lbc 7th ave garden

lbc 7th ave gardenPHOTO: Pictured are Lourdes Alcaraz, Bilingual Family Support Partner, Youth Minister, Matt Jones, Jahmoia Rice-Norflett, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, and Searchlight Youth Ministry.  

LONG BRANCH, NJ – The Long Branch Concordance Family Success Center came together with volunteers from the Youth Ministry at SearchLight Church on Saturday, December 10, 2016 for the Community Garden Clean Up! The youth, ministry leaders, volunteers and Family Success Center’s staff spent the day clearing family plots and getting things ready for the upcoming season.

The youth were excited and their enthusiasm was displayed in their diligence. Matthew Jones, Ministry Youth Pastor, stated “The Family Success Center’s values are great and the mission is such a benefit to the community. At Searchlight Church we are committed to live and love like Jesus. We engage the youth ministry that you are never more like Jesus than when you are serving. We are committed to reinforcing the works behind prayer and belief.”  

lbc 7th ave garden 2PHOTO: Pastor Matt supervises youth as they haul debris from the garden

Searchlight Church is a volunteer based, authentic community of people centering their core values on Real People, Real Life and Real Love. They reinforce that it’s okay to not be okay, working towards growth and connecting with people for support in your journey. 


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In the middle of the work day the group came together to share in lunch and conversation. The youth offered stories of the positive influence SearchLight Church Youth Ministry has had over their lives, their first time experience of working in a garden and of course some laughs. 

Searchlight Church Youth Ministry holds a youth group every Wednesday night at 7pm. Pastor Jones added that they have a consistent attendance of about 30-45 youth per month, engaging in games, positive messages and groups. “Each small group is led by one of the awesome volunteer youth leaders. This is when deeper discussion happens, meaningful friendships are made and youth are challenged in their walk with God.” 

The Long Branch Concordance Family Success Center expresses a deep appreciation and gratitude to the Youth Ministry for all their hard work and help. Mark Davis, the 7th Avenue Community Garden Specialist, commented, “The day was a representation of the garden in its perfect form: community, sharing food (some of it picked from the garden that day), music, laughter and art. Thank you so much to everyone involved, we got a lot done!”

The day was definitely productive in so many aspects and the job is not done! The Family Success Center will continue Garden Days come rain or shine, fostering relationships with the community, engaging and empowering families. The Center will continue establishing partnerships with the community for the benefit of the community. We invite the community to come to the center and engage in the activities/events. 

We are excited about our upcoming events and encourage the community to come out and participate! We will be hosting our annuals: Mini-Greenhouse Workshop on February 18, 2017 at the Center & the 7th Avenue Community Kick-off & Health Fair is right around the corner on April 22, 2017 – A day filled with fun, gardening, free health screenings and breakfast! The Novo Nordisk NJ Marathon will take place on April 2017. Interested in “Running with a Purpose”, please contact the Center for details on how to become selflessly involved in the campaign. Not a runner, that’s okay, there are so many ways to be involved with volunteer opportunities! 

For more information about Youth Group Activities or community services contact Searchlight Church at 732-962-1522 or by email at [email protected] Sunday services are held at the Seashore School, 404 Broadway Long Branch, NJ 07740. 

Contact Jahmoia M. Rice-Norflett, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, at (732) 571-1670 or email to [email protected] to sponsor the 7th Avenue Community Garden or volunteer opportunities at the Family Success Center.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...