BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Bloomfield residents went to work this past Saturday for their second Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, a community-based effort to make a positive difference in the township.
Last year, that common effort meant painting the Bloomfield Middle School breezeway and adding murals to stairwells. This year there was a collection of six tons of foodstuff for local pantries and the community cleared out books and shelving from an area of the Bloomfield Public Library for a proposed teen study area. The driving force both years has been Bloomfield Councilwoman Wartyna Davis.
“The Day of Service has evolved in wonderful ways,” Davis said at the library last Saturday. “The first year we had a committee and me driving it. In this second year, it’s more institutionalized and part of a community effort.”
The food collection, she said, started in early December at the Town Hall tree lighting. Food bins were placed at the Town Hall, at Bloomfield Fire Department stations, the Civic Center and the public library.
Davis, born and raised in Alabama, said community service was fundamental to her.
“It’s in my DNA,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that as a community, we lived Martin Luther King’s legacy of service. He said that one of life’s enduring questions is what are you doing for others. So, it seemed appropriate to answer that on the holiday weekend.”
The idea for a teen study area came from the MLK Jr. Day of Service Committee. Disassembling the shelving was led by Recreation Department Director Mike Sceurman and Councilmen Nick Joanow and Carlos Bernard. The project was helped along by Bloomfield College students and members of the Bloomfield High School boys’ and girls’ track teams. Demarest Elementary School Principal Mary Todaro, and the school’s media specialist, Maryann Vitrano, were also on board at the library. Before the work got under way, Mayor Michael Venezia, Library Director Adele Puccio and Freeholder Cynthia Toro, D-5th District, had words of appreciation.
Ann Harding, the treasurer of the Day of Service Committee, estimated the proposed teen area would cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
“The area will be a high-use space with modular furniture,” she said. “Modular furniture is costly.”
She hopes to find funding from Bloomfield businesses.
“We’re trying to get this installed as soon as possible,” she said.
Harding said anyone interested in making a contribution for the teen area can contact her directly at 917-687-8512, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s these types of things that make me think what we do matters,” Davis said. “It gets you ready to do the next great thing.”