During summer’s lazy days, there is no slacking for HP’s human relations


It may be the lazy, hazy days of summer, but Highland Park Borough Council is moving at a rapid pace to tackle issues in several different areas affecting the health and well being of borough residents. The Highland Park Planet will focus on a different initiative each week, but is kicking off the No Lazy Days series with a look at those activities overseen by the HP Human Relations Commission.

Council had the second and final reading of the ordinance that forms a permanent municipal commission – the Highland Park Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs – that is tasked to carry out the policies advanced in HP’s Inclusive Community resolution. The six members of HP’s Immigrant and Refugee Task Force have agreed to join the Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Commission. There are three additional seats, so if any resident is interested in volunteering to ensure that Highland Park is a fair and welcoming community for immigrants, please visit www.hpboro.com, click on the word “volunteer” in the left-hand sidebar, and click on the link that says “volunteer-general application.”

In related news, Councilmember Matthew Hersh represented the borough council at the Interfaith-RISE celebration of World Refugee Day, Sunday, July 9. Highland Park thanks Pastor Seth Kaper-Dale and the work of other residents championing immigrant and refugee rights and justice. Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler, Police Chief Stephen Rizco, Police Officer Mohab Hannout, and Councilman Hersh received awards for their work in fostering greater cross- cultural understanding in Highland Park.

Another Human Relations Commission activity whose goal was to foster greater understanding was the Pride Flag-raising on June 20, in honor of LGBT Pride Month. Approximately 40 people attended the event, co-sponsored by the Pride Center of NJ, represented by Nicole Brownstein and David Rogoff. They made remarks expressing the sentiment that fighting for a just society is a daily struggle and a moral imperative. Also supporting the event and providing pioneering leadership in Middlesex County were: Freeholder Deputy Director Charles Tomaro; LGBT Caucus member Michael Spadoroof the Middlesex County Democratic Organization; and Richard Green III, another representative  of the LGBT Caucus of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization.

The Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth has recently launched a social justice initiative. As a component of this work, the temple will provide one volunteer each to each Thursday night distribution of the Highland Park Food Pantry at the Highland Park Senior/Youth Center at 220 South 6th Ave.

Highland Park Commission for Universal Access will donate $500 to the Highland Park Police Department for National Night Out on August 2. Universal Access has a dedicated funding stream that is capitalized by way of handicapped parking enforcement. Lt. Gary Panichella represents the HP Police Department on Universal Access.

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