improve communication
with non-English speaking customers. The program was conducted in conjunction with
Communication Workers of America Local 1081, the union that represents County social
For more information about the Essex County Mobile Citizen Services Office’s schedule
and future locations where it will be stationed, please call Hancey Davis, Sr., Program
Development Specialist, at 973-733-3320.