Monday, May 28, 2012

Support the Sacrifices Made By Our Vets

This morning, I attended the Memorial Day observance that honored Plainfield's war veterans. After the laying of the wreath and listening to the honors bestowed on those who served in our place, we stood silently as Robert Dixon offered a prayer.

As former Director of Housing Services for the Plainfield Area YMCA, my work also focused on supportive housing for our veterans, who make up a hugely disproportionate percentage of those in need of help. 

Please thank our veterans for all that they have done to ensure our freedoms!


Yours Truly,


Friday, May 18, 2012

The Plainfield Library Needs Our Support!

I have been attending the city council’s budget hearings, and one thing that really alarms me is Mayor Robinson-Briggs's proposal for the 2012 budget, which would cut the funding for the Plainfield Public Library by nearly half. First, as we learned at the budget hearing, the library was not even notified that the budget hearings were taking place, and a budget recommendation was given to the city council by the mayor and her administration without any input from the library. Second, to cut the library funding while at the same time increasing the budget in other areas would be disastrous, with more employee layoffs and a drastic cut in the library’s operating hours.

With tens of thousands of library card holders, the Library serves more Plainfield residents than any other agency in the city. From preschool children to our senior citizens, from job seekers to those needing to learn how to read, from those without computer or Internet access to those neighborhood groups who use the library’s community rooms for meeting space, the Plainfield Public Library serves the entire Plainfield community.

As a teacher here in Plainfield, as a parent with two children in the school system, as a taxpayer, and as a frequent library user (I have been using the Plainfield library since I was a child getting my first library card), I am wondering why the mayor has decided to cut the most important public resource in our city—it’s not right.

We need to save our library, and there are ways you can help right away.

First, come out to the library Saturday afternoon (May 19) between 4:00 and 7:00 PM for the 2012 Wine Discovery wine-tasting event. The proceeds ($60/ticket) will be used by the all-volunteer Friends of the Plainfield Public Library to support programs for our children, young people, adults, and senior citizens. You can become a Friend of the Library, where your annual dues, will help support all the programs. Annual dues are less than the cost of a pizza—for students and senior citizens, just $10 a year! For individuals, it’s $25, and for couples, it’s $45. 

Also, become a Library Champion and speak up on behalf of the Library, such as during the City's budget process, which is occurring right now. The city council will be scheduling more hearings for budget amendments, at which time you can come before the microphone during public comment to make your voice heard. The city council is elected to serve us, and we cannot allow them to go along with the mayor’s proposal.

For more information about the attack on the library’s funding, and how you can let your elected officials know how you feel, click on the link: Support the Library!

Yours truly,


Friday, May 11, 2012

Another Community Cleanup Opportunity

Rebecca reminded me to post this reminder of tomorrow's Plainfield Library exterior grounds cleanup, which begins at 9:00 a.m. Her original post is below.

Yours truly,


Saturday, May 12, 2012, 9:00 am 
Volunteers Meet on Library Steps
Gloves, rakes, bags, and water will be provided
Bob, Adrian, Rebecca, Paul, and Michael--from Fall 2011.
Hi, everyone,
It's that time again! We, as residents of Plainfield, have an obligation to help keep our city clean. The library belongs to all of us, and despite the opposition to the library as demonstrated by the mayor's desire to cut library funding by upwards of 40% of the current budget, we must keep this most important cultural and civic resource looking spic and span.
We need to trim hedges, remove branches, and pick up litter and other debris in preparation for the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library fundraising event, which will be held on Saturday, May 19th in the Reading Rainforest Children's Room. If you have hedge trimmers, please bring them! Below are some photos from past clean-ups--you will probably see some of your friends and neighbors--join us on Saturday, May 12 at 9:00 am!
See you there!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lending a Hand: Community Cleanups

