Members of the Ocean County Corrections PBA 258 came to Lakewood on Wednesday to clean up and beautify historic Lake Carasaljo.
The group spent hours clearing garbage, debris, and discarded items from one of the town’s most popular recreational spaces.
This is the second year that the PBA, in conjunction with the National Chaplains Association (NCA), has arranged a clean-up of the lake.
The effort, organized and led by PBA 258 President Matthew Stillwell and State Delegate Rebecca Roth, was organized by PBA 258 as a way to “give back” to the community it already serves with distinction.
“Unlike other agencies, residents don’t see us on their streets and don’t know about what we do. We wanted to do something to give back to the community so that the community sees who we are. We wanted them to see the faces of the officers who work in the corrections department and we wanted to give back to Ocean County said Ms. Roth.
“We spoke with the chaplains from the NCA and told them that we wanted to do something for the residents of Lakewood, and we came up with the idea of the lake clean-up.”
She added that there are plans in the works for other communal activities in Lakewood and other parts of the county.
Another way that the department of corrections connects to Lakewood residents is their participation in the National Night Out Against Crime in Pine Park, together with many other law enforcement and safety agencies.
Ms. Roth estimated that between 30 and 35 bags of trash were hauled off during the clean-up. Amongst the more interesting items found were a catalytic converter that had been dumped in the lake. Last year, an entire bicycle was found in the lake.
She related that she was touched by the many residents walking near the lake who stopped to warmly thank the group for what they were doing for the town.
“It was really nice to get out and talk to people and let them know what we were doing. It was received very well and everyone was very grateful,” Ms. Roth relates.
She confirmed that the clean-up will be a yearly event, and the department will be back bigger and better next year.
The Community Affairs Bureau of the National Chaplains Association expressed their appreciation for the Department of Corrections, saying, “It is amazing to see that officials who work so hard throughout the year still find time to give back to local communities in other settings. This creates a strong bond and connection that is mutually beneficial to both the department and the community.”