IRVINGTON, NJ — Irvington NAACP member Ed Kaiser was one of five people recognized at the Donald M. Payne Jr. Veterans Day Program on Thursday, Nov. 7, in the Leroy F. Smith Jr. Public Safety Building.
Kaiser, who helps people with bank foreclosure issues, was honored with a plaque, along with Kenneth M. Douglas, JoAnn Northgrave, Fernando Colon and Arthur Matthews.
U.S. Rep. Payne, who represents New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District, which includes portions of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, is a Newark native now serving his fourth term in Congress. A proponent of increased resources for veterans, he welcomed all who attended and recognized the honorees and those who served.
“We’re here to celebrate our Veterans Day Program, Payne told the Irvington Herald at the event. “This year is my fourth annual program. It’s just an opportunity to say thank you to the people that have gone across the world to defend our freedom and allow us to have the quality of life that we have here in the U.S.”
“As one who did not serve,” he continued, “I feel like it’s my obligation to say ‘thank you’ as much as I can to the men and women that served to defend this country. Today’s event was wonderful. It brought together a large portion of the community, cross section, from all three counties in the 10th district and so, once again, it’s been a wonderful afternoon.”
“We’ve gotten an award recognizing how we help people stay in their homes and with families because of mortgage foreclosures,” Kaiser told the Irvington Herald at the event. “Mortgage foreclosures effects a lot of people. One of the things that most people say is ‘I don’t know anyone who’s faced that,’ but I guarantee your pastor or elder knows five families that need help, and the person that prepares your taxes probably does as well.
“Right now, we’re very lucky that the mayor of Newark and the City Council president does a session in City Hall where people can come. Each case is different, so we don’t know what’s going to happen, but a lot of the loans that were government-type loans, we’re very happy to help people with, and we work with many organizations, because us working together makes it possible for the community to be aware of what we might be able to help them with and we’ve been very successful.”
“I was shocked when they told me I was being recognized,” Kaiser continued. “I was really quite surprised. I’ve been to various veterans events and I thought that would be a great way of getting the word out, to help more families, because it’s all about keeping the families intact and keeping them together, and that’s what we try to do.”
Northgrave, the chief community organization specialist at the Hudson County Clerk’s Office, was also honored at the program.
“I received an award from the congressman for my work for the veterans,” Northgrave said at the event. “We help veterans with many, many things. One of the things we do is we have a stakeholders meeting that crosses the span of New Jersey, so that every veteran who comes to us, we never ask where they’ve come from. We just ask if they’ve served and they’ve served us all.”
“I feel extremely humble about being honored at today’s event,” Northgrave continued. “They do a lot more than we think and they deserve a lot more than we give them. This is a wonderful job.”
“I’m being honored by Congressman Payne for being a veteran of the United States Marine Corp,” Douglas said at the event. “I thank Congressman Donald Payne for his consideration, for choosing me out of all the people that he could have chosen. I appreciate him. He’s actually a hero to me and definitely a champion in the district.”
After the honorees and veterans were recognized, guests were treated to refreshments.
Jemal Beale, the state adjutant general and commissioner at the N.J. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and a keynote speaker at the event, spoke to the Irvington Herald afterward.
“I was here today to be a keynote speaker on behalf of the Congressman’s Veterans Award Program,” Beale said. “Today’s event was fantastic. I’m here to recognize others. Congressman Payne has a nice split here between the Army, Navy and Air Force. I’m an Army guy, but we still love everyone else and all of the other services.”
“I just want to thank everyone for their support and, remember, for us, the New Jersey National Guard, we’re always hiring and we’re always looking for people to join, so come down and you can be on the team, too,” Beale added.
Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman.