ATLANTIC CITY — Yadira Colon filled out and sent in her 2020 U.S. Census form the day after it arrived in the mail.

Colon, 36, of Atlantic City, also takes care of all of the bills and paperwork for her parents, who live in Absecon.

She was volunteering with a food distribution Thursday at the Bangladesh Association of South Jersey on Fairmount Avenue when she realized she never saw or filed her parents’ census forms.

Colon, who knows all her parents’ personal information, including their Social Security numbers, rectified the situation by filling out a census form for her parents with Mimi Nambo, who was passing out census information during the food distribution.

“If we don’t fill it out, we don’t get counted,” Colon said.

With New Jersey residents told to practice social distancing and to stay home, the various South Jersey census count committee chairpeople are coming up with creative ways to spread information and have the forms completed while obeying Gov. Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 related executive orders.

Nambo, Mayor Marty Small Sr. and his daughter, Jada Small, 12, handed out census literature to a line of people waiting to receive free food last week.

“She (Nambo) knows the ins and outs of government, and she wakes up a room when she walks in, so those are great qualities that she has. I am sure under her leadership that we will improve from 10 years ago with our census count,” said Small, who chose Nambo as the city’s census count chairwoman.

Nambo showed up at the food distribution site with census flyers, homemade masks and other paraphernalia that said, “Complete Your Census,” a laptop where people could fill out a census form on site, gift cards and goodie bags with items such as socks and cookies.

“The goal is to encourage people to complete their census forms,” said Nambo, who is thinking about making online “salsa and the census” and “hip-hop and the census” videos next. “We need to get the word out.”

Robert Lindaw, of the Atlantic County Census Complete Count committee, said there is a meeting every Monday with all the county and census partners.

A social media blast has been scheduled for the weekend of May 1 through 3. The people who want census compliance are asking people to post #2020Census on their professional and even personal social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, websites and email.

Atlantic County will probably participate in the email blast, Lindaw said.

Besides the social distancing connected to controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, each county has to deal with the individual obstacles that counting people in that specific county presents.

In Cumberland County, one of the challenges is a lack of or not strong enough internet access.

Matthew Pisarski, Cumberland County’s planning director, said the county will tackle this problem by establishing a Wi-Fi hot spot on a bus that will visit neighborhoods where the internet signal is weak.

The bus is also wrapped in a way that its mere existence serves as a promotional vehicle, Pisarski said. The bus should be ready next month to hit the streets of the county, he said.

Cape May County has some of the same problems as Atlantic County when it comes to barrier island communities’ response rates.

“Those communities have high numbers of seasonal residents, and we anticipate that folks may not know that they should be responding for their seasonal homes,” said Leslie L. Gimeno, the Cape May County planning director, who is also a part of the county’s Census Complete Count committee.

The county has been in contact with the Census regarding this, and they have created a flyer to inform second homeowners why it’s important that they respond, even if it is to indicate that there were zero residents at that location on April 1, Gimeno said. The census is based on how many people were in a household on that date.

“I’ll be working with our tourism and public information department to get these out to seasonal homeowners (via direct mail) and on social media” when the time is appropriate, Gimeno said.

Contact: 609-272-7202


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