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'iHeartHarrison' Is All About Helping Harrison Thrive

The moms behind "iHeartHarrison;" Jill Valente is on the far right in black shirt. Photo Credit: Cristina Coco
The "iHeartHarrison" car magnet is a big seller. Photo Credit: Cristina Coco
Jill Valente's daughter, Addison, at the "iHeartHarrison" Wilding Park playground event. Photo Credit: Cristina Coco

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Jill Valente grew up in Harrison and loves it as much now as she did back then, maybe even more so.

That's because now, as a mom of three young children, she knows how amazing a place Harrison is to grow up in. She also knows it can be so much more than what it is.

“Sometimes people are afraid of change, but Harrison can change for the better and be even more vibrant,” she said.

Which is why she's one of six women in the newly formed (as of March) "iHeartHarrison" campaign. The two-fold mission of the group: To bring the town together with a new sense of community through events and to bring life back to the downtown.

"Harrison is a great town with great people but the downtown area hasn’t blossomed into what it can be," she said. "We're almost too under the radar. We just want it to be a better place for our families."

Already, the group, comprised of Sara Benson, Cristina Coco, Amy Ensign, Whitney Okun and Madeleine Petermann, freshened up the Wilding Park playground at an event in June, bringing in more than 500 people including elected officials (see previous Daily Voice story here ) and created a celebratory atmosphere where Valente said you could feel the pride and love.

Other ideas for events are being discussed as are more conversations with government officials to figure out ways to attract more businesses to Harrison.

Already, the group's "iHeartHarrison" car magnets are big sellers and the group's Facebook page has attracted close to 500 fans.

"There's a lot of work to do here but it's exciting work,' said Valente. "We're all inspired and looking for feedback and thoughts."

She said a big part of the group's mantra is coming at each issue from a place of "yes."

"We will not accept, 'No, it can't be done,'" she said. "From where we sit, there's always a way around something to get it done.

"This is an ideal town with great neighbors, great houses, and a great commute, and frankly, there's no excuse for the center of town not to reflect that. Something needs to be done and we hope to do it."

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