Russ Berrie Honoree Beautifies Camden One Block at a Time

As part of Making a Difference Week, Steve Adubato goes on-location to Camden, New Jersey to speak with 2018 Russell Berrie Making a Difference Award honoree, Pino Rodriguez, and other local individuals about the impact the Block Supporter Initiative has on the city of Camden. Pino and others explain how they are on a mission to beautify Camden one block at a time.

5/3/19 #2214






"Now behind us, you see a beautiful home. You see the flower pots and the beautification. Right. This is an example of one of the homes that you and your colleagues worked on? Absolutely. This is an example of how the Block Supporter Program, together with the residents can make a change. Right in front of their doors. The Block Supporter Initiative was asked to come here in North Camden in 2015, by Betsy Clifford, and Camden Lutheran Housing, which we thanked them for shining a light on the problems of the City. And asked us to come and change things. Since we've been here, the Block Supporter Initiative has engaged with over 700 residents, and their families. Be it renters, be it homeowners, they all participate. And for the most part, the Block Supporter Initiative is actually over 75 or 75 or over, percent, effective here. Okay? We all have holdouts. You can't change things overnight. But these residents actually have embraced this program because it's been long overdue. And their families and their children are just as important as any other families and any other children and any other neighborhood. And we all deserve better. Royden Street, where you live, was one of the first blocks that the team that Pino heads up, was, quote, "beautified" right? Mm hmm. Correct. What... define what it was, to what it became. What was it? I was born and raised in Camden. I mean I've seen Camden come a long way. Royden Street, when I used to go around there, was always dirty, filthy, it was very bad looking. And I've seen a big change in how clean it is, how the neighbors are trying to keep it clean, the way they got the corners set up with the wood making all that, put kids in all that. Pino and the team come in. They beautify a neighborhood. What does it inspire people to do? To maintain and clean it. To maintain the block. To clean it. Talk to us. To plant flowers. You know, help each other out. You know, help the elderly that lives there, that hasn't, you know, that they can't do things on their own maybe. Give us an example of a block that you beautified and what happened? The Block Support Initiative, we'll go to a block and we'll say, "Hey, all you guys want to come out and help us clean up?" And if we can get five or more of these residents to come out, and we do for the seniors. Seniors..."