Making a Difference in the Heart of Vailsburg

By: Kamieha Greene

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I experienced something new and very different at the Heart of Vailsburg (HOV) Block Club Coalition General Assembly on Wednesday, July 13th. I have never witnessed people meeting together to express concerns about their block. There were even City of Newark officials present representing Councilman-At-Large Eddie Osborne and West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum.

It was very surprising hearing the honesty of the challenges residents face while city officials were present. It takes courage to speak out to express how you feel, when people in power are there perhaps even judgment. For example, an elder who resides on Alexander Street shared a story about how she feels the issues on her block are not being taken care of. She expressed frustration to a city official the previous week at another community meeting and that official told her, so why don’t you move. The woman was visibly upset and yet still came to the General Assembly.

Another senior who lives on Boylan Street brought up a concern about trees looming over her house. A city official from Councilman Osborne’s office went outside to obtain the address while the issue was also added to the HOV Accountability Document.

Almost everyone present took some kind of notes, asked questions, and contributed to the meeting. The HOV Steering Committee offered many helpful tips on how to improve the Vailsburg we see everyday. I also learned that an elder and Steering Committee member, Richard Hart, maintains the Healthy Haven Gardens especially the 18th Avenue Haven.

The meeting also showed me that people who want to better Vailsburg volunteer their time to go to the Block Club Coalition General Assembly to make sure their voices are heard. I think it’s very important for residents to come out to meetings because by doing that, they are collectively making a huge difference.

The Heart of Vailsburg Block Club Coalition meets every first Wednesday at 6PM at the Love of Jesus Church located at 88 Boylan Street in Vailsburg. I encourage all my neighbors young and old to join together. One person can make a difference, dozens can change a community. If you are interesting in joining the HOV team, you can email the Steering Committee at heartofvailsburg@gmail.com. Follow HOV on Twitter @HOV_BCC and on Instagram @HeartOfVailsburg_BCC.

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