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Celebrating culture and diversity in Voorhees

Township committee marks new year, outlines upcoming events

The Voorhees Citizens Cultural and Diversity Committee announced an opening for a new student liaison from Eastern Regional High School to represent student interests on the committee.

In a bid to foster inclusivity and celebrate diversity, the Voorhees Citizens Cultural and Diversity Committee held its reorganization meeting on Feb. 5 to mark the beginning of a new year and an emphasis on continuity and expansion.

The meeting began with the reelection of committee members, while existing members retained their positions for the new year. The officers and executive board include Chair Stephanie Fisher, Vice Chair and Scholarship Chair Gundelina “Gwen” Devera, Treasurer Dr. Garima Thapar, Secretary Lisa Rose Witherspoon and temporary student liaison Suhana Shyam.

The meeting drew 18 people, an indication of significant growth from the previous year that prompted the decision to relocate future committee sessions to the township courtroom.

With Fisher guiding the session’s various agenda items, the committee announced an opening for a new student liaison from Eastern Regional High School to represent student interests in the committee.

The committee also expressed enthusiasm for the upcoming year, outlining plans for educational trips aimed at understanding different cultures and religions. Members will visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., followed by a summer visit to Lawnside’s historic Peter Mott House, a station on the Underground Railroad and now a museum. Located at the corner of Moore and Gloucester avenues, the facility was rescued from demolition by the Lawnside Historical Society.

Future plans also include a visit to a Hindu temple in Robbinsville, Mercer County, to gain insights into Indian culture and demonstrate support for the Hindu community. Discussions are underway for an International Day event and a United Nations tour to celebrate diverse cultures.

Fisher emphasized the committee’s open-door policy to welcomes individuals from all walks at its meetings.

“We do a lot of things for the community, we support the Cambodian community, the Muslim community, Catholics, all religions and have organized events for the Jewish community,” she explained. “We’ve also developed a curriculum where we go into schools and we talk a bit about the program.”

The committee maintains a strong connection with Eastern High and actively contributes to the academic journey of students. Fisher and Devera award annual scholarships to deserving students, with four $500 gift cards distributed last year. Jennifer Branch-Stewart – a member of the school board committee – has organized sub-committees specifically tailored to schools.

Eight Eastern students have submitted emails to Fisher that demonstrate a keen interest in serving as the committee’s student liaison.

Members are also exploring the idea of crafting distinctive paraphernalia to promote the committee and make Voorhees residents aware of its presence. Suggestions include unique pins and refrigerator magnets.

Fisher also expressed gratitude at the meeting for contributions to committee efforts.

“In honor of Black History Month, the Voorhees Citizens Cultural and Diversity Committee would like to thank all the “Sheroes” and “Heroes” who have contributed in some way, form or fashion to make this country what it is today,” she said.

“Black history is truly American history.”

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