Leadership Opportunities for All Ages
Freehold Intergenerational Community Council (FICC) members presented their vision and action plan at the December NCTH coalition meeting. Community members who attended this meeting fell under the group’s spell of inclusiveness. Chris Naspo, a FICC member and school champion, challenged the participants to the idea that if you take one minute to get to know anyone, you will find more commonalities than differences. He confirmed this by having them share and discuss what they love about Freehold Borough – see cover image.
THE VISION – FICC is an intergenerational group focusing on alleviating social isolation and promoting a diverse and inclusive environment for all. We aim to make a positive impact on our community supporting and encouraging projects that improve the quality of life in Freehold Borough.
THE PLAN – Krystina Peraita presented on the action plan by sharing her personal experience and providing an overview of the opportunity to advocate for infrastructure change – a priority area identified by FICC. “As a long-time resident of Freehold Borough, just shy of 20 years, I have seen the town grow and change in many ways. I have enjoyed raising my 2 children here and they have benefited tremendously from the diversity and true downtown features of the Borough. We have watched many parades, concerts, celebrated many crowded Halloweens, fireworks at the Racetrack, seen Bruce at the diner, waited and waited for a table at El Meson, and eaten hundreds of Federici’s pies. The only thing I feel the Borough has lost over these years, has been its beautiful tree-lined streets, which cannot be replicated but will always live in my memory as the green canopies that attracted me to this area. Now, Freehold Borough has been given the honor of being chosen as the location for a new county park. This is an incredible opportunity. Our council members will be working with the county on the project and have asked FICC for input on the design of the park so that it reflects the wants and needs of our Freehold Community. Our aim is to make this park a reflection of our diverse community, to make the park accessible to all ages, and to accentuate and improve the walkability and bike-ability of the Borough. Big and good things are happening in the Borough. Be proud and support these wonderful improvements that serve all of us by making the Borough a better place to be.”
Participants had the opportunity to give their ideas and suggestions for this park right on the spot.
Another priority area is to reduce social isolation by enhancing civic engagement. Marilyn Talmage shared that for the elderly social isolation and the lack of civic engagement can be devastating. “I live in an Affordable Senior Living facility with 83 residents. We have lost 26 of our friends and neighbors since the start of the pandemic. Only 1 was to Covid-19 as most of the others to isolation. I personally was really struggling until I finally talked Carly [NCTH Community Coordinator] into letting me deliver meals in the Borough! On my route, all but 2 were always home. They counted on the deliveries more for the human contact than for the food. For me, it was therapeutic field trips. Placing current announcements, calendar events, meetings, church potluck dinners, garden surpluses, ‘let’s meet for checkers,’ etc., on bulletin boards is a tool to help build inclusivity and acceptance. Just knowing information gives one the choice to participate or not and connects one to reality. For that reason, we plan to have one traditional board in a visible location for all residents entering the borough as well as a digital bulletin board accessible from home or away. Our purpose is to get these boards functioning and practical, to get information to the people and to get the residents involved and ‘moving.’ Participating in meaningful activities/meetings, renewing old and making new friendships, finding a ‘network’ can be life-affirming as well as fun!”
Another opportunity to address social isolation is to bring programs to a local assisted living facility.
THE FUTURE – This coalition meeting offered a platform to recruit more committed members and volunteers. This community council will have a formalized organizational structure and continue offering leadership opportunities for all ages, as each generation plays an important role.
About the Grantee
Neighborhood Connections to Health (NCTH) is a community non-profit organization, which began as a portion of the work of the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA). NCTH was formed in 2016 and currently works under 4 priority areas: Intergenerational Physical Activity, Bikeability/Walkability, Lead Prevention and Access to Healthy Foods.