By: Vince Baglivo | BrickCityLive
On a recent snowy Saturday morning, while many of her high school peers were still asleep in their warm beds, Asada Rashidi was hard at work keeping the streets in her South Ward neighborhood clean and crosswalks clear for pedestrians.
Asada, a junior at Newark’s Bard Early College High School, is the first volunteer member of the Bergen-Lyons-Clinton Partnership (BLCSID) Clean Team Ambassadors. And the organization’s board members and professional staff, along with local residents, business and property owners, couldn’t be more pleased with her effort and commitment.
Known locally as the South Ward Special Improvement District (SID), the BLCSID was established to help the area compete, improve and sustain commercial viability. A public/private partnership between the City of Newark, local business and commercial property owners and residents focused on generating economic activity and community development, the SID moved forward in 2016 with an aggressive streetscape maintenance program that is transforming the streetscape, including vacant lots and properties in need of extra attention.
Chris Bernardo, principal of Commercial District Services (CDS), the company that oversees the hiring, training, scheduling and work of the Clean Team Ambassadors, said he was pleased to partner with Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and the BLCSID to establish the program. Like all members of the Clean Team Ambassadors, Asada is a resident of Newark and the South Ward.
“Asada is applying the same hard work and focus that she brings to her academics to her commitment to serving her neighbors,” Bernardo stated. “Special thanks to supervisor Jerry Blankman and team leader Quanika Joseph for their guidance and support as mentors for Asada.”
The Clean Team Ambassadors have been gathering more than 240 bags of garbage and removing 25-50 graffiti tags, stickers and posters on a weekly basis as part of the supplemental streetscape services the South Ward SID funds in support of the City of Newark’s Department of Sanitation.
“The Clean Team Ambassadors we have hired with the help of the job placement programs provided by the City of Newark and Beth Israel Medical Center are making a difference in their own community, contributing to a better quality of life for their families, friends and neighbors while learning valuable job skills and earning a paycheck,” Bernardo added.
“I’m proud of her desire to help keep our community clean,” said Asada’s mother, Atiya Jaha-Rashidi, Director of Special Projects at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center & Children’s Hospital of NJ, and the BLCSID’s Second Vice President. “She proactively sought this opportunity to be the Clean Team Ambassador’s first volunteer, and she is always eager to help out.”
When asked about her volunteerism, Asada said she has enjoyed her experience and looks forward to making more contributions. I love it; it’s cool to help set an example by cleaning up the streets in your own neighborhood.”
“A clean, safe and welcoming community is the standard we are committed to on behalf of the people who live, work, shop, dine, invest and worship in the South Ward, and the people who visit our neighborhood and Newark,” concluded Ronice Bruce, the SID’s Executive Director. “Asada, and all of our Clean Team Ambassadors, are now recognized and welcomed in their community for the work they are doing that we believe will contribute to the South Ward becoming the ward of choice in our city.”
A complete schedule showing where the Clean Team Ambassadors are working in the district on a weekly basis can be found at www.southwardsid.com, along with more information about programs, services and opportunities to support and contribute to the initiatives of the South Ward SID. You can also follow news from the South Ward SID through social media at Facebook.com/SouthWardSID.
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