On Tuesday, May 21, 2024, the Lakewood Community Coalition hosted its 2nd annual meeting at The Strand Theater. The event featured Pastor John R. Taylor as the keynote speaker. Pastor Taylor, the Pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Trenton, also serves as the President of the Trenton Capital City Community Coalition (CCCC), the state’s largest and longest-running coalition. His extensive community involvement includes serving on the Interfaith Advisory Council for the State of New Jersey and as the Chief Chaplain for the New Jersey State Police.

Pastor Taylor delivered an inspiring message on the importance of unity and equality. He spoke passionately about the need to come together as one community, stressing that everyone should be treated with the same level of respect and dignity, regardless of their social status. “Our shared humanity is what binds us,” he remarked, encouraging attendees to recognize and celebrate the commonalities that unite them. His words resonated with optimism and hope, fostering a sense of collective responsibility and mutual respect among all community members.

Chief Jonathan Yahr of the Lakewood Fire Department discussed the crucial work the department does for Lakewood residents and businesses. He detailed the resources available and the tools they provide for fire safety. Additionally, Crystal VandeZilver, Chief of Lakewood Emergency Medical Services (LEMS), talked about the various services they offer and the resources available to the community.

The meeting was attended by many Lakewood faith leaders, community organizations, and community leaders. Among the distinguished guests was Yolanda N. Melville, the Senior Counsel and Director of Community Engagement from the Attorney General’s office. Melville expressed her appreciation for the positive impact the Lakewood Community Coalition has had on its mission. She highlighted the importance of such collaborative efforts in fostering community development and engagement.

We want to express our sincere thanks to The Strand Theater for providing the historic venue and to WellPoint for donating the delicious food, and Pizza Plus. Special appreciation goes to Andrei Jackamets Photography for capturing the memorable moments during our Lakewood Community Coalition meeting and to Patrick Sample for providing prime valet service.

This event was a true reflection of the community’s spirit and dedication to working together towards a better future.

#CommunityCoalition #InspiringLeadership #CommunityEngagement #UnityinDiversity #EmpoweringCommunities

*Co-Chairs Capt. Steve Allaire and Cori Scotti from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Lakewood