WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Neighborhood Council, located at 127 Cacciola Place, is hoping for donations and volunteers to improve its free offerings to the community. The almost 40-year-old building could be host to so much more than now, according to Vice President Mary Withers.
Withers told TAP she hopes the council will raise enough money to pay a coordinator who would be responsible for getting volunteers and running activities there. Most of the council’s funds come from donations and fundraisers—its voluntary membership fee is $25 a year.
“We haven’t been charging anything because the people who come here don’t have any money,” said Withers. She estimated that most of the people who take advantage of the council make about $40,000 a year.
A bank of five computers sits upstairs, mostly unused because the council does not have the funds to pay for internet access. Withers told TAP she hopes a volunteer with experience writing grants will be able to remedy that.
“The kids haven’t been coming in because they need the internet to do their homework,” she explained.
Some do come to record their own music in the sound studio in the next room, led by a volunteer who teaches them how to use the equipment.
“What we would like to do is some tutoring here,” said Withers.
Currently, the council offers programs for children and families on an irregular basis, such as a recent event for children eight to 12 led by teen counselors and an alcohol-prevention program aimed at kids ages nine and up.
“We want something regular for the kids thirteen to seventeen to keep them out of trouble,” said Withers.
One regular program that the council does host is the Neighborly Gathering for seniors held each Friday, when more than a dozen seniors from near and far come to socialize and take part activities like arts and crafts, harvesting vegetables from the garden, listening to guest speakers, getting their hearing tested and exercising together, according to Withers.
“The seniors who have been members for so many years, even after they moved away they still come on Friday,” she said.
Other council activities include recreational trips, special fundraising events like its recent auto show and rental of the facility to outside organizations and neighborhood families.
For more information about the Westfield Neighborhood Council, call Withers at 908-616-9172.