There is a certain point in life that you come to appreciate the saying “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” There are a few things my parents instilled in me. First and foremost is to take care of others in your community. They were always there for others helping to make our community a better place for all. As a parent raising children in Bradley Beach, I have realized there are needs in our community that have not been met for children, parents, and the elderly. When the Methodist Church was still operating, I witnessed and experienced a community that came together to provide support, social services, and activities to engage everyone. I was not a member, I am Catholic. They never tried to recruit me, yet they welcomed me and my children when they held events both big and small. It didn’t feel like a religious experience, it felt like a community center. That is what the building represents to me, a place where our community can come together. Teenagers, small children, adults in need, families and senior citizens once gathered here to play sports, get involved in activities and have a place where they could meet up with community members.
The second thing my mother instilled in me is to value what you have. My mother was an environmentalist and a conservationist before those movements even began. She grew up in Ireland, with very little to speak of, which in part is why she came to America. She taught us to appreciate, care for those things you have been given so they may last for years to come. She reuses everything because it saves money and it is the right thing to do.
When Bradley Beach purchased the old church building at 319 LaReine Ave, the town unfortunately, did not step into action to care for what it had. I sat on the original committee which tried to put together a plan to preserve the building, and I was removed because I was told I had a bias. I accept that there are political ramifications in life and I understand that. This shouldn’t be political, it is about our community and bringing us together to support one another and preserve an asset in our community.
This is my perspective, which comes from who I am and the values instilled in me. I am someone who values community and who believes our town should value a building that has been here long before all of us. Where there is a vision there is a way to protect and preserve this asset in our community. I believe that if the town had been more inclusive in getting to this point the town could have benefited in developing a strong vision, strategic financial plan and brought a community together to come to a decision that we all say we were a part of. Now the town is seeking input through a survey. This is our opportunity as a community to make sure our voices are heard in preserving a beautiful building that we can someday call the Bradley Beach Community Center.
Bridget Devane, Bradley Beach