Moving Forward, Together
Throughout our state, communities’ unwavering commitment to caring for everyone in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic shows how we can move forward, together.
At New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI), we are inspired by the ways non-profit organizations we support and their school district, transportation, law enforcement and youth partners continue their collaborative work to provide relief to their communities while taking the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe.
To address hunger, Healthier Perth Amboy and the Toms River Family Health and Support Coalition have distributed food packages and provided fresh, nutritious produce to residents. The Passaic Food Policy Council has partnered with the Paterson School District to provide meals to students and their families. The Council also partnered with The Common Market to leverage funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to Families initiative, which is designed to support local farmers, to provide fresh produce to Paterson residents in need. The Paterson community officially opened the Green Acres Community Garden greenhouse, a shared accomplishment of the garden’s founder, Deacon Willie Davis, the United Way of Passaic County, the Passaic County Food Policy Council, Paterson Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together North Jersey and the New Jersey Community Development Corporation. Last summer, the Paterson Youth CARES team aligned its work with these partners and built the greenhouse to provide fresh produce to residents all year long, and to revitalize green space in the Fourth Ward community.
In addition to distributing 150 boxes of produce to Millville residents, the Holly City Development Corporation and the Millville Police Department delivered fun kits of games and activities to families so they can play at home.
Concerned that public transit and other transportation options in Asbury Park could be severely impacted by the current public health crisis as in other cities, the Alliance for a Healthier Asbury Park sought to assist its community with much-needed transportation services. Through its transportation partner EZ Ride, the Alliance expanded the Ryde4Life program, originally developed for seniors, to provide free rides to any Asbury Park resident in need of transportation to the grocery store or a medical appointment.
In Plainfield, the Healthy Plainfield coalition partners harnessed technology to remain connected to each other and to residents. In the spring, the Plainfield Public School district provided iPads for students who live in households that do not have the technology to complete online school assignments. In addition, the school district purchased WiFi hotspots that students can use for remote learning if their families do not have internet access.
Building on their partnership with the Trenton RISE Center for youth, the Trentonian Titans Next Generation Community Leaders expanded their work to raise awareness of the center by preparing care packages of food for families. The Trentonian Titans and their coaches at the Millhill Child and Family Development Center packed 100 bags of food and coordinated contactless distribution throughout their community to meet families’ immediate needs. Their fellow Next Generation Community Leaders in Bound Brook are literally building onto their own previous work to revitalize Mariposa Park. This summer, the Bound Brook Student Ambassadors for Community Health are constructing a food pantry stand to place in Mariposa Park and provide non-perishable food to residents. In Bridgeton, the Next Gen Leader are preparing and delivering meals to seniors and individuals experiencing homelessness. The Bridgeton Next Gen Leaders are also engaging community members to complete the 2020 Census. They are providing Census materials and information to residents, while the Perth Amboy Emerging Leaders for a Healthier Community team is informing and engaging its community through vibrant messages they create using sidewalk chalk as part of their Chalk-a-Thon campaign.
To build a healthier community for their families, friends and neighbors, the Elizabeth Next Generation Community Leaders are coordinating efforts to gather community input to inform the City of Elizabeth Master Plan, and the New-Ark Leaders of Health have been documenting the impact of the pandemic and envisioning the future through a health equity lens.
New Jersey’s strong philanthropic community is also working hard to address the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. The Council of New Jersey Grantmakers and its members have awarded funding and gathered resources to support communities and better health outcomes for African-American communities in particular, and to build resiliency and a more equitable future for us all.
To our fellow New Jerseyans – we see you, we thank you and we support you.