Benigno “Pino” Rodriguez of Camden recalled hearing “gunshots every hour on the hour” in his neighborhood and “ducking down on the ground” to protect his kids. Determined to find a solution to the danger, crime, and injustice his family and neighbors experienced daily, Pino started Camden Block Supporters Initiative to create shared pride, respect, and accountability.  With simple ideas like adding window boxes, flags, and planting flowers, he began involving and empowering his neighbors to keep the block clean and beautiful.

The actions of this father-- who wanted a safe place for his children -- led to a block that remained free of violent crimes for 11 years. Camden Block Supporters Initiative expanded to include Lanning Square West and North Camden, where more than 550 families are creating solutions for a better and safer city.

Nominate an “Unsung New Jersey Hero” like Pino Rodriguez for the 2020 Russ Berrie Making A Difference Award. Up to 10 people will be selected for awards ranging from $7,500 up to $50,000.  Learn more and nominate online at  Nomination deadline is February 21.