A Tour of Orange with The HUUB and CUMAC
Community is about looking out for each other. Every day, our Orange You Vaccinated team and partners show up with a passion for Orange and East Orange. That commitment can be seen in our enthusiasm for coordinating COVID-19 testing and vaccination events for our elders who reside in senior housing. It can be felt in the relationships with our Healthy Orange coalition partners, the Essex County mobile vaccination unit and neighborhood pharmacies and businesses that have stepped up to help us meet people in the places that are part of their daily lives and provide educational materials about the vaccines, the shots themselves and information about other programs and services.
There is also a sense of community in the Moving New Jersey Forward Learning Collaborative of non-profit organizations working to fight poverty, advocate for food and housing justice, develop leadership skills among youth and more alongside municipal agencies, healthcare providers and the NJ Department of Health. Each week, we exchange ideas to care for the most vulnerable, address the interconnected issues and decades-old policies that have limited some communities’ access to opportunity and leverage lessons learned over the past two years to shape systems-level change for future generations. CUMAC, a food justice organization based in Paterson, is one of the many friends we have gained through the Moving New Jersey Forward collaborative. After learning about CUMAC’s focus on self-healing communities, and Paterson and Orange residents’ shared needs for safe, affordable housing and access to nutritious food, we invited CUMAC to visit for a day. With support from our colleagues from the University of Orange, Molly Rose Kaufman and Douglas Ferrand, HUUB Managing Director Daniel Wiley, Orange You Vaccinated Project Managers Sharee Harrison and Ernest Lindsay, Orange residents and HUUB colleagues, we took CUMAC Executive Director Mark Dinglasan, and Director of Programs Rose Bates, Client Services Coordinator Cynthia Cangre-Ron on a daylong walking tour of Orange to show them around The HUUB, our work sites and share the history of our community.
We toured and shared information about:
- the parish hall
- the Ben Jones Community Garden, which was named in honor of the former community advocate and councilmember and strategically planted next to the Central Avenue School as an opportunity to partner with school administrators and engage students
- the Orange Library, located near Main and Tony Galento Plaza
- new construction and redevelopment that has been underway, and the community’s perspective and response
- the history of Orange’s longstanding small businesses, including those that have been forced to close over the past few years and our hope to keep these mom-and-pop shops open, because they’re the backbone of what makes our community great
- the former Hospital Center at Orange building, which closed in 2004
- ideas and opportunities to restore residential properties and retain families who have called Orange home for generations
Our day wrapped up with lunch together and it felt like a family dinner. Our teams shared plans for the next phases of our work and bounced ideas off each other. Continuing this partnership, the CUMAC team invited us to visit Paterson soon. We look forward to learning more about their community, touring their renovated facility and identifying opportunities to collaborate across municipal lines to benefit everyone.