Trees & Second Chances

Carlos and I planting a tree in Ridgefield, NJ.

I met Carlos in the fall of 2008. He was coming off a stint in state prison and was in Logan Hall, a halfway house in Newark. I was struck by his good attitude and quirky sense of humor. I hired him to work for our Green Streets Program, where we train and pay men under parole supervision to plant trees and construct green infrastructure projects. After a few weeks of planting trees together, Carlos nicknamed me Master Ip after Bruce Lee’s trainer.

Occasionally while working for us a crewman will break a rule at Logan Hall and be pulled off our crew permanently. I hired Carlos to fill in three times when this happened in 2009, 2011, and 2012. Carlos was always the first person I called to step in. He is a reliable, conscientious employee who works above and beyond what is asked of him. I was happy to give him more work opportunities.

After working for us, Carlos was employed full-time for two years. His supervisor thought very highly of Carlos and offered him a permanent position. But the higher-ups said no due to his past record. This is such a common experience for anyone with a criminal history.

I got to work with Carlos again in the spring of 2017 when we hired him as Assistant to the Crew Supervisor (me!) He stepped right into the position, showing leadership skills and teaching the new men how to plant trees the right way. Carlos stayed on through the summer as we built, planted, and maintained rain gardens and our 9/11 Grove of Remembrance. Since no new employment had come up for Carlos, we kept him on through the fall tree planting season. Carlos applied for a new job as our season ended and I hope he gets it.

The temporary jobs we provide through Green Streets combine paid, hands-on work and job skill development to assist parolees in transitioning back into their communities. Your donations help us plant trees and give second chances to men like Carlos. Your support of our work is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

James Cunningham
Green Streets Crew Supervisor & Urban Forestry Technician
NJ Tree Foundation

New Trees, More Shade!

Brother Saleem at the planting event.

The Masjidun-Nur Islamic Learning Center in the Parkside neighborhood of the City of Camden sits just below the PATCO speedline. On one side of Mechanic Street there are trees which bring shade and beauty to the neighborhood while reducing noise and air pollution from the speedline. On the other side, where the Masjidun-Nur Islamic Learning Center is located, there were few trees, and the street was too hot.

Brother Saleem Muwwakkil had a vision for his Islamic Center. He wanted to plant trees to increase shade and use the trees as an outdoor classroom for their children’s program.  This year, Brother Saleem approached the NJ Tree Foundation with an application for trees. His project was one of the first plantings that I took on as the new Program Coordinator for the Urban Airshed Reforestation Program. In the months leading up to the planting, Brother Saleem and I worked together to bring his vision to life. The Center was like a blank canvas! We chose to plant trees of varying heights and types, flowering and non flowering, along the street and inside the Center’s lot.

On October 7th, we had 58 dedicated volunteers from businesses, schools, and fellow nonprofits help plant 23 trees on Mechanic Street. Redbuds, little leaf lindens, and American elms were planted to provide shade and beauty. Brother Saleem is so grateful for his new trees and is eager to see how the trees will look years from now, with “Plenty of shade in the streets.”

Projects such as this are not possible without your support. Please help us continue to plant trees in the City of Camden and other South Jersey cities in need by making a donation to the NJ Tree Foundation today. We thank you for your support if you have already donated this year.

Sincerely,

Meredith Brown
Urban Airshed Reforestation Program Coordinator

NJ Tree Foundation

Mechanic Street before the planting.
Mechanic Street after the planting!

Two Teachers + Three Schools = TREEmendous Impact

Ms. Hannemann & Ms. Gray

I first met teachers Ms. Monika Hannemann and Ms. Monikk Gray in 2013 when Ms. Hannemann applied for trees at Weequahic High School in Newark. Ms. Hannemann and Ms. Gray were instrumental in turning a once barren Chancellor Avenue into a shady tree-lined street. The Weequahic High School planting event had a significant impact on their students, the neighborhood, and the women themselves.

