SOMERSET, NJ – The Somerset-based grassroots campaign Hate Has No Home Here (HHNHH) released a video this week focused on spreading positivity and promoting unity during what has become a challenging time in our country.

“Right now, between the pandemic and all the turmoil our country is going through in terms of race relations, we felt this was a great time for outreach and for uplifting messages. It’s about raising other people up,” Donna Volpe, founder of the HHNHH- Somerset, NJ, told TAPinto.

“It’s a healthy way to help people feel connected when they cannot actually be together.”

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A post requesting video clips was made on the HHNHH – Somerset, NJ Facebook page late last Thursday and, by the end of the weekend, over 30 submissions had been received. 

The video, which was released Tuesday morning on the group’s Facebook page, is designed around a ‘pass it on’ challenge format and set to the Michael Franti song Love Will Find a Way. It features both adults and children displaying – and passing on – handmade signs with the goal of inspiring and promoting love, kindness, and hope among all people.

The video project, formed out of the campaign’s ‘desire to #spreadlove during the pandemic and these turbulent times,’ can be viewed online at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=708713579862671.

“Our goal was to add more of a human interaction component to the HHNHH campaign, especially now during a pandemic,” said Franklin resident Ryan Yannetta who, along with Volpe and Andrea Stathatos of Manville, helps run the Somerset-based campaign. “It shows that we are all interconnected and [that] even a pandemic can’t take that away from us. Love conquers all.”

The HHNHH movement, a non-profit, non-partisan project that began with a group of neighbors from a North Park, Chicago neighborhood, is built around a simple idea: it’s easy to hate people we don’t know. The HHNHH project seeks to declare neighborhood residences, businesses, and places of community free from hate speech and behavior, providing safe places for conversation, work, learning, and living. 

Through the display of red, white and blue lawn signs that bear the words ‘Hate Has No Home Here’ in multiple languages, the goal of the campaign is to declare homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship as ‘safe places where everyone is welcome and valued.’

Volpe, a resident of Somerville, was inspired to launch a similar campaign back in early 2017 during a time when she felt much division was taking hold across the country.

“I felt the need to do something to promote unity and inclusiveness. I am a shy person and not an activist but I saw an article about a woman in South Jersey who was selling these signs and thought ‘I can do that,’” she said.

In February 2017, Volpe reached out to the woman, purchased 100 signs, and launched a Facebook page and GoFundMe to promote the initiative locally. As interest in the campaign grew, Volpe had more signs printed and, in the summer of 2018, Stathatos and Yannetta joined in to help run the ongoing effort.

Together, the trio has been working to spread the HHNHH campaign across Somerset and Hunterdon counties; to date, almost 2,000 signs, along with hundreds of magnets, have been sold throughout the two counties, with 150 new signs going out to residents in the month of June alone.

According to the HHNHH – Somerset, NJ website, the campaign stems beyond yard signs with the overall goal of promoting and spreading the message of kindness.

The belief is that ‘what starts as powerful, positive messaging continues in relationship-building, dialogue, and communal action and that when neighbors of different races, religions, and nationalities move past indifference to investment in one another, we can knock out the underpinnings of racism and intolerance, and make possible a better future for our communities.’

“It’s just a true feel-good campaign. There is no political goal, there is no profiteering,” said Volpe, noting that signs and materials are sold at cost and the campaign is run solely on a volunteer basis.

“The whole agenda is non-partisan. This is not about Republicans. It’s not about Democrats. It’s legitimately about spreading love and positivity and good vibes and to spread a message to stop the hate,” said Yannetta, telling TAPinto that it makes him happy to see the signs on the lawns of homes throughout his community. “It makes me think ‘this is a good neighborhood and it makes you feel safe knowing that people around you care,” he said.

“It’s a universal acceptance of everyone,” added Volpe, noting that overall response to HHNHH has always been very positive. “We are very thankful to the community and those who are willing to spread the message, whether it’s in the form of a magnet on their car or a sign on their lawn,” she said. “

The Hate Has No Home Here – Somerset, NJ campaign has close to 1,000 Facebook followers (https://www.facebook.com/hhnhhsomersetcountynj/) and also maintains a presence on Instagram (@hatehasnohomeherecentralnj). 

Lawn signs ($8 each) and car magnets ($5 each) can be ordered online at https://bit.ly/3dLjlyE. For additional information on the campaign, email hhnhhsomerville@gmail.com or visit https://bit.ly/3ihOdub.

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