Daughters of Deborah Celebrate Freedom from Addiction

Great story from the Ledger about a rehabilitation program in Newark that focuses on women: Women celebrate rehab and rebirth with a gala event in Newark.

The 17 women, all recovering drug addicts, walked into a crowded ballroom in the city tonight as if dressed for a wedding, from the orchid corsages on their wrists to their elegant gowns.

But they were not getting married. The women were at the Robert Treat Hotel celebrating the milestone of being the first graduating class from Daughters of Deborah, a special workshop program on jobs, personal finance, legal issues, entrepreneurship, health, confidence, manners and communications, according to organizers.

City Hall Launches ‘Girlfriends’ Mentoring Program

This in from City Hall about a new effort by the  Division of Recreation and Cultural Affairs  to mentor young girls and encourage healthy, positive outlooks and lifestyles.



Biweekly afternoon sessions will mentor girls with sessions on positive imaging and lifestyle choices

Newark, NJ – February 3, 2009 – Mayor Cory A. Booker and Director of Neighborhood and Recreational Services Melvin Waldrop announced today that the City of Newark is offering a mentoring program called “Girlfriends,” aimed at girls aged 10-17, to help them become strong, smart, positive, and successful women. The program is free and will commence on Wednesday, February 4, 2009, at St. Peter’s Recreation Center at 378 Lyons Avenue, at 4 p.m., and continue on the first and third Wednesdays of every month thereafter.

The “Girlfriends” program will mentor female Newark youth, with sessions to help them identify and avoid risky behavior, making wise life choices, coping with stress, anger management, and how to cope with physical, mental, intellectual, and emotional challenges. The class is open to 25 girls, and is free.

“Newark’s youth face enormous challenges in their daily lives which is why it’s even more important to provide them with the guidance and inspiration they need to enable them to live productive and successful lives,” Mayor Booker said, “Ultimately we want to empower the young women of our city who participate in this program, with the knowledge they need, so they can manifest their own excellence as Newark residents and American citizens.”

Instructors in the program are all positive role models from within the Division of Recreation/Cultural Affairs. Volunteers are also being sought to conduct sessions and must be at least 18 years old, sincere about assisting Newark females to succeed, and knowledgeable about fields like etiquette, hygiene, personal finance, higher education, and nutrition.

The program is being run as a pilot at the St. Peter’s Center, and will expand to other recreation centers by year’s end, and become a year-round offering.

The class is sponsored by the Department of Neighborhood and Recreational Services’ Division of Recreation/Cultural Affairs.

“Participants in this class will know their value and potential as a result of this class, and be prepared to lead successful, independent, and fulfilling lives,” Director Waldrop said. “Our mentors will help them learn about decision-making and the consequences of good and bad decisions. I urge all Newark families with girls aged 10-17 to take advantage of this course.

Felicia Jones, the Recreation Aide who created and is overseeing the program, said, “We hope that the girls enjoy the program so much that after graduation from high school they return as mentors themselves.”

For more information on the class, contact the Division of Recreation and Cultural Affairs at (973) 733-6454 or (973) 733-8006.

Unsung Superheroes

incredibles-146x200My daughter, nearly two-years-old, has been really excited about watching The Incredibles lately. The animated film is about a family of superheroes living a mostly ordinary domestic life, when they’re not fighting crime together.
She loves to talk about the part where Mr. Incredible rescues a cat down from a tree on his way to stop a bank robber. “‘Crables stuck eee-ow!” she exclaims in Dahlia-speak.

But stories like this are the kind I hope take on a deeper meaning for her, especially during the holiday season: An Angel on Her Rounds, With Soup and Sandwich.

If the annual eruption of holiday fellowship has made you wonder how you might do better by the world – or if you are quietly congratulating yourself for some unsung act of seasonal kindness – pause to consider what this 76-year-old retired domestic worker living on Social Security has been doing all year round, every year, noticed by few other than those she has helped. And then recalibrate your estimate of just how much good will a single person can generate.

“It just came into my spirit to do,” Ms. Hines said. “This is my ministry, and they’re depending on me. It’s never too hot or too cold or too anything, because I know the guys are here waiting for me. People don’t realize there’s so many homeless people. They’re not all bums – there are educated people out here, trust me. Been to college, some of them. They’re just down on their luck, and I’m here to help.”

Prisoner Re-entry Hearing on Dec 11

The Newark-based New Jersey Institute of Social Justice will be co-sponsoring an open hearing on prisoner-reentry issues with Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson-Coleman on Tuesday, December 11. If this is a topic you care about, you’ll want to attend this hearing: details in the flyer below.
Counting the Costs Flyer

In partnership with Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson-Coleman, the Second Chance Campaign of New Jersey (www.secondchancenj.org) is planning and organizing the “Counting the Costs” series of public hearings on criminal justice and reentry. The Second Chance Campaign has shaped the hearings’ agendas, which, accordingly, include our core issues: the prison phone surcharge, in-prison education, employment bars, the felony drug ban, expungement reform, fines, and others.

