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PSEG Foundation and Sesame Workshop Introduce Little Neighbors Program at our Paterson Family Center Preschool

PSEG Foundation and Sesame Workshop Introduce Little Neighbors Program at our Paterson Family Center Preschool

June 13, 2024

View photos of the event here!

Over 20 years, ago, NJCDC opened the Paterson Family Center (PFC), a free preschool for children in the Silk City. More than just a preschool, PFC also supports the entire family through after-school programming and family workers who connect families to needed resources. Today, PFC serves 105 three- and four-year-olds, giving them — and their families — a safe place to learn and grow.

On Wednesday, June 5, NJCDC welcomed the PSEG Foundation and Sesame Workshop to PFC. The partnership between PSEG and Sesame Workshop began over a decade ago, and their newest collaboration is Little Neighbors: Building a Better World Together. This new program provides a range of resources to help young children improve their community. To announce the Little Neighbors program, representatives from the PSEG Foundation and Sesame Workshop — and Elmo! — came to PFC.


Throughout the morning, Elmo visited each PFC classroom. The students were thrilled to get to spend quality time with their favorite Sesame Street character! One PFC parent said, “After receiving a visit from Elmo, my daughter Jocelynn returned home filled with excitement. It was all she could talk about that afternoon!”

There was also a brief program. In attendance were representatives from local preschools and early childhood organizations, including 4Cs of Passaic County, Oasis, and the PCCC Child Development Center, as well as Dr. Nancy Holtje, Director of Early Childhood Education for Paterson Public Schools. The program began with an introduction from Maria Spina, Manager of the PSEG Foundation, before attendees were welcomed by Bob Guarasci, NJCDC’s Founder and CEO.


“This Little Neighbors initiative focuses on teamwork, encouraging children to tackle challenges big and small, and to take care of their families, community, and the environment,” said Bob. “That’s something that we encourage here at NJCDC throughout all of our programs serving 4,000 children and families every day here in our great city.”

Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop, introduced the new Little Neighbors program and spoke about the importance of investing in early childhood education. Through this initiative, young children build an early foundation of kindness and teamwork, fostering an ongoing commitment to their community as they grow up. She then played one of the videos created for the Little Neighbors initiative, which showed Sesame Street characters like Elmo and Abby coming together to clean up a garden in their neighborhood after a big storm. The video teaches children that it’s easy to make a difference when everyone works together.


Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh then spoke briefly, welcoming the Little Neighbors initiative to Paterson. “There’s power in partnerships,” said Mayor Sayegh. “The best investment we can make is in our youth.”


The program ended after brief closing remarks from Rick Thigpen, Senior Vice President of Corporate Citizenship at PSEG — and an appearance by Elmo! As NJCDC celebrates 30 years of creating opportunities to transform lives in Paterson’s Great Falls Neighborhood, we appreciate the PSEG Foundation and Sesame Workshop for giving us the resources to help the next generation continue to create opportunities and make positive changes in Paterson.


Parents, caregivers, and community members can visit the Sesame Workshop website here to see all of the resources for the Little Neighbors initiative!

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