Ocean Partnership for Children hosts Multicultural Potluck Feast

The event was held at OPC headquarters in Toms River on November 14.

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Nov 24, 2022 - Ocean Partnership for Children’s (OPC) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee held a Multicultural Potluck Feast on November 14 to celebrate the nonprofit’s rich diversity during the holiday season.

“We are so thankful for the opportunity to celebrate the variety of cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities of our staff, as well as the foods that correlate with those respective backgrounds,” said Mary Jo Buchanan, Executive Director of OPC.  “Thank you to the DEI committee and everyone who participated in this exciting event.”

OPC staff presented various dishes at the event and shared the meaning behind the dish with the team. “Our team members shared about their family, culture and beliefs – whatever was meaningful to them,” Buchanan added.

One staffer’s Ukrainian heritage helped to shape who he was today. “It was especially meaningful because some of his family was impacted by the current war in Ukraine,” said Buchanan.

Another staffer shared a photo of her family going to a local farm to cut down a fresh Christmas tree and afterwards spending the day decorating it together.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is also a mainstay for many OPC team members.

Instead of turkey on Thanksgiving, one staffer eats pernil, which is pork shoulder. “The pork is marinated for days, and it takes all day to bake,” Buchanan said.

Jolloff rice is a West African tradition. “One of our staff members is Ghanaian and that’s what he brought,” Buchanan added.

Then there were the desserts – most of them heavenly.

Arroz con dulce, which translates to rice with candy, was definitely a crowd pleaser. So was the coquito, which is Puerto Rican Egg Nog.

Buchanan shared of her own heritage and Pennsylvania Dutch roots. “I brought shoofly pie and whoopie pies made by a bakery I love in Lancaster,” she added.

Kate Martinez, an OPC Care Manager Supervisor, helped organize the event. “Thank you to everyone who participated in our potluck,” she said. “It is a treasure to get to know you all and celebrate our cultures together over a feast.”

The event came after OPC’s released its official statement regarding diversity, equity and inclusion.

“They are more than just words for us,” according to OPC. “They are the definitive principles that guide how we serve youth and families and cultivate community relationships…”

Buchanan says that OPC is committed to developing an agency and community where all individuals feel safe being present as their authentic, whole selves and to challenging those systems, institutions, and practices that do not support this goal.

“We strive to educate and foster equal opportunities that promote growth for all while ensuring every individual is included and has a voice,” said Buchanan. “At OPC, we find that we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become wiser, more understanding, and more capable of change.”

Thanks to corporate team building events like OPC’s recent multicultural potluck feast, those voices are heard and celebrated.

About Ocean Partnership for Children Inc.

Founded in 2005, Ocean Partnership for Children (OPC) is Ocean County’s Care Management Organization (CMO). Its mission is to enhance the well-being of youth and their families through natural and community supports. OPC provides care management services for Ocean County youth up to the age of 21 years who have mental health, substance use, intellectual and developmental challenges.  OPC strives to keep children and adolescents at home, in school, and in the community by connecting them to resources that meet their unique needs and help them achieve their goals.

Ocean Partnership for Children is a non-profit organization available at no cost to all youth and families in Ocean County who meet the eligibility criteria of the New Jersey Children’s System of Care. To learn more, visit www.oceanpartnership.org or https://www.oceanresourcenet.org.

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