Oak Knoll Honored for Service During Bridges Impact Night 2022

Michele Van Kalsbeck, Oak Knoll theology teacher and Campus Minister, accepts the honor on behalf of Oak Knoll during the Bridges Outreach 2022 Impact Night.

Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child was honored for the school’s 25-year partnership to help end homelessness on June 15, 2022, during the Bridges Outreach Impact Night. 

Bridges Outreach is a nonprofit organization with locations in Newark and Summit, NJ, focused on ending homelessness. Bridges works with individuals experiencing homelessness through street outreach and engagement, intensive case management, housing navigation, and placement and housing sustainment and skill-building. 

The goal of the Bridges Impact Night is to recognize the organization’s strong and lasting partnerships that assist Bridges in making a tangible impact on the homeless communities in Union and Essex counties. Propeller in Summit and Shahilda Boynes, Director, Project Connect for Bridges Outreach, were also honored.

“The partnership between Bridges and Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child has been going strong for more than 25 years,” said Jill A. Pall, Director of Development and Communications at Bridges Outreach.

“Oak Knoll has been a staunch and consistent supporter of our mission to end homelessness — in the form of student volunteering, Outreach Runs, as a sponsor of our Streets to Homes 5K run/walk, and as a significant contributor of faculty, leadership, and financial resources,” said Pall. “Oak Knoll’s students can frequently be found right here at the Oakes Center volunteering and making connections that count.” 

Michele Van Kalsbeck, Oak Knoll 10th grade theology teacher and member of the school’s Campus Ministry team, accepted the honor on behalf of Oak Knoll.

“Oak Knoll has very much enjoyed our partnership with Bridges Outreach over the last several years, as Bridges provides our students with the opportunity to do direct service, and the people at Bridges always look to educate our students on the larger, justice issues surrounding homelessness,” said Van Kalsbeck. “We hope to continue our partnership with Bridges in an effort to end homelessness in Essex and Union Counties.” 

Oak Knoll School alumna Jody Kemmerer ’97 began the partnership between Bridges Outreach and Oak Knoll School 25 years ago. Each year, the school and its students have continued to work with the nonprofit headquartered in Summit. During the 2021-22 academic school year, students went on six Bridges Outreach Runs where they handed out food, clothing, toiletry kits, and cold weather packs to the homeless in New York City who are food and housing insecure while establishing trust among the individuals and the organization. Oak Knoll students also donated fresh lunches to Bridges eight times this past school year, and seventh- and eighth-grade students went to Bridges’ Summit location to pack essential hygiene supply kits.

Service is a core component of the mission of Oak Knoll School, which aims to guide students to discover their purpose and make a significant, positive impact on the world.