Photo by Chris Sykes
From left, Mark Smith, the co-founder of the non-profit charity organization Joi’s Angels, along with his wife and the organization’s namesake, Joi, stands with a security officer and a volunteer on Saturday, Dec. 16, during the organization’s Christmas Carnival and annual Holiday Party inside the Essex County College gymnasium on West Market Street in Newark.NEWARK, NJ — The East Orange-based nonprofit organization Joi’s Angels hosted their annual Holiday Party and Christmas Carnival in the Essex County College Gymnasium on West Market Street in downtown Newark on Saturday, Dec. 16, and it proved a big hit.
“I believe it was a good thing,” said one resident, who went to the carnival with her son and two nephews. “It’s supporting the community and giving back. They did a good thing and it was successful.”
Newark Board of Education President Marques-Aquil Lewis came out to the carnival with his assistant, Miss Crawford, and his son, Mason, 4, and they all said they were glad they did.
“Mason definitely liked the bouncy house,” said Crawford on Saturday, Dec. 16. “He was in there about four times.”
Lewis said the carnival was a great way to serve the community and practical demonstration of what a commitment to serve from people such as Joi’s Angels founders Mark Smith and his wife, Joi, who both hail from East Orange.
“I think it was a great experience,” said Lewis on Thursday, Dec. 16. “I saw a lot of families leave happy. The kids were happy, it was a packed house. This was the place to be today.”
Mark and Joi Smith said that was high praise, but Lewis wasn’t the only one who said the Joi’s Angels Christmas Carnival was a great, family-oriented event for children and adults of all ages. Shanice Williams, the young singer who starred in the Broadway production of the musical “The Wiz,” said she was glad to participate in the event, which also featured carnival games, refreshments, music by DJ Tameil from Power 101.7 FM, dancing, senior Bingo, raffles and prizes in exchange for a small donation.
“I just want y’all to know that, no matter what you want to do, you can make it happen,” Williams told the audience of hundreds of screaming children and their caregivers at the event. “I’ve had people tell me: ‘That’s not gonna happen for you; that’s crazy; that only happens to people with money; that doesn’t happen for people that come from places like you do; that doesn’t happen for people with skin color like yours.’ Anything you want to do, you can do it, alright? Because dreams come true.”
Mark Smith agreed and acknowledged that all big dreams start off small, but grow in time, thanks to hard work, dedication, perseverance. The Joi’s Angels Christmas Carnival outgrew Calvary-Roseville United Methodist Church on Main Street, where it was held last year. The Essex County College Gymnasium was more able can accommodate the large crowds of people attending.
“We love what we do and I wish everybody a very merry Christmas, happy holidays and a happy New Year,” said Mark Smith on Saturday, Dec. 16. “I believe everybody should do for their community. With Joi’s Angels, I think that God has given us and put us in a position that we can cause and effect, so that we can all come together as a community and work together as a community. Instead of it being about Joi’s Angels, we can all come together, people coming out and joining together, so that we can all be one. The thing with Joi’s Angels is that we promote family, we promote oneness and we promote love.”
For more information about Joi’s Angels, call 973-395-4348 or www.joisangels.com.