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Please send your generous contributions to: Pat Boer, Treasurer, 307 Roosevelt Ave. HH


Friendly Neighbors

The Friendly Neighbors is a Hasbrouck Heights ecumenical outreach program assisting the welfare of the borough.

Background

The first meeting of The Friendly Neighbors was held on January 9, 1939, at the Episcopal Church Parish Hall. Along with St. John’s Episcopal Church, Holy Trinity Lutheran, The United Methodist, and The First Reformed Churches were each represented by two members. Also attending were the School Nurse, the Borough Director of Welfare, and a member of the Borough Council. The purpose of The Friendly Neighbors, as noted in the original minutes, was "to discuss ways and means of assisting in the welfare of the borough."

Mrs. Alberta Ruckert of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Divine was elected President at the first meeting and continued to serve in that position for 30 years. She continued as a member for another 13 years until she moved from Hasbrouck Heights in 1982.

The activities decided upon were to provide Christmas gifts for needy children and to provide clothing, dental care and emergency expenditures for Hasbrouck Heights families who needed assistance. The first fund raiser was a card party which netted $34.84 (the tickets costing 50 cents). This was a good amount, for in 1939, $22 paid for dental work for three children and in 1941, $10 paid for a tonsillectomy.

As local groups became aware of the work being done by The Friendly Neighbors, gifts of food, clothing, services and money were donated. At Christmas 1939, 45 children received "one useful gift and one joyful gift to brighten their holiday." Gifts of food and clothing were also given to several families along with cod liver oil which was provided for the children.

In 1942 The Friendly Neighbors began to include some shut-in and needy elderly residents on the list of those to be remembered at Christmas. At Thanksgiving of 1948 a basket of food was sent to one family, beginning the practice of helping our less fortunate neighbors at that time of the year. Easter gifts were first given in 1964, and the tradition of giving at these three holidays has continued to the present.

Annual "Tag Days" were held to encourage the community to contribute to this cause. In 1940, school children were asked to solicit funds, and were rewarded with a gift certificate for 25 cents worth of merchandise at the local dry goods store. Tag Days continued until 1947 when collection cans were placed in stores, and this continued until 1962. In 1958 the card parties and other events were discontinued, due to the fact that the response from the community made these activities unnecessary. Funds were, and still are, gladly accepted at any time of year, and the annual campaign is still held between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day when publicity in "The Observer" reminds the townspeople of the work being done by The Friendly Neighbors. "The Observer" also publishes the organization’s thanks to those who contribute, saving members time and mailing cost. Monetary needs are far greater now than ever.

Members of The Friendly Neighbors serve as volunteers and no expenses are taken, so all funds go toward helping Hasbrouck Heights residents. Those who have followed Mrs. Ruckert as President are: Frances Moran Brearly, who served from 1969-1972; Dorothy Dressel, who is currently a 33 year member, served from 1972-1978; Martha Patrick, 1978-1980, who was now a member for 29 years until her recent death; and Emma Herr, a 32 year member who has been President since 1981. Other officers at present are Pat Boer, a 19 year member, who has served as Treasurer for 18 years, and Ethel Ball, a member for 18 years, who has been Secretary for 15 years. Other members at present include Netty Mengel, Louise Marrie and Lois Nitus. The four churches that sent two representatives to the first meeting, still continue to do so, making up the membership of eight women.

During the past year 17 needy families and several older residents were helped by the Friendly Neighbors. Most of these have been referred by our local clergy and the schools. Along with the contributions received at the time of the annual campaign, many residents now give memorial gifts and other gifts honoring special occasions for "the person who has everything."

The Friendly Neighbors has been a part of the Borough for over 60 years, still following the purpose set forth by the founding members in 1939. This unique group reflects the warmth of a community which truly cares about its residents.

Source:
Remembering the Past, Looking Toward the Future:
A Centennial History of Hasbrouck Heights
Published by the Mayor and Council, May, 1996;
Adapted to Jubilee Year 2000.



The Friendly Neighbors Current Members 2000

The First Reformed Church
Pat Boer
Dorothy Dressel

The First United Methodist Church
Emma Herr
Netty Mengel

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Lois Nitus

Church of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church
Ethel Ball
Louise Marrie


The Friendly Neighbors Founding Members 1939

The First Reformed Church
Mrs. Moersdorf
Mrs. Wisse

The First United Methodist Church
Mrs. Reader
Mrs. Weimar

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Mrs. Marousek
Mrs. Schult

Church of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church
Mrs. Ruckert
Mrs. Washington

School Nurse
Mrs. Ponte

Director of Welfare
Mrs. Biddle

Borough Council
Mr. Davison

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