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It takes a village

On Saturday, Nov. 28, several villages came together and a new village was formed. Through a series of phone calls, co-worker conversations and family discussions, a group of citizens came together to help lift up our brothers and sisters during a very difficult time in history.  

With so many people suffering from financial, food and health insecurity a simple conversation led to 1,000 boxes of food being distributed at the Charles H. Bullock School.  The food was made available to anyone who wanted to take advantage of the offer.
The N.J. Indian Lions Club, led by Mr. Harish Mehta and his wife, Hanza, along with Nalit Patel of the Livingston Lions Club, facilitated the delivery of the thousand food boxes to Montclair.  The effort was coordinated by several Montclair groups, including civic organizations, social clubs, law enforcement and fraternities. They selflessly coordinated a food distribution event on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Boxes included chicken, eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables and meat for the average family to help sustain themselves. 

I am personally proud to be a part of a community that can logistically pull together an effort of this magnitude to provide service in a time of need, and do it well.  Special thanks go to Rev. Kenneth Harrell, for reaching out to the community to connect these two new villages to serve those in need.  A small group of Montclair leaders with significant reach pulled together a collaboration that made the distribution event a success. 

Many thanks to Albert Pelham of Montclair Neighborhood Development Corp., Lt. Tyrone Williams of the Montclair Police Department, Dennis Crawley of the Eureka Lodge and Fourth Ward Councilman David Cummings, who all reached out to accomplish the many needs of the event. It is not until you start such an endeavor that you realize how many functions are needed to pull it off. I think the best way to give scope to the event and the effort is to give credit to all those who participated:

Harish and Hanza Mehta, Nalit Patel, Rev. Kenneth Harrell, Henry Dent, Albert Pelham, Tyrone Williams, David Cummings, Dennis Crawley, Ray Sobers, Chris Levitt, Joe Alcaro, Bruce Richardson, Vantavis Allen, Dr. Jonathan Ponds, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Young Black Fathers, Sentinels 16-87, Joe Davis, Robert Edwards, Craig Brandon, NJ Lions Club Volunteers, Armondo Diaz, Essex County sheriff’s office, Montclair Police Department, Delta Sigma Theta and a host of individual volunteers.

I am truly proud to be a part of this village. Thank you all!

Wally A. Choice

Million Man: Montclair

Restore library budget 

for full services in 2021

We the undersigned urge Montclair Township to provide sufficient funds for the Montclair Public Library so that it may safely provide all of its services to the public. During periods of economic hardship, communities turn to, and depend on, their libraries and librarians. 

In these tough times the Montclair Public Library offers everyone free and equal access to a wealth of vital resources, including computer/internet technology, job search tools and continuing education opportunities. 

By mid-December, the Montclair Public Library must receive a budget for the first quarter of 2021. We believe that this first-quarter budget should enable the library to restore services that were cut in 2020, keep both the Main Library and the Bellevue Avenue Branch Library open for normal hours and continue providing classes at the Adult School. 

During the pandemic, this will require that special safety measures be instituted so that patrons can have access to the non-fiction and children’s departments of the Main Library and the Branch Library. 

Please ask your Montclair Township councilor to support full first-quarter funding for the Montclair Public Library. You can find the email address of your councilor by going to the Montclair Township directory (montclairnjusa.org, scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click on Mayor and Council).

The Montclair Public Library Foundation Annual Appeal is now underway. Please make a contribution to the Annual Appeal by going online to montclairplf.org. Your donations support needed services, such as WiFi hot spots and Chromebook laptops, for patrons who do not have access to the internet. These services are particularly important while virtual education is taking place.

Edward Robin, Montclair Library Friends Steering 

Committee 

Irena Goldstein, Montclair Public Library Foundation

Marcia Marley,
Succeed2gether

JoAnn McCullough, IMANI

Margot Sage-EL, 

Watchung Booksellers

Healing vs. punishment

Last week, the New Jersey attorney general issued a new directive to local police departments to avoid arresting and locking young people up whenever possible.

This is important news and long overdue. For too long, exclusionary and punitive measures have been the basis of our youth justice system, and these measures have disproportionately impacted youth of color. New Jersey has one of the worst Black-to-white youth incarceration disparity rates in the United States, even though research shows that Black and white kids commit most offenses at similar rates. Our state spends a staggering $300,000 per child on incarceration in youth prisons.

As a society, we should stop automatically thinking we need to hurt people — especially young people — who do something wrong. We should instead focus on practices that promote healing the harm done and developing accountability. We should work to build stronger relationships within our communities, and provide support services to accomplish this. 

Montclair is fortunate that we have already begun to bring restorative justice practices into our schools. We should continue these efforts and expand them into the entire community. 

New Jersey should immediately decriminalize behaviors like minor drug possession that often result in young people being arrested, locked up or heavily fined. We should all call on our N.J. representatives to support the Restorative and Transformative Justice for Youths and Communities Pilot Program bill that has been introduced at the state level.

New Jersey has made significant strides toward a more equitable justice system, and we should not stop now. We should work to support our youth, our families and our police to successfully follow this new directive and transform our youth justice system.

Eileen Birmingham

Montclair