WHERE I LIVE: Why Ledy Almadin left Jersey City in favor of quiet, suburban Summit

Single mom Ledy Almadin with daughter Elena

Single mom Ledy Almadin with daughter Elena

By Cristina DC Pastor

With motherly apprehension, Ledy Almadin uprooted her family from Jersey City, where she lived for 26 years, and moved deeper into suburbia in the city of Summit.

An accountant at the white-glove EisnerAmper accounting firm in Manhattan, Ledy’s decision may appear to be motivated by economics. But with two pretty teen daughters, one can never really be sure except to trust that a mother knows best.

The schools tilted heavily in Ledy’s decision. If they stayed in Jersey City, she would have to send her girls to private school at $9,000 each. In Summit, it’s public school for the girls with trade-offs in higher real estate.

It may be schools but it’s also other issues like quality of life. Jersey City has gotten too dense with its proximity to New York City. Its violent crime rate — murder and rape — is double the national average, according to City-Data.com. Summit had zero murders and rapes in 2012, the year the women said goodbye to their Jersey City friends and moved 30 minutes away.

“They have better schools here which is a better choice for me,” she said.

Elena, 17, and Ellie, 16 — both born in Jersey City – now go to Summit High School on Kent Place Boulevard. Only 10 Filipino students are enrolled here.

Summit is a sprawling residential area known for its good schools, tree-lined homes, and accessibility to Manhattan via NJ Transit. It has a posh downtown that celebrates the rituals of winter via a Restaurant Week and welcomes spring with a Farmers Market. It has rows of antiques and art galleries, home decor shops, a variety of restaurants and boutiques not to mention the Beacon Hill Cinema where students are known to wander into after school. Ledy’s daughters and their friends walk five minutes to downtown from school, hang out at Starbucks, and then walk back to their homes. It’s that’s kind of a neighborhood where you know where your children are, and they’re not that far away.

But it’s like Ledy has not really left. She keeps coming back to Jersey City. She is there almost every week to attend the meetings of her organizations and to visit family. Ledy, a staunch community leader, was for many years one of the movers behind the annual Santacruzan Marian procession.

“I felt at home in Jersey City, it’s like you belong. You don’t feel like an outsider. Moving to Summit, which is mostly white people, I had that mindset that there might be issues with race. I feared for my kids,” she said.

Those fears turned out to be unfounded. Elena and Ellie quickly made friends at school while still keeping the childhood pals they had in Jersey City. As a matter of fact at Ellie’s recent Sweet 16, many of her Jersey City friends attended and mixed it up nicely with her Summit cohorts.

“The transition was hard at first as they were trying to fit in, but now they feel at home,” she said. “They have lots of friends here.”

Sisters Elena (left) and Ellie at Starbucks in downtown Summit

Sisters Elena (left) and Ellie at Starbucks

The girls go to Summit High School where only 10 Filipino students are enrolled.

The girls go to Summit High School where only 10 Filipino students are enrolled.

Upscale suburbia: Downtown Summit

Upscale suburbia: Downtown Summit

‘Where I Live’ is a new section in The FilAm where Filipinos provide a snapshot of their neighborhoods while giving us a glimpse into their borough or suburban lives. WIL pries open the sprawling maze that is the New York metropolitan area – from NYC to New Jersey, Connecticut and Northern Pennsylvania — where Filipinos find their homes, raise their families and live their ideal of the American Dream.

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