When Ms. Gray was transferred to Barringer High School she saw a new need for trees. In September 2015 the NJ Tree Foundation planted 13 trees around the high school and surrounding streets, with local residents adopting trees as well. Students, the Vice Principal, and the Barringer Football Team, swung picks and dug holes to plant trees that Saturday. The story continues, as Ms. Hanneman was also transferred to a new school in Newark.
Barringer Football Team athletes and Vice Principal Abbaleo planting a tree together.

When Ms. Hannemann began teaching at University High School, she saw a need for trees there too. In the spring of 2017, we planted 15 trees with students to line the front facade of their school and the back courtyard. As Principal Mendez mentioned, the hedge maples, ginkgos, and tree lilacs “will grow alongside the students who planted them.”

It is incredibly inspiring to work alongside passionate teachers and young adults who are thrilled to help green their neighborhoods. At the most recent planting at University High School, Ms. Hannemann described the importance of planting trees with youth. “I love interacting with students outside of a traditional classroom setting, working towards a common goal. Some students who do not excel as much in the classroom stood out as leaders at this tree planting, she explained with a look of pride.

This beautiful history of greening Newark’s schools and connecting urban youth to trees is only possible with your donations. Please help us continue to inspire youth and adults alike while making our cities greener by donating to the NJ Tree Foundation this December.

Thank you,
Elena López
Renaissance Trees Program Director, NJ Tree Foundation
University High School students laugh as they begin spreading mulch and pulling it two inches away from the trunk of this newly planted tree.

NJ Tree Foundation Celebrates #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is a holiday for being generous. Please celebrate with us this year! Your donation to the NJ Tree Foundation will help us plant more trees in 2018, bringing shade and beauty to New Jersey cities with low tree canopy coverage. Your donation will help us train and employ men under parole supervision, giving them an opportunity to learn green industry job skills as they re-enter society. Your donation will help us improve the environment and quality of life for New Jersey residents, making our state better one tree at a time.

If you are participating in #GivingTuesday, feel free to post a picture with our customized #UNselfie template and tell others why you are supporting the NJ Tree Foundation!

 

NJ Tree Foundation to Host Four TD Tree Days Events

NJ Tree Foundation Selected to Partner with TD Tree Days to Enhance Urban Forest and the Community by Planting Trees in Four New Jersey Cities

October 1, 2017 – Jackson, NJTD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, has selected the NJ Tree Foundation to participate in TD Tree Days, a community-based program that expands urban forests and green spaces in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. Staff and volunteers of the NJ Tree Foundation will join local employees of TD Bank to plant a total of 225 trees throughout four New Jersey cities. On October 11th, 35 trees will be planted at Freedom Village in Westhampton. On October 13th, 35 trees will be planted at Weequahic Park in Newark. On October 25th and 27th, respectively, 80 and 75 trees will be planted at Washington Park in Jersey City and Judge Robert Johnson Park in Camden.

We‘re proud to partner with the NJ Tree Foundation during TD Tree Days to nurture the community and the environment from the ground up,” said Joseph Doolan, TD Bank’s Head of Environmental Affairs. “Trees do much more than beautify our communities – they produce oxygen; improve air quality and slow climate change by reducing carbon emissions, airborne pollutants and smog; provide cooling shade to reduce energy costs; and enhance the quality of life.”

Now in its seventh year, TD Tree Days will bring together more than 1,000 community members and TD employees from September through early November to plant approximately 850 trees in 21 communities across the United States. TD Tree Days will be managed with support from The Arbor Day Foundation. Founded in 2010, the program has made a significant positive impact for communities and the environment as TD’s flagship volunteer and urban greening program, planting more than 285,000 trees and shrubs, primarily in Canada and the U.S.

The NJ Tree Foundation is one of 18 organizations in the United States that was chosen to participate in TD Tree Days through an application process.We are very excited to implement these high-impact TD Tree Days projects. The new trees planted will provide shade, beauty, and wildlife habitat, as well as improve the environment overall in New Jersey, explained Lisa Simms, Executive Director for the NJ Tree Foundation. She continued, “Trees are especially needed in our urban areas, where they remove pollutants from the air and reduce problematic stormwater runoff.”

In addition to Camden, Jersey City, Newark, and Westhampton, NJ, TD Tree Days events are scheduled in these communities this fall: Delray Beach, Miami and Tampa, Florida; Mattapan, Massachusetts; Auburn, Maine; Detroit, Michigan; Asheville and Wilmington, North Carolina; the Bronx and Brooklyn, New York; Chester and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Warwick, Rhode Island; Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina; and Alexandria, Virginia.

Follow TD Tree Days on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US #TDTreeDays and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank.

About NJ Tree Foundation

The NJ Tree Foundation is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees in New Jersey’s most underserved neighborhoods, where the need is greatest. Through tree planting, volunteerism, and partnerships, the NJ Tree Foundation assists numerous communities in improving their environment and quality of life. Since its inception in 1998, the NJ Tree Foundation has planted 204,360 trees across the state. Learn more at www.njtreefoundation.org.

About TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 9 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,200 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit www.tdbank.com. Find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US.

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol “TD”. To learn more, visit www.td.com.

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NJ Tree Foundation Hosts Camden Fruit Tree Giveaway

September 9th, 2017Camden, NJ – On Saturday September 9th, 22 Camden residents attended a fruit tree workshop and giveaway hosted by the NJ Tree Foundation. At this event, made possible with a grant from the Campbell Soup Foundation, residents learned how to plant the trees and grow their own fruit organically before leaving with one or more free fruit trees and a care package.

“Our fruit tree giveaway was a great success,” explained NJ Tree Foundation Program Coordinator Meredith Brown. “We provided 68 fruit trees to residents with backyard gardens and residents running community gardens. The fruit trees are creating new food access points for residents and bringing affordable, fresh, organic fruit right to their neighborhoods. Fruit trees are trickier to care for when compared to common garden plants like tomatoes, so the educational workshop component of this event was key,” Brown continued.

The workshop and giveaway were hosted at the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, who kindly provided a meeting room free of charge. After the workshop, the residents received a tour of the Center for Environmental Transformation’s fruit tree orchard on Ferry Avenue in Camden.

Residents were thrilled with their new fruit trees. Many have already been planted throughout the community, including the peach tree at the Center For Family Services PowerCorps headquarters on Morgan Blvd, as shown in the picture provided by PowerCorps. PowerCorps youth, who are Camden residents, picked locations for the fruit trees and planted them together.

Throughout the week, the NJ Tree Foundation will provide an additional 57 fruit trees to community and backyard gardeners in Camden, for a total of 125 new fruit trees throughout the city.

“We look forward to giving out the rest of the trees,” Brown said. “It is very exciting for the residents to be able to grow their own fruit. We know the trees will be well-cared for, and the residents should enjoy a great harvest next year!”

If you would like to support the NJ Tree Foundation’s fruit tree projects, please make a donation at njtreefoundation.org/donate.

NJ Tree Foundation Celebrates Opening Day for The Circuit

April 8, 2017Camden, NJ – Today, Saturday, April 8th, the NJ Tree Foundation is celebrating the official season opening of the Circuit and we ask you to join us! Did you know the Circuit is one of America’s largest trail networks and it runs through your backyard? There are several trails in Camden connecting to Philadelphia and beyond.

Spring is a great time to walk, jog, or bike #OnTheCircuit and admire blossoming trees. Over the past three years, the NJ Tree Foundation has planted over 100 new trees along the Circuit in Camden through our Trees for Trails project funded by the William Penn Foundation. Trees including Eastern redbuds, ornamental cherries, red maples, Princeton American elms, and zelkovas can be found gracing the trails, ready to be enjoyed by you! Use our “Trees Along the Camden Greenway” booklet as a Camden guide to find trees we planted along the Circuit and special Circuit destinations, like the old growth forest in Farnham Park. Visit the Circuit Trails Map to find existing, in progress, and planned trails throughout Camden and the greater Philadelphia region.

And, if you want to cross the bridge today, head over to Penn Treaty Park where there is an attempt to break the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the longest fist-bump relay! We’ll see you #OnTheCircuit this spring.

 

Volunteer Tree Planting Events Kick Off in Newark

April 7, 2017Newark, NJ – The NJ Tree Foundation kicks off its volunteer-led tree planting season today, Friday April 7th, with an event in Newark that will plant 39 trees at the Oliver Street School. Volunteers from the school and community will come together to plant seedless sweetgum, tree lilac, and hedge maple trees to beautify the school.

The NJ Tree Foundation will be joined by Senator Teresa Ruiz, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor-Marin, Councilman Amador, Joseph Della Fave, Executive Director of the Ironbound Community Corporation, Dr. Douglas Petty, principal of Oliver St. School, Nathaly Agosto Filion of the City of Newark, and Charlie McKenna from the NJ School Development Authority. Program Director Elena López of the NJ Tree Foundation will lead a tree planting demonstration immediately following the speakers.

Elena López, from the NJ Tree Foundation, explains, “Planting trees together with the students, parents, and teachers at Oliver Street School makes the community unite with a sense of pride and ownership through this transformative project.”

After the trees are planted the school will assume responsibility for their care. School volunteers will water the trees weekly throughout the summer, with more students getting involved in the fall and beyond.

Help Us Plant Trees this Spring

Hey volunteers! Are you ready to get outside, dig in the dirt, and help beautify urban communities with trees? We are, and we hope you’ll join us! This spring, the NJ Tree Foundation has a full schedule of exciting community tree planting events in Camden, Newark, and Gloucester City. We’re looking for dedicated volunteers like you to help make these events possible.

In Camden, we’re co-hosting the State Arbor Day Tree Planting on Friday, April 28th. We’re also hosting a large 90-tree event on Saturday, May 6th at the old waterfront prison site, soon to be known as Cooper’s Poynt Waterfront Park. These two events need volunteers.

In Newark, we have 10 tree planting events scheduled all over Brick City! Don’t miss out on the fun as we work with the City of Newark, residents, and community organizations to make a difference through tree planting.

In Gloucester City, we’re hosting our first-ever community tree planting event on Earth Day – Saturday, April 22nd! Join us as we plant trees along the 900 block of Monmouth Street with residents, the local Green Team, and the Tree Committee.

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” – Today’s Snapple Cap

News from Jessica at the NJ Tree Foundation

Dear Volunteers, Tree Recipients, & Supporters,

After eight truly amazing years with the NJ Tree Foundation, I’m embarking on a new adventure. On March 28th, I will start working for Camden Lutheran Housing and the Block Supporter Initiative in North Camden.

The NJ Tree Foundation will ensure a smooth transition as they continue their great work in Camden and Gloucester City. Their job posting is available online. Please feel free to share!

In April and May, I will be at the NJ Tree Foundation’s spring planting events and invite you to volunteer with me one last time! On Saturday, April 22nd, we’re partnering with Gloucester City to plant 35 trees for Earth Day! On Friday, April 28th, we are partnering with the State and the City of Camden to plant 10 trees for Arbor Day. On Saturday, May 6th, we are partnering with the City of Camden, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership,
and North Camden stakeholders to plant 90 trees at the old waterfront prison site in North Camden. To help out, simply email me at jfranzini@njtreefoundation.org.

The dedication of our community partners, including Camden residents, has inspired me in more ways than you know. It has been a genuine pleasure working with you over the past eight years – planting trees along your streets, revitalizing your parks, and adding fruit trees to your community gardens. THANK YOU for helping me realize the true transformative power of tree planting and urban greening! I look forward to continuing to serve the Camden community through my new role with Camden Lutheran Housing.

Working for the NJ Tree Foundation has been one of my life’s greatest experiences. I will always look back on these years with a huge smile and a warm heart.

With thanks,
Jessica Franzini
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A Note from NJTF Board and Staff
While we are sad that Jessica is moving on, we celebrate the accomplishments of her amazing body of work. Eight years, over 3,000 trees planted, several greening projects implemented and hundreds of new friends! Her passionate dedication to the NJ Tree Foundation and the world of urban forestry will be greatly missed. Jess has been an amazing team member and has strengthened and expanded the Tree Foundation’s Camden program immensely. We look forward to partnering with Jess on future projects, and wish her the absolute best in both her personal and professional endeavors.

Thank you for your dedication & friendship Jess!

~NJ Tree Foundation Board of Trustees & Staff