I would like to say that West New York is my home, I was raised here and I became a father in this beautiful town. I spent 12 years in the military because I felt that I had owed this town. You see, I didn’t have a great childhood. I had a broken home, where I had to deal with a lot of physical and mental abuse. I remember one day running away from my apartment because I was being beat hard because I was five minutes late from school, and I remember hiding under a tree near my building. As I sat there crying like a baby and freezing, I heard this lady come out with a blanket and she sat near me and started talking about nothing just to calm me down, then simply asked me what had happened.
She always had a way to make the darkest days seem a bit brighter, just because she cared. I never knew her full name, but most of West New York knew her as Ms. B. She was in charge of the Recreation Center. This lady was my hero, she saved me from feeling like there was no hope, no future, she helped me see that I mattered in this world, that I did not have to be doomed to fail because of the life I was living.
The recreation building was not perfect, it leaked in many places, it had old equipment and it could have used some more paint, but where it lacked in different areas, it gave kids a place to go when life was too hard or if you simply wanted to go somewhere safe and play a sport, create some arts and crafts, play some games in the game room, there was so much for kids to do.
That it made it so hard to have time to get in trouble, or hang out in the street doing bad stuff. Now that I look back there was a clear understanding of proper leadership and structure, Ms. B ran the place with simple but straight rules, if you broke them you were not allowed to play or enter the building until it was set right. I remember that the gangs would not mess with the recreation center, because there was clear understanding that it was a safe place only for education and fun.
Parents also felt safe knowing that the kids were at the recreation center; they had more peace of mind that they knew where their kids were. The recreation center of today is nothing compared to the recreation center of the past. Somewhere in the midst of creating a new West New York and trying to get more people to relocate here to a great town the town forgot about the kids and the importance that a recreation center plays in a community and a child’s education.
The recreation center of today lacks in proper leadership, and structure, but most of all it needs people who want to be there in the best interest of the kids, and community.