Mt. Olive Online Publication December 28 2020
Mt. Olive Online Publication December 28 2020
Holiday care packages recently gifted to close to 500 senior veterans unwrapped a blessing to dozens of local youth who were given an opportunity to volunteer and give back.
Organized by the All Veterans Memorial and All Veterans Alliance, the Holiday Blessing Boxes initiative was completed last week when close to 100 volunteers worked together to donate, collect and assemble 498 holiday packages filled with much needed items such as toiletries, lap blankets, socks and playing cards. Recipients were senior Veterans and retired firemen.
Assembly of the boxes took place at the Mt. Olive Senior Center in Budd Lake on Saturday, Dec. 19, from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., just in time for delivery to those who may have been forgotten or alone during this holiday season as a result of COVID 19 restrictions and precautions.
The pandemic has placed many seniors in isolation to protect them from the disease. It has also kept students out of school and away from other important activities such as volunteering to help others. The Blessing Boxes initiative not only brightened the Veterans’ holidays, but it gave individuals, especially students, a channel to hold onto altruism, have a purpose and utilize a good reason to just get out of the house and make a difference.
“Our outreach effort was not only to make a difference in a senior veteran’s life during the holidays – but to provide awareness and opportunity for the community,” says organizer Charlie Wood Uhrmann, founder of the AVM and AVA.
“Seniors in care facilities are often forgotten; notwithstanding they were most affected by the pandemic,” she says. “People are generally kind and caring – but oftentimes feel helpless. Outreach efforts such as the Holiday Blessing Boxes not only gives people an opportunity to be proactive and supportive and caring – but instills a warm spiritual feeling.
“I am a firm believer that we must begin providing a sense of normalcy, kindness and hope to our children,” continues Uhrmann. “For the past nine months, we have created a landscape of hopelessness and fear in our children and community at large. Our reaction has caused an exponential spike in despondency, depression and suicide across the board. If there is any notable reaction from this project was the expressed appreciation from not only the students who volunteered – but the sincere gratitude from each one of the parents. Ms. Greszczak’s Gifted and Talented students were incredibly grateful and most did not want to leave.”
Providing much needed items to Veterans during winter months and holidays is not new to the AVM and AVA.
In previous years, the AVA and Morris County American Legion have delivered thousands of severe weather backpacks, coats and blankets to homeless veterans. This year, that effort has been rechanneled to bring some comfort to veterans living in VA facilities in New Jersey.
“Times have changed,” explains Uhrmann. “COVID19 and the recent riots and random attacks creates dangerous conditions for our volunteers. No one has suffered more than our seniors during this pandemic. COVID19 has taken its toll on their physical and mental wellbeing. Seniors living in care facilities have been restricted from seeing their beloved family members and friends from the outside. Inside the facility, they have seen their beloved friends suffer and even die from the virus. Seniors in care facilities are often forgotten.”
In a letter trying to engage volunteers to help with the project, Uhrmann writes, “Due to the Covid virus, and the lock-down restrictions, there has been an exponential rise in despondency and depression among our elderly veterans as they have watched their beloved friends pass due to the virus and are restricted from seeing their families. This year we will turn our attention to those who have been hit hard by the pandemic, those in our Veteran Care Facilities.”
This year, the recipients for the Holiday Blessing Boxes were senior veterans in state care facilities; Menlo, Veterans Haven and the firemen retirement home in Boonton, says Uhrmann.
As for the name of the initiative, Uhrmann did not have to search far.
“The name Holiday Blessing Boxes came from me,” says Uhrmann. “Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of how blessed I am. Blessings from God are not meant to be kept to oneself, but shared with others. Giving to those you have not met is much like military service; our warriors protect the liberty and freedom of people they have never met. It gives God joy to see us love each other unconditionally.”
Individual Groups Volunteer
Out of the 100 volunteers that helped in the effort to collect and assemble items for the Holiday Blessing Boxes, a good majority were students from Ann Greszczak’s Gifted & Talented classes at Mt. Olive Middle School.
“Their parents jumped right in to help,” says Uhrmann.
Other key players were Robert Bedell of MOHS JROTC; and General Frank Dulfer of Post #91, says Uhrmann.
“All went amazingly well,” says Uhrmann. “All went smoothly.”
Uhrmann had rallied her troops for the Holiday Blessing Box operation and by the time the day was done had 498 packages sealed and sanitized, ready for delivery.
