Karen Reiner has been selected Moorestown’s 2023 Citizen of the Year, an honor that will be celebrated with an award ceremony and dinner at the Community House on Feb. 1.
For more than 60 years, the award has recognized a resident who has contributed to the community and its citizens. Reiner is a co-founder and president of the nonprofit MooreUnity, a civic group whose goal is to raise awareness of divisive forces in the community and promote inclusion by building bridges across those divides.
According to its website, MooreUnity’s core values include engaging with citizens and groups, supporting the efforts of allied organizations and organizing events and actions that promote acceptance.
“The underlying mission, the ultimate mission of that would be if we could eradicate all prejudice and all discrimination,” Reiner said of the organization. “We hope to achieve that through creating more unity in our town and having people getting to know people who have different experiences …
“The ultimate dream would be that we wouldn’t have racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism …” she added. “We wouldn’t have any of that anymore if we all just really got to know one another as fellow human beings and find that we have more in common than we have that divides us.”
MooreUnity hosts about 10 programs a year, including discussion panels and workshops. Its larger events include a gathering focused on helping children learn how to interact with their developmentally disabled peers.
“We put on a program last year with a drama therapist that taught children and teenagers through role play and through actual practicing of scenarios …” Reiner recalled. “It helped us learn how to stand up to bullying, racism and inappropriate comments.”
“Even for the adults in the room, I think it was really impactful, because we realized we all know when something wrong happens, but we don’t always know how to respond to it.”
Since its inception, MooreUnity has helped strengthen a bond among residents who want to create a safe and equal space for all.
“What’s been so nice about it is, it’s brought people together from our community who didn’t previously know each other, who all feel strongly about doing and creating this ability for diversity, inclusion, acceptance and positive relationships together, and that’s been a really beautiful thing,” Reiner said.
She is also involved in the Moorestown Braver Angels Alliance, a nonprofit focused on helping Republicans and Democrats communicate effectively and civilly across the political divide.
“Braver Angels puts together workshops and debates and other means of listening and learning about people who vote differently than us, and seeking the common ground that you do have, so that we don’t have to divide into camps and think of ourselves as ‘us’ and ‘them,’” Reiner explained.
Reiner is thankful that MooreUnity can partner with township organizations such as the Perkins Center for the Arts and the Rotary Lunch Club and more.
“I think the more we can partner with other community members … Just the more you spread the mission, the stronger we build a community that we can all feel proud to be a part of, and where everyone can feel safe and respected,” she remarked.
Reiner also noted how her parents inspire her to help others.
“All throughout my life, I always witnessed my mom and dad doing kind things for other people, so it’s something that I learned, and I wanted to repeat,” she said.
Of all the places Reiner has lived, she credits Moorestown with being the most community oriented.
“Almost every month, there’s some sort of celebration in our community that brings people together, and I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about our town,” she emphasized.
“ … We look out for each other, and I just think that’s what community is about,” Reiner added. “And I see a lot of that in Moorestown.”
The award ceremony starts at 7 p.m. and $60 tickets are available for purchase through any member of the Lions and Rotary clubs, or at the Community House, Moorestown Hardware and Ralph’s Market.