| The Jersey City-Lovin' Crew | Creating Community with JCFamilies
If I had to name one resource that singlehandedly got me started in Jersey City, before Twitter or social media led me to any of the other Jersey City-Lovin' Crew awesomeness that has added sparkle to my world, that one resource would be JCFamilies. We moved to Jersey City on somewhat of an impulsive whim, but a big draw for us was space to breath and a better quality of life for the World's Cutest Human. While she was lucky enough to have her own room in our Manhattan apartment, she still needed more than the 8x10 rug she had to play on (no, seriously, that was the extent of our play space in Tribeca).
Moving to Jersey City changed everything. Immediately. For the better. As I unpacked our boxes, I simultaneously Googled "resources for families in Jersey City" but for the most part, it was hard to put the picture together. I found more by wandering the city on foot.
However, JCFamilies rose to the top of my online search. Between its forums and discussion boards to connect with other parents, and the constant stream of events that JCFamilies hosts to meet other parents in person -- from Mother's Day massages, to an Easter Egg hunt, a Halloween party and parade and more -- I had a great place to start. JCFamilies also hosts many of its events in Hamilton Park (not exclusively, they are all around downtown, but many are in Hamilton Park) making it easy for us to pop by and join in. So, we did.
The growing JCFamilies community has more than 3,000 families from in and around the Jersey City metro area. That's a lot of mamas and papas to connect with, who can refer each other to greatness.
The best part, in a world where even child's play costs (usually a lot of) money, is that JCFamilies programming is all free. JCFamilies provides all of these resources without charge simply because they want as many families as possible to join in the mission of making Jersey City a great place to live.
I reached out to JCFamilies to shine a spotlight on the next member of the JC-Lovin' Crew to rock my world, and Mamta Singh, one of the founding mamas, happily answered my questions. Here's what she had to say.
BURBS + a BBQ: When and how was JC Families born?
JCFamilies (Mamta): A few of the moms (including me) were looking for activities and classes for our kids. We could not find anything good in Jersey City so we realized that there was a need for a parenting community in Jersey City who could take this initiative, and make Jersey City provide a great parenting experience.
B+aBBQ: Was there a missing sense of community that JCFamilies aimed to fill? What was the initial intention of the group?
JCFamilies: Yes, while a great proportion of the families in Jersey City have kids, there weren't many avenues for kids to have fun while growing up in JC. You had to go to NYC to find quality classes for kids, and we decided to change that.
B+aBBQ: What is the top mission for JCFamilies now?
JCFamilies: To provide a wholesome parenting experience to local communities.
B+aBBQ: How many people are a part of the community?
JCFamilies: We have more than 3300 parents registered on the website. There are 5000 other families connected to us through Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest and Meetup Groups.
B+aBBQ: What is the most-used resource that you offer?
JCFamilies: Family-friendly events organized by JCFamilies and various curated directories published by JCFamilies.
B+aBBQ: How do you connect with new families just moving to Jersey City?
JCFamilies: Primarily through word of mouth. Some of our members also find us on Google or Facebook.
B+aBBQ: What is the most beneficial part of the community?
JCFamilies: JCFamilies is the quickest way to make friends in Jersey City for the parents, and to learn about all the city has to offer for parents and kids.
B+aBBQ: What is the next big JCFamilies event that we should all look out for (and by that, I mean put on the calendar with four reminders so as not to space out and miss it!)?
JCFamilies: The Annual Cultural Diversity Festival is coming up on June 20th.
B+aBBQ: Fantastic! We'll see you there.
Jersey City's diversity is among, if not the, greatest strength of the city and should certainly be celebrated! But that's the best part about JCFamilies. They always seem to be celebrating one aspect of this community, or another. At the core, though, they are celebrating parents, families and living on the better side of the Hudson.
First things first: link up with JCFamilies on the interwebs, join the site for access to the resources and we'll see you at the next event!