Garden Civic Association wants to expand to help causes | OCNJ Daily

From left, Joan Cava and Teresa and Carl DeBarbre share a light moment at the Gardens Civic Association event at the Ocean City Yacht Club. (Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Palaganas)


The Genets Civic Association (GCA) in Ocean City provides scholarship money to students, hosts the Fourth of July Bike Parade, holds an annual beach cleanup and supports many other events that benefit the community.

Although it has 215 members and has been in existence for more than 50 years, not much is known about the GCA, members said.

Debbie Snigger wants to change everything. She has been a member for about four years. A few days ago, she became president when GCA Treasurer Duane Sonneborn, who has held both roles for many years, passed the torch.

Snigger looks forward to working with other GCA board members, planning additional activities for members and giving more money to worthy causes.

“I’d like to increase the scholarship to $1,000 or more, or actually set aside funds for students in Ocean City,” Snigger said in an interview Sunday. “The school district selects students who receive scholarships.”

Families have made the Garden Civic Association’s Fourth of July Bike Ride a tradition.

She said more discussion is needed on how GCA handles funding allocations, but the focus is on giving more to students who need and deserve it.

The GCA hosted a “meet and greet” at the Ocean City Yacht Club on Wednesday to showcase what the association does and develop some new friendships as well as add some new members.

More than 50 participants were interviewed in one night, and 18 of them registered to become members of the association, Sniger said.

“I feel there are too many people who don’t know what the organization does. “Some people don’t even know it actually exists,” she explained. “I think the event helped show people who we are, and it was a great thing.”

With 215 members, the goal will be to add more residents to the association to help them enjoy the gift and give back to the community.

Jocelyn Palaganas, GCA’s recording secretary, has been active in the organization for ten years.

More community involvement is key to growing as an organization, she said.

The meet-and-greet was a great way to start.

“I was very happy with the turnout on Wednesday. We were trying to find an event to see how to generate more interest in the association and this was a good start,” Palaganas said. “People seemed excited and looking forward to our next social event.”

From left, Mayor Jay Gillian, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Friedman and Michelle Gillian, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, along with other guests. (Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Palaganas)

Among the guests were Mayor Jay Gillian, his wife Michelle Gillian, Executive Director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Friedman.

Sniger, who lives in the Gardens for half the year with her husband, Leo, and in Naples, Fla., the other half, likes to bring back old favorites and create new events.

“Duane (Sonborn) told me they used to do dinner dances and bus rides and Broadway shows,” she said. “It was very, very active and I want everything back.”

Sniger, who has two grown daughters and five grandchildren, is creating a calendar of events that will add to many long-term annual events.

Each year GCA hosts a beach cleanup, community yard sale, Easter egg hunt, Fourth of July bike rally and holiday tree lighting ceremony.

“This whole association is about neighbors, neighbors for neighbors. I feel like if you don’t know your neighbors, you don’t have a relationship,” Snigger said. “It’s a way to bring the whole community together.”

For more information and how to become a member of the Garden Civic Association, call Debbie Snigger at 215-262-5471.

GCA Recording Secretary Jocelyn Palaganas with new President Debbie Snigger. (Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Palaganas)

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