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Mercy House Director Receives Honor from Newark Department of Public Safety

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Newark NJ, Cheryl A. Riley, director of the Archdiocese of Newark’s Respect Life Office, was honored by the Newark Department of Public Safety for her work leading The Mercy House resource and referral center during the annual Police Division and Community Recognition Awards at the Newark Museum of Art.

Riley was one of 30 city leaders and organizations to receive a Community Partnership Award, which is intended to recognize civilians who go above and beyond in serving Newark’s citizens. She was nominated by Officer Jorge Miranda of the Newark Police Division’s 5th Precinct, who regularly collaborates with The Mercy House in his role as a community service officer. The Mercy House has been assisting Newark’s Clinton Hill section since 2018 by providing nonperishable food, clothing, baby supplies, furniture, and help finding work and housing to anyone in need.

“I was honored to receive this award — I don’t do this work for attention, but it feels good to be recognized,” Riley said. “And, hopefully, getting this award will increase awareness for The Mercy House. We’re always here to help with whatever people need.”

Riley’s award specifically commemorated The Mercy House’s achievements in what was a particularly busy 2022. Over those 12 months, the resource and referral center helped approximately 7,800 people — twice the number it served before the COVID-19 pandemic. It also held special events throughout the year, like its annual Christmas Toy Giveaway. Finally, Riley and her staff opened a second Mercy House location in Jersey City, which doubles as a boarding house.

“Cheryl Riley deserves heartfelt recognition for her compassionate service to Newark’s most vulnerable residents,” Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said. “Through her work at The Mercy House, she has ministered to those most at risk — providing them with foundational necessities for life stability, including rental assistance, furniture, baby supplies, food, and clothing. On behalf of the people of Newark, I express my pride in Cheryl Riley and I thank her for her concern and care for those experiencing hardship and in need of a helping hand.”

The Mercy House continues to see high demand in 2023. On average, its Newark and Jersey City locations each serve about 200 people every week, with more than half of them being migrants from throughout the world. While meeting that increase in need, Riley and her staff raised roughly $30,000 to renovate The Mercy House of Jersey City’s 30 rooms for residents. Next, The Mercy House of Newark will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a community party on Friday, July 7, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — all are welcome.

“Recognizing Cheryl Riley for her community support was our way of saying thank you for her tremendous generosity towards South Ward residents,” Newark Public Safety Director Fritz Fragé said. “Her outstanding community service is making a tangible difference for Newark families in need.”

The Mercy House of Newark, which is located at 620 Clinton Ave., is open every Tuesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those interested in donating or volunteering should contact Cheryl A. Riley at And to learn more about The Mercy Houses of Newark and Jersey City in general, visit

The Archdiocese of Newark serves 1.3 million Catholics throughout Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties. The Archdiocese has 212 parishes, 73 Catholic schools, and many missions and ministries. Hundreds of Masses are celebrated in more than a dozen languages each week. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., the sixth archbishop of Newark, leads the Archdiocese with four auxiliary bishops. Together, they serve the northern New Jersey community through faith, education, and social services. For more information, visit

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