Visit just about any town’s community Facebook page and you’ll likely find a collection of advertisements for local businesses and posts about missing pets, but most of all you’ll find complaints. These pages have a tendency to turn into a sort of soapbox where neighbors can voice grievances about issues they have with their town, whether it be noise, local police and government, or the one homeowner on the block who never mows the lawn.
Resident Debbie Smart recently took notice of this trend and inspired fellow resident John Casparro to take a stab at injecting a little positivity into his community page, Palmyra NJ Neighbors and Friends.
“I thought the (Palmyra NJ Neighbors and Friends) page was too focused on complaining and neighbors being mean to each other,” said Smart. “I wanted to return the focus to what was good about our town and try to get people to be nice and positive.”
“The perception is it’s so negative here but that neighbors page is like 10 percent of what actually happens in this town, so all the positive stuff doesn’t get to that page,” said Casparro.
Thus, the Positive Palmyra Stories Challenge was born, and for a few days, some of the negativity was countered by a series of stories posted by residents about positive experiences they have had in town or with neighbors and what they love about living in Palmyra. Popular hashtags included #smalltownbigheart and #palmyraproud.
Casparro got the ball rolling and shared a recent story about one of his neighbors who showed up to his house one day with half a watermelon that her kids didn’t want.
“She thought of us next door because we have little kids and brought it over and my kids (ate) it. It was awesome,” said Casparro.
The small act of kindness stuck out to Casparro as a blessing that allowed his wife a few minutes of peace when their kids were going a little nuts.
Smart followed with a comment of her own. She bought a condo in Palmyra Harbour in 2006 and loves living near the river. One of her favorite things about Palmyra is the annual Halloween parade.
“It allows the entire community to get together and celebrate a cool holiday with spooky and adorable costumes,” said Smart.
Resident Renee Cappetta, who owns the Guitar Guild in town, shared her story of coming to Palmyra all the way from Australia.
“When my Aussie friends ask ‘why did you move to the USA?’ I reply ‘I didn’t. I moved to Palmyra.,’” said Cappetta.
She says Palmyra has welcomed her since she first came to visit her father here back in 1992.
“I have friends of 25-plus years standing, and many, many new ones as well. This town now provides me with a home, a living and a massive extended family,” said Cappetta.
Jeny Stackhouse, a resident since her family moved to the area from Philadelphia when she was 10, shared her story of growing up in town, having a child of her own and eventually opening her business, Jeny’s Java Joint.
She feels blessed that everyone in town has embraced her daughter Sophia, who was born with Down syndrome.
“The wonderful people in the Palmyra School District, especially at Charles Street School, have been so amazing with her,” said Stackhouse.
After having to close her first coffee shop in town in 2008, Stackhouse reopened in a new location just last year. She is hopeful for the future of her town and its business district.
“Having a business in Palmyra has been extremely rewarding. Doing what I love while getting to know so many amazing people,” said Stackhouse. “Every day I meet new neighbors who love this town just as much as I do. We all have a desire to see Palmyra flourish and bring our downtown back to the glory it once was.”