WESTFIELD — The Westfield community lost one of its own earlier this month with the passing of 28-year-old Lauren Harmer, who worked for years as a member of the recreation department.
“Lauren was a beloved member of the Town’s employee family who also touched the lives of so many of our residents through her work in the Recreation Department. We remember her big heart and generous laugh and extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and all who knew and loved her,” Mayor Shelley Brindle said via Facebook.
According to her published obituary, Ms. Harmer, a Westfield native, attended East Stroudsburg University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Recreation.
Upon graduation, she joined the Westfield Recreation Department, where she actively helped to shape the Westfield Summer Program for local kids and ran the Senior Transport program to help older residents make it to their various appointments in a safe and timely manner.
Ms. Harmer, who passed away in her home on March 11, also was an avid supporter of the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association, a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting parks, natural spaces and resource-management programs throughout the state.
“Lauren was a friendly and reliable voice to children and seniors alike and cared deeply about her role in Recreation and the programming she helped to deliver for the community. Oftentimes, Lauren was found playing right alongside the campers, in the dunk tank, or with pie on her face for the annual camp fundraisers,” the Westfield Recreation Department said via social media last week.
To honor her memory and the legacy she leaves behind, Ms. Harmer’s family has created a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the Lauren Harmer’s Legacy of Kindness Scholarship, which will be awarded to Westfield High School students who best embody her philosophy of selflessness, gratitude and compassion.
“Our hearts are broken in a million pieces,” Ms. Harmer’s father, Ed Harmer, said via the GoFundMe site. “Lauren had a heart of gold, always smiling and laughing, and she especially loved children! She was very kind and made everyone she met a better person! She spread joy wherever she went and was always the life of the party!”
The page has already raised more than $21,443 of its $50,000 goal.
In addition to friends, family and fellow community members, Kyrie Irving, a professional basketball player and member of the Dallas Mavericks, donated $11,000 to the cause.
Along with providing scholarship opportunities, the Harmer family said via the GoFundMe page that they hope to plant a perennial garden at the high school to keep their daughter’s memory alive.
Services for Ms. Harmer were held on March 18 at Dooley Colonial Home in Westfield. Her cause of death has not been made publicly known.