June 23, 2022—NEWARK, NJ — NJ PBS announced that a Passaic County resident is the newest subject of the digital film series, 21, streaming at MyNJPBS.org/21.
Produced by NJ PBS’s NJ Spotlight News team, the 21 digital film series investigates life in New Jersey and whether where you live affects how you live through the stories of change-making residents in each Garden State county. The short documentaries, six to 10 minutes, are accompanied online by snapshots that provide statistics, resources and other essential information for each county.
In the new episode, viewers meet Rashajon Johnson, whose nonprofit organization, Hope With N, supports his community through events that provide food, clothing and other resources to those in need. Watch it now.
“Passaic is really special to me. This is such a small city. But (we) have so many big problems and I want to level it out,” says Johnson in the film.
“We try to do an event every month where there’s food, where there’s toiletries, where there’s quality clothing and, you know, just bringing people together, bringing resources, different nonprofits together.”
Johnson describes his community as one that faces the challenges of homelessness, addiction and underserved residents. Having spent his entire childhood in the foster system, placed in multiple homes and orphanages, followed by periods of homelessness and unemployment as an adult, he says he understands what it’s like to struggle to feel a sense of belonging, maintain personal pride and find a life path.
“I will always go any mile,” he says in the film. “Just to make sure people don’t have to go through what I went through.”
His next project is building a women-in-transition home in Newark, one that provides a more nurturing environment than the average shelter.
“I wanted to really have homes in a place where you felt like it was your home,” he says in the film. “I know most of these programs out here in these different cities are rotating doors. This isn’t just a place you’re in. It’s not just a place you’re at. But this is a place you need to be and you want to be. Our key is not to let you slip through the cracks.”
To gain more insight into Johnson’s work, watch his interview on NJ PBS’s weeknight newscast, NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi, this Friday, June 24 at 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. on NJ PBS (check local listings).
The 21 series has captured stories and statistics from Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex and Ocean counties with an eventual line-up of all 21 in New Jersey. A community engagement component is also being planned to stimulate conversation about life in the Garden State.