"We have seen young people turn their lives around from feeling hopeless and heading nowhere to becoming hopeful and having goals and dreams."
Dan McAnney, 38, is a pastor who offers his home in Hammonton, NJ, as shelter and support for homeless and runaway youth.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Dan: My wife, Marcy, and I have taken in over a dozen teens and young adults who have been estranged from their families for various reasons. Most have not completed their high school education. We have helped some of them complete their high school education and begin a career or college. Some have been able to return to their families and begin better relationships. We are in the process of affiliating with National House of Hope in Orlando, FL.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Dan: McAnney House is located in Hammonton, NJ, and is an outreach of South Jersey Youth Alliance, which has offices in Vineland, NJ.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Dan: Young people, usually in high school, but also some who are just out of high school and basically homeless.
What inspired you to get involved?
Dan: I was operating a Friday night cafe out of our church. I found that one of the students was staying in an abandoned home, so I began to allow him to stay overnight after the cafe. Seeing the need that this boy and others like him caused us to begin opening our home.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Dan: The first boy we took into our home encountered others that were living on the streets and in abandoned houses, and we began to take them in.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Dan: We have seen young people turn their lives around from feeling hopeless and heading nowhere to becoming hopeful and having goals and dreams.
What is/was the hardest part?
Dan: The hardest part is when they don't respond to our help and turn back to a life without hope.
What was the biggest surprise?
Dan: Our biggest surprise was that there are so many kids without safe homes and loving parents.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Dan: We have learned that there are deep scars that need healing in many kids. My wife is pursuing a counseling license, and I am much more understanding of behaviors in adolescents.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Dan: Give it everything you can. The more you have been blessed with, either financially or in any other way, the more you should give.
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