What is the story we can tell of Gateway’s birth? It began five years ago when the leadership of the First Presbyterian Church saw the close of a nonprofit nursery school it housed in two ground floor rooms for over 50 years. They decided the space would be dedicated to hands-on mission programs for the local community. For two years they consulted with town and county officials to learn what were the most pressing needs.
From among the many presented, they chose to first focus upon hunger alleviation, and within short time organized a 501(c)(3) non-profit as the Loaves & Fishes Community Food Pantry, opening its doors in 2019.
Joined by the Boonton United Methodist Church and supported in most encouraging fashion by food banks, grocery chains, farmers’ markets, foundations and individual donors, the new venture found its way successfully through COVID-19 pandemic limitations. Three years later it serves some 125 households weekly with the help of over 100 volunteers.
But that was just the beginning; because they were other needs to attack as the study had revealed in 2018. Thus a dozen volunteers were commissioned by the L&F Board of Directors to create Phase II. With the resource of the second classroom the Generation Team envisioned a multi-purposed space that would stage all manner of helpful, educational and enriching programs. These would be presented by existing non-profit organizations, with free use of the room and no fee to program participants. Additionally, the Generation Team decided local small businesses could use the facility for a suggested contribution through Loaves & Fishes.
And so the Generation Team of ten has physically brought the Gateway to this moment, ready to be swung wide open welcoming the community to come, use our resources and find many basic needs fulfilled. Buzz is growing as word of our unique mission circulates throughout Boonton, neighboring towns of Boonton Twp., Mtn. Lakes and Morris County. Keep yourself aware of what’s going on at “The Gate” by visiting our website regularly to see the program offerings and make your generous monetary contributions. Like us “Facebook,” post your comments and hear what others are experiencing with our novel new neighbor, Gateway Community Resource Center.
Scattered among you are the members of our Generation Team, some have hung in for 12 months, a few have come recently to make huge contributions: I acknowledge Jane Cook, Marisa Crozier, Paula Geleailen, Karen Korinda, Donna McCullough, Denise Oyola, Leslie Smith, Martel and John Roberts. Most especially, along with those just named, we acknowledge the vision, inspiration and indefatigable energy of Marilyn Ward.
(Following Johnson’s remarks, a Joint Resolution from the New Jersey Senate and Assembly acknowledging Marilyn Ward’s lifetime achievements in community service was publicly presented her.)