NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Leslie Hall of the Diversity Committee attended the Monday, Oct. 26 council meeting via Zoom to give and update on the community listening sessions.

“The mayor and the council had asked the Diversity Committee to conduct a series of listening sessions and report back to them with recommendations on how we can make the community more welcoming and inclusive,” Hall explained. She commended the mayor and council for recognizing the opportunity to make New Providence more inclusive as the community seeks to understand the perspective of its growing diverse population. It is the purpose of this project to ensure that all residents’ voices are being heard, she said. She noted that over the past couple of months the committee has been working with the New Providence Social Justice Coalition to spearhead the survey and listening session ideas.

The project will be rolled out in two phases. The first is an online survey that will be available on Nov. 16. The survey will be out approximately five weeks and will be followed by in-person or virtual listening sessions, Hall said. The survey comprises of 20 questions and it takes seven minutes to complete. In addition to the Diversity Committee and New Providence Social Justice Coalition different leaders in the community have contributed to the survey. Among them are History Teacher and Baseball Coach at the High School Chris Brodeur and Detective Rodrigues at the New Providence Police Department. The group would also like to have a survey version specifically designed for students, pending permission from Principal Brian Henry, Hall explained.

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Hall noted that the group is requesting a name and an email address, but only to ensure that the individual taking the survey is a resident of New Providence. The survey takers will also be asked if they are interested in being contacted about the listening sessions.

The listening sessions will be based on the survey findings and they will be conducted at the beginning of the new year. The group will also compile their recommendations and goals that will be presented in early March.

With regard to other community organization news Councilwoman Nadine Geoffroy explained that the Municipal Alliance has been partitioned into several committees. She noted that the organization has an $11,000 short fall in its funding this year. Yet, the alliance wants these programs that benefit the community to still be offered. The alliance has formed a new committee for fundraising which is chaired by Jim Madden. Madden spearheaded a GoFundMe site to ask for donations to cover the cost of such programs as “Every 15 Minutes” and “Consent 101”. Geoffroy urges everyone concerned about drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental health issues to consider donating and also volunteering.

Geoffroy also announced that a Zoom presentation “Teens and Alcohol Usage During Covid Crisis” will be available for parents. The link to the program can be found on the Borough website.