Perth Amboy, New Jersey—the home of tCI’s Our Lady of Fatima Parish—is located directly across the water from Staten Island and makes up part of the New York metropolitan area. Our Lady of Fatima serves Perth Amboy and the surrounding area and is largely made up of Latino immigrants and their children, including people from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, among others.
The majority of the community’s residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, and 75% speak Spanish at home. Our Lady of Fatima is crucial to this community for many reasons, but especially because it is one of the only parishes in the area that provides services and resources in Spanish.
Like many tCI communities, Our Lady of Fatima faces a number of ongoing challenges. The area’s median income is just $44,166, compared to $71,637 in the state of New Jersey as a whole. Almost 30% of the community’s children are living below the poverty level, which is more than twice the rate in the rest of the state. Nearly one in five of the area’s children live in single-parent households, and only 35% of families own their own homes.
Education is a particular concern for the community. All Perth Amboy public schools are below the 25th percentile in academic achievement, and the area’s high school has a graduation rate of only 59%. Just 68% of all Perth Amboy residents are high school graduates, while only 14% have a Bachelor’s degree or above. Equally as troubling, 85% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and one in five students are considered limited-English proficiency.
Unfortunately, in addition to their challenges concerning poverty and academic achievement, the area also faces a violent crime rate that is nearly double the state rate, and a property crime rate that is also higher than the state average. Given all these factors, there is a clear need for positive community programs that meet the immediate needs of community, build strong families, and keep kids engaged and off the street.
Our Lady of Fatima Parish is a busy, active community with an engaged base of supporters who work hard to meet the needs of the neighborhood, but there is still much to be done. The parish is currently raising funds to rehabilitate a building to be used as a community center so they can expand their programs and services. They need your help and ours to transform the effort into reality. Please consider making a donation to tCI to help the community continue to grow!