RIDGEWOOD, NJ -- HomeGrown Host Stephanie Willoughby spoke with Jeanne Johnson, local community activist, about her motivation for volunteerism and what makes Ridgewood such a special place to live and visit.
“Ridgewood is a Norman Rockwell painting come to life,” said Willoughby, and anyone who observes its tree-lined streets, historic sites and beautiful homes would have to agree. The beauty of Ridgewood was a factor behind Johnson’s community involvement. “I genuinely feel so grateful to live here,” Johnson said. “I didn’t come from a place like this, so I wake up every day and I think I’m so lucky, so I want to give back.”
Johnson is the founder of local organizations, Ridgewood Walks and Ridgewood Talks. In addition, she is a board member of The Ridgewood Guild, the local Women’s Club and the Ridgewood Historical Society. “I started to see our entire country sort of coming apart,” Johnson said. “I thought the best way for us to reconnect our country was one community at a time.”
She started Ridgewood Walks as a result. “I thought, let’s do these free guided, themed walking tours,” Johnson said. “Let’s have local ambassadors guide the tours so they can tell newer residents about their experience living here.” There’s also a lot of local history to explore on the walks. “We have 13 sites on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Johnson, “so we have a deep history here.”
“It’s a glorious place to live,” said Johnson. “And we are so welcoming,” she added. “We want as many people as possible to come visit us because we want to show off what we have here and we want you to be a part of it.”