Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 5, 2018

Union County Freeholders Announce New Office of Community Engagement and Diversity

March 7, 2018
For immediate release
Contact: Sebastian D’Elia
Communications Director
908-527-4419
Union County Freeholders Announce New Office of Community Engagement and Diversity

Union County, NJ — The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders have announced the establishment of the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity. The new office is tasked with supporting and growing volunteer activities by identifying opportunities, coordinating events, building a volunteer network and strengthening relationships with the County’s diverse communities.

Union County Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados announced the new office as part of his “Moving Union County Forward” initiatives for 2018 in his address during the county’s 162nd Annual Reorganization.

“As someone active in the volunteer community, I know that Union County residents are passionate, energized, and eager to lend their time and their skills to make a real difference,” said Chairman Granados. “This new office will help volunteers connect with new opportunities to engage, and help all of our volunteer stakeholders – including business, non-profit and academic – coordinate their efforts for maximum impact.”

Advocates from the non-profit community thanked Granados and the Freeholder Board as a whole for creating the office:

Donna Lowe Alexander, CEO & President of Urban League of Union County, Inc. and Crystal A. Orr, President of Urban League of Union County Young Professionals, stated:

“As the new presidents of the Urban League of Union County, Inc. and Urban League of Union County Young Professionals (ULUCYP), we are happy that the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity has been established. Our mission is to empower and seek equality for people who are disadvantaged and underrepresented in Housing, Education, Employment and Healthcare. By creating this office, Union County is taking a vested interest to learn and access the needs of the diverse groups of people that we serve. We are looking forward to partnering with Nathalie and her team to continue to enhance our communities and change lives.”

Dr. Norma Bowe the founder of Be The Change NJ, a community service and activist group stated:

“Be The Change NJ Kean University is excited to partner on a variety of community based projects with the Union County Office of Community Engagement & Diversity. This weekend, we will be working with the Office and several other organizations to provide 1,000 sandwiches to 10 locations throughout the State to celebrate our 10 years of Homelessness Relief.”

Janice Lilien, Chief Executive Office of the YWCA of Union County said:

“The YWCA Union County is so pleased to work with the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity. As a leading agency addressing the empowerment of women as well as the elimination of racism, we rely on our entire community to work in partnership to address these important societal issues. Union County has led the way in improving our community and we are proud to work alongside them.”

Darwin Roman, President of the Union County Latino American Chamber of Commerce said:

“As President of the Union County Latino American Chamber of Commerce we are proud to partner with the County of Union. Union County is rich in Multicultural diversity. We feel that our chamber is in alignment with the goals and initiatives of the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity. The Latino community is poised for growth with our support in enhancing and advancing, both in education and economically. We look forward to reaching astronomical levels of success in 2018 and beyond!”

The Office operates under the Department of Economic Development, where it uses existing County staff and resources to carry out the following functions:

• Provide outreach to local community based groups and volunteer organizations to create a network and directory of same.

• Coordinate countywide community events and programs which foster and promote volunteerism in Union County.

• Reinforce strategies for building relationships with the County’s diverse communities to include culture, lifestyle, ethnicity, and race.

• Bring communities together on issues important to them and find creative & innovative solutions to ensure inclusion and collaboration on a multi-faceted vision for the County’s diverse communities.

During the past few months, the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity has completed the following projects:

 Donation Drives for Hurricane Harvey victims and YWCA Union County Domestic Violence Shelter in Elizabeth;

 Coordinated with the Urban League of Union County Young Professionals to collect business clothing for the Cinderella’s Closet at our Elizabeth & Plainfield One Stop Center;

 Coordinated with an Elizabeth resident and the Union County Department of Human Services to collect their donation of 20 cots for the County’s Code Blue Operations;

 Coordinated County Volunteer Days at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and at Kean University to participate in Be The Change NJ’s 10th Anniversary of Operation PB & J to feed the homeless;

The office is currently working on projects with Bernice’s Place, We Are One NJ, Union County Family Success Centers, Be The Change NJ, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson, & Union Counties.

Individuals who wish to connect with a volunteer organization or initiative in Union County can register online with the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity, at ucnj.org/ office-of-community-engagement-diversity/volunteers.

“Part of the idea behind the registry is to provide our immigrant community with bilingual services and support, so I encourage individuals who speak a second language to sign up and participate,” said Granados.

Groups and organizations seeking to connect with volunteers can register at ucnj.org/office-of-community-engagement-diversity/groups.

For more information about the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity contact Nathalie Hernandez, the Office’s coordinator, at 908-527-4880 or nahernandez@ucnj.org.

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