This past Wednesday, The North Ward Center in Newark hosted a Night of Hope. A Night of Hope is a celebration to honor the families and supporters of people with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays.
Residents, organizations, politicians, and community leaders gathered to honor, celebrate and make a difference.
The event was attended by over 500 people, and included special guests and speakers, including Senator Stephen N. Sweeney and Teresa Ruiz and Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr.
NEWARK – At his worst, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) as a 2017 Democratic gubernatorial candidate appears helplessly handcuffed to a heartbreaking handicap, namely a Republican governor gurgling at 26%; for Sweeney the consequence of numerous photo ops over the years that have the prez in too cozy a proximity to the all but bottomed-out Governor Chris Christie.
But Sweeney – at the very least and in addition to his own considerable labor heft – has the advantage of close ties and adequate jumping room to get through those same hula hoops that all prior gubernatorial candidates cleared on their way to Drumthwacket.
Among those fixtures on the obligatory obstacle course stands the North Ward Center in Newark, where Christie himself rushed in 2009 to heap goodwill on Steve Adubato, Sr. in a play to break then-incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine’s hold on the boss’s heart strings. Christie proved an effective romancer, prompting Adubato to proudly pronounce, in the aftermath of the former U.S. Attorney’s statewide victory – that Christie was, after all, “Italian.”
NEWARK – The political fight that shaped the rest of Steve Adubato’s political career occurred in 1970, when in the years after theMichele Adubato Newark riots he bucked the Italian American community and backed Ken Gibson for mayor over Hugh Addonizio.
The endorsement of the man who would become the first black mayor of Newark nearly cost Adubato his life. A bunch of the ward guys in Tom’s Restaurant went bonkers on Election Night and drove over to Adubato’s house with guns. But he survived the shots that put holes in a front window, and the political benefit he gained when Gibson became mayor helped him create what would become one of the most important political machines in New Jersey, built on the delivery of essential services.
The elder Adubato is retired now as the leader of the North Ward Center, and in his place as chief executive officer of the nonprofit is his and Fran Adubato’s youngest daughter; Michele Adubato. If ward politics and political moves-making largely defines her father, Michele Adubato has made education her life’s passion. She worked for 25 years in the Newark Schools System and was principal of the New Jersey Regional Day School where she worked with children with autism.
The North Ward Center dedicated a statue to founder Stephen N. Adubato on Oct. 28, 2013.
The statue is positioned in front of The North Ward Center's headquarters building on its campus on Mount Prospect Avenue in Newark's North Ward.
Joining the dedication were Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Reps. Donald Payne and Albio Sires, Newark Mayor and U.S. Sen.-elect Cory Booker, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, state Sen. Teresa Ruiz and Council President Albio Sires, North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos along with hundreds of other elected officials, friends and family members as well as children from the North Ward Center's preschool and its charter school, Robert Treat Academy.
Here is a sampling of some of the media coverage from that day:
Six deserving Newark students received scholarships to continue their education in high school and college at the The North Ward Center's 35th Annual Latino Scholarship Dinner, with two of those students receiving a full two-year scholarships to attend Essex County College.
The annual scholarship dinner held on Sept. 17 was hosted by state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz and Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., who said he was inspired by The North Ward Center's example to start his own scholarship award program.
The North Ward Center's scholarship program was started in 1980 to recognize Newark students of Latino descent who have exhibited academic excellence and triumphed over adversity.
After graduating from Clark University with a degree in economics in May 2014, Melissa Picon moved back to her native Newark.
Picon, who graduated from Robert Treat Academy Charter School in Newark in 2006, said she was excited to return to her hometown after being away for eight years, first at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Conn., where she attended high school and college in Worcester, Mass.
Though she studied economics, she had no interest in getting a job on Wall Street or the financial sector.
"I wanted something different," the 23-year old Picon said. "Something that involved my passion for improving lives, for helping others."
Alejandro Toledo-Navarro, a graduating eighth grader at Robert Treat Academy Charter School, has been named a Ross Scholar at St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H. in recognition of his academic promise and leadership potential.
As a Ross Scholar, Alejandro will begin his St. Paul's education in September and will receive full funding at the New England boarding school that seeks talented students from across the country and around the world.