LONG BRANCH, NJ—Late afternoon on the first day of June the 7th Avenue Community Garden was filled with families, community partners, and Corporal Kim Leavy. In celebration of Police Week the community came together to garden side by side with Corporal Leavy.
The event kicked off at 4 pm and the community trickled in slowly, before a half hour had come to pass the garden was filled. Stretching from 7th Avenue to Lippincott, the community could be seen tending to their plots, engaging in conversation with each other, and children running through the sprinklers that watered the growing city plots.
“The significance of coming together with the Long Branch Police Department was immeasurable in an abundance of capacities. The gesture celebrates and recognizes the fundamental relationship of working together to get things done, encourage inclusivity, and reinforce the Police Department as being the good guys,” stated Jahmoia Rice-Norflett, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator at the LBC, “Corporal Leavy did an amazing connected with our families and the community through hard work and good laughs in the garden.”
There were several big projects that were planned to take place in the garden that evening. One of the projects was to clear the fence through the garden. The vines were wrapped and entwined so meticulously around this fence, it seemed to be a never ending challenge. With persistence, hard work, and combined help from the Corporal, Pastor Gonzales, and families the fence was able to be cleared. This made the entire garden visible from either end. “It’s symbolic when you think about it. The clarity we have of one another when we take the time to understand each other and work together. We are building a stronger community through this work.” commented Rice-Norflett.
The day didn’t end in the garden. After getting their hands dirty and thumbs greener, everyone headed over to the Family Success Center for pizza and shared stories. Corporal Leavy, Councilman John Pallone and Long Branch police officers shared the significance public service has had in their lives and family. One of the most moving stories was delivered by, Lourdes Alcaraz, Bilingual Family Support Partner at the LBC. Lourdes shared her story of emigrating from Mexico City in 2000 and becoming the volunteer 1st Lieutenant Officer for 4 consecutive years starting in 2011 and EMT with the Holmdel First Aid Squad. “Being a part of the Holmdel First Aid Squad allows me to help others and create a more meaningful life. I am always reassured when I am responding to a call because I know that the police officers arriving on scene are going to make sure we are safe.” stated Lourdes. “It’s important to acknowledge the work of all public servants, police officers, firefighters, and EMT’s alike. Our work is important to the community and the community is so important to our work.”
“The Long Branch Concordance Family Success Center’s staff, volunteers, parents, and Jacob Jones, Director of the Office of Community and Economic Development for the City, should be commended for their continuous work building community relationships county wide. After 10 years of being with the LBC it is my heartfelt observation that our work is critical in strengthening families, uniting neighborhoods, and building communities,” stated Lisa Wilson, Executive Director of Long Branch Concordance Family Success Center.
The day was a great success and LBC is looking forward to continuing the partnership with Long Branch Police Department. For more information about the event or volunteering contact Jahmoia Rice-Norflett at 732-571-1670 or email to Jahmoia@lbc4help.org.