SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ - After a huge community effort where organizers arranged everything from chartered buses and box lunches to printing signs and having overnight parking rules waived, close to 2,000 people from South Orange and Maplewood departed early Saturday morning on about 34 buses headed to the Women's March on Washington. And after the march, these people still had to get home.
Maplewood resident Benny Campa organized a group of volunteers, largely via local Facebook groups, who offered to be waiting at the South Orange gazebo to drive march participants home as their buses arrived. Drivers made multiple trips from around midnight to about 2 a.m.
Campa explained the carpool effort came about because "a lot of us just wanted to help in some way. While we couldn't attend matches in D.C. or New York City, we wanted to help in other ways, and managing people on buses or driving them home at 1 a.m. in the morning was our way of doing that."
"We all united under one constant good...to support all women!" Campos added.
Volunteer drivers included Sara Paddock, Kristi Zybulewski, Cindy Price, Jennifer Goode Cooper, Jen Mc, Sandra Tomlinson, Medel Colibrínautica, Maggie Giglio Marotta, Emily Fromm, Wendy Susnick Pollack, Monica Ross, and Jessica Westermann.
The coordination of the chartered buses traveling to and from SOMA was largely organized by Hildy Karp. South Orange Village Trustee Deborah Ford shared, "I can't say enough about Hildy Karp's leadership for the incredible turnout of South Orange and Maplewood residents, family and friends who participated in the historic Women's March on Washington."
As for the marchers who were able to get a ride home, they were very grateful, with many sharing on Facebook their thanks to the individual drivers, and for the support of the SOMA community overall.
As Crystal Glynn said, "after being our our feet all day and walking eight to ten miles, the 15 minute walk home at 1 a.m. was feeling daunting. This was so appreciated."
Additional SOMA march coverage: