Photo courtesy of Stories of Atlantic City

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story first appeared this week on the website Stories of Atlantic City, hosted by Stockton University. This story was edited from the original to meet comply with Associated Press and FRNJ style.

By Rachelle Pittman | Stories of Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITYYoely Quezada is the outreach coordinator for the Chelsea Economic Development Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the beautification of the Chelsea neighborhood while also partnering with local businesses to uplift the community and increase economic opportunities for residents.

While her position is relatively new, the Stockton alumna’s connection to Chelsea is not. Quezada moved to Atlantic City 10 years ago from the Dominican Republic and has stayed in Chelsea ever since.

“I’m a Chelsea resident so I live right here,” Quezada said. “That’s what makes me really happy, and excited about this job. I’m helping to make my neighborhood a better place.”

Highlighting the great culture and leadership in South Jersey’s Hispanic community.

Known for her positive energy and welcoming smile that builds relationships in the community, she started by volunteering to help the community as a street captain. That opportunity brought her to network and connect with CEDC President Elizabeth Terenik.

One of the ways CEDC creates economic opportunities is through its well-known Farmers Market and annual Great Empanada Challenge — events that showcase Chelsea’s diversity.

READ: The Great Empanada Challenge Names Winners

“It’s not only about the empanadas,” Quezada said. “We have Mexican restaurants, we have Salvadorian restaurants, we have Dominican restaurants, and we have Colombian empanadas. We want to let people know we are diverse. We have different types of food. We have what we call the International Food District.”

Yoely Quezada and AC Mike Lopez introduces winners at Great Empanada Challenge in October, 2022.

Despite the progress, sometimes it is still hard to convince the community of CEDC’s impact.

“Even though people see the changes we are making in Chelsea and they see us out there trying to make Chelsea more secure and beautiful, they still don’t believe it,” she said. “They say oh, that sounds too good to be true.”

“So, some residents still do not believe in what we’re doing. I would say that’s the biggest challenge. I’m going to keep going, I’m going to keep talking to them, I’m going to keep trying. They will see because we are doing things every day.”

Quezada said she will keep moving forward and handle the obstacles as they come.

“I need this. I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here,” she said. “We want to keep on helping the community. We want them to believe in us. We want to work together. It’s all about that. Making Chelsea a better place to stay and a better place to live. That is my goal. I’m going to look forward to that.”

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