A parent-led volunteer organization, the Family Association of Northfield, recently took over the administration of the city’s youth football, cheerleading and basketball programs as well as the duties of maintaining the teams’ recreation space in Birch Grove Park.

Group President Tom Sher, a Northfield father of three, said he and other local parents felt the city’s youth athletic programs weren’t being given the proper attention, so they formed an organization to take them over.

“It felt like (Northfield’s youth sports programs) were being a little neglected in the years past, and we needed a facelift,” he said.

Formerly, the programs were led by Northfield All Sports Association, a city-run organization.

“Northfield All Sports dropped out and (City) Council decided it was time put in the new group. That’s when the Family Association of Northfield was formed.”

Since being officially recognized by City Council at its Jan. 22 meeting, FAN’s first line of business has been renovating the recreation area in Birth Grove Park, which is where its teams play.

With the help of community volunteers, local business sponsors and the city, FAN has added public bathrooms to the park, renovated the snack bar, purchased a new scoreboard for the football field and landscaped.

The work was done by community volunteers “who worked hours and hours during their free time,” Sher said. “The community really came together for this.”

Their goal was to have the renovations completed by the first home game of the Northfield Cardinals’ football season, which was Saturday. Aside from needing a few more weeks to complete bathrooms, the anticipated deadline was met.

“There was a great buzz going around (on Saturday),” Sher said. “You could feel the energy and excitement in the air. People were coming up to us and thanking us all day long and wanting to know how they can volunteer.”

FAN’s nine-person board is made up of Sher, Vice President Joe Russo, Secretary Sandy Fraser, Treasurer Tim Dolan and members Jen Blum, Debra Albuquerque, Joe Massair, Geoff Haines and Mike Tierney — all of whom have children who play at least one of the three sports and several who coach.

FAN is run solely by volunteers, from the unpaid the coaches to the snack bar attendants, Sher said. All of the money made at the snack bar goes straight back to the programs.

 “We’re just getting started, so, hopefully, every year we’ll keep adding on more and more for our kids,” he said.

Contact Elisa Lala:

609-272-7260

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Five years as Ocean County bureau chief, 12 years as regional news editor (not continuous), 10 years as copy editor (also not continuous), all at The Press of Atlantic City.