Perth Amboy Alliance for Community (PAAC)
“One People, One Heart” - The JRF is committed to helping our communities, become healthier and stronger. We believe in changing lives by creating hope and self-sufficiency, and we succeed by providing essential health and human services, community development and youth programs. Our life-improving services extend across all cultures and faiths, regardless of economic status. The JRF serves as both a federally designated Community Action Agency administering a range of anti-poverty programs and a Qualified Health Center providing primary care to those who have limited access to health care.
The Perth Amboy Alliance for Community (PAAC) is a growing group of neighbors, agencies, educators, and small businesses who have worked together for the last 13 years to help make positive changes. Our original plan for our neighborhood was completed in 2008 and has served as a blueprint to support the residents of the PAAC Neighborhood. Since then, PAAC has made a lasting impact. Much has been achieved including the creation of the PAAC Neighborhood Association, beautiful community gardens, housing rehabilitation, small business support, dozens of economic development programs, and the totally transformed Francis Street Park.
The PAAC team in partnership with our neighbors, small businesses, our Host Team, the City of Perth Amboy, Creative NJ, and Triad have recently submitted our new 10-year plan and we are anxiously awaiting feedback from DCA. Please feel free to view our draft plan https://www.jrfnj.org/draft-plan-for-paac-june-2021/page.html
HOUSING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES:
Neighborhood Plan Goal #2: Access to Education and Other Services
(1) Emerging Leaders for a Healthier Perth Amboy: This program provides youth with hands on experience in community health and the opportunity to make lasting change in their community. High-school-aged youth will be fully immersed in a health education and service-learning institute to develop a plan of action that addresses the state of health in Perth Amboy. After developing their action plans during the school year, the Emerging Leaders will spend the summer putting their plans into action. They will be employed and earn summer stipend pay.
(2) Youth Entrepreneurship (YEP): In partnership with the School Based Youth Services (SBYS) Program located in the Perth Amboy High School, YEP focuses on preparing students to start their own micro-enterprises. We will partner with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to provide a comprehensive experience for our teens. Through experimental, project-based learning, students will develop crucial entrepreneurial skills. YEP, will ultimately be a key economic development component, as NFTE reports that 1 in 4 graduates start a business. In addition, NFTE found that providing this training will help increase a student’s salary by 50% as compared to their peers.
Neighborhood Plan Goal #3: Encourage Greater Economic Opportunity and Offers Employment and Job Readiness.
(1) Small Business Support & Development: This crucial component for community development included in our plan is about maintaining an environment conducive to the establishment and operation of small businesses. Through a dedicated Small Business Coordinator, support for our small businesses will focus on providing workshops on local rules and regulations, general business management, and clarity regarding available resources and industry trends. We will work closely with our businesses and, if necessary, help complete the appropriate paperwork. Workshops will be held virtually and, when feasible, in person. We will execute 8 Commercial Rehabilitation projects for businesses who are in need. Further, we will partner for Small Business Saturday and develop strategies to help drive increased customer traffic.
(2) Employment Support, Education & Training: *Employment Boot Camps – We will run boot camp style workshops for individuals as a partnership with the Bayside FSC twice per quarter. Boot camps will focus on motivational strategies to help with job searching. A virtual platform will be used along with in person sessions when feasible. PAAC will support the yearly Career Fair in partnership with the City of Perth Amboy, Middlesex County College and PARTNER. *ESL Classes - Over 60% of residents in the PAAC Neighborhood speak limited English. As a result, they experience the highest unemployment rate, lowest rate of full-time employment, and lowest median earnings. For this reason, we will conduct Adult ESL Classes and “Neighborhood Cafes”. The goal is to help residents obtain language survival skills, improve their job prospects, attend higher education classes, and participate more actively in the community. *Financial Literacy - One sure way families increase their disposable income is to help them learn to manage finances more effectively. By participating in the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Course, residents will increase knowledge regarding finances. *Job Training – We’ve learned that providing opportunities to be licensed, certified or earn a diploma helps to, generate better employment opportunities. Through the JRF Training & Testing Center (T&TC), our DOL approved private career school, we will offer a Licensed Home Inspector training and continue to expand our in-demand offerings while also providing the testing.
Neighborhood Plan Goal #4: Maintain a Safe, Healthy, and Clean Environment Including Home Repair
(3) Neighborhood Home Repair Program: In partnership with Morris Habitat for Humanity, we will offer major and minor home repairs necessary for restoring and maintaining safe and healthy living conditions and preserving home values. Volunteer teams will work under the direction of Habitat staff and volunteer supervisors to complete the repairs. We will also assist in facilitating Morris Habitat’s “A Brush with Kindness” initiative, which will help PAAC residents with minor repairs, maintenance, painting, and landscaping or streetscaping. Projects are typically very small but tend to deliver maximum impact in the look and feel of the neighborhood.
SUPPORTIVE SERVICES: Neighborhood Plan Goal #1: Networking and Communicating
(1) PAAC Neighborhood Association (PNA): The PNA has become pivotal in creating change. This group of homeowners, renters, business owners, school faculty/staff and church officials from the neighborhood are responsible for identifying and addressing challenges and concerns. Through the PNA we hold community meetings, offer programming, and organize neighborhood cleanups. In addition, we will leverage NRTC funds to obtain another 3 grants to help with additional supports.
o Community Garden: We have a newly renovated community garden with the assistance of NRTC and Home Depot. We are looking to add an additional garden to reduce the impact of food deserts in the neighborhood. Our garden has been a source of comfort during this pandemic.
o Thursday Nights @ the Park: Several Thursday evenings during the summer, residents are encouraged to come out to the Francis Street Park between 6-9pm for Movies under the Stars, concerts, talent shows, arts & crafts and much more. It helps residents get to know each other creating opportunities for children to play and socialize.
o Healthy Lifestyle Programing: In an effort to provide programs in the neighborhood, we will conduct monthly nutrition/healthy living workshops for residents and provide programming for our seniors through the Senior Wellness Club.
o Streetscaping: In the summer of 2018, a Walkability Audit was conducted on Amboy Ave. The audit identified issues and concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists related to the safety, access, and convenience. It also included recommendations such as traffic calming features to encourage more responsible driving, potentially reduce traffic flow, and decrease the likelihood of accidents. There are 8 areas on Amboy Ave. that are missing crosswalks. 12 areas were identified as having faulty pedestrian crossings. Updating the Amboy Ave. corridor with these and other streetscaping initiatives play an important role in forming the visual image of a sustainable community. To this end, curb bulbs, planting buffers and a gateway marker are also included in the plan.