TOMS RIVER – There are groups of people in the county who are helping the homeless or others in need, and they all know former councilman Terrence Turnbach.
The Democrat spent one term on the Township Council before losing to newcomer Republican David Ciccozzi in November. Toms River is divided into four wards, with one council member from each. They live in Ward 4.
“I certainly fell in love with public service,” Turnbach said, looking back on his tenure.
When you are elected to office, people ask for your help, so opportunities to serve others open up quite a bit. He said he will continue to help others even though he’s not an elected official any more.
Turnbach helped get an overnight homeless shelter at Riverwood Park, and said he’ll keep working to get a year-round housing situation for them.
“I believe we will secure year-round transitional housing center. That was my goal and it’s unfinished business,” he said. “I’m just as passionate for that now as I was before.”
Turnbach spent a winter night in a tent near town hall to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. He was a guest of Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin in Trenton when state law changed the ruling on how Code Blue works. The state used to open temporary shelters once the temperature hit freezing, but only if there was precipitation. The temperature could be a bit below freezing and the shelters wouldn’t open, if the weather was dry. Toms River changed their local ordinance to open Riverwood at temperatures just above freezing no matter what the weather was. The rest of the state followed this lead.
“We’re on week 93 of Pop The Trunk and I’ve been there every week,” he said, referring to the food giveaways that are done every Friday as a reaction to the pandemic. People have been coming in from all over Ocean County – not just Toms River, “and I don’t see the need stopping.
“It’s really brought the community together. We’ve become a family of volunteers,” he said.
Part of helping others means reaching across the aisle. Turnbach was one of two Democrats on the council for much of his term.
“Mo Hill gets up every day to go to work for the people of Toms River,” he said about the Republican mayor. “We may differ in viewpoints at times, but he’s standing right next to me handing out food.”
Turnbach said that although his time on the council is over for now, he does not want to step away from politics just yet. The 45-year-old said he has plenty of time and plenty of desire to help people both as a citizen and as a politician.