The following is a list of businesses and organizations that volunteered to help with the Holiday Blessing Boxes:
All Veterans Memorial, Charlie Uhrmann donated custom eye glass cleaning cloths; All Veterans Alliance, Charlie Uhrmann donated custom face masks / lanyards; American Legion Post #91, Amery Vasso donated lap blankets; American Legion Post #450, Dennis Porporna donated custom lip repair balms; DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution), Carrie Efinger donated holiday face masks; Education Association of Mt. Olive granted MOMS Gifted and Talented’s Ann Greszczak copies of the book “Yorkie Doodle Dandy” and movie “Angel in the Foxhole;” Home Depot, Edward Flynn donated custom cell phone holders; Meier Stone Company, Karl Meier donated custom hand sanitizers; Mt. Olive High School JROTC, Robert Bedell donated playing cards; New Jersey Department of Veterans Services donated custom water bottles; Walmart Hackettstown provided food for volunteers; Walmart Flanders provided chocolate crepes; Walmart Kearney donated eco-friendly tote bags; Walmart North Brunswick donated socks.
“There were many private donors, to which we purchased tooth brushes, tooth paste, body and hand moisturizers,” adds Uhrmann.
With a plan to have packages in the recipients’ hands on or before December 24, “boxes were delivered immediately,” says Uhrmann. “Ann Greszczak delivered the blessing bags to the Firemen’s Retirement Home in Boonton; Amery & Sara Vasso delivered to Menlo; Dennis Porporna delivered to Veterans Haven; Bill Robinson delivered to the other home.”
Safety & Sanitation Protocols
Unlike years passed with her other collection drives, Uhrmann had to limit the number of volunteers who could assemble at one time. She also required volunteers to wear masks, aprons and gloves, maintain social distancing and provide sanitized packages to the recipients.
“Each item was kept in a sterile environment,” says Uhrmann. “Most were individually wrapped. Tables were sterilized and draped with clean sterile tablecloths. Boxes remain sealed until assembled. Each volunteer was provided hand sanitizers and gloves before handling the items. As the bags were completed, they were placed in airtight bags before being delivered to each facility.”
Because of safety issues, Uhrmann says “We were not allowed to enter the facilities. We dropped the gifts off.”
Those who delivered the items did not get to see the direct response from the individuals who opened their blessing boxes, but photos taken show the content on their faces.
“The photos speak for themselves,” says Uhrmann.
Deeper Look Into The Roles Each Played
The Mt. Olive High School Air Force JROTC in Flanders collected playing cards for the Blessing Holiday Boxes.
“Our contribution to this amazing outreach by All Veterans Alliance was 435 individually wrapped decks of cards,” explains MOHS Air Force JROTC Aerospace Science Instructor Rob Bedell. “The cadets ran a Decks-for-Vets drive that garnered all the donations.”
Bedell does not have an exact count of how many students helped with the initiative “since the cadets ran a drop box. One of our cadets, Justin Nguyen, created the Deck-for-Vets flyer and oversaw the collection. Since the school was closed due to COVID, one of our students, Jason Musal, volunteered to put the drop box out every morning at 7 a.m. and pick it back up at 4:30 p.m. for eight days straight to ensure everyone had the most convenient opportunity to donate.”
Bedell explains why the MOHS JROTC participated in this initiative.
“As for why this outreach was so important to us, it is simply another opportunity for us to give back to fellow Americans who have given so much of themselves,” says Bedell. “This time of year is normally tough on folks who may not have any family close by to visit and spend the holidays with, but this year is exceptionally hard due to the extended isolation.
“For our cadets, it is an outreach that helps them learn the benefit of giving back and to honor those who have served to give us our freedoms,” he says. “Hopefully this "Blessing Box" brings a bit of happiness to those veterans who need that extra reminder that they are appreciated and loved.”
MOMS G&T Students
More than 40 students from the MOMS 8th grade Gifted &Talented classes participated in the Holiday Blessing Boxes, says their teacher Ann Greszczak. They made “over 500 cards for the veterans and former firefighters,” she explains. “The cards were made and sent to me electronically. I then forwarded them to Staples and had them printed.”
On the day of operation assemble, “over 30 students showed up to help assemble the boxes,” says Greszczak. “Some brought their siblings, some moms and dads stayed to help. Due to COVID, this part was not a school sponsored event although I organized the sign up and was the contact person for it.
