PATERSON, NJ - “Every human being should be afforded the opportunity to make a change,” Akbar McEntyre told a group of fellow Patersonian’s as they sat around a table sharing dinner, part of the Center for Cooperative Media’s Voting Block initiative.

While the takeaway from Voting Block will be the development of a “People’s Agenda” to give local officials a better understanding of what issues matter most to members of their community, McEntyre’s words were especially relevant as he had just completed a meal service providing hot dinners to over 500 local residents in need.

Hosted by Humble Beginnings, a non-profit founded in 2011 that has evolved into an organization geared towards “providing a holistic approach to empowering members of the community to solve their own problems through collective efforts,” the pre-Thanksgiving dinner also gave away more than 100 winter jackets and nearly 500  gloves and hats.

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“Everything we do requires a plan of action, so that we can get to the core problems that are impacting individuals, parents, and the community at large,” McEntyre said. Adding that “hunger is at the core” of many of Paterson’s challenges the licensed social worker said it is through collaboration that their efforts have been, and will remain, successful.

That collaboration was evident as  a view down the food line that had been set up to distribute the hot meals reflected a variety of local organizations, including the Great Falls Rotary Club, Bronze Heat, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

“Anything we can do for the community,” Paterson firefighter and Bronze Heat member Bryan White said when asked about his group’s mission. A similar message came from Ernestine Dukes, president of the Great Falls Rotary Club. “We are a service organization,” she said, calling the effort part of their strategy of “taking it to the streets to help the community.”

“We are giving back to others so that we can be of service to all mankind,” Janice Rainford, vice president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, offered. “We want to let them know that we’re always here for them, always thinking about them,” she said of those that were fed.

Giving out desserts alongside Board of Education Commissioner Nakima Redmon was the ever active Chrystal Cleaves. “Give back and don’t look for anything in return,” Cleaves said.

“Everybody deserves better.”

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