If you’ve called Family Promise of Bergen County over the past nine months, you probably know the sound of the fresh, friendly voice at the other end of the line. That is Office Administrator Emily Marques.
In an age of impenetrable social service agency bureaucracies, automated switchboards and pre-recorded voices, Emily — whose last name is pronounced MARKS — stands out: She actually talks to people, especially those who call about getting shelter or resolving some other crisis.
And they seem to appreciate it, she reports. “People feel, ‘Here’s someone who will talk to me on the phone! Sometimes, I just listen to what’s happening to them. They end up saying, ‘Thank you for listening.’’’
Emily, who grew up in Berkeley Heights and now lives here in Bergen County, graduated six years ago from Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, where she double majored in marketing and communications. Although many students at Bryant take the finance route, she says she always knew she would take a different path. “I wanted to focus on contributing positively, not just tackling wall street.”
After working for several years as a medical office manager, after the pandemic she decided to change course and find a position “where I could help people in a different space.’’ That’s when she heard about Family Promise. “It seemed like an interesting way to get involved in the community and do something for people who really needed it,’’ she recalls.
Specifically, FPBC’s mission to help working families with children maintain housing in one of the nation’s most expensive markets intrigued her.
Still, when she started as Office Administrator last June, she was surprised by the volume of calls from folks in need. “I wasn’t aware of how common it is for people to be working full time and still struggling just to catch up, let alone get ahead.’’ Even in affluent Bergen County, she says, the person on the line ‘’could be anybody.’’
She recalls a call from a mother with two children, one them a young high school student who was struggling with her mental health. The family was on the course to eviction from their home, which would have created further hurdles to face as a family.
But, Emily says, “Family Promise was able to give them rental assistance that kept them in their home. So that one big thing – Where to live? – was taken off their shoulders, and the mom could focus on other things,’’ especially her daughter’s health. Emily was so happy she was moved to tears.