Lakewood Neighbors Coalition forms to face challenges and foster a shared future for region

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LAKEWOOD, N.J., Dec. 21, 2017 — Over 50 leaders from Lakewood and across Ocean County gathered for a dinner on Wednesday night to form Lakewood Neighbors, a coalition to address the social and civic challenges facing the region and develop a shared vision for the future.

They will be reaching out to concerned citizens to join them in the coalition, and invite those with an interest in participating in their activities to contact them at [email protected] 

The coalition plans to meet regularly and to follow a collaborative “charrette” model to create an innovative atmosphere in which a diverse group of stakeholders can work to generate visions for the future.  They will publish blog updates and features at and on social media.

Founding coalition members include Mr. Joseph Buckelew, Chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew; Mayor Ray Coles, mayor of Lakewood; Ralph Zucker, President of Somerset Development; Dr. Dovid Friedman, CEO of the Lakewood Resource and Referral Center and Chemed Health Center; Mrs. Ada Gonzalez, Vice President of the Lakewood Board of Education; Rabbi Aaron Kotler, President of Beth Medrash Govoha; and Mr. Michael McNeil, Director of N.J.'s Solutions to End Poverty Soon (STEPS) and Housing Chair of New Jersey's N.A.A.C.P.

“This is a broad coalition of caring stakeholders wanting to realize and share the real story of our region,” said Rabbi Aaron Kotler. “As in any successful, diverse and growing region, we face social and civic challenges, along with misunderstanding, and misrepresentation. Concerned citizens are called to understand and face these challenges while fostering a shared vision of a promising future.”

“We're going to tackle the challenges facing Lakewood,” said Joseph Buckelew. “And we'll ensure that Lakewood's story and beauty are properly told and appreciated.”

“Lakewood and our neighboring towns are diverse, generous, compassionate, growing, safe and welcoming places, built on the values of faith, family and community,” said Lakewood's Mayor Ray Coles. “We have a thriving entrepreneurial spirit with unmatched generosity, and we want to work with our neighbors to build a brighter and inclusive future for all.”

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Brad Bennett

Brad Bennett

Brad grew up in a small town in northern Iowa. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children.
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