Featured Story: Lori Braunstein

Words cannot say enough about the amazing Lori Braunstein, Founder of Sustainable Cherry Hill, who is one of Camden’s very best friends. From helping the city obtain certified status with Sustainable Jersey to volunteering with the Heart of Camden and the Tree Foundation, rest assured Lori is always somewhere making a difference. Well, this season she truly blew us away…

Lori (bottom left) turned a year older in October. To celebrate, she partnered with the NJ Tree Foundation to deliver a high-impact community greening project in the Bergen Square neighborhood of Camden. Lori asked her loved ones to donate to the project in lieu of a gift and/or volunteer their time to assist with implementation. On October 6th, over 50 of Lori’s closest friends and family joined us with shovels in hand.

Ana Agueda (top right), only a few years older than Lori, has lived in Camden for most of her life. Organizing back-to-school events, block parties, and the planting of hundreds of trees over the past 10 years, Ana is known as a leader in her community. To bring more greenery to her neighborhood, Ana applied for trees in the fall of 2012. Her dream was to line the 1100 block of S. 3rd Street, the 300 block of Kaighns Avenue, and the 200 block of Mt. Vernon Street with trees while also transforming a vacant lot into a pocket park for kids. On October 6th, with Lori’s volunteers ready to work, we let the games begin.

Three hours, that’s all it took. We planted 21 large trees spanning four city blocks, then focused our efforts on the pocket park. Covering grafetti with new paint, we worked with local youth to paint positive images on the walls surrounding this new green space. We installed a decorative wooden fence, planted roses and mums, and enjoyed the delicious BBQ grilling of Santana, the lovely man across the street. There was more love on the 1100 block of S. 3rd Street that day than Ana can remember in a long time. “We are just so thankful to Lori and these outstanding volunteers for seeing that we needed help and coming here to do something about it. The kids have nowhere to play here. Now they have these beautiful streets and this park. And we’ve only begun…”

Lori Braunstein, you are an inspiration. The fruits of your labor and kindness will be felt in Ana’s community for years to come. You have redefined what it means to be a volunteer, a donor, a supporter, an environmentalist. We are so grateful to call you a friend to NJTF and Camden!

To see photos from this event, please visit the Tree Foundation’s album or Lori’s album.

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