Per the attached flyer, the first hearing, on families and incarceration, will be held this Friday, November 21st from 3:00-8:00pm at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset (771 Somerset Street). I strongly encourage you to attend and spread the word as far and wide as you can; all are welcome and, in fact, necessary in order to send our message in an amplified, united voice to New Jersey’s legislators and the general public.

The subsequent two hearings, on sentencing and training & treatment respectively, will be held on Monday, December 8, 3:00-8:00pm at Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton (340 S. Howard Woodson, Jr. Way) and Thursday, December 11, 3:00-8:00pm at the Rutgers-Newark Paul Robeson Center (350 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard).

To read more about the challenge of prisoner-reentry in New Jersey, check out this briefing paper by the NJISJ: An Overview of Prisoner Reentry in New Jersey.

City Opens Veterans Transition Center

The city has opened a new veterans center to provide services to Newarkers who have served in Afghanistan, Iraq as well as other conflicts throughout the world.  Check out the full press release after the jump.

The G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center of Newark is a non-profit office, which provides and coordinates a vast array of services and support to veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Currently operating from a centralized location in Newark City Hall, The G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center provides veterans with support for VA enrollment, mental wellness, securing employment, education advancement, and financial support, among other things. The center’s opening is unique, as it is the first-ever partnership between a municipality and a non-governmental organization (NGO) to support veterans and address their issues in the nation’s history.

Continue reading “City Opens Veterans Transition Center”

The Boys & Girls Club of Newark invites you to the 22nd Wine Tasting Benefit

The Boys & Girls Club of Newark invites you to the 22nd Wine Tasting Benefit
This benefit wine-tasting will take place at the Dryden Mansion in Lincoln Park next week on Nov 20.  Proceeds will go to benefit the Boys & Girls Club, a youth development Newark non-profit which this year is celebrating its 70-year anniversary.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark (BGCN) will host its 22nd Annual Wine Tasting Benefit on Thursday, November 20 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at the Dryden Mansion – Newark, NJ’s hottest, most stylish event space. The Dryden Mansion is located at 59 Lincoln Park, between Broad and Washington (closer to Wash) in the Lincoln Park Arts District.

Guests attending this festive event will be treated to a night of fine eclectic wines, complemented by exquisite hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment, and an exciting silent auction of rare items and unique experiences. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be available. All proceeds raised from this event will benefit the after-school and summer enrichment programs at BGCN’s three club sites and two school satellite extensions.

DATE: Thursday, November 20, 2008
TIME: 6:00pm – 9:00pm (updated from invite)
LOCATION: The Dryden Mansion, 59 Lincoln Park
Newark’s hottest new event space
DONATION: $85 pp, incl wine, hors d’oeuvres and valet parking
PURCHASE TICKETS: Call 973.242.1200 or order online

Welcome to Newark, Project U.S.E.

Project U.S.E. is no stranger to Newark children from North Star Academy and Link Community School. However, to be completely worthy of its name (Urban Suburban Environment), the 38-year-old experiential education program opened its University Heights Learning Hub in Newark on the evening of October 8. In addition to extended expeditions for school children to natural environments in Newark and far beyond, the Hub will help young men transition from a highly structured incarcerated environment to a productive and independent life.
At the corner of Central Avenue and Golden Street, the Learning Hub occupies a newly- renovated old warehouse: bright, spacious, and cheerful, with a pleasant smell of fresh paint. “Learning from the past, living in the present, looking to the future” is the program’s motto.

From its big windows, I could see not only moonlit Central Avenue and Sussex Street, but also the past of Newark. Only one block from Morris Canal, the area was the beginning of Newark’s industrial revolution over 100 years ago. The dozens of leather tanning companies, including T.P. Howell, Hugh Smith, and Charles Smyth, not only supplied the nation, and even Europe, with high quality patent leather, but also literally decided who would be elected to the offices of Essex County. This exact block, however, was home to humble Newarkers, including a corset maker, a fireman, a music teacher, a bartender, and a wire weaver, who witnessed the city’s decline after the Great Depression. From the 1940’s, the Newark Housing Authority under Louis Danzig struggled in its urban renewal effort from his office across street. After five days of shooting in July 1967, the last National Guard soldiers leaving the city passed by this building. With the thorough urban destruction, those left behind in Newark, particularly badly deprived children, have paid a heavy price with their unimaginable suffering.

On Wednesday night, a few Project U.S.E. youth educators joined Newark’s children, living in the present of this coming-back city. Danise Cavallaro, the director of the Hub, who grew up in suburban Wayne and encountered Newark only in passing on her way to school, could not conceal her joy about the new beginning. The building includes high ceiling spaces for boat building and a carpentry workshop to teach social and life skills to juvenile offenders re-entering into society. On walls and the floor of the workshop, spaces planned for a drill table, a rip saw, a sander, and an exhaust fan are marked by blue tape with prices, desperately calling for financial support. In the hallway, Newark students’ photographs are telling compelling stories of their urban lives, their loneliness and anger, as well as their joy and happiness. Living in the present is never an easy walk in Newark. A young man writes for his self-portrait, “Always remember: There is nothing closer to you than your shadow.”

