Who is Care of the Park?

Who is Care of the Park will be a recurring series aimed at painting a picture of the people that make the program possible. From star volunteers to Park staff, this series will shine a light on who is Care of the Park and why they give back.

Who is Care of the Park-October 2018

Emily Guo is a high school senior attending The Lawrenceville School. Passionate about service and sustainability, Emily reached out to Jersey Cares about volunteering at Essex County Branch Brook Park and the Care of the Park program. For 6 weeks, Emily volunteered as a Peer Leader, working with 11 high school students working for Care of the Park as part of the Summer Youth Employment Program. Below is an interview with Emily discussing her experiences as a Care of the Park volunteer:

Why do you volunteer?

“Before high school I never did any kind of volunteering. I really felt unmotivated. I always had an interest in sustainability and decided to search for those opportunities in high school. Once I started volunteering, being able to help others helped give me a purpose and motivation. I could give back to my community and have meaningful experiences, so it was kind of a win-win situation for me.”

What compelled you to volunteer with Care of the Park?

“Really it lined up with my own personal interests since I’ve always been passionate about the environment. I didn’t know much about Care of the Park or the Summer Youth Employment Program initially, but as I learned more I was excited. I was looking forward to working with people my age who had a shared mindset for making a difference. Doing all that while working in a beautiful park was just a bonus.”

What was your favorite moment volunteering in the park?

“It’s really hard to pick a specific moment. The first week of the program was awkward with the Park Ambassadors not really knowing each other. It wasn’t easy to get them to socialize or speak up, but as they got more comfortable working in the park and with each other that all changed. I’d say my favorite moment was when we came into work and I could see them being comfortable with each other and meaningful relationships being built. It made working together even more fun and the experience in the park even better.”

What was your biggest takeaway from your volunteer experience?

“The biggest thing I learned was understanding the perspective of others. My background was so different from the other Park Ambassadors and being able to learn about them helped me branch out my own views of the world. Learning about their passions and what mattered to each of them really opened my eyes. I found it both refreshing and inspiring.”

What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about volunteering?  

“I’d say you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s hard to put it into words what exactly I gained, but volunteering has been such a transformative experience. I could see the growth not just in me, but the other volunteers around me. You get all that and get to make a positive impact on a community. Walking through the park and seeing people enjoy the places I worked in was so worthwhile. You may not see the difference yourself, but people in the community definitely will. And that will make the few hours you spend volunteering totally worth it.”

What does Care of the Park mean to you?

“It was really a transformative experience. I went in there looking to use my skills to contribute and make a difference. But working with Care of the Park, the most valuable part was working with the volunteers and getting to know each of them. Working with our volunteer leaders (Jersey Cares staff and the Rutgers Master Gardeners leading the projects) I felt like they cared about getting to know us and really humanized the experience. I was fortunate enough to be able to help others, but I also gained so much from the people I worked with. To me, Care of the Park is the great people you get to work with.”

 

 

Jersey Cares Selected as Citi Foundation Youth Workforce Fund Grantee to Boost Access to Jobs Among Youth in Newark, NJ

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 Jersey Cares Selected as Citi Foundation Youth Workforce Fund Grantee to Boost Access to Jobs Among Youth in Newark, NJ 

$4 million fund to support youth employment organizations across 15 U.S. cities

 Livingston, NJ (October 24, 2017) – The Citi Foundation recently announced that Jersey Cares has been awarded a grant from the 2017 Youth Workforce Fund, as part of its Pathways to Progress initiative to provide youth both in the U.S. and around the world with the training and access to jobs, including paid apprenticeships and internships. In partnership with America’s Promise Alliance, 15 nonprofit organizations across the U.S. will expand their programming to provide a range of employment opportunities in areas including environmental sustainability to robotics and culinary arts to coding. Collectively, the Youth Workforce Fund is expected to reach more than 5,000 youth across the country.

Jersey Cares will receive a grant of $250,000 to address the disconnect between workforce development training and employment opportunities for Newark young adults, by positioning them to be the focal point of merging efforts between major companies and Newark’s nonprofit sector. Specifically, students will receive workforce development training from major companies; training which will then be applied to non-profits in Newark to help build capacity.

“Understanding the vast resources and talent that we have, our great City of Newark is driven by a host of individuals, agencies, companies, and institutions that are committed to working together to address our pressing challenges while forging new pathways to success,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “This new Jersey Cares initiative will give impulse to dynamic cross-sector relationships, as well as expose our young people to professional opportunities that can greatly transform our city, and importantly, their lives.”

Access to apprenticeships, internships and vocational training is essential to empowering youth and preparing them to compete in today’s economy. According to the Citi Foundation’s Global Youth Survey 2017: Economic Prospects & Expectations, 78% of young people surveyed believe that internships and apprenticeships are critical for career success; however, 60% say there aren’t enough of these opportunities.

“While there is much focus on the skills mismatch among today’s youth and the jobs available, there are a lot of community organizations across the U.S. that are changing the dynamics around youth employment in their communities,” said Brandee McHale, president of the Citi Foundation. “Through the Youth Workforce Fund, we’re supporting those organizations that are expanding the skills of young people, building their networks, and connecting them to jobs.”

