SCI’s International Seafarers’ Center and the Port of New York and New Jersey’s maritime community have worked together for nearly two centuries, and the Port Newark center today embodies SCI’s three-pronged mission of chaplaincy, advocacy and education. In addition to being home to SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights and the hub of our pastoral work for seafarers, our Port Newark staff seek to pursue opportunities that maximize the utilization of the facility through educational events, making our amenities available to the larger port community.
Through regularly hosting community engagement activities, SCI seeks to promote the dignity of the maritime industry and the noble profession of all those frequenting the waterfront, thereby shining a light on the workers who keep our economy ticking. Furthermore, community engagement is at the heart of ministry, fitting beautifully with our mission.
Here’s a snapshot of the engagement activities we’ve been doing in recent months:
School group visits
In collaboration with the port community, SCI opens its doors to various high school groups. Students can learn more about the maritime industry, jobs both on and off the water, and the work of SCI in supporting seafarers. Thus, we can reach a whole new generation, educating them on the important work of SCI, port workers, and seafarers.
Port Packing Day
On November 2nd, 2017, SCI held its third annual Port Packing Day. The event is an open house and volunteer day geared for the port community to help pack the knitted hats and scarves, toiletries and other items collected by SCI's Christmas at Sea program throughout the year. The gift bags are then distributed over the holiday season to seafarers who visit the Port of New York and New Jersey between November 15th and January 15th every year.
On Port Packing Day 2017, corporate volunteers and teams packed 1,492 gift packages for the seafarers calling the Port of New York and New Jersey.
On November 15th, 2017, a panel discussion and port tour of PNCT was planned for the staff and fellows of Leadership Newark, in collaboration with Port Newark Container Terminal (PNCT), the New York Shipping Association (NYSA), and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Port Department. Established in 1998, Leadership Newark was set up in an effort to strengthen the City of Newark’s civic infrastructure through public policy enrichment, and leadership training and development. The discussion consisted of topics including the economic impact of the Port on the region, infrastructure in and around the Port, keeping the Port competitive, the movement of containers from ships to their final destination, and how the Port prepares for the arrival of ultra-large container vessels. Many of the participants, despite living and working very nearby in the city of Newark, had never ventured into the Port before, so SCI was delighted to facilitate this first-time learning experience.
On March 15, the Greater Newark Workforce Funders’ Collaborative (CareerWorks) gathered regional workforce funders at SCI’s International Seafarers’ Center. Funders had a chance to learn more about the expansion and economic growth of the Newark-Elizabeth Seaport, and discussed how this will result in the creation of thousands of new jobs in and around the port footprint.
The keynote speaker was Jim Pelliccio, CEO of the Port Newark Container Terminal, who was followed by a panel of workforce development professionals. SCI’s facilitation of this meeting shows the importance of our role bridging the gap between the port and local communities.
Career Awareness and Job Expo
Stephen Lyman, the Director of SCI’s Port Newark Center, played an integral role in developing, planning, and executing the first Port Newark Career Awareness & Job Expo on April 18, 2018. A key goal for the event was to promote the supply chain, transportation, logistics and distribution sector, while helping to generate interest in port work for a new generation, educating them on what skills are needed to meet future demands. Part of the impetus behind the event was the Council on Port Performance’s desire to connect more closely with local communities, and to raise awareness of what the port does, and its impact on the local economy. SCI accomplishes this when explaining the work of our Chaplains and ship visitors so it was a natural fit for us to have a leadership role in this event.
The feedback received from host communities, participating high schools, job seekers, and educators, was extremely positive. Phrases such as “I can’t believe this is in my backyard,” "a home run," "fabulous," and "incredibly inspiring for our youth" were just some of the remarks shared.
Grace Senior Center
At the 2018 Episcopal Diocese of Newark Convention, a connection was made with the Grace Senior Center in Jersey City. On April 26th, 31 senior citizens from the program came to visit SCI. Splitting into groups, all 31 seniors received a Port tour, participated in a discussion of what SCI does for seafarers through its chaplaincy work, learned why the Port is so important to the New York region, and received information about SCI’s Christmas At Sea program. Many of the visitors were of Filipino origin and told us afterwards they have family members graduating from maritime colleges back home, so they were particularly happy to hear about organizations like SCI offering support to mariners.
It is a pleasure and privilege for SCI to be able to host such a wide variety of groups to learn not only about what SCI does, but also about the wider maritime industry and port community. In many ways, SCI is perfectly placed to provide the public with a glimpse of this often-overlooked world of transportation, logistics and distribution. By highlighting the work of SCI, we can also educate the wider public about the work of seafarers and their vital contribution to today’s economy.
DON'T MISS OUT: the next big event on the calendar is the 2018 Port Newark Food Truck Fest. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are now available!