”Since their participation was done outside of school, Greszczak wrote a letter to the parents explaining the volunteer opportunity for the students and the role they could play.
“This is not a school activity but rather an opportunity for community service sponsored by the All Veterans Alliance Volunteer committee,” Greszczak wrote in her letter to parents.
“As I explained to the students, this is a great opportunity to give back to those who have given so much.”
She writes, “Thank you for considering this opportunity and for raising children who are giving, caring and respectful. It is a pleasure working with them especially on projects like this that allow them to Honor Our Veterans and show our gratitude for their service to our country.”
As coordinator between the students and the initiative, Greszczak says “I worked with Charlie to see what she needed and applied for the grant, and motivated my students to participate.”
All was running smoothly until Greszczak had an accident.
“Unfortunately, I broke my foot during this so I was limited to things that could only be done from the couch,” she explains. “However, I did attend the packing event (rolled in on my scooter) as did my husband and my daughter.”
As a regular participant of volunteer events made possible through the AVM, this G&T teacher would not let this opportunity slide.
“For the past several years, my students have participated in volunteer events at the AVM,” explains Greszczak. “We have prepared the grounds for Memorial Day, participated in backpacks for veterans and did the presentation on the AVM (which will be posted on the 150th Anniversary website.) Because of their involvement, when I mentioned this project to the kids, they were all in! I truly believe it is very important to get kids involved in the community, especially GT kids who don't often have the opportunity to do so because they are "book smart" and not necessarily worldly. Doing this project helps them develop their "Soft Skills" but most importantly gave them a sense of community and what it means to give back.
“Working with Charlie and the AVM had also deepened their understanding of history, and the military,” continues Greszczak. “It has also given them a new found respect for our veterans and an appreciation of what our veterans have done for us. Being involved in this project exposed the students to something bigger than themselves and their academics. Through this they have given of themselves, hopefully set the stage for community volunteerism in the future and a new appreciation of the freedoms we have in America, and why.”
In addition to the cards made by the G&T students, Greszczak applied for a PRIDE in Education grant from the Education Association of Mt Olive to purchase 500 copies of the book "Yorkie Doodle Dandy" written by Bill Wynne, a 98 year old veteran about his war dog, Smokey. Smokey is one of the dogs featured at the AVM.
“I also asked for one Blu-ray copy, for each facility, "Angels in the Foxhole," a video based on Mr Wynne's book,” explains Greszczak. “The Association was kind enough to award us the grant and provide us with enough funds to purchase the books, the Blu-ray copies, printing of cards and labels. The labels were placed inside each book and read: “Books donated by the Education Association of Mt Olive through a PRIDE in Education grant.” The students did the folding of the cards and placed a label and card inside each book.
“This grant was very important in helping us fulfill our dream of providing each veteran a copy of this book which we hope will become a family keepsake,” says Greszczak. “The grant also connected the community, the educators, the students and the Veterans. Due to the generosity of so many, we were also able to provide bags for the former firefighters who reside at the N.J. Fireman's home in Boonton. For several years my students have adopted firefighters at the home. We also went to spend the day with them last year.”
American Legion Post 450 and SAL Post 450 also volunteered. Two individuals of these organizations helped with delivery of the Holiday Blessing Boxes, according to Dennis Porporna, commander of Post 450.
“We gave $500 to buy masks and lanyards, one each,” he says.
Porporna says his post tries “to help all Vets any way we can.” He says all of his members “are happy at what we did” and grateful to help with the project.
“If you ever need help at post we be happy to help if we can,” says Porporna.
Reactions From The Initiative
“The objective and goal of this outreach project was well received by our community and supporters,” says Uhrmann.
Leaders involved in the initiative credit Uhrmann for her dedication and passion toward the success of the project.
“We are so grateful for Charlie Uhrmann's vision and unwavering support to our veterans,” says MOHS Air Force JROTC Aerospace Science Instructor Rob Bedell. “As an organization, we are honored to contribute and participate in any way we are able.” He points to Uhrmann’s “amazing efforts to give back to our veterans. These Blessing Boxes is just another expression of gratitude, but they wouldn't have been created without Charlie's passion and fortitude.”
Agrees Porporna, “Charlie Uhrmann is a great person and does a lot for vets and I would do anything for her.”
