Nonprofit Profile: Isaiah House, helping ‘most fragile’ families

In brief

Name: Isaiah House
Location: 238 N. Munn Ave., East Orange
Area served: East Orange and the greater Essex County area
Key members: Zammeah Bivins-Gibson, executive director; Gianna Santelli, director of development


Isaiah House began in 1988 as a collaboration between the Community Service Council of the Oranges and Maplewood (a division of United Way of Essex and West Hudson), the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills, and the Concerned Clergy of East Orange. Over 30 years later, Isaiah House is considered a leader in compassionate, safe and loving shelter for families, single women and runaway/homeless youth. Isaiah House also provides food and other community resources to the area with our food pantry and housing placement services.


We are dedicated to those families and individuals who are considered “most fragile” — that is, those who have been devastated by unemployment, illness, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, fires and crises. Isaiah House offers a variety of support services, including life skills training, instructions in household and money management, job search assistance, tutoring and medical referrals.


Isaiah House is looking forward to not only continuing our essential services, but expanding to fit the needs of the new decade. Isaiah House is currently piloting workforce development programming for our residents to prepare them for future job opportunities. Isaiah House is also partnering with local businesses to place our clients into accessible jobs in the region. Our pantry is constantly innovating to ensure the most amount of goods and products are being provided to the residents of the area.


Throughout the COVID era, Isaiah House remained open and cases were extremely low. All cases were contained and there was no outbreak or spread among staff or residents. In 2020, we housed 179 families, including 104 young adults. Reporting shows that 60% of our residents located to permanent housing.


Our programs include housing shelter for four important groups — families, single women, adolescents and mothers with babies under 1 year old. Our residents receive clean, safe residential shelter, connection to human and social services and three meals a day. We also offer a free professional-grade day care to our mothers and families.

The Isaiah House Food Pantry serves members of the community with food bags to address an immediate need.


Isaiah House has won and maintained government contracts across all levels of government, including state and federal grants, for years. These grants are the engine of Isaiah House, but can be unpredictable with elections and budgetary changes. Therefore, an important funding source is individual donors and small foundations. The generous support of everyday people from across the region allows Isaiah House to respond to our most urgent and unpredictable needs, keeping the doors open and our services of the highest quality. SunUP represents a new approach — a large outdoor gathering that will be a fundraising and recognition-building opportunity for Isaiah House, as well as an outlet for a community with a pent-up demand to be together in person. Tickets for the event can be purchased here:


We receive support from individuals, community groups, religious houses of all denominations, foundations and corporate giving. Supporters include First Baptist Church of South Orange, Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Keller Williams and many generous local families.


Isaiah House is proud of the sterling reputation we have not only in the local region, but throughout the state. We look forward to providing “shelter from the storm” for many years to come.

Conversation Starter

If you are interested in learning more about Isaiah House or would like to discuss opportunities for support, please contact Gianna Santelli, director of development,
at or call 973-678-5882, ext. 3018.