The Branches Outreach

About Us

Our Story

The Branches opened in 2007 in one bay of a strip mall as a place for parishioners of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Stone Harbor and members of St. Barnabas by the Bay in Villas, to come together for coffee and conversation, Bible studies, and special events.

With the church thrift shop next door, there were lots of walk-in visitors and it became apparent that there was a growing population in need in Rio Grande. The Branches started providing meals, clothes, and other support for those experiencing homelessness and financial difficulties. Word rapidly spread throughout the county and soon churches, restaurants, local agencies, and individuals were donating food, clothing, and their time to care for the growing underserved population. The mission and services were expanded and we became The Branches Outreach, an official 501(3)c non-profit.

Our Dedicated Staff

We are delighted to introduce you to the exceptional individuals who form the backbone of our organization. With a shared commitment to our mission, our dedicated staff members work tirelessly to make a positive impact in the lives of those we serve.

Sandra Lockhart
Operations Director

Sandra has been at the Branches since its inception, serving first as a volunteer with her husband, Father Ron Lockhart. Sandra feels that the totality of her life experiences brought her to The Branches Outreach where she now serves as the Operations Director. After graduation from college, she was fortunate enough to participate in a training program for Special Education. That led her down an unexpected path, but one she loved. Eventually, she started the Special Education Program in the Springfield, Delaware County, PA School District.

Working alongside her Pastor husband, she experienced life-and-death situations as few are privileged to know. Her activity in parish life also included serving as a senior warden, vestry member, and eucharistic minister.

The addiction of a family member led Sandra in yet another direction. She spent a week in the Family Program at The Betty Ford Clinic in California and then enrolled in the Addiction Counseling Program at Villanova University with her husband. They eventually taught in two counties in PA in a program designed for the families of addicted persons. At the same time, they trained as Interventionists and together delivered interventions.

Sandra is grateful to have been part of the growth of The Branches Outreach and looks forward to its continued growth, as the needs in Cape May County are great.

Terri Mascione
Program Director

Terri Mascione came to Branches in September of 2015, as a result of a tragedy in her own life. Her son passed away, due to an overdose and she found a way to honor him by caring for those with similar issues. When Terri started at Branches she was newly retired from Bayada Nurses. Her compassion, coupled with her background made her a perfect fit. Terri has a special place in her heart for children. She organizes special events for the children who live in local motels including trips to the water park, an ice cream truck, and a water slide and bouncy house set up on the property of the motel where they live. Christmas and Easter never pass without lots of gifts. In fact, in 2022 Terri provided gifts for 146 children.

Skill, compassion, and dedication describe Terri. She is a busy wife and mother but finds time to make the clients at The Branches Outreach feel special and cared for.

Maria Elena Hallion, PhD
Executive Director

Maria Elena Hallion, PhD joined The Branches Outreach in September 2022 as the first Executive Director. Before joining The Branches Outreach, Maria Elena spent 23 years at Cabrini University, in Radnor PA as Professor and Department Chair of Health and Exercise Sciences. She was involved in mission integration, strategic planning, program development and held various leadership positions.

She created a social justice course on the social determinants of childhood obesity called Let’s Feed Kids Well as well as designed and delivered three regional conferences entitled the Convergence of Childhood Obesity and Hunger. Her research on the social determinants of Childhood Obesity resulted in the development of a network of organizations and professionals with a similar mission to increase the availability of healthy foods for families.

Maria Elena has published health-related articles in scientific journals, presented at many national health and wellness conferences and Maria Elena is the author of a book entitled Health Matters.

She earned a doctoral degree in health education from Temple University, a master’s in exercise physiology/cardiac rehabilitation from East Stroudsburg University, and a bachelor’s in exercise science from West Chester University. The Executive Director position at The Branches Outreach is the perfect fit for her as she transitions her career into non-profit leadership.

Tyler Keene
Development & Marketing Coordinator

Our Board

Our organization is fortunate to have a dedicated group of individuals who guide and shape our strategic direction. Comprised of esteemed leaders from various backgrounds and industries, our Board of Trustees plays a crucial role in upholding our mission and ensuring our organization’s continued success.

Board of Trustees

John Bolte

Lawrence R. Schmidt
Vice President

John H. “Jack” Olthuis

Norman R. Proulx

The Rev. Allison

The Rev. Hugh Blair