Juneteenth: Tri City H.O.P.E. Uplifts Community, Gives Awards at Annual Celebration


Photo of Tri City H.O.P.E. Juneteenth Celebration in Bridgeton courtesy of Jerry Young.


BRIDGETONTri City H.O.P.E. honored one group and two individuals during its Juneteenth celebration earlier this month for community work and upliftment in the community,

Tri City H.O.P.E. held its ninth Juneteenth celebration at the Bridgeton Midget Football Field on June 15. One of the most anticipated Juneteenth celebrations in all of South Jersey annually, the event features vendors, entertainment, amateur boxing and community awards.

Respected community advocate Jerry Young, the co-founder of Tri City H.O.P.E. told Front Runner New Jersey that the organization periodically recognizes individuals and/or organizations that embody the spirit of the idea that “we are the keepers of our brothers and sisters.”

“We target those that give selflessly of their time, effort, and finances to make the world a better place for our human beings,” Young said.

Tri City H.O.P.E. was started in honor of Lillie Mae Young, Jerry Young’s late mother, and the awards are given in her honor. This year’s awards went to Nature2Love, Arthur Corley, and Lolita McNeil.

Young said the awards, as well as his group, were inspired by his mother and her inspiring work in the Bridgeton community.

Thank you Inspira Health Network for sponsoring our Juneteenth coverage.

“[Lillie Mae Young] was a woman of meager means; she would always find a way to help others,” Jerry Young said. “When asked why she was always doing for others when she was facing hard times herself, she would respond, ‘You’re never too broke to have a rich heart.'”

Jerry Young said his mother would help other people every day. From his mother’s efforts, he created the acronym “Helping Other People Everyday” for the organization he co-founded with Terry Gould. Tri City H.O.P.E. has dedicated itself to being a positive force in the lives of others every single day.

“With Tri City H.O.P.E. being primarily funded by its founders, the deeds aren’t always of great magnitude, but sometimes a little goes a long way,” Young said. “Our HOPE awardees give in the same manner.”

Brian Spencer and Mel Malik Williams of 856 Love. Photo courtesy of Jerry Young.
Basketball only for the serious during Bridgeton Juneteenth. Photo courtesy of Jerry Young.
Tri City HOPE Juneteenth keynote speaker James Cooper of Outta Boundz shares wisdom. Photo courtesy of Jerry Young.

Nurture2Love is a nonprofit started by Reisha Armstead and is staffed primarily by her family. They serve school-aged females in the community by providing mentorship, homework assistance and many structured activities.

Participants are treated to field trips, arts and crafts and various other structured activities. Nurture2Love is primarily funded by Armstead and her family members.

Arthur P. Corley, a veteran of the United States Army who served in Vietnam, faced racism despite being a veteran, and has advocated for his fellow Vietnam veterans and service members.

“Whether they are fallen, or still living, Corley has tirelessly worked to correct injustices done to his fellow comrades,” Young said. “Corley has traveled all over the country advocating for and even to just visit the graves of other vets; all of which Corley does on his own dime.”

Lolita McNeil is the owner of a local bar and lounge that bears her name. She and Young have known each other since before Tri City H.O.P.E. was formed and before she became a business owner.

When they met, she was affiliated with the local Henrietta Woodard Temple and Young was the president of the Bridgeton Independent Club. With both of those being benevolent organizations, their paths crossed and Young said he has been able to call on her for assistance when needed ever since.

“McNeil, over the years, has quietly assisted individuals, families and even organizations in need,” Young said. “Whether it be providing school supplies, sponsoring athletic membership fees for youth, or hosting fundraisers for needy individuals or families, she has done those things and more. She does what she does while flying under the radar.”

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