For one day each year, Hoboken residents and volunteers join to make the city a cleaner, more beautiful place. The beltway near the light rail on the west side of town was one of the many areas spruced up on June 9 thanks to the dedication of the Hoboken Housing Authority.
Hoboken Grace Church founded the “1-day Hoboken” volunteer event three years ago. This year’s event rallied a couple of hundred volunteers to action, but Pastor Chris High hopes for a thousand volunteers or more in the coming years.
“Community is a big part of this event, not just the church. Everyone gets a chance to do something significant, and there’s something in it for everyone,” said High.
Volunteers gathered at 10 a.m. to paint rails, curbs and sidewalks and pick up trash from the beltway and the Hoboken pier. Other volunteers worked to collect food and supplies for the food bank and clean the homeless shelter. The church collaborated with In Jesus Name Charities, Hoboken public schools, Hoboken Parks Department and the Hoboken Housing Authority.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the Hoboken Grace Church,” said Carmelo Garcia, executive director of the Hoboken Housing Authority. “It’s a great thing to have so many volunteers creating a sense of community and giving back.”
This is the second year the Hoboken Housing Authority has partnered with Hoboken Grace Church to beautify Hoboken.
Bringing people to the beltway area sheds light on the living circumstances of the west end of town, which Garcia says is often overlooked.
“The blessing is this: kids walk by this fence and see a cleaner area and it breeds more involvement. People start pitching in and picking up themselves,” said Garcia.
The director explained that a “pick up and pitch in” campaign will be launched this the summer to continue this type of involvement.
The housing authority hopes to eventually remove the fence near the light rail and create a gardening area and more green space to continue building the community.
“Since the housing authority is a government entity, there are yearly cutbacks in our funding. We’re grateful for the church and all the volunteers because they are creating a difference in how the area is viewed by commuters and the rest of Hoboken.”