Mayor’s Column: International Day returns to Voorhees Oct. 1

Voorhees Mayor

We should acknowledge our differences, embrace our differences and celebrate our differences until differences make no difference at all.

In 2007, the Voorhees Township Committee established the Citizens Cultural and Diversity Advisory Committee to recognize and promote racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity in our community. We were the first community in South Jersey to establish such an important group.

The Diversity Committee fosters human relations through education and encouragement of respect and understanding among the diverse population of Voorhees Township. The Committee provides an opportunity for input from all residents in developing programs leading to greater understanding and values of our diverse community.

On Saturday, Oct. 1 from 2 to 6 p.m., the Diversity Committee will hold its Annual International Day at Eastern Regional High School. The event is free and will include international foods, multi-cultural displays and performances that highlight our community’s cultural diversity.

The Diversity Committee members have also been passionate volunteers in Voorhees. They have provided scholarships to students from Eastern Regional High School and the Voorhees Middle School who have shown their commitment to diversity and multiculturalism.

The Diversity Committee also represents Voorhees at various cultural events throughout Camden County, including the Cultural Festival at the Open Door Alliance Church, the Filipino Independence Day Picnic and the Still Family Reunion in Lawnside.

Members have also established the Voorhees Cultural and Diversity Foundation to raise money for worthy causes. Following Super Typhoon Haiyan, the Foundation contributed to the Build-A-Shelter Project organized by the Filipino Community, made a donation to rebuild the Church of the Good Shepherd which was destroyed by the typhoon and made a donation to the Red Cross to assist typhoon victims. The Foundation has also provided funds to build a playground for the Kingdom Charter School of Leadership for disadvantaged children.

The Foundation is also one of the sponsors of International Day. Other sponsors include the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Camden County Human Relations Commission.

For more information about International Day, contact Chairperson Gwen DeVera at (856) 751- 1364 or at devera6@verizon.net. Additional information can be found at www.camdencounty.com or www.voorheesnj.com.

Our Diversity Committee meets the second Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall and the public is welcome to attend.

Voorhees is fortunate to be a “melting pot” of many races and cultures.

**At a press conference on Sept. 20, Voorhees Township and Evesham Township announced the extension of the Evesham/Voorhees Saves Lives Program for another year. This program is a joint venture between the two municipalities along with Uber and BeMyDD to help our residents get home safely from local bars and restaurants seven days a week from the hours of 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. To date, the program has safely taken over 2000 Evesham and Voorhees residents to their homes free of charge. The program has also reduced the number of DUI arrests and accidents.

No tax dollars are used for this program. It is fully funded through contributions from local foundations, donors and businesses. Uber vehicles provide free rides home to either Voorhees or Evesham residents from participating establishments in both townships. Residents simply open the Uber app at one of the participating restaurants/bars and will see a “safe ride” option at the bottom of the screen. A free Uber ride home will be provided. The free service will not be provided from one establishment to another.

** On Fri., Oct. 21, the Voorhees Town Center will again host Thriller Night starting at 7 p.m. along the Boulevard. Enjoy “Spirit Hours” with specials at the bars of Iron Hill Brewery, Rodizio Grill and Catelli Duo. At 7 p.m., watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on a 20 ft. outdoor movie screen. Immediately following the movie there will be a live re-enactment of Thriller performed by Today’s Dance Center.

** On Mon., Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m., Voorhees Township will honor those who have worn the uniform of the United States Military with the addition of 37 new members to our Veterans Wall of Honor. The program will be held in the Macy’s Court on the lower level of the Voorhees Town Center. The Wall of Honor is located in Town Hall. We will always be thankful to those who protected our freedom.

** The Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation will hold its 14th Annual Birthday Bash on Friday, Oct. 28 from 6:30 p.m. until midnight at Lucien’s Manor in Berlin. The Foundation furnishes Teen Lounges in hospitals to enhance the quality of life for teens with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Tickets are $130. For more information, call (856) 784–0615 or visit info@arvf.org.

**The Ashley Paul Memorial Foundation will be hosting the 2nd Annual Halloween Costume 5K “Run for Your Life” on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Eastern Regional High School. Check in starts at 8 a.m. and the Run/Walk begins at 9 a.m. The cost is $20 and registration ends Oct. 27 at 10 p.m. Ashley was a caring, vibrant young woman who was very involved in our community, coaching field hockey at Voorhees Middle School and in the Voorhees Girls Lacrosse Program. On June 29, 2012 Ashley passed away at the tender age of 20 after being involved in an ATV accident. The foundation carries on Ashley’s spirit by fostering volunteerism and involvement in the Voorhees Community. For more information, email memoryofashleypaul@aol.com.

** Voorhees Township’s Annual Halloween Festival will be held on Sun., Oct. 30 from 1 to 4 p.m. This year for the first time the event will be held at The Voorhees Town Center. Take an old-fashioned hayride or pick a pumpkin from the Voorhees Business Association’s Pumpkin Patch. Candy and refreshments will be plentiful. Activities will include a Halloween Costume Parade, pumpkin painting and decorating, balloon artists, a Halloween themed magic show and face painting. The Voorhees Township Police Department will be providing Halloween safety tips and conducting a Kids’ I.D. card registration. For more information, visit www.voorheesnj.com or call (856) 882-SHOW.