April 18th, 2012
Community Action Teams making big strides
Angie Perez Ramos of the Newburgh Professional and Business Association was on hand at the Armory for the Newburgh Community Action Teams Progress Reports and Celebration Program.
Newburgh - It’s official. The Newburgh Community Action Teams are off and running.
That progress was showcased Monday evening at the City of Newburgh Armory, where twelve resident-based groups, along with Mayor Judy Kennedy, gathered to reveal the progress and goals of each of the dozen groups. They were joined by approximately 75 people in the crowd, each on hand to help transform the reputation and future of the City of Newburgh. The well-attended event further marked the beginning of a new era for the City of Newburgh mayoral leadership, one centered upon directly involving its residents. Those folks, who make up the dozen committees, ranging from environment, to job, to transportation, to youth issues, have been hard at work, researching concerns, developing goals and making initial strides, the past few months. Monday, each group introduced itself to the public, while revealing specifics on its group.
Deborah Jackson leads the Adopt-a-Block Committee, whose focus lies on improving the City of Newburgh one block at a time. Working side-by-side with residents, the group aims to empower “block teams” with the resources needed to excel at block projects. Lately, that work has involved providing bags to children to help clean up their block. The initial phase involved South Street to Liberty Street. Phase two is slated for Farrigton Street.
“Once they do the cleaning, they get a smiley face wrapper that has cookies,” explained Jackson. “We are looking to have adult block champions to take charge; we want residents to be champions.”
Another contingent intent on making the City of Newburgh more aesthetically appealing is Clean & Beautify Newburgh. Led by Ramona Monteverde, the committee has a clear mission.
“We are going to clean the City, beautify it so people will want to come here,” said Monteverde, whose team already has 14 members and meets twice monthly. Having already had reached out to garden clubs and partnered with Safe Harbors as well as helped clean up the corner of Parmenter and Williams Street, the enthusiastic group has further aspirations of teaming with the Adopt-a- Block-Group, educating the community on the negatives of littering and identifying the areas in the City in desperate need of landscaping.
Not only do teams have concerns focused on improving the physical beauty of their City, they also desperately want to ensure its safety. Responding to that need is the Creating a Safe City Committee. Aiming at changing the way others view the City of Newburgh, the group not only wants to make its residents safe, but its businesses as well as visitors. Although group leader, Mark Carnes, could not be in attendance Monday, Mayor Kennedy spoke on his behalf.
“We are really finding by partnering, it is helping a great deal; it is a part of the reason Newburgh has failed in the past,” said Kennedy, who had recently returned from a workshop in Washington, D.C. dealing with just that issue. “There are just so many organizations out there in Newburgh trying to go it alone; we have to start with our very young children (ages 3-8) and provide them with things they need.” The Mayor added, “I’m on a full-scale mission to find at least 50 kids to join Job Corp, free job, technical and academic training for youth ages 16-24; I know those kids are out there; help me find them.”
Later in the evening someone from the Youth Committee reported that several City of Newburgh youth had enlisted in Job Corp.
That enrollment is a testament to the positive energy being generated by the Community Action Teams. No longer does the political hierarchy of the City of Newburgh appear to begin and end with a select few voted into office. Rather, it is slowly evolving into a hands-on, resident-driven one, whose untapped potential appears to be limitless.
That promise can be directly observed in the Youth component. That committee, teaming with other services, while building on the programs in the City that already exist, is aiming to take those strides to the next level. Diligently working on the technological end, the Youth Committee is hard at work creating an on-line City Catalogue and Calendar, containing all the youth programs, along with other pertinent information.
Saturday, May 19, 2012 is a big day on that calendar. A Youth Pride Parade and Family Reading Day is scheduled for all to attend and enjoy. Another date to remember takes place a week before, May 12, 2012, when Newburgh Community Cleanup is slated. Covering Clinton Street to Renwick Street, as well as Downing Park East to Colden Street, the day is focused on not only beautifying the City, but uniting its residents. All are encouraged to attend, as the rewards are bound to be priceless.
Whether it be a budding bus transportation system, the formation of a Newburgh Business Association to create more jobs, or a Newburgh Heritage and Art Festival in the summer of 2013, things are slowly beginning to change in the City of Newburgh. And from the looks of it, committees, along with their ensuing connections and networking, are bringing an undeniable faster, more cohesive pace to that promising evolution.
“Newburgh can be the jewel it once was again,” said Pat O’Dwyer, Leader of the Landlords and Tenants Committee, who pointed out how landlords are attending her meetings, but tenants are in great need to help make solutions to problems. “I just know there is a powerful enthusiasm out there to make this all happen.”