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BLOG: At Trenton Circus Squad, NowPow Keeps Kids Reaching Higher

The kids at Circus Squad, a Trenton non-profit that teaches circus arts, can defy gravity on the trapeze. They ride unicycles, juggle, and even, literally, clown around.

But they can’t always take care of more down-to-earth issues such as accessing healthcare, finding fresh and healthy food, or resolving housing problems.

That was frustrating for Executive Director Tom von Oehsen—until he discovered NowPow, a web-based referral program that connects users to Trenton’s many community resources.

“NowPow has been a great enhancement to our ability to deliver for the young people we serve,” von Oehsen said. “We can teach our kids juggling and balancing skills, but none of that matters if you can’t help them meet the daily challenges they face.”

Using NowPow, von Oehsen has been able to quickly and efficiently obtain extra help and important services for Circus Squad members. “The worst feeling for me is knowing our kids are struggling, but feeling unsure about how to help them—especially when there’s an urgent situation,” he explained. “But with NowPow, at my fingertips are hundreds of resources that address medical, emotional, housing and other needs.” See how Circus Squad uses NowPow

To von Oehsen and members of “the Squad,” the group feels like family. “The kids cook dinner for one another every night,” he said. “We play together. We learn. We do homework.”

And like a family, members face real-life issues from toothaches to life-and-death situations. For example, one member needed to get college applications submitted during a gap year after high school. “There was very little support at home for the application and financial aid process,” von Oehsen said. NowPow helped him identify deadlines and netted a rapid response from UrbanPromise for further help.

Another teenaged member was dealing with the death of a friend and a difficult relationship with his family. NowPow referred von Oehsen to Catholic Charities, which reached out within 30 minutes to offer mental health support.

Von Oehsen relates to the Circus Squad kids in a personal way—after graduating high school, he literally ran away to the circus. “In high school, academics were really not my priority, and I was always looking for attention,” he explained. “That led me to being labeled the class clown. I followed the natural path from that and went to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.”

Years later, after a more-traditional career working as an admissions director for a private school, he teamed up with co-founder Zoe Brooks and launched Circus Squad. He hasn’t looked back.

“We like to say Circus Squad teaches you to take big leaps in life using circus arts,” von Oehsen said. “With NowPow, we can keep our kids reaching higher and higher.”

Put NowPow to work for your clients today! Contact Population Health Manager Jessica Burnett.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]