America’s Promise Alliance, the largest coalition of youth-serving organizations across the United States, will help us promote the adoption of new ideas that arise from Youth Workforce Fund programming. “We know that for many youth there is not one straight line to success and that the more opportunities young people have to work in real-world environments, the better chance they have for future economic mobility and success” added John Gomperts, President & CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “The programs supported by the Youth Workforce Fund reflect different pathways into the workforce that are essential for helping more young people beat the odds.”

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About Jersey Cares:

Jersey Cares is a dynamic nonprofit organization that meets community needs by making volunteering in New Jersey easy and meaningful. Jersey Cares works directly with local nonprofit organizations and schools, identifying their needs and managing volunteer projects that address them. Jersey Cares volunteers have provided hundreds of thousands of hours of service to communities, including mentoring troubled teens, reaching out to isolated seniors, restoring the environment and assisting children with their learning. Jersey Cares offers meaningful volunteer opportunities that showcase the rewards of civic engagement and address some of our communities’ most serious needs. For more information, please visit www.jerseycares.org.

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.

About America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance leads an alliance of organizations, communities and individuals dedicated to making the promise of America real for every child. As its signature effort, the GradNation campaign mobilizes Americans to increase the on-time high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and prepare young people for postsecondary enrollment and the 21st century workforce. For more information, visit www.americaspromise.org.

City Spotlight: Moonachie

As a response to all of the amazing volunteer work being done across New Jersey, the Jersey Cares City Spotlight will showcase exceptional civic engagement weekly in a specific New Jersey community.

Moonachie, NJ is located in Bergen County in the Hackensack River watershed. Before 1987, the typical pronunciation of Moonachie was “moo-NAH-kee” until the former Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, pronounced it “mah-NOO-chee” when suggesting that the New York Giants hold their victory parade there! Although the parade never came to fruition, Moonachie proves to be full of unwavering pride, enthusiasm, and hope. The dedicated volunteers of Jersey Cares are certainly no strangers to the community of Moonachie. Jersey Cares has partnered with several non-profit agencies in Moonachie to host multiple days of service and on-going volunteering opportunities.

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Jersey Cares volunteers on Jersey Cares Day!

On Jersey Cares Day, one Jersey Cares non-profit partner agency located in Moonachie hosted 75 volunteers. In just three hours, volunteers planted flowers, painted line games, and assembled benches. In addition to their dedication on Jersey Cares Day, volunteers also contributed to beautify the community in the months following Hurricane Sandy. Jersey Cares partnered with the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund to host Sandy Service Day on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy in October 2013. Over the course of two days, two non-profit agency partners received assistance from almost 300 enthusiastic volunteers, totaling close to 800 total service hours! Additionally, Moonachie hosted a corporate service project with BNP Paribas which aided in disaster relief by completing 30 Welcome Home Painting Kits that were donated to homeowners returning to their repaired homes that were damaged by the storm.

The citizens of Moonachie spread their goodwill throughout Bergen County with weekly volunteer opportunities. They continually devote time to removing debris with Bingo Time in Paramus to socialize with our country’s veterans. We encourage you to lend a helping hand to the vibrant Bergen County community and visit the Jersey Cares Volunteer Opportunity Calendar.

City Spotlight: Livingston

As a response to all of the amazing volunteer work being done across New Jersey, the Jersey Cares City Spotlight will showcase exceptional civic engagement weekly in a specific New Jersey community.

Named in honor of William Livingston the first governor of New Jersey, Livingston is a town dedicated to service – it supports an all-volunteer first aid squad and fire department. Livingston’s commitment to service doesn’t end with emergency services! They are also involved in many Jersey Cares initiatives.

Jersey Cares volunteers on MLK Day making homemade play dough for sensory kits.

Jersey Cares volunteers on MLK Day making homemade play dough for sensory kits.

Last fall, two corporations gave their time to volunteer in Livingston. ImClone Systems and Mondelez each engaged 30 volunteers in revitalization projects. At a high school which serves students with disabilities, ImClone volunteers created an interactive pumpkin patch and helped students pick and decorate 100 pumpkins while Mondelez employees volunteered at a community center beautifying the facility by landscaping and planting seasonal flowers and shrubs. Combined, both corporations served over 225 hours in the community.

Last winter, Livingston citizens, business groups and civic organizations collected 165 coats with the Jersey Cares Coat Drive. This past Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 30 volunteers created interactive crafts including rain sticks and homemade play dough as a part of sensory kits that were donated to a center serving children and teens with cerebral palsy.  Additionally, on The 16th Annual Jersey Cares Day in May, 25 volunteers decorated inspirational and motivational posters that were used to help cheer on the center’s students during their spring fundraising walk. Through these efforts, nearly 300 kids were served!

Livingston is a small town with a big heart! To find out how you can contribute to the tradition of volunteerism in your community visit www.jerseycares.org!

City Spotlight: Plainfield

As a response to all of the amazing volunteer work being done across New Jersey, the Jersey Cares City Spotlight will showcase exceptional civic engagement weekly in a specific New Jersey community.