About two weeks ago, I joined some of our Plainfield neighbors in a community cleanup of Leland Park. Volunteers removed brush, branches, and other debris in anticipation of a wonderful spring and summer. Our children, among other residents, use the park for a number of healthy activities. As a former teacher at Cook Elementary School, which adjoins the park, I am all too familiar with how much debris accumulates there. It's up to us to lend a hand and keep our city's parks clean--Public Works can't do it all by themselves. Also, the annual spring cleanup of the Plainfield Public Library's grounds will take place on Saturday, May 12, beginning at 9:00 am. Rebecca has posted it on her city council blog here. We hope you will join us--community service benefits us all, so we must do what we can for our children, parents, neighbors, and everyone else in Plainfield. Here are a few photos from the Leland Park cleanup, which was put together by the Netherwood Neighbors and Friends of Sleepy Hollow--look at what we can do if we all work together!

Yours truly,


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Remembering Pepsi Charles

“If you've had enough of political leaders from all parties using children as political props and pawns and talking about family values while not supporting what families need to raise healthy, safe, moral, and educated children, come stand with us.” --Marian Wright Edelman, of the Children’s Defense Fund

Back in 1996, as a young person serving on the Plainfield School Board, I headed a committee called “Stand For Children.” We sent three busloads of Plainfielders, including our young people, to the Children's Defense Fund’s “Stand for Children Day” March on Washington. This was the largest gathering ever in D.C. to focus solely on advocating for children. Hundreds of grassroots organizations were in attendance—all of us who cared about kids were there. 

At the time, my dear friend Pepsi Charles was the administrator for the Healthy Adolescent grant in partnership with the Plainfield Health Center (now known as the Neighborhood Health Services Corporation). Some of you may also remember that Pepsi hosted a long-running program on WBAI radio! 
The student interns (all college students) trained like the freedom bus riders of the 1960s, and were filled with passion and commitment. It was an amazing day, and we returned with fresh energy to continue tackling the issues of most concern to our young people.

Upon our return, Pepsi stated that she wanted to bring Freedom Schools and the “Beat the Odds” scholarship program to Plainfield. These programs would be awarded as gifts, to students who had overcome insurmountable odds in order to graduate. The students were not all “A” students, of course, but they were OUR kids, who, despite having to serve as caregivers to parents or grandparents or brothers and sisters, having to hold down a job while also finding time to study, trying as hard as possible to avoid the lure of the streets, were able to graduate.

Pepsi brought the health center and adolescent grant idea to me, and to Anna Belin-Pyles (our current interim superintendent), Denise Shipman and Danice Stone, all School-Based Youth Services staff.  We made a commitment, traveling to the Children’s Defense Fund’s Haley Farm in Tennessee to brainstorm strategies for student success with other policymakers and community builders. Pepsi brought the “Freedom School” and “Beat the Odds” programs to Plainfield. She also founded “Plainfield Cooks,” a fundraiser to pay for scholarships for “Beat the Odds.” The first “Plainfield Cooks” event was held in 1999.

This year, Alma Cruz, another of Pepsi’s dear friends and a tireless community activist in her own right, has organized this year’s “Plainfield Cooks” on the 10th anniversary of Pepsi's death. The event will take place this Saturday, May 5th, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, at Plainfield High School, as part of the Health Fair and Family Fitness Event, sponsored by the Greater Union County Chapter of Jack and Jill of America in conjunction with Links /PHS Health Fair, with free screenings, fitness activities, and a blood drive by NJ Blood Services.  

As a teacher and member of Plainfield High School’s Wellness Committee, I hope you will encourage your family and friends to come out to this event, to honor Pepsi’s memory, and to donate blood and take advantage of all the free screenings and fitness activities.

The freedom school still exists as the Summer Enrichment Program, now run by Zelda Spence, of School Based Youth Services. That program, as part of Pepsi’s legacy, teaches our students how to be “servant leaders”…that’s what Pepsi taught us to be. This is a fitting tribute to Pepsi.

Yours truly,