On the morning of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I sat on the steps of City Hall, thinking about everything that made Dr. King a transcendent of his time and a beloved treasure of our time. I thought about my hometown, predominantly housed by minorities, local politics led by minorities, and not one event on the calendar to honor Dr. King's day.
Luckily, CareTrenton led by Elissa Horan, had a volunteerism gathering that began on 600 Hamilton Avenue. Jacque Howard of The Trenton 365 Show on 1300 WIMG told me about it the night before. I'm glad I attended. Teenagers from all over Central Jersey showed up and got right to work on cleaning up the area.
We must hold onto King's Dream. A breakfast with your colleagues isn't enough. Get out there and be of service to the City of Trenton. Check out the video below of our day.
In 2012 the BHOH Community Garden was created in partnership with the Urban Mission Cabinet Inc., The Crisis Ministry and Isles. Many other others volunteered time, talent and treasures to make this a wonderful share garden.
The basis of the garden would be to share 50% of the produce with the neighborhood through the programs of the Crisis Ministry.
Carolyn Biondi addressing the crowd #1
Carolyn Biondi addressing the crowd #2
Carolyn Biondi addressing the crowd #3
Fast forward Fall of 2012 the physical action steps to create the “Crisis Ministry Hanover Street Garden” begins.
July 2013, the following are excerpts from the opening presented by Carolyn Biondi, Executive Director [ED] of the Crisis Ministry.
We are pleased to have everyone here to share in the celebration of this wonderful effort to make our garden on Hanover Street a reality. Jarrett Kerbel former ED, Mark Smith Hunger Prevention Director, landlord Rev. John Allen and Admin. Maria Newman had dreamed for several years about a green space that would beautify our neighborhood and provide produce for our neighbors in need.
Several partners moved to make that dream a reality:
·Christen Foell and Bobby Hackett from the Bonner Foundation who provided the funds and support the work of the Crisis Ministry.
·Jacque Howard and the Rev. Karen Hernandez-Granzen from the Urban Mission Cabinet Inc. who partnered on the Bethany House of Hospitality Community Garden and brought inspired ideas and key partners to the effort on Hanover St.
·Jim Simon, Marty Johnson and Isles Youth Build Institute students, who lent their expertise of urban agriculture, sweat equity and volunteer connections to the project.
·Artists Will “Kasso” and Jim “Luv One” Kelewae from SAGE Coalition NJ who painted the Richie Havens inspired mural and Wils “Wheels” Kinsley for the bicycle wheeled market cart.
·Heather McNeil-Nazareth of Mercer County for soil consulting.
·Christine Thomas of Thomas’ English Gardens for design work.
·Pineland Nursery for perennials.
·Hlubik Farms for vegetables and herb plants.
·SAGE Coalition’s Gandhi Garden for shrubbery and ground cover.
·Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton University Varsity Club, NRG-Energy, Grace-St. Paul’s Episcopol Church of Hamilton and Janssen Pharmaceuticals for volunteers.
·Crisis Ministry Board ChairFred Van Sickleand Boardmembers who provide leadership and vision for the Crisis Ministry in new efforts like this.
Wils Kins with hat, Fabricator of the Bicycle Market Cart
Recycled bicycle parts
Muralist Will Kasso sharing about the Richie Havens inspired mural
It was a hot day in the summer 2011 as a team of volunteers worked to cleanout the “manse” of the Bethany Presbyterian Church. This facility would become the Bethany House of Hospitality. On that day I met Elissa Horan.
Elissa whose family owns and operated the Horan Funeral Home a block away on Hamilton Ave. for many decades saw some activity in the neighborhood and came over.
It was a typical hot NJ summer day with heat and humidity forcing even the coolest of people to leave puddles while standing still let alone doing manual labor.In between my demolition of the kitchen I was checking on the volunteers and met Elissa.
The firm handshake and mini-smile signaled to me a no-nonsense woman.After 4 hours and two 30yard containers of trash, the dozen or so volunteers met on the steps for a time of sharing and praise.Standing next to me was Elissa and proudly I say standing with me!
Later that day we met with others at Trenton Social for lunch and the friendship took off.
During the lunch we shared our backgrounds, thoughts on Trenton, projects and visions. At that point we knew we were kindred spirits.
Since that initial meeting and chat over food we have partnered on several projects all with bettering Trenton in mind. Elissa created the organization CARE Trenton. The focus of the org is to cleanup, beautify and to make Trenton better. This began when Elissa started cleaning around the outside of her home and the home she grew up in by picking up litter and organizing trash for pickup. This progressed to cleaning around the block and soon other residents were getting involved.
CARE Trenton would then grow to organizing cleanups around the city with a simple idea that having clean, litter free streets would benefit everyone. Since the vision is to make Trenton better for everyone, CARE Trenton has partnered with several other groups who have the same vision. In the 2+ years I have known Elissa, CARE Trenton has organized cleanups at Columbus Park, Hamilton Ave, Roebling Wireworks, Franklin Park, Roma Bank Triangle, Sacred Heart Triangle and Villa Park. Partnering organizations have included TCCA-Trenton Council of Civic Associations, Villa Park Civic Association, Chambersburg Civic Association, Old Mill Hill Society, Berkley Square Civic Association, FPNEBA-Franklin Parks NE Block Association, 1stBaptist Church of Trenton, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, TCNJ-The College of New Jersey Bonner Center, several local small businesses and many others.
l-r Carol Rogers, Jim Halliday, Robin Erfe, Gabrielle from Social, me and Elissa Horan
In the spring of 2013 a resolution was presented to Trenton City Council by Councilwoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson to recognized CARE Trenton as an official organization whose focus is to make Trenton cleaner, safer and more beautiful for everyone.
As the vision of CARE Trenton is seen by others you can expect more collaboration and partnering all with making the City of Trenton Better!