Around 7 o’clock, the cheerful music stopped. Mayor Booker walked to the microphone. “I am here to celebrate the transformation of this building. While we are talking about an environmental movement in the city to deal with limited natural resources, we should not forget a magic resource, which is equally distributed around the nation, the resource and genius in every child.” For the development of “divinity in each individual,” Booker welcomes Project U.S.E. to join us in Newark. According to Bill Mikesell, the architect for the building, the future of the Hub will need “a lot of money and a little imagination.” However, I have to warn these enthusiastic newcomers that Newark, with its past, present, and future, is a highly contagious place that demands a lot of endurance, courage, and idealism. Welcome to Newark, Project U.S.E.

(University Heights Learning Hub, 185 Central Avenue, www.projectuse.org)

Opening at Gallery Aferro this Saturday 7-10

Please join us for the opening of two new exhibitions:
Outside Over There
Fourth in the annual urbanism exhibition series curated by Emma Wilcox

Dwell, Robert Lach, Project Room

September 27 – November 22, 2008 Opening Reception September 27, 7-10 PM

Gallery Aferro 73 Market St Newark NJ

Will Work for Food by KH Jeron
Bring a can of food to barter with robots. All proceeds to be donated to Newark food banks

Outside Over There is an exhibition, as well as a food drive and a portrait studio. It is inspired by the signals traveling in the airspace of cities worldwide, and the ability of these signals to penetrate structures, by transmissions, codings and exchanges of ideology and consumer goods, interactions real and imagined, between more and less industrialized nations, including the cargo cult and the syndication of TV programming.

Artists: Keliy Anderson-Staley, Mireille Astore, Martin John Callanan, Karlos Carcamo, Margarida Correia,Susan E. Evans, Judith Hoffman, KH Jeron, Tamara Kostianovsky, Charles Huntley Nelson, Anne Percoco, Dorothy Schultz, Jeff Sims, Peter Tuomey Jr, Tammy Jo Wilson

The impending end of nondigital TV has evoked for some class and cultural divisions within America. By repairing TVs with reed thatch from the NJ meadowlands, Anne Percoco suggests such divisions, as well
as the complexity of a globalized economy.

Charles Huntley Nelson’s video, “Why Not on TV” questions the presentations of African Americans on television in relationship to their actual history and present realities, and is narrated by an
omniscient visitor who may be a space alien.

Photographer Keliy Anderson-Staley will be operating a tintype portrait studio in the gallery on Oct 3rd and 4th. Sitters can come solo or with a loved one. The sittings are free. A print of the image is $10. Made with the wet plate collodion process, the leading mode of photography in the 1850’s and 1860’s, the portraits echo downtown Newark’s past density of commercial portrait studio’s, while picturing the diversity of modern urban NJ.

For more information please contact Emma Wilcox ewilcox@aferro.org

New Affordable Housing Development on the Way

Here’s an uplifting story about new affordable housing coming to the city. With so much recent attention placed on the development of luxury apartments and condos from big-time developers and celebrities, a lot of people were downright scared that ordinary people, including ones that need a boost to get out of whatever scary situation they are facing, would be left behind. I think we should have more developments like these. Although Newark makes for a tempting and relatively easy commute away from New York City, it is going to take a little while for New Yorkers so completely saturate the far reaches of the boroughs (or Hoboken and Jersey City), that they’ll automatically think: ‘OK, let’s look at Newark.’ Don’t get me wrong, I think we got a great deal, and have reduced my New Yorker friends to smiling politely and placidly every time I talk about our place, but I think that for a while, we’ll need to make affordable housing a major part of the residential real estate mix before we become a sizzling market.
Here is the part of the story that ran in USAToday:

Jon Bon Jovi’s Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation is providing $1 million toward construction of a 51-unit building that will cater to homeless people with special needs, like AIDS patients.

The $15 million building, called Genesis Apartments, will rise where there is now a vacant lot. Joining Bon Jovi at Tuesday’s ground breaking were Gov. Jon Corzine, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, fashion designer Kenneth Cole and his wife, Maria Cuomo Cole, who runs HELP USA, a national nonprofit that is helping to build the units.

“Today I believe we’re starting something,” Bon Jovi said. “Together, I believe we can make a difference, one street, one neighborhood, one city, one soul at a time.”

Bon Jovi, who’s foundation has built affordable housing in Philadelphia, New Orleans and other cities, said he teamed up with Cole to design and market a line of jackets in 2006 to raise awareness to combat homelessness. Profits from that line provided the money for the Newark project, he said.

Interview: Leadership Newark

I had the opportunity to speak with Celia King and Laurel Dumont from Leadership Newark, a non-profit organization designed to develop and enhance leadership skills of individuals committed to the City of Newark. Leadership Newark has been in Newark for over ten years, bringing individuals into two-year fellowships where they are given the chance to get a grasp of issues that challenge the city; network with similarly-minded individuals; and develop their own talents, abilities and interests to tackle some of those issues.
The interview is about 28 minutes. Press the play button below to listen.


For more details on the discussion, click through below.

Continue reading “Interview: Leadership Newark”