Bridging the gap WNY woman wants to bring disparate communities together

After moving from San Jose, Calif. to West New York, N.J., Natishia Aromire asked herself a hard question: “what now?”

Her husband had been transferred to New York City for his job as a Product Manager for Reuters, and Aromire suddenly found herself in a beautiful waterfront community that in her estimation wasn’t really a “community.” To her, a perfect way to not only meet new people was to form a group.

“This is a transient community,” said Aromire. “The people that live here move in and out all the time. They go to work in New York City and come back here, but really never connect. So, I thought, while they’re here, I’ll try to get them together.”

Aromire makes her living as a professional motivational speaker and as such, sees opportunity in almost everything she does. And the new environment she found herself in seemed, in her estimation, to need some cohesiveness.

So in November of 2003, Aromire formed a group called “The Riverbend Women’s Group” as a means to “expand my social circle and also as a way to build a community,” said Aromire.

Two different worlds

One thing that Aromire noticed almost immediately is that there is a great literal and figurative chasm between the two communities that exist in West New York. One, the community of luxury rentals on the waterfront, is drawn to New York City. The other community exists “up the hill” and is the community of Bergenline Avenue and Latino culture. As Aromire ventured further and further out into West New York, she began asking herself why the two communities don’t connect.

“A lot of the [riverfront] residents want to know about West New York,” said Aromire. “They realize that there is a gap in income and culture, but they still want to know about the town they live in. But [they] are afraid to make the first move.”

And Aromire is a person who excels at helping people make that “first move.” She uses her talents as a motivational speaker and life coach to spur people to make positive moves in their lives.

“The Riverbend Women’s Group” is just one of the ways Aromire is seeking to involve the residents of the riverfront community in the affairs of the whole town.

“Our mission is four-fold,” said Aromire. “Firstly, the group exists to help people expand their social circles. Secondly, we want to help promote the idea of ‘community’ and health awareness. Thirdly, we want to motivate people to get involved with their community. And lastly we want to develop a partnership with the rest of the town, people that live on the waterfront and up the hill.”

And as part of the “health awareness” aspect of the group’s mission, the Riverbend Women’s Group held a self-defense class last week. The class was taught by members of the West New York Police Department, Lt. Phil Molinero and Detective Monica Perez. Molinero runs the Okinawan Isshinryu Karate School in West New York and was glad to lend his services.

Said Molinero, “I thought it went very well. I was allotted half an hour and had to cut myself off at over an hour. The people there were really into it.”

Added Molinero, “We started with a short questionnaire dealing with rape and statistics, then proceeded with some simple punching, kicking and blocking techniques. Self defense moves, things like that. The people were very impressed and pleased that we were there.”

As for Molinero’s opinion on what Aromire is doing, he stated, “I think it’s great that she’s doing this. It’s important that there are people like her that want to get involved. Anything that makes people more aware is a good thing.”

Town involvement

According to Aromire, she has found, in her travels around West New York, that people are excited about finding out more about the riverfront. To them, she said, the riverfront is almost literally “another world.”

“What I want to do is ‘bridge the gap’ between the two communities,” said Aromire.

According to Aromire, the town of West New York has been very gracious in assisting her in her mission. Aromire sent a letter to West New York Mayor Albio Sires outlining what she wanted to do, and within a short amount of time, she received a response. In fact, when she sent a letter to West New York Police Director Joseph Pelliccio, Aromire heard back from him almost immediately. And within a short amount of time, she was able to conduct the self-defense course with two officers from the West New York Police Department.

The response to the group and Aromire’s efforts has been, in her estimation, “outstanding.” Said Aromire, “Why not put icing on the cake? I’ve had several women say, ‘I’ve never been in a group like this before. I will definitely be back.’ It is giving these people a sense of community, of belonging. People are looking for fresh blood, new things.”

Anyone interested in any of Aromire’s programs can call (201) 617-7255.


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