The Rutgers University School of Public Affairs & Administration class of 2015 have taken the time to give back to the city of Newark by volunteering. Rutgers has rolled out a Pay it Forward Day where graduating seniors take the opportunity to spend a few hours in one of the many organizations giving back to the community.
Students were able to give their service to the Newark YMCA for clothing distribution, the Barat Foundation for a mural painting or the councilman office of Anibal Ramos in the North ward for a neighborhood cleanup. There was also a community gardening with the Boys and Girls Club of Newark and landscaping with UVSO.
Jason Martinez, a senior at Rutgers, partnered with chief of Staff, Sammy Gonzalez, and organized a neighborhood cleanup. The initial plan was to beautify a few lots in the north ward but the city beat the team to the project. Instead, they tackled Bloomfield Ave with box cutters, garbage bags and energy. Their mission was to remove all signage from poles and gates that was cluttering the streets. They covered the distance between Bloomfield Ave up to Lake St.
Cynthia Jones, MPA is a recent graduate of School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), Ashley Okwuosa is graduating as a Journalist Major from Rutgers Newark - College of Arts and Science, and Nida Aziz a junior majoring in Nonprofit and Public Administration for SPAA also joined Jason and the Newark’s North ward council office in their mission to remove the visual garbage from the main avenue.
Anthony Alvarez, a freelance photographer, hired by the University to document the initiative advised that the university is hoping that this year’s giving back roll out is successful. The university hopes next year more of the school’s colleges, such as the Business school will participate.
When asked what made him decide to volunteer in the north ward, Jason said “giving back is a passion of mine. “ He initially enrolled at Rutgers as a Business major and changed it once he realized that being an active member of his community is what made him happy.
“A lot of Rutgers students aren’t from Newark. This volunteer project gives them opportunity to give back to Newark” said Jason.
Anibal Ramos, councilman of the northward, said “Outside of the legislative work we do, we partner with organizations in the community like Aspira and La Casa De Don Pedro to give back.”
By the end of the day, the public garbage cans on the sidewalks was filled with commercial garbage bags that contained illegally posted advertisement of parties and where to find a discounted oil change. The ride from the foot of Bloomfield Ave to Lake Street was a lot cleaner and more welcoming thanks to the students who volunteered their time to clean up their community.