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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

EarthShare New Jersey: How Marie Curtis’s community service work is making a difference

Community service work courses through the veins of EarthShare New Jersey founder, Marie Curtis. Civic responsibility was role modeled early in life by Curtis’s father, who created New York Citizens for Clean Niagara. “I recall my mother proudly showing me newspaper clippings about my father, who started the organization because he was upset that industrial chemicals were being dumped into the Niagara River by polluters,” says Curtis, who grew up near the Niagara River in upstate New York.

“My father succeeded in his efforts to preserve the environment because he was passionate about it and could rally people and get them involved in his cause,” enthuses Curtis, who has worked with nonprofit organizations most of her life. “When he retired from his job and became the Mayor of Tonawanda, he inspired others to help him fight to turn the land, that paralleled the old Erie Canal, into a waterfront park instead of an industrial area.”

Looking back at her father’s legacy, Curtis declares, “It took a village then, and it takes one now to protect the environment in which we live. The only way we can succeed is if everyone works together.” This philosophy underlies each of Curtis’s efforts, from her past involvement as the Executive Director for the New Jersey Environmental Lobby and the Environmental Education Fund to her present activities with The League of Women Voters of New Jersey and Earth Share New Jersey, an umbrella 501c(3) nonprofit organization that enables individuals to donate to environmental organizations through payroll deductions.

EarthShare is an affiliate of the larger EarthShare. Together, the national office and 14 affiliates represent more than 450 environmental and conservation charities throughout the United States, who all work together for a healthier and safer tomorrow.

As a member of more than 60 workplace campaigns across New Jersey and over 400 nationwide, nearly 6 million employees support EarthShare members every year. Since 1994 EarthShare New Jersey’s workplace contribution programs have provided New Jersey employees with the ability to direct their philanthropy to environment causes through payroll contributions. “Employees can give as much as they want to our 25 New Jersey EarthShare members or they can direct their contributions to a specific environmental or conservation organization,” says Curtis.

Since 1994, EarthShare New Jersey has raised $1.5 million. “These are desperately needed funds for operating purposes only,” clarifies Curtis. “It’s relatively easy to get grant money from private foundations for special projects but when it comes to raising funds for operational costs, it’s extremely challenging.”

Educating the public regarding the significance of their contributions is important to Curtis and those she represents. “While it is impossible to put a value on how the environment benefits the lives and health of every one of us, it is possible to honor the people that do the work by freeing up their time so that they are not distracted from what they are best at,” enthuses Curtis.

EarthShare New Jersey members work within the community to educate the public and find solutions to our environmental issues and challenges. Through their efforts we can all look toward a healthier and greener tomorrow.


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