NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - It started with an interrupted trip for ice cream.
Some years ago, after a school event Joe Narciso wanted to take his kids for a well-deserved treat. When they entered the parking lot, they saw a group of kids behind the restaurant "doing things kids their ages should not be doing."
Narciso said the behavior disturbed him and made him angry, and when he got home, he told his wife, Charlene, what had happened.
"As we discussed the evening, it occurred to us that while it was sad to see 12- and 13-year-olds participating in activities adults would do best to avoid, the behavior was born mostly out of boredom," he said.
"We realized we needed to give these kids something to do," he went on. "Bring the activities to them. Find the kids who are hanging out, doing stuff they shouldn't be doing, and set up a couple of hoops for an impromptu basketball game. Or cones for touch football. Or a portable screen for a movie. Or bring a band and have a surprise concert. I called the concept Random Acts of Kidness."
It took a while, but this past Friday night, the first Random Act happened.
With the cooperation of New Providence Municipal Alliance members Deputy Chief of Police Scott Torre, Councilman Dr. Bob Robinson, Krina Griffin, Mike Iacovelli, Tracy Beckerman, Marie McNally and Lance Svendsen of Elevate Student Ministries at Renaissance Church in Summit, about 125 teenagers were treated to a "Flash Concert" by the Ryan Tunney Band.
"No advertising, no notice except a few Facebook posts and Tweets, and 125 teenagers descended on the parking lot of Provident Savings Bank on South Street," Narciso said. The Alliance also provided drinks, popcorn and pizza. The Renaissance Crew brought an Octoball court. The officers of the New Providence Police Department provided generators for power and light.
"The band was great," Narciso said. "The weather was perfect and so was the night. There was no beer. No alcohol. No drugs. Just good music, good friends and a good time. Amazing what a few people who care can do."
He thanked the borough of New Providence, the New Providence Police Department, the Municipal Alliance and Provident Savings Bank. And, of course, Charlene.
"It was our first and won't be our last," Narciso said. "Look for more Random Acts soon."
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