Friday, October 24, 2014

Fall Community Advisory Board Meeting –Part 1

On October 23rd Newark Community Solutions held its fall 2014 Community Advisory Board meeting.  With almost a full year passing since the last CAB there was quite a bit to talk about (so much so that our CAB blog post will be in two parts). With a helping hand from a terrific partner we had the pleasure of hosting the meeting at the New Hope Baptist Soup Kitchen.  New Hope Baptist Church has been one of our best community partners for several years providing social service and community service options for our participants. So it was especially exciting for our staff, advisory board members and for me personally, to hold our meeting in the same space our participants fulfill their community service obligations, working side-by-side with the New Hope community preparing and serving food to some of their most vulnerable neighbors.

The meeting began with some inspiring words from the Honorable Victoria Pratt, chief judge of the Newark Municipal Court.  After the introductions and a word from our host, we moved to the first agenda item.  Newark Youth Court Coordinator, Awinna Martinez, provided an update on the second annual Newark Youth Court “Empowerment through Service” program.  Over the summer, staff from the Newark Youth Court collaborated with Carol Harris, of Newark’s Adopt-a-Lot program, to identify gardeners who would work with the teen members to create two community service projects. The youth court members were then divided into two teams. The first team worked with NCS staff and brainstormed a theme for a mural to be painted on the wall of a garden that NCS maintains on Fairmount Ave in Newark’s West Ward. Because the garden is so close  to the office of our violence reduction initiative, Newark United against Violence, on South Orange Avenue, the youth court members selected an anti-violence theme for the mural. The youth court members described their plans for the mural highlighted by a photo presentation.   

The second team, of youth court members presented the results of their collaboration with Tobias Fox, a local gardener and founder of Science and Sustainability Inc.  SAS is a Newark based nonprofit that aims to assist citizens in the exploration and utilization of sustainable science through educational programs and hands-on training in areas of wellness and nutrition education, urban farming/community gardening, environmental art, ecological building, and renewable energy. Newark Youth Court members worked with Mr. Fox on a “Blend Healthy” event in his community garden that focused on sharing smoothie recipes with the community, and actually making the drinks by using a blender attached to a bicycle and a solar panel. The presentation included a short video, scripted by Newark Youth Court members and filmed by the Essex County Community College’s Communications Department.  Both teams did an outstanding job of conveying the planning and hard work that went into their projects.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our CAB evening!

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