My regular column Nature in the Valley generally discusses environmental initiatives taking place throughout Hopewell Valley. Next month we’ll return to that focus, but just for November please indulge me as I change it up a little.
This time, we share gratitude for the good nature of our Valley. Specifically, give thanks to residents, businesses, nonprofits, local leaders, and public servants that demonstrate the generosity of spirit in our community.
There is not enough space to scratch the surface of giving and consideration but here are a few select examples.
I’ve never met Robert of Hopewell Borough but I am captivated by his story. The 10-year-old boy needs a new heart and the community rallied around him with friendship and fundraisers. While his family must appreciate the dollars amassed for medical care, they probably feel comfort that they are not alone in their struggle due to the outpouring of community care.
Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, authors of “If These Stones Could Talk,” are local rock stars in our community for raising awareness about our area’s authentic African American history. They have a knack for transforming listeners to experience not-so-distant, past history. Between the book and the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, Elaine and Beverly demonstrate their labor of love, and the community has responded in kind.
Kim Janel is a one woman show of animal compassion (especially dogs!) She founded the Northeast Animal Support Alliance, that raises money for virtually every shelter in the area and has saved the lives of so many dogs. She will screen families and pups for a perfect fit, bringing sheer joy and happiness to both. You may not know Kim by name but there is a good chance you’ve attended her annual Spring Community Festival and Easter Egg Hunt at Rosedale Mills.
When Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space initiated “Community Conservation” with a grant for the Bear Tavern Outdoor Learning Area, they set a goal to install meaningful outdoor spaces at every school. Due to the commitment and tremendous response of community partners, that dream will become a reality in 2020 as all six Hopewell Valley public schools will have beautiful outdoor spaces that include an arboretum, meadows, rain gardens, pollinator corridors, ponds, reflection areas, decks, bird blinds and many more unique features. Most Community Conservation projects are or will be planted by engaged volunteers made up of students, teachers, administrators, and community members.
All projects avoided the use of tax-payer dollars and instead were funded by generous partners including Janssen, BMS, Vanessa Sandom and Carl Seiden, The Watershed Institute, Nectars Landscape and Design, StewardGreen, HVEF, PTOs, Brandon Farms HOA, Art Sparks, and a Pennington Day Grant.
FoHVOS also announced a “Community Conservation” gala that inspired sponsors including many of the previous funding partners and organizations like Bloomberg, Collab Intelligence, Capital Health, PSE&G, Northfield Bank, Stevens & Lee, Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s, D&R Greenway, Lawrence Hopewell Trail, Mercer County Parks, FVHD, and Bank of Princeton all stepped up.
Finally, the most heartening response was from neighborhood businesses. Every time there is fundraiser our community taps into our local shops. While their generosity is laudable, I’ve always wondered if they suffer from donor fatigue. After all, there are more causes than stores. The greatest surprise for me was Valley businesses didn’t just give an obligatory donation, they really dug deep!
For example, Robin and Jon McConaughy donated their time to lead a tour of Double Brook Farm, plus threw in dinner for four at Brick Farm Tavern. Colonial Farms just across the river donated lunch for 12. Rory from Blue Bottle added lunch for four.
Emily’s, Pennington Bagel, Boro Bean, Twirl Toy Shop, Music Together, Bowman’s Hill, Lynne Dorner, 15Landsdowne, and Nectars Landscape all gave multiple gifts! Hopewell Valley Vineyards, Unionville Vineyards, and Sourland Spirits all offered tastings and tours.
We are so lucky to have people donating their handmade gifts like Katie Dunham and Elizabeth B designs. New businesses like Dandelion Wishes, Sacherella, and the Sault Hause stepped up. Aunt Chubby’s, Entrata, TJ’s, Cuginos, Antimo’s, Osteria Procaccini, Primo Hoagies, Villa Francesco, and Honey Brook Farm will keep our guests eating and grateful. Jenn Davis Coaching, Amber Spa, PEAC Health and Fitness, and RomYoga will get them back in shape.
Amazingly, some people wanted to donate to the event but did not have a good fit from their businesses so Redding’s Plumbing donated Flyer’s tickets and Kim Janel bought Academy of Music Nutcracker tickets and her husband donated a will package.
It is humbling to experience the endless bounty of our community. While several community organizations have recognized Mike Rothwell, Pennington Quality Market giving is impossible to overstate. They donated to our gala and provide food for semi-annual Clean Communities Days, and have never said no to our schools.
A final shoutout to the editors at The Hopewell Express for a venue to share information and giving Hopewell Valley one of the best local news sources.
While preparing for upcoming holiday parties and family time, please take the time to find the owners of these local businesses and not only support them but say thank you. The charm of our community is due to the kind Nature in the Valley.