By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – “We want the community to hear and see how we truly appreciate them.”
These words were proudly affirmed by Deborah Danzy, Community Health Promoter Team Leader for Planned Parenthood of Greater New York as well as the person responsible for spearheading Saturday’s Ninth Annual Community Appreciation Day, held at the City of Newburgh’s Downing Park. Teaming up with We Are Newburgh, the Newburgh Police Community Review Board as well as the Newburgh Police Department, Danzy showed Newburgh residents a bounty of love, care and concern as well as the magic that can transpire when collaboration and engagement meet head on.
Whether it was the City of Newburgh Police Department grilling up hamburgers and hotdogs while positively interacting with residents, the Calvary Presbyterian Church handing out book bags that could be personalized to youth, dancers energetically and rhythmically moving on the stage, or one of 26 vendors providing critical information about their services, the afternoon was filled with laughter, smiles, bonding and simple sheer joy, allowing families, friends and neighbors to be safely together on an ideal summer day.
“This is my community, and I really want to help give back,” said Joe Alvarez of We Are Newburgh and a 42 year resident of the City he loves. “We want to help alleviate some of the financial burden on parents by giving out bookbags and other needed school supplies, while at the same time provide fun with things like magicians, facepainting and services from our 26 vendors; everything is free, and it’s just so wonderful to see such a great turnout with everyone enjoying themselves.”
One of the many families having a relaxing, fun afternoon was the Butlers. RohnDai, who will be entering the 5th grade at Fostertown Elementary School in the fall, was all smiles as he talked about the many activities he was involved in, such as Simon Says, racing, dancing and eating. Meanwhile, his mother, Oneka, was impressed with the City of Newburgh Police, and how they were extending themselves over at the barbeque area.
“I really like to see how the police are interacting with the community in a positive way,” said Oneka Butler. “It’s really great to see.”
In addition to the City of Newburgh Police Department offering their time, a wide assortment of vendors, educating the public on such issues as; voting, immigration, military options and health services dotted the Downing Park landscape. Each booth provided free items to guests as well as integral details on their role in the community.
“I really want to educate people about healthcare,” said Johanna Perez, Fidelis Health Benefit Representative, “Today, we are enrolling people in Child Health Plus, the Quality Health Program as well as Medicaid; all very important for the community.”
And it was that Newburgh community that was at the epicenter of everything Saturday at Downing Park which was defined by united collaboration, selflessness and just plain being there for one another.
“We are so happy we can support those in need and even those who are not in need,” said Alvarez in between hugging and thanking some of the many people who were involved in helping make Saturday such a success. “There are absolutely no egos here today; everyone is doing what they need to do to make it a great day for all, and I’m just so happy to be here and be able to be a part of it all.”