Plainfield is a city in Union County, New Jersey and has experienced exponential growth according to the United States Census. As of 2010, the city’s population increased to 49,808 – supposedly the highest ever recorded population in any decennial census! While Plainfield continues to grow in population, its citizens also grow in the number of places and ways they volunteer!

Last winter, Plainfield civic groups and businesses collected as many as 680 gently used and new coats and distributed them among four non-profit agencies through the Jersey Cares Coat Drive. Additionally, 183 children received holiday gifts through Frosty’s Friends, the Jersey Cares winter gift giving program. Nearly 80 corporate volunteers from Boston Consulting Group braved the chilly winter months and gave back over 300 hours to a Plainfield public middle school. These dedicated volunteers painted murals, planted flower pots, built four picnic tables and five bookshelves, totaling 308 hours of service that will benefit almost 750 students for years to come!

The warm spring temperatures brought even more eager volunteers to Plainfield! During the 16th Annual Jersey Cares Day, volunteers revitalized a Plainfield charter school by painting line games, walls and planter murals. Volunteers also gardened and assembled picnic tables, benches and bookshelves. This hard work totaled 326 hours of service and assisted about 750 children.

Not only is Plainfield dedicated to volunteering, but all Union County residents dedicate their time to others! Through the Volunteer Opportunity Calendar, Union County volunteers leverage their strengths to meet the needs of four non-profit agencies. On a weekly basis, you can find Jersey Cares volunteers socializing with seniors at Bingo Time in Berkeley Heights or sorting and packing food donations at Mobile Meals in Elizabeth and Marketplace in Hillside. Twice a month, our tech savvy volunteers teach computer skills to adults at Computer Essentials in Elizabeth.

Plainfield’s numbers have seen a steady increase in the recent years and we hope that along with more citizens comes even more enthusiasm for volunteering! For fun and exciting volunteer opportunities 365 days of the year, visit our website!

City Spotlight: Newark

As a response to all of the amazing volunteer work being done across New Jersey, the Jersey Cares City Spotlight will showcase exceptional civic engagement weekly in a specific New Jersey community.

Newark, NJ! Home to the Jersey Cares office and the entertainment district! Newark now hosts the Prudential Center, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Newark Symphony and the Riverfront Stadium! Newark sees many talented individuals on these stages. In addition to these super star performers, Newark is also home to almost 100 of our super star agencies!

Last winter, Newark’s volunteers distributed around 8,000 coats and donated them to 39 agencies for the Jersey Cares Coat Drive. In addition, more than 800 children received holiday gifts through Frosty’s Friends, a winter gift-giving campaign.

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Volunteers painting Newark community center on Jersey Cares Day 2014!

On the 16th Annual Jersey Cares Day, five non-profit partner agencies were revitalized by 350 volunteers! Volunteers painted classrooms, gymnasiums, murals and planted gardens and landscapes. In total, Newark’s volunteers served nearly 140 hours which benefited almost 1,000 children– outstanding results! The Jersey Cares Volunteer Opportunity Calendar partners with nine Newark non-profits to host more than 40 volunteer events monthly!

Not only do individual volunteers prove to be stars while giving their time in Newark, but corporate volunteers also leave a tremendous impact! Last month, ADP dedicated their time to the city of Newark. ADP volunteers contributed close to 300 hours of service with over 80 volunteers at two Newark schools. Newark certainly benefitted from their generosity!

Jersey Cares continually posts fun and exciting volunteer opportunities in the city of Newark. Join us in continuing our efforts of volunteerism with Hunger Helpers, a monthly meal service volunteer opportunity, Plant it Forward, a community garden revitalization project, and Literacy Leaders, a weekly education initiative for children and youth.

City Spotlight: Jersey City

As a response to all of the amazing volunteer work being done across New Jersey, the Jersey Cares City Spotlight will showcase exceptional civic engagement weekly in a specific New Jersey community.

Jersey City is a great destination for the whole family. There are endless activities filled with educational value and fun! Jersey City hosts the Liberty Science Center, eight local farmers markets, the LeFrak Lighthouse, Newport Centre Mall, Liberty State Park and the breath-taking Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. The fun doesn’t stop there– Jersey Cares hosts many volunteer projects in New Jersey’s second largest city, Jersey City.

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Jersey Cares volunteers at Liberty State Park on The 16th Annual Jersey Cares Day.

Jersey Cares volunteers continually contribute to the Jersey City community. In the last year, nearly 530 corporate volunteers served 14 different non-profits and over 300 volunteers served four agencies on The 16th Annual Jersey Cares Day. Volunteers have assembled 30 picnic tables and benches, over 15 line games, and almost 70 murals that are enjoyed by over 5,300 Jersey City children. Last winter, Jersey City was also warmed with the spirit of volunteers and 8 non-profits received more than 1,600 new and gently used coats through The Jersey Cares Coat Drive.

Join us through the Volunteer Opportunity Calendar for three reoccurring events in Jersey City. Hunger Helpers, a weekly meal service volunteer opportunity, Earth Keepers, an environmental stewardship project, and Marketplace, a donation sorting opportunity in Jersey City this month.