In 1967, a small group of community stakeholders founded our organization as Community Action Service Center, Inc. (CASC). We were established to fight the war on poverty, as one of four neighborhood centers strategically located throughout Mercer County, under the county’s Community Action Partnership. Yet despite the proximity and availability of social services in Trenton, transportation logistics continue to pose a challenge to many of our clients, thereby establishing Rise as a life-line to services in our immediate area.
In 1982 we became a private, non-profit agency, and in 2008, after 40 years of service, changed our name from CASC to Rise | A Community Service Partnership. This change better reflects our role as a vital service hub in our local community, as well as conveys the hope and optimism that we see reflected in our clients.
For over fifty years, we have worked with our local community to better serve our neighbors in need. Although the demographics of our clientele have evolved over time — from migrant agricultural workers and African Americans, to the 1970’s Southeast Asian refugees and the present day Latinx Community — what has remained constant is our indelible commitment to enabling our neighbors to better achieve their personal and professional success, health and happiness.
The Rise Food Pantry came to life in 2006 to provide non-perishable groceries to a hundred qualified families per month and has grown exponentially. In addition to non-perishable groceries we distribute fresh produce, personal products, baby items, household cleaning supplies, coats, children’s books, and pet products. In 2019, we moved from the Green House to our larger location on 133 Broad Street. This move enabled Rise to increase capacity. It also gave us the ability to improve functionality for both clients and volunteers and position the Pantry as an ideal volunteer site for individuals, groups and companies.
The Rise Thrift Store opened in 2006 after a relentless series of fund-raising garage sales. We recognized the benefit of an ongoing social enterprise that would both serve our community and increase our financial independence. In 2017, we invested in the building that now houses the Rise Thrift Store. It is one of the most visited businesses in Hightstown’s downtown area, attracting both shoppers and donors from around the region who appreciate how their patronage supports Rise’s vital community services. It’s where pre-loved items find a new loving home.
In 2020, we addressed the skyrocketing need for our services due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. When our community was in need, we ramped up – from food distribution, to household goods to family support and virtual summer camp for kids – thanks to incredible support from grants, donations, sponsors and volunteers.
In 2021, we launched “uRise Powered by PenFed” – a free resource to help our community connect with one another, manage their well-being and mindfulness, and acquire new skills and knowledge.
Also in 2021, we moved our headquarters to 219 Franklin Street. We purchased and renovated this historic building in order to bring community programming into a first-rate facility to ensure that we provide a great experience for both clients and volunteers. As our facilities and capacity expand, Rise can also serve others in the community who are experiencing periods of transition and want to be more connected, supported, and valued.
As we look ahead, we will continue to be a gathering place for our whole community. Individual families will be able to meet their own basic needs and the community as a whole will be a source of support for each other. As this sense of connectedness grows, Rise will be at the center of building a more just and healthy community for everyone.