For the second summer in a row the City of Rahway partnered with the RPC to host TeenWorks. There were some tweaks between Teenworks 2017 to TeenWorks 2018, and the new group of teens seemed to enjoy the improvements.
There was more an emphasis on mentorship this year. In 2017 TeenWorks took twenty team members. In 2018, there were eighteen team members, and three team leaders. The new addition team leaders were participants slightly older, ideally one to two years removed from high school, who would offer supervision and be a role model for the team member. This allowed for more structure and the teens responded with more community projects.
TeenWorks kept the same agenda. In the mornings the participants still beautified the city, and in the afternoon they worked on their personal development. The two main projects they completed were adding to the T and cleaning the old Elizabethtown Gas building. TeenWorks 2018 added a W in front of the T, which is located near the Hamilton Stage. The hollow W was stuffed with water bottles to symbolize that TeenWorks recycles! The TeenWorks participants also helped clean up Rahway Central. Rahway Central is the old Elizabethtown Gas building that the City of Rahway recently acquired. They spent a week in the summer painting the inside of the building, and laying out a floor design to accommodate office space for non-profits.
On May 31, 2018, the Rahway Prevention Coalition was able to bring in nationally recognized speaker, Marc Mero. He is a former WWE wrestler who battled drug addiction and family relations. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for Councilman Gibilisco and the generous donation from Northfield Bank.
Mero’s presentation revolves around perseverance and recovery. He talks about regrets, not treating his family with the upmost respect, and not getting to say goodbye. You wouldn’t see a dry eye in the crowd when he talks about this. He relays to the crowd that you have to live in the moment and you never know when your last day will be.
Marc Mero performed for the whole Rahway High School in two shows. He stayed after and greeted whoever wanted to interact. That same evening, Mero performed at Rahway’s Hamilton Stage to a near sold out crowd. Along with Rahway residents, there were people from all over the county that came to see Mero. The RPC would like to thank Northfield Bank and Councilman Gibilisco for making this happen.
Poetry @ the Pit
Poetry @ the Pit is a collaboration between the Rahway Prevention Coalition, the City of Rahway, Rahway Arts & Business Partnership, ACP Arts, Divvision and the Rahway School District. This open mic series happens about once every other month, where the students are offered a safe-space environment on a Friday night.
Mike Bertram of ACP Arts MC’s the event. He is a long time poet who was featured on the series Def Poetry Jam. He brings in poets he knows, and mixes them in with the students from Rahway that would like to perform. The teachers encourage the students to come to the event, which helps us draw 50-100 students. The first Poetry @ the Pit was on January 19, 2018. Follow us on Facebook to see when our next event is!
The City of Rahway partnered with the Rahway Prevention Coalition to bring a six-week summer employment program called TeenWorks. TeenWorks accepted twenty participants its inaugural year, where a diverse group of teens would report to the Cherry Pit five days a week.
In the morning session, their main goal was to beautify the City. These tasks include but are not limited to, cleaning the downtown streets of Rahway, beautifying city parks, and offering assistance to various non-profit organizations in Rahway.
In the afternoon, the teens turn from “working for the City” to “working on themselves.” The afternoon was for personal development. The teens did various workshops based around public speaking, collaboration, and critical thinking. RPC Director, Joe Brown, challenged the teens two to three times a week to think outside the box, and to work together through various puzzles.
To leave their impact to the community, TeenWorks 2017 built a statue. Thanks to local artist Jeff Drylewicz, the Rahway Department of Public Works, and the TeenWorks teens themselves, they built and planted a giant wooden T near Rahway’s Hamilton Stage. The T symbolizes TeenWorks. There are also small plants that hang from the T to emphasize the TeenWorks group was for a healthier environment.
The Cherry Pit
The Rahway Prevention Coalition in collaboration with the Rahway Arts and Business Partnership is spearheading a community initiative to provide our City with a unique experience entitled: The Cherry Pit.
Located at 59 East Cherry Street, local artist, Jeff Drylewicz, who is the art teacher at Grover Cleveland Elementary School, created a Rahway branding mural to kick-off this initiative and transform this venue into an inviting community meeting space.
The goal of The Cherry Pit initiative is to serve our community with an alternate meeting space, which will display local artwork, be the center for “Chalk Talk,” a small acoustic performing space, a team building exercise camp venue, and a weekend fringe market. The philosophy behind these few examples of activity is to convene our youth and adult community members into a space, which highlights positive influences.
The Rahway Prevention Coalition is beyond proud of the Society of Game Changers and Influencers based out of Rahway’s 7th and 8th Grade Academy, for conceptualizing the Community Mural Project. Students brainstormed with our local artist, Jeff Drylewicz, who is an art teacher for Grover Cleveland Elementary School, to design the mural. The mural was placed on the train station plaza every Thursday evening in the month of June for community members to join in on the painting process! The unveiling occurred before the Kick-Off of the Summer Concert Series and during National Night Out, where the community had the opportunity to meet our first responders. The community mural can be seen displayed outside of the Rahway Arts District Park on the corner of Irving Street and Central Avenue.
The Rahway Prevention Coalition submitted recovery poems on behalf of our coalition member, Catherine Goodheart, to the HOPE Initiative Contest. She was chosen to be a guest speaker at the event listed below. They had over 30 entries and they are inviting the top 15 to participate in reading their submissions on June 7th at Kelsey Theater, in West Windsor. The Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey Division and the NY/NJ High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) in conjunction with the treatment facilities Integrity House, New Hope, and Seabrook House would like to invite you to attend a night celebrating HOPE: Chronicles of Addiction and Recovery.
This exhibition was open to New Jersey residents with the purpose of shedding light on the issue of prescription opioid and heroin addiction. By sharing their stories of recovery the writers are helping to inspire others who are battling addiction by highlighting their success stories and that there is always HOPE.
Year Two Launch
The City of Rahway was selected to receive the highly competitive Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Grant through the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2014. This is a Federal program that provides funding to community-based coalitions organized to prevent youth substance use. The philosophy behind the DFC Program is that local drug problems require local solutions. Recent evaluation data indicates that where DFC dollars are invested, youth substance use is reduced. Our year two launch explored new data received through a local survey and the steps being taken with this information in mind. This event highlighted successes and year two’s goals and aspirations.