PATERSON, NJ- Throughout his campaign for mayor Andre Sayegh shared his vision of “One Paterson,” and in the days leading up to his inauguration he put out a call to city residents to join him in making that “message a mission” by putting “service above self.”

On Saturday, residents responded by the hundreds in every ward taking part in park cleanups and community service projects across the city.

For Diane Polifrino, Paterson’s Clean Communities Coordinator, the day was an opportunity for her team to get into additional parks and encourage more “teamwork.” 

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“When residents see the park is clean they keep it clean,” Polifrino said as nearly 20 volunteers worked in the blazing sun to spread mulch across the playground at Roberto Clemente Park.

Lamenting that Barbour Park had been “written off” in the past, Bilal Hakeem told TAPinto Paterson that the day’s efforts were proof that “goodness is on the rise.”

“Parks have always been about families and we are trying to bring that back,” Hakeem, who said he spends many lunch hours in the park. Saying that their efforts have led to a return of wildlife to the park, including field mice, squirrels, and hawks, Hakeem offered enthusiastically “we have replaced drugs with love.”

Volunteers at Barbour Park were joined by five Paterson fireman who arrived unexpectedly, quickly picking up rakes and shovels, sharing in efforts to beautify the children’s playground.

In the city’s 6th Ward a number of volunteers, led by the School 25 PTO, cleaned the field, planted flowers, and installed a Little Free Library, the city’s 15th.

According to Khouloud Hajismaiel Abdelhadi,    who works as the school’s parent and community coordinator, the PTO also donated 400 scholastic dollars which will help stock the decorated book box installed to provide increased opportunities for reading.

Volunteers led by Rohsona Elder and the InnerFaith Performing Arts Center also installed a Little Free Library at Cobb Park.

As he prepared to be sworn in to office on Sunday, Sayegh vowed that the day of service would not be his last saying “My administration will issue continuous calls for collaboration and I appreciate all of the volunteers who heeded that call