Mayor’s Message: Community inspiring during time of crisis

Manzo rallied by residents' amazing ideas, offerings during COVID-19 pandemic

By LOUIS MANZO
Harrison Township Mayor

By the time you read this, we will be nearly two weeks into the updates I’ve been writing that are received by anyone who is on the township email list to normally receive the weekly Happening in the Hill emails and other notifications. That list numbered nearly 4,000 prior to the onset of the novel coronavirus crisis, and I know many more have opted in to receive my crisis-related updates. To join that list (even temporarily, since you can always opt out), go to the Mullica Hill Connect link on our township website at http://harrisontwp.us/residents-contact/

This message will not include details and point to resources concerning the COVID-19 outbreak; I’ll leave that messaging to my updates. Today, I just want to talk to you as one member of our community to another. I am in the unique position of interacting with tons of people and entities during this crisis — all virtually, through phone calls, emails, texts or Zoom meetings. My most common interaction with our residents has been through email responses I’m getting to my updates. I started out with the intent of answering every single email, which has always been my normal practice. In recent days, I have prioritized that process to answer every question posed, but for those who are simply conveying “thanks” for the communication, I’m running a little behind. I’ve gotten hundreds of emails.

That’s the point of my message today, one community member to another. We all know we live in a wonderful place, but I wish you could feel what I feel based on my role as the mayor of the town. Daily, because of that role, I’m getting emails or calls or texts offering to help, some with very specific ideas on how to do so. Ideas to help support our senior population or how to assist disabled members of our community or veterans. Brilliant plans for how we can support our local businesses during this required shut down. People offering access to their contacts in seeking medical supplies or equipment or simply offering to initiate fundraisers for various causes. I’ve seen Facebook pages born as a resource to provide help to anyone in need in Harrison or beyond. Groups and organizations in town stepping up unilaterally to provide support, especially in the area of nutrition and food distribution.

I have laid in bed at night, which is the only time that my mind settles a bit, and thought about many of these offerings and suggestions. It is humbling and has moved me to tears because of the selflessness of all of it. As much as I love our hometown, I know this is happening everywhere on some level. It is the indomitable spirit of the human race that is universally showing itself, perhaps for the first time ever. There are no borders or separation from one country or race or ethnic background when it comes to the reaction to this virus. I want you to know that I am witness to it here, firsthand, in our hometown, and I’m so proud to be part of it.

Tactically, my updates will include information about a few of those great ideas I’m referring to, as we have put a few in motion. In the meantime, be diligent … be patient … be Harrison strong!

Louis Manzo is the mayor of Harrison Township. He can be reached at LManzo@harristontwp.us.