The Children of Eggerts Crossing Village

In 1974, a 100-family complex of low and moderate-income rental housing named Eggerts Crossing (EC) Village opened its doors in the predominantly white and middle-class community of Lawrence Township, between the city of Trenton and the town of Princeton. EC Village has provided a good and safe home for hundreds of families over the years since then. As time passed, some of the children who lived in EC Village did well in school and moved on to college and a career, but many did not.

In the fall of 1999, twenty-five years after EC Village opened, the principal founder and manager of EC Village, Fred Vereen, Jr., invited about forty leading residents of the Township to dinner at the Village and challenged them to recognize that something was not working for children and youth growing up in that complex.

For twenty-five years, Fred had observed children start public school with smiling, hopeful faces but become disengaged and discouraged within a few years. He had seen far too many EC Village youth hang out on street corners and get in trouble with the law. He had seen far too few young people graduate from high school and even fewer go to college. Aside from a few exceptions, he concluded, EC Village children were not successfully connecting with the wealth of resources that Lawrence Township had to offer. He challenged those present to see this as a problem not just for EC Village and its residents, but for the entire Township – and, by extension, for any suburban community containing a concentrated group of economically disadvantaged families.

Every Child Valued (ECV) is the result of the community’s response to Fred’s challenge. It has taken over ten years to build the partnerships, the staff, those who serve on the non-profit board of trustees and committees, and the hundreds of donors who make the programs of ECV possible.