With Town Guests – February 11, 2017

Going Local
Extended Meeting with town guests
Harrington Park Boro Hall

February 11, 2017


Mayor Paul Hoelscher
Jennie Leeman, HP Police Department
Florence Chaleff, 60’s Club president
Brenda Cho, HP Board of Education
Jeff Brockman, HP Fire Department
John King, HP Fire Department

St. Andrew’s committee: Barbara Djimopoulos, Kathy Ferdinand, Paul Shackford, Amy Szurly

All present introduced themselves, and then Amy began with a brief introduction about the evolution of our Going Local initiative. She highlighted the steps that we have taken as a team: (1) Interviews and conversations with our parishioners, gathering their dreams, (2) Stepping outside our church building and moving out into the neighborhood of HP, (3) Interviewing the leaders of HP – the mayor, police captain, superintendent of schools, principal of the Valley Program, and the local HP librarian, (In these conversations we realized that the local officials sincerely loved their commitment to town and working with the citizens/children within town) (4) Starting a dream board display – used at Town Day, the Election Fish & Chips, and within our church. In completing her introduction, Amy opened up the discussion to the group about their dreams and wishes.

It seemed that today’s discussion centered more on the youth growing up in HP and their education with the following points of discussion expressed:

1. The need to raise up a generation of great leaders with skills and a moral compass.

2. The pressure of Bergen County life style – school demands, team sports, extra-curricula activities, college entrance process, increased competition.

* More down time needed
* Overbooked children
* Unplugging technology – 24/7 opportunities to post, chat, send…
* Standardized testing
* One person quietly mentioned “entitlement” as a concern

3. Character building skills are needed – teaching morals, kindness, values, and other issues of cheating, bullying, drugs, alcohol..

4. The need to give children the tools with which to make wholesome decisions in their lives

* DARE program taught in the schools ( Police Jennie Leeman – 5th gr)
* Be a “bestie” not a “beastie.”
* Every person battling something in his/her life – be nice!

5. The comment made that religion was pulled out of the schools so extremely.

* Separation of church and state valid
* Yet there are effects in character building and kindness

6. Grateful for Jennie Leeman’s presence on the police department, a female role model for young girls, and an asset to engage young people in discussion about important issues in today’s world.

Other topics that surfaced in today’s conversation were:

1. Creating a small Chamber of Commerce within town for support to meet and network.
2. Meeting with future discussions groups as “sub-groups” with more specific causes/themes. (leadership, education, seniors, etc…)
3. The hope/dream of vacant train rails being converted to walking and biking paths, using grant money by county, state.
4. Conversations at Brookside Village with seniors
5. College students returning after their first year away to talk to our group and opportunities for high school students about to experience college life
6. Book recommendation The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho with the theme of following one’s dreams and personal calling.

Our Going Local members ended with thanking everyone for coming and participating in our discussion. It was emphasized that each time we meet, we walk away with new perspectives, and new insights from listening to the conversation of our neighbors and attendees.