Empowering the Freehold Community to Make Decisions
Amidst all the COVID19 uncertainty, Neighborhood Connections to Health (NCTH) is maintaining its relationships with the Freehold community. Our Intergenerational Subcommittee has found a way to take advantage of social distancing during this time of isolation to push our work forward.
When NCTH began, we held focus groups to see what needs Freehold that our organization had could fulfill. What we found was that folks were interested in reducing social isolation and separation by uniting ages and cultures. So, we wrote our blueprint to include a volunteer council comprised of Freehold residents that would decide how to unite the community in different ways. The concept would be that the community itself would decide what initiatives it was to engage in- not a politically charged or organizational based mission.
Now, with the help of a grant from New Jersey Healthy Communities Network we’ve started putting this long-time goal into action.
We are proud to be creating what we are calling FICC- Freehold Intergenerational Community Council. During quarantine we disbursed the application to the Freehold community through existing, known outlets like food distribution centers and social service agencies. Residents age 12 and older were invited to apply and we received an amazing response of those who were interested in participating.
After reviewing over 70 applications, the Intergenerational subcommittee worked to select a 6-member selection committee, 3 youth and 3 adults. The FICC Selection Committee is currently meeting to decide how to select the remaining members. This process has been important and valuable for NCTH, as it puts the decision making in the hands of the community, not the organization. The Selection Committee identified important aspects of the ideal candidates would represent Freehold in a variety of ways including existing various volunteer background and leadership opportunities, passion for helping people, and most importantly- real lived community experience in Freehold. The final FICC members are expected to be formally invited to participate in October.
Speaking about the process, one 15-year old selection committee members stated, “I wasn’t sure how the process would work, but it was fun. I’m not used to having adults listen to me when kids and adults are mixed. This process made me feel like people cared what I had to say and I’m excited for the next steps.”
Once inducted, all FICC members will be receiving an extensive 13-week leadership training. The curriculum will ensure they can embrace the power of building relationships, reframe vulnerability, and engage many different age groups in an appropriate manner. Its design will ultimately develop bonds of friendship and, over time, a culture of neighborliness—of friendliness, consideration and helpfulness within Freehold.
The coming months hold much excitement for NCTHs Intergenerational subcommittee and Freehold Intergenerational Community Council. We have a lot to look forward to while uniting ages and cultures of Freehold. We feel everyone has something new to learn and everyone has something unique to offer! We look forward to doing it together. Please check out our progress on NCTHs website and interact with us on our Facebook page-
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.