PATERSON, NJ - Tracing its roots back 25 years to the launch of the national service initiative created by Congress and President Clinton in 1994 to "get things done for America" NJCDC welcomed a new class of AmeriCorps volunteers at a special swearing in ceremony last month.
More than 600 members, who have collectively given hundreds of thousands of hours of service to Paterson, have graduated through the NJCDC sponsored program in the time since.
"In 1994, NJCDC was simply an idea on paper. We started with an AmeriCorps national service program, and 25 years later, NJCDC is a multi-service organization serving 4,000 children and families each day," As NJCDC CEO Bob Guarasci said. "It all started with AmeriCorps, and I have never been more enthusiastic about having an impact in Paterson and upon those we serve."
"At NJCDC, we like to make public policy become reality. We not only advocate for positions we believe in, but we take action. We believe in universal preschool for our youngest children, and we started a Paterson Family Center preschool. We believe that young people need strong role models in their lives, and we are operating several youth development and afterschool programs. We believe in the concept of charter schools, as another public school option, and created the Community Charter School of Paterson. And here at NJCDC, we believe that good people can make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors," Guarasci added.
"Over a million people throughout the country have been sworn into AmeriCorps, including many thousands in New Jersey," Rowena Madden, Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission on National and Community Service, said. "NJCDC's AmeriCorps program is New Jersey's longest-running program, and started 25 years ago when Bob founded this organization. It's been an amazing ride."
After thanking the members for their service, Rowena ended her remarks by encouraging the members to "live out Dr. King's idea of service being the greatest thing that people can contribute to their society."
NJCDC AmeriCorps member Gabrielle Foushee, who shared how she moved here from North Carolina to make a difference in Paterson, said that she "chose to come here to serve because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. Here in Paterson, I've had such an incredible time already—and I've only been here for two months! It is an honor and a privilege to serve here."
Offering the new AmeriCorps members an overview of Paterson's history, and a look at what he believes is the city's future, Mayor Andre Sayegh thanked them in advance for what he knows will be the contributions each will make during their year of service.
"Paterson is turning the page on what has been a challenging past," he said. "You are going to help us write a new chapter."
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