NEWARK, NJ -  Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newark, serving Essex, Hudson and Union counties, joined today with the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation to celebrate the launch of a neighborhood planning initiative in the West Ward of Newark and to present a $100,000 check.

The event, featuring a number of city officials committed to rejuvenating the West Ward, marked the beginning of an intensive, resident-led planning process that will identify the needs of the community and begin devising strategies to address those needs.

Over the next 12 months, Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and HFHGN will work closely with neighborhood residents, institutions and stakeholders to devise this comprehensive plan.  In future years, the non-profit will collaborate closely with these stakeholders to bring the plan to fruition.

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Today’s program, on Littleton Avenue, was capped with a tree planting ceremony marking the new beginnings in store for the community.

“This initiative is not about outsiders coming into a tight-knit community and telling local residents what is needed to improve their neighborhoods,” said Jeffrey J. Farrell, CEO of HFHGN. “We know, through history, that such a well-intentioned measure does not work. 

This program is unique because we are working in a close partnership, in which the community directs us,” he added. “They identify how we can help and, through generous partnerships with the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and others, we make it happen.”

Over the 12 months, HFHGN will be surveying community residents, wide-scale community meetings and gathering critical data to help plot future improvements in the West Ward.

“Habitat’s neighborhood revitalization initiative aligns perfectly with the work of the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation,” said Denise McGregor Armbrister, executive director of the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation. “We are very excited to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newark and the residents of the West Ward to help develop a vision for the future of the neighborhood.”