Over 200 Attendees Eagerly Celebrate Earth Day

(above) Groundwork Elizabeth table exhibit

“Boots Not Suits,” Earth Day

Groundwork Elizabeth

On Friday, April 22nd, Groundwork Elizabeth, a local nonprofit organization, collaborated with local governments, businesses and the community at a “Boots Not Suits,” Earth Day event held in Union County’s Phil Rizzuto Park.

Since 1970, Earth Day has been observed annually around the world, in recognition of the value of a clean and healthy environment. This year was no different in Union County, as so many came together for a heavily attended day of tree plantings, inspirational messages and comradery at the park.

(above) Community “Dug in” and planted trees at “Boots not suits” event

Lucy Crespo, who is the Groundwork Elizabeth Director of Youth Initiatives, with support from the Union County Board of County of County Commissioners, Federal and State Senators, the Mayors of the City of Elizabeth and the Township of Union, the Union County Parks Department and fellow nonprofits, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, organized this three-hour program at Phil Rizzuto Park, which is located at the intersection of North Avenue and Morris Avenue, where the City of Elizabeth and Union Township meet.

Groundwork Executive Director Jonathan Phillips notes that Groundwork can help lead efforts to continue to build more sustainable and equitable communities, “Taking care of the Earth on Earth Day is a personal and community obligation. It needs to continue each every day. It’s something we all need to do”.  

Over sixty-six (66) trees were donated by Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery. Darren Bryden, of the City of Elizabeth, was the emcee of the program, who then introduced the Mayor of Elizabeth, J. Christian Bollwage, Rebecca Williams, Chair of the Union County Board of County Commissioners, State Senator Joe Cryan of the 20th Legislative District NJ, Diego Mazariego, who represented the Office of United States Senator Robert Menendez and Nancy P. Sadlon of Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery, who has worked hand in hand with Groundwork to improve the site since 2015. 

(above) Curt Collier instructing youth

Groundwork Green Team Youth leader Kayly Hernandez administered a ‘climate safe’ pledge asking all to leave the earth in better condition than they found it. After the ceremony, attendees had a chance to really make a difference.  Under the direction of Curt Collier, from the Society for Ethical Culture, youth and adults came together and planted groves of trees which will soak up rainwater, clean the air, and provide a healthier habitat for the foliage and animals which live at the park.

United Airlines, Atalanta Corporation, the local Elizabeth NAACP, the Terence C. Reilly school, Union County Recycling, the Pat Perkins Civic Association, the Port Authority of NY and NJ, Rutgers University Center of Environmental Exposure and Disease, City of Elizabeth Recycling Department and scores of volunteers were on hand to offer support for the program and to highlight their own commitment to preserving the Earth and promoting sustainability.

The “Boots not Suits” Earth Day event will continue next Earth Day. If anyone is interested in learning more about this or other events, you can reach out to Lucy Crespo at lucy@groundworkelizabeth.org. For more information about Groundwork Elizabeth, please visit their website at groundworkelizabeth.org or on any of their social media platforms.

(above) Mayor Bollwage and NAACP Elizabeth Branch volunteers
(above) Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery volunteers