Mayor’s Column: International Day reflects the diversity of Voorhees Township

Mayor Mignogna discusses the 20-year-old event, which will be held at Eastern Regional High School on Oct. 7

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. 7 from 1 to 5 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 donated by local restaurants and organizations, 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 provided funds to build a playground for the Kingdom Charter School of Leadership for disadvantaged children. The Foundation recently made a donation to the Red Cross to aid hurricane victims. The Foundation also donated a protective K-9 vest to the Voorhees Township Police Department.

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 devera6@verizon.net or Vice-Chair Stephanie Fisher at 609–841–2727 or allyjalen@comcast.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.

In other news:

** On Wednesday, Oct. 11, the Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club is hosting a “Not-So-Mini” Golf and Networking Outing at Pleasant Valley Miniature Golf, 93 Route 73 in Voorhees. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and includes food, beer, wine and a networking social hour. There will be friendly miniature golf team competitions with prizes. The cost is $25 per person and proceeds will benefit the club’s charitable efforts in the community. For more information call, Nancy Hering at 609–685–6440 or visit www.VoorheesBreakfastRotary.org.

** On Monday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m., Voorhees Township will honor those who have worn the uniform of the United States Military with the addition of 39 new members to our Veterans Wall of Honor, including 11 African American Civil War Union Army Troops buried in the Mt. Zion AME Church of Voorhees Cemetery. The program will be held in the main 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 15th Annual Birthday Bash on Friday, Oct. 27 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 $150. For more information, call (856) 784–0615 or visit info@arvf.org.

**The Animal Welfare Association (AWA) is hosting “Howl-o-ween Trunk or Treat” on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the AWA located at 509 Centennial Blvd. This free event is for kids and their (leashed well-behaved) dogs. There will be candy for kids and treats for dogs, including allergen free candy. “Howl-o-ween Trunk or Treat” will also include a costume contest for kids and dogs.

** Voorhees Township’s Annual Halloween Festival will be held on Sunday, Oct. 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. Again this year 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.