By Annette Espinoza
Sprouting from Wood Street in Central Trenton, Isles is an organization focused on supporting families and communities in the area. The program’s ideals have not changed since it was first established by a group of enthusiastic students from Princeton University in 1981. Hoping to rebuild what was damaged while upholding the vibrant and persistent spirit of the Trenton community, these students came in with big ideas that are now the basis for the organization’s efforts and work. Working alongside other local organizations and groups, Isles focuses on four elements in their plight to build thriving, stable communities: educating communities and training individuals, revitalizing the community, building community wealth and promoting healthy living. As the pillars to their organizations, these four focal points have already mobilized hundreds of eager volunteers. Together, this group of individuals creates and implements projects that facilitate community progress. Such projects include rescuing families who face foreclosure, restoring and establishing an art house, planting community gardens, among many others. These initiatives address many of Trenton’s biggest challenges. “From [the] beginning Isles kept asking and testing a basic question: What are the most effective ways to promote self-reliance and healthy communities while building on the assets that are already there?” reads its brochure. “It’s an effort to support the Trenton area but, also, an effort that considers the bigger picture,” John Korp, Isles’ director of community planning and development, said.