Who better to help a community hoping for metamorphosis than the founder of the Butterfly Effect Project?
Tijuana Fulford specializes in metamorphosis, after all. The Butterfly Effect Project founder, who has been coaching young girls through her nonprofit organization since 2014, is now taking on the hamlets along the Peconic River.
The Peconic River Community Development Alliance, formed last year to facilitate social change and economic development in Riverside and downtown Riverhead, has hired Fulford as its community outreach coordinator.
“Tia is very much a dynamo,” said Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, president of the group’s board of directors.
“She’s already helping with our Facebook page. She’ll be doing community outreach, developing a database of community members and surveying them to find out about the kinds of things they’d like to see for cultural enrichment and social opportunities,” he said.
“Really it will be building on the work she’s already started with the Butterfly Effect Project,” Zappone said.
Fulford said she is very excited for the new opportunity. “I’m from Riverside and my [Butterfly Effect Project] girls come from Riverside and Riverhead,” she said.
“My vision is to bring things along on both sides of the river,” Fulford said, “to engage the community, empower other organizations and help smaller groups grow.”
The Alliance aims to build bridges between the communities on both sides of the River, she said. Riverside Rediscovered’s “Siris Barrios has been teaching me so much and [Flanders-Riverside Northampton Community Association president] Ron Fisher has been amazing.”
The community outreach position is funded with a grant from the Long Island Community Foundation, Zappone said.
The Alliance is already developing more community unity between Riverhead and Riverside, according to Zappone.
“The towns are partnering on a funding application and I’ve been working very closely with [Riverhead Community Development director] Dawn Thomas,” he said.
They will be submitting an application for $10 million in state funds that would support several infrastructure projects on both sides of the river,” Zappone said. These include parking, enhancements to wastewater treatment, making the riverfront in Riverside more accessible and pedestrian enhancements to Riverleigh Avenue and Lake Avenue.
“With the two communities having so much in common and so many common needs, I think we have a very powerful grant application.”
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