A community in Orange New Jersey is getting a fresh start thanks to a local pastor

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. His encouraging words have become a decree in the lives of many. Taking on such a mantel of his words is local Pastor C.W Crawford of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Orange, NJ. Last year Pastor Crawford saw the disparity people in the City of Orange, faced. Far too many young and older adults had no prior educational degrees. Pastor Crawford said, “I noticed a need in the community and wanted to make a difference”. Therefore, he created a program called,” Fresh Start program”. Which has helped dozens in the community receive High school diplomas, while also creating free housing for individuals for 90 days to get on their feet while in the program.

One of the recipients of this program, Olivia Wilson who is a 62-year-old woman and resident in the City of Orange stated, “I never imagined I would be holding a high school diploma with my name on it”. “It was something that I needed to do for me,” said Wilson.

Wilson took part in the Fresh Start program at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Orange last year. “It was hard at first,” said Wilson, “I didn’t think I would make it. “Pastor Crawford noted that an educated society of people can change the world. “If you’re going to be a successful minister, not only you have to be a pastor, but you have to be a minister and minister to the community, to the needs of the people,” said Pastor Crawford. The program gives people a fresh start with alternative schooling so they can get their high school diplomas, No matter the age.

According to Pastor Crawford, “The majority reason for crime is the lack of education”. And its education and housing, the program aims to provide. “A lady who has two or three children that has no way, no job, no anything, we will offer her free housing for 90 days for her to get on her feet”. Getting people back on their feet, like Wilson. “How good god is,” said Wilson. “If it wouldn’t have been for Mount Zion, the pastor and members here, I don’t know where I would have been. “Wilson says she wants to be an example not only to her six grandchildren but everyone. “Don’t matter how old,” said Wilson. “At the age I am, if I can do it, young people.”