Meeting with Town Leaders
Harrington Park Boro Hall
Mayor Paul Hoelscher
Kathy Vuoncino, Director Region III Special Education
Sgt. Peter Fay, HP Police Department
St. Andrew’s: Amy Szurly, Kathy Ferdinand, Barbara Djimopoulos, Cathie Ruppi, Paul Shackford
Everyone introduced themselves, and then Amy briefly outlined what the Going Local Guiding Team has been doing since the time when we first met with five of the leaders in Harrington Park (Paul Hoelscher, Kathy Vuoncino, Chief of Police Al Malouf, Superintendent of the Harrington Park school Adam Fried, and Director of the Harrington Park library Judy Heldman). After our initial meetings, we decided to create a Dream Board to provide an opportunity for people to share their dreams. First, we asked St. Andrew’s parishioners to write their dreams on the Dream Board. Next, we participated in the Harrington Park Town Day in September at Highland Field, where over 40 dreams were written on the Dream Board. And, in November, others added their dreams to the Board at St. Andrew’s Annual Election Day Fish ‘n’ Chip Dinner.
We asked Paul H., Kathy V. and Peter to write their dreams on sheets of paper and then to share them with the group.
We then distributed the list of dreams from the St. Andrew’s and Town Day Dream Boards, and asked for their reactions to those dreams. Each commented that there were strong similarities in all of these dreams.
This led to deeper discussions about the importance of listening to each other to enable people to communicate their personal hopes, desires and dreams. It also provided an opportunity for people to learn more about each other and share resources. For example, Kathy V. told the group that she still finds occasions where people are not supportive of the program for special needs children. The Mayor then indicated that he attends monthly meetings of the Bergen County mayors, and monthly dinners with mayors from the Northern Valley. These meetings may provide networking opportunities, and he suggested that it might be good for Kathy V. to meet with mayors in the Northern Valley to educate them about her program for special needs children.
The conversation also included points about understanding our neighbors and our differences. There was conversation about accepting special needs children and older students, and some conversation about the anti-police climate in the country and the opportunities to meet, gather, and communicate. It was mentioned that vocalizing a person’s needs is often difficult and in fact some are in denial.
It was generally agreed that it takes a high level of trust for individuals to be willing to share their concerns and needs, and that Harrington Park in general is a caring, compassionate, and nurturing community.
We asked Paul H., Kathy V. and Peter if they would be willing to attend another gathering, and to invite four to five other people they think might benefit from such a meeting to meet with others. We will also reach out to Adam Fried, Al Malouf and Judy Heldman and ask them to attend and invite others.
Kathy V. stated that she felt it would be helpful in inviting people to tell them what the goal of the meeting would be. We discussed that and concluded that the purpose is to enable others from a variety of positions to network, make connections, and perhaps begin a process of listening that they might not otherwise be able to do. Barbara stated that setting definitive goals can sometimes limit the openness and sharing that can happen.
We want to have a diverse group in terms of age, cultures, backgrounds and so on. For example, Paul H. said that he would invite someone from Club 60 and perhaps Councilwoman Joon Chung. In response to a question from Kathy V., we agreed that we could invite people who do not live in Harrington Park if they have a connection to Harrington Park, as Kathy does.
We agreed to invite people to meet on Saturday, February 11th at 10:00 am, with the meeting lasting between 60 and 90 minutes. The meeting will be held at Boro Hall.
January 15, 2017