Pandemic or No, Westfield Neighborhood Council Continues to Empower

WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Neighborhood Council, which has hosted events for the Westfield community for over 50 years, continues to grow during the coronavirus pandemic.

The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, celebrated their 50th year anniversary in 2019 with a street fair. Westfield Neighborhood Council President Carol Mercer said they also held a gala that recognized people who had been a part of the organization for a long time and had impacted the community.

The organization was founded by a group of mothers that wanted to have somewhere for their children to play that was not on the streets, Secretary Glenda Whitfield said. It then grew into an organization and became a nonprofit.

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The council currently consists of 20 board members and over 100 participants in programs.

“Westfield Neighborhood Council is a private, nonprofit, community-based social service organization, whose mission is to empower all members, children, youth and adults of the community through quality educational and direct hands on outreach, as people strive with pride to reach their full human potential,” Mercer said.

The organization has hosted dozens of events for the community over its lifetime, including a homework assistance program, youth socialization events, a dance program for adults and events with the YMCA and the Westfield Memorial Pool, she said.

They’ve also hosted bingo, basketball tournaments with the police and fire departments and a drug awareness program with the Westfield Municipal Alliance. Despite the pandemic slowing things down, Mercer said the organization is doing well.

“We started in June with our first fundraiser to help keep the doors open,” she said. “Businesses have been giving donations to help keep it afloat.”

One of the most successful fundraisers, Mercer said, was the fish fry event that happened every third Friday until October. The money from fundraisers help run programs and pay the rent for the organization’s building on Cacciola Place.

The Westfield Neighborhood Council has also continued to help the community and surrounding communities during this time. Whitfield ran a sock collection with the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless and collected around 319 pairs of socks.

They have also been working to host their homework assistance program virtually, and the board hosts their meetings on Zoom.

“Everything is virtual now,” Mercer said. “People are afraid to come into the building, but when they are able to, we will be ready for them.”

The organization communicates about programs and events mainly through word-of-mouth and monthly newsletters, which are published on their Facebook page and distributed from door-to-door.

As someone who has been a part of the council since the age of 16, Whitfield is looking forward to seeing her grandchildren and their children be able to use the building and participate in the organization.

“I think my favorite part, because I have been around since almost the beginning, is that we’re still there,” Whitfield said. “It’s almost like a part of our heritage that we can pass down.”

For more information on the Westfield Neighborhood Council and how to get involved, visit the Westfield Neighborhood Council’s website and its Facebook page.

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