How Ken Sutiak Helps to Improve the Community in Totowa, New Jersey

Ken Sutiak, a former member of 4H of Clifton, wants to help improve the community in Totowa, New Jersey, where he currently lives with his mother who suffers from Parkinson's disease. Using his experience at 4H, he assists in cleaning up the beaches and parks in his community. He also engages with the youth to help them reach their full potential as part of the overall effort to advance the field of youth development.

During Ken Sutiak's time at 4H for Clifton, he was able to work with groups of young people who could take advantage of the facilities of the camp as they develop skills that they can use throughout their lifetime. 4-H means head, heart, hands, and health, and these are the four values that members work on to have clearer thinking, greater loyalty, bigger service, and better living. Volunteers, such as Ken Sutiak, play a significant role in the 4-H Youth Development program. Volunteers act as mentors and support the youth to help them grow up to be leaders in the future.

Ken Sutiak After Serving at 4H of Clifton

Due to his goal of serving his mother who has Parkinson’s disease, Ken Sutiak had to give up on his time at 4H Clifton. Nevertheless, he has immediately found alternative methods to engage in his passions. Today, he assists in cleaning up parks and beaches, while at the same time engaging youth so they can reach their best potential. His goal is to advance the field of youth development as a whole. Essentially, he is hoping that there will be a beautiful planet for the next generation to enjoy, while at the same time nurturing a generation that cares about the planet and that has the necessary skills and experience to look after it and its communities.

Community Cleanups in Totowa

Community cleanups, in particular, are very hard to organize. While many people, and particularly young people, would like to have cleaner beaches and parks, actually going out there and spending a full day picking up litter and other people's trash is understandably something that most people don't look forward to. However, Ken Sutiak has taken a new approach to avoid such problems. An educator and youth worker at heart, he has found four key benefits to these types of activities, which he highlights across the communities to encourage others to participate. And he has been very successful in this.

The benefits he highlights are:

1. That it is an opportunity to defy stereotypes. Unfortunately, there continues to be a belief that cleaning up is a waste of time because other people will simply make the area dirty again. However, time and again, Sutiak has noticed that, when an area has been made clean, people tend to help keep it that way. Not only is there less litter dropping, but when some people do leave litter, they are frowned upon and they tend to pick it up as and when it happens, rather than letting it build up.

2. That doing good deeds encourages others to also do some good deeds. While engaging in beach and park clean ups, for instance, it is very common for others to approach the young people doing it to ask about how they could help in doing the same.

3. That it actually makes a difference. Ken highlights the 2017 Spring Cleanup Day in Philadelphia, in which 13,198 volunteers took part. Together, they worked for 65,990 hours and collected over a million pounds of trash. That is a significant amount of trash cleaned up that truly does make a difference.

4. That it is the modern way. People want to rebuild a sense of community and belonging, and that means working together to keep the local area clean and beautiful.

What these four key benefits do is not just encourage more young people to work with Ken Sutiak, but also to get more members of the community engaged in youth development. While he misses his time at 4H of Clifton, he is also happy with his new direction. He feels that it has provided him with an opportunity to improve his community as a whole, making it a better place for everybody, while putting the ownership of that in the hands of young people.

Ken Sutiak's Future Plans

Ken Sutiak had previously left his work as Human Resource Assistant at NJ Transit in order to move back to Totowa to help his mother, who needed assistance as a result of Parkinson's disease. Nevertheless, he is now looking for work where he can once again apply his skills and knowledge with regard to human resources management.

Source: Ken Sutiak