Just In Time

Here’s the latest in regards to the progress of Prodigal Sons & Daughters Redirection Services, Inc.’s Community Gardens!

·         We welcomed our new friends from Newark YMCA and Vicinity to help us tidy up                our Earthboxes and such.

·         We planted seedlings!

·         This year we’re planting another fine selection of salad fixings including: Yellow                   Squash, Zucchini, Eggplant, Green Peppers, Red Peppers, Cucumbers,  and                      Tomatoes

·         We also are planting a nice selection of herbs (which would be great additions to                  any home-made vinaigrette) including: Sage, Pineapple Mint, Chocolate Mint and                Sweet Basil

We’ll be meeting with a landscape designer to assist us with the logistics for our Yoga Garden. We’re privileged to provide access to free produce to our community members, but with the addition of our yoga garden, we’re hoping to impact the physical and mental health of our community members as well.

Yoga is a great way to reduce stress, and studies suggest that individuals can start to reap benefits from the very first time they practice! In an article entitled, “5 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga”, The Huffington Post discusses research that suggests the practice of yoga impacts many different aspects of health (improves sleep, helps with migraines, and even can help boost your immunity to disease!). We can’t wait until the logistics for our yoga space have been finalized, so that our community will be eating and feeling their best from head to toe!

Next month we hope to announce the beginning of a new partnership! For more details, make sure you “Like” us on Facebook, and make sure you follow us on Twitter!

Grown right here in Newark, a volunteer tenderly holds a growing green pepper.

YMCA volunteers watering our Earthboxes.


Gardens Growing in Camden

Camden Community Charter is in the process of adopting its wellness policy. They are reviewing the wellness policy adopted in one of its affiliate schools in Chester, PA and are making revisions to certain sections of the policy. One of its new components to add is a Farm to School Program. Due to the school’s inability to build a garden, they have explored alternate ways to grow produce. We’ve been introduced to a mobile edible garden unit by Green Living Technologies. It is an indoor/outdoor, portable garden unit laboratory for use in schools, classrooms or rooftops. Meetings with their food service provider, Aramark, will begin in August to discuss how produce and herbs, once harvested, can be introduced and served in the cafeterias or classrooms. Urban Promise Ministries has seen much growth in its urban garden this summer. Its new food service department is currently preparing for the upcoming school year with plans to incorporate as much produce and herbs from the garden as they can. Students can look forward to having taste tests and new ingredients fresh from their garden come September! We also plan to explore ways to celebrate Farm to School month in October! In addition, the Wellness Committee has finalized its school wellness strategy (policy) and is ready to present to leadership.

camden garden

Urban Promise Garden







Salad Party for summer camp students at Urban Promise!

Salad Party for summer camp students at Urban Promise!

Together For Health


The Healthier East Orange Coalition goal is to help reduce obesity in our constituents through an environmental change initiative. We realize that often times people do not realize the portions or the right food groups to eat. We are distributing posters of the Food Pyramid – Food Group serving and Amounts to various organizations and schools to educate our children and families. How many times have we gotten up from the table and said ” I can’t eat another bite”, or ” wow I’m stuffed”? We are also distributing a ‘What Makes a Serving’ poster to the community.
The Healthier East Orange Coalition has come together for a healthier You…Food Servings (11x17) (2)Food Pyramid Flier (2)

Prayer Walk-Taste Of Missions


  We gathered at a park in center city on Sunday morning as part of our Taste Of Missions with the intention of living in community with the surrounding families. While we focused our prayers on partnering with God and the Holy Spirit to be alive in this neighborhood and bring safety and peace to everyone, there was a free soccer clinic going on as well. I don’t know how many workers to neighbors there were but I do know that friendships were made,  trust was earned,  fun was had and Jesus was revealed. These neighbors came out for the fun even though it’s a neighborhood known for sleeping in on Sunday morning. As we walked around the 2 mile loop surrounding the neighborhood we met new neighbors and invited them to the 3 upcoming Camp Grace dates. Camp Grace #1 will take place in the exact location of the Soccer Clinic with the use of the school that shares the property.  Camp Grace #2 will be in the nearby city of Millville and Camp Grace #3 will be at the LFA Church offices in Vineland.

Some members of this church have had their own community time inviting the neighboring children to garden in a community garden,  join them for dinner and even craft times.

The Challenges of Providing Access to Fitness

In our mission to increase fitness access, the Raritan Valley Y has been a proponent of shared use, mutually beneficial agreements, and open access with private fitness facilities, especially when this can help teach children to swim and address chronic health issues that may be mitigated by exercise.

In our quest to serve the fitness needs of our community, some of our primary obstacles include:

  • Difficulty of finding private entities that are willing to share/lease/donate fitness or pool use.
  • Limited availability and high cost of renting/leasing.
  • Reluctance toward dealing with underserved populations.
  • Insurance and liability concerns.
The RVY fitness center is available to populations that need it most... provided we make the right connections.

The RVY fitness center is available to populations that need it most… provided we make the right connections.

Our particular Shaping NJ grant included a plan to partner with a city health clinic that was starting a diabetes management program. The Y would provide free and open fitness center access to those enrolled. Since the inception of the grant, the health clinic has closed. But the mission lives on.

The Y staff has gone to St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick to seek a new partner, and identify low-income city residents with chronic disease whose symptoms could be lessened with regular exercise. While the process of providing fitness to the underserved is difficult, we are making important progress in this area:

  • We are opening important channels of communication with hospital administration, and have an important ally in Dr. Meena Murthy, Chief of Endocrinology for the Thyroid and Diabetes Center at St. Peter’s University Hospital.
  • We are gaining recognition and visibility among the community that needs our service.
  • We are seen as part of the solution to a complex social problem.
  • We know that, through fitness and exercise, we have the ability to provide our community with a better quality of life.