MONTVILLE, NJ – While Martin Luther King, Jr. Day dawned clear and cold, that didn’t stop Montville Township residents from coming to the municipal building to start the day off with OneMontville’s Day of Respect and Community Service in honor of Dr. King. Approximately 100 people came to the building with donations of food for the Kiwanis Food Pantry and tube or crew socks or hand warmers for Towaco’s Homeless Bus charity.
“This day is about acceptance, respect and kindness,” OneMontville Board President Ron Rauschart told the crowd. “It was the vision of founder René Rovtar and took months to plan. We appreciate having the freedom to have a day like this to walk. We are OneMontville!”
From there, the crowd walked along Changebridge Road to the Pine Brook Jewish Center, where Rabbi Mark Finkel answered questions about the center. Residents could also tour the custom bus from which Homeless Bus owners Anna and Mark Landgrebe feed the homeless of Manhattan every Saturday night.
Karen and David Kraut brought their fourth- and sixth-graders Matthew and Ethan for the walk.
“I want to teach my children about tolerance and acceptance,” Karen said.
Between 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., the Montville Reformed Church’s Pastor Tom Henion hosted Rev. Michael Patrick Dunne of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit and Pastor Heather Valosin of the Montville United Methodist Church of Towaco, to talk about the denominations they serve and their church's community initiatives. St. Pius X Church and the Jam-e-Masjid Mosque in Boonton also participated in the day.
"As I looked around at the people attending the march I viewed the wonderful diversity that is Montville - people of all ages, genders, races and creeds as one community," Mayor Jim Sandham said. "And while there is tremendous strength in that diversity I was more keenly aware of a line from the poem Human Family by Maya Angelou that I had read to 3rd and 4th grade classes at Woodmont School - 'We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.' That's the message of peace, love and understanding that forms the basis of our religions, that was espoused by Martin Luther King and that we all should embrace."
Rovtar said that the day exceeded her expectations for community participation.
“It was uplifting to see parents with their children, and other community residents walking to support OneMontville, and participating in the open houses that were hosted at the various houses of worship,” she said.