Westfield homeowners Valerie Latona and David Contract served coffee, hot chocolate and donuts in front of their home on Valentine’s Day to approximately 100 Westfield residents and passers-by, and to many children and teens walking to and from school. The couple invited people to write a message on foam hearts, to be attached to their fence, where they had two signs. The first sign said, “Love Trumps Hate.” hey had put up a similar sign during the presidential campaign. Over the ensuing weeks, after the election, the sign was vandalized and torn down, replaced, vandalized a second time and replaced again.
Ms. Latona explained, "Our signs have brought a sense of hope to so many people. People have dropped off thank-you notes, sent us messages on social media, and stopped us outside our house to express how much this sign has meant to them during what has been a very difficult time for so many people. We were determined not to let them down — or let our community down. That’s why we put our signs back up after they were vandalized and stolen."
There were heated discussions about the sign in the Westfield Facebook Group (which is run by TAPinto Westfield owner Jackie Lieberman), in which some residents criticized the sign, while others defended the right of the homeowners to post it on their personal property. The third iteration of the sign is now accompanied by a new sign reading “The Wall (of Love).” The Valentine’s Day coffee invitation was communicated through social media and word of mouth. During the coffee, many drivers passing by honked their horns and waved.
Mr. Contract remarked, "We decided to give back to the community — spread the love, so to speak - by giving away free coffee, hot chocolate, and donuts on Valentine's Day."
"It's been incredibly inspiring to see the community come together to build this wall of love," said Contract. "Seeing elementary, middle and high schoolers come by and write out hearts for the wall was really incredible too. They're our next generation and they're getting involved. And at the end of the day, getting involved is what we all need to do."