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NJCDC Celebrates 20 Years at 32 Spruce Street

NJCDC Celebrates 20 Years at 32 Spruce Street

October 6, 2023

In 1997, NJCDC purchased the buildings at 16 and 32 Spruce Street in Paterson's Great Falls Neighborhood. The buildings were originally part of the Rogers Locomotive Works factory, which played an important role in Paterson's early industrial history, building its first locomotive in 1837 and producing more than 6,000 locomotives that were used on railroads around the world. When we bought the buildings, they had been abandoned for a long time, but NJCDC Founder & CEO Bob Guarasci had a vision for what the space could become. Construction on 32 Spruce began in 2002, and our headquarters officially opened on September 29, 2003 with a dedication ceremony in honor of our friend and champion, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg.

This year, on September 29th, we celebrated the building's 20th anniversary as our headquarters! Bob welcomed about 50 guests, including community members, current and former NJCDC staff, and longtime supporters and friends, to a Happy Hour celebration. "The memories that we've made here in this building, and on Spruce Street, will last a lifetime, and define the character of this organization," said Bob. "There are so many people who have helped us, many of whom are in the audience, and a number of you were here 20 years ago—I'm just grateful for everything that you have done to bring us to this point.

He then welcomed the evening's first speaker, Creighton Drury, current CEO of Partnership to End Addiction and former President of NJCDC. "Everyone who is here has been part of the story in one way or the other," said Creighton. "For the last 20 years, this has been the headquarters for a movement, for a collaboration, bringing together partners all across the city, all across the community, to create opportunities for people."

The next speaker was NJCDC's Chief Program Officer David Gelman, who started working with NJCDC as an AmeriCorps member 17 years ago before becoming a full-time staff member. David reflected on what an important role NJCDC's headquarters has played in his life, giving him the opportunity to learn and grow in his career—and in his personal life, as he met his wife of eleven years at NJCDC! We then heard from Danny Gonzalez, an alum of NJCDC's youth development programs and a recent college graduate, who also spoke about how important the building is to him. "I grew up in this building, so I'm very grateful for everyone who has made that possible," he said. "Most importantly, thank you for the great memories I made here growing up at 32 Spruce."

The final speaker was Cristina Tone, a longtime Paterson resident and the Assistant Director of our Neighborhood Help Center (NHC). Located on the first floor of 32 Spruce Street, the NHC is a one-stop-shop for neighborhood residents to receive assistance with a broad range of issues that concern them, ranging from housing to education to immigration. Cristina recently became a proud resident of Barclay Place, a 56-unit healthy, affordable housing development built in partnership with St. Joseph's Health and CAPC.

After the brief ceremony, Bob led our guests in a toast in honor of 32 Spruce Street. Afterward, we served a delicious cake, which the bakers at Polkadot Cake Shop artfully crafted in the likeness of 32 Spruce Street!

Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate 20 years at 32 Spruce Street—and to everyone who has made this journey possible!

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