Liza Peck, support services liaison for HomeFront Family Campus, opens a box of new and refurbished trackers.

Liza Peck, support services liaison for HomeFront Family Campus, opens a box of new and refurbished trackers.

Home for Homefront

The perfect triad for increasing health and fitness for homeless families in Central New Jersey: RecycleHealth, HomeFront, and Deloitte.

For more than 25 years, HomeFront has been helping families in Central New Jersey break the cycle of poverty by offering a comprehensive array of services. The Family Preservation Center, located on the HomeFront Family Campus, was designed as a “one-stop social-services campus,” providing access to temporary housing, health care services, education and workforce training, childcare and more. Last year, 249 families found compassionate and holistic shelter at the Center.

“Taking time to focus on your own health and wellness can be hard to do when you’re experiencing homelessness,” said Liza Peck, support services liaison for HomeFront Family Campus, who has spent much of her career working with the homeless. “We wanted to add more layers of care and opportunities to help our clients live healthier lives and came up with the idea for a fitness incentive program using trackers.”

So when Eric Madden started working with HomeFront during a five-month sabbatical from his job at Deloitte Consulting, he researched opportunities for the nonprofit to obtain a donation of fitness trackers and found RecycleHealth

At RecycleHealth, we collect donations of new and used trackers to give them a second life with underserved populations. In April 2018, we shipped 50 recycled Fitbit Ones to Lawrenceville, NJ where HomeFront volunteers, including Eric, followed our step-by-step process for cleaning and testing the trackers for families living at the Family Preservation Center. To receive a tracker, residents of the Center had to agree to participate in a weekly on-campus fitness class, led by a nurse.

Center residents take part in a weekly fitness class as part of the new fitness incentive program.

The use of fitness trackers also sparked creativity among staff and residents about how everyone could incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives. Signs by the Center’s elevators encourage residents to opt for the stairs by displaying how many steps they could add to their daily count. One staff member started a walking club and residents started comparing how many steps one hallway covered compared to the next.

“Everyday, I hear at least one person say they’re going to take the stairs so they can get those extra steps,” said Liza in describing how the program has become a centerpiece for conversation, inspiring residents to think about their daily movement.

Liza Peck, support services liaison for HomeFront Family Campus, opens a box of new and refurbished trackers.

“The trackers were a game changer,” said Liza. “They were the perfect tool to go with the program we were envisioning.”

In August 2018, RecycleHealth sent a second box of recycled Fitbit trackers to support HomeFront in expanding its fitness program to serve current residents as well as families now living off campus. Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM, founder of RecycleHealth, said, “We are thrilled with the successes at HomeFront and happy to continue to support them in helping their residents to increase their health and fitness.”

Center residents take part in a weekly fitness class as part of the new fitness incentive program.

Center residents take part in a weekly fitness class as part of the new fitness incentive program.