Adds Greszczak, “All credit for this incredible event should be given to Charlie. She is just unbelievable in what she is able to accomplish for our Veterans. Anyone who meets Charlie is awed by her enthusiasm and commitment. I am truly honored to know her. Most importantly, I am amazed that she allows my students and I the opportunity to become involved with her in honoring those who have given so much for our country.
"As Charlie always reminds us, 'Thank you from a grateful nation.'”
Four eighth graders at Mt. Olive Middle School have been stirring up courses since November that feed youths’ minds and the bellies of those who are hungry. Amblin Cabsaba of Budd Lake, siblings Robbie and Riley Cahili of Flanders and Thomaz Honda of Hackettstown started their own non-profit tutoring service last month. Called A.R.R.T. Of Tutoring, derived after the first initial of their first names, the friends specialize in mathematics to help students in grades one through five sharpen their skills.
The 14-year-olds came up with their idea for their student-led volunteer math tutoring program over the summer to offer extra help to other students. Instead of charging for their services, they suggest a donation to the Mt. Olive Food Pantry to help feed the hungry.
“Giving back to the community by donating to the Mt. Olive Pantry and tutoring makes us feel very proud and honored to do so,” says Riley Cahili. “Having a chance to help out those in need during this tough time can really change someone’s, even just one person’s, life for the better. We’re so thankful to be someone to give hope for someone struggling. We hope the people who we help will be able to live happier than before!”
A.R.R.T.’s Of Tutoring services officially began on Nov. 18 on Instagram, says Amblin Cabsaba.
“The idea was made around August where we decided that we wanted to offer students assistance in their studies,” says Cabsaba. “We started planning in September and October where we created a website, logo, and a booking website for students to book sessions. Dry runs started end of October.”
While teachers lead the way in providing support to students and their learning, these young teens decided they could also help fill those gaps.
“The idea primarily came to us when we saw that despite the phenomenal efforts from teachers and parents, some kids needed to add a bit of fertilizer to help expand their knowledge,” says Thomaz Honda.
Friendships Well Made
“We all met in our 7th grade G&T class, and we have been a friend group ever since then,” adds Honda.
While mathematics is their specialty to the younger grades, they do plan to expand in their subjects as well as their age limit.
“As tutors, we all mainly specialize in mathematics, since we currently are already learning Algebra 2 in 8th grade and some of us are participating in other math programs in order to learn more. Although at the moment, we are teaching math, we do plan to teach other subjects in the future,” says Riley Cahili and Cabsaba.
“Our tutoring lessons consist of the students within grades 1-5 in mathematics,” says Robbie Cahili. “We intend, however, to gradually increase the grade level limits as we become more comfortable with tutoring,” he says, adding that “none of us had any prior tutoring experience before the A.R.R.T. Program.”
Since the program began, A.R.R.T. Of Tutoring has provided sessions to about 10 students.
“Since our website, arrttutors.bookwhen.com, is constantly active for tutoring signups, the number of students we teach at a time may vary, but we currently are tutoring two students, based upon booked lessons,” says Robbie Cahili.
Free Tutoring For Optional Food Donations
The students decided to offer their tutoring services for free. For those who are willing to donate, that is not a problem. They are accepting food items to help stock the shelves of the Mt. Olive Food Pantry.
“Our tutoring service is completely free, but students can still donate if they choose,” says Cabsaba. “Our sessions are 30 minutes long with the tutor and one student.”
Instead of charging a fee, “we encourage the people who do want to donate to give to the Mt. Olive Food Pantry,” adds Riley Cahili.
With more families unemployed and facing challenging times from the pandemic, the students saw a local need.
“We all came to a collective agreement to donate to the MO Food Pantry because we saw that families got hit really hard by this pandemic and that food was an essential resource and a beacon of hope to those who need it the most,” explains Honda.
They made its first food donation on Saturday, Dec. 12.
“We donated only food to the MO Food Pantry, and although we didn’t get an exact count, we provided non-perishables, such as cookies, condiments, cooking oil, saltines, and soda, among others,” says Honda.
“Some of the donations were dropped off our house from a student and some from ourselves,” says Honda and Cabsaba. “We hope this will inspire others to do the same, and these items were collected a couple days before we went to the food pantry.”
Riley Cahili explains why they selected the Mt. Olive Food Pantry as recipients of their labor: “Donating to the Mt. Olive Food Pantry is very important at this current time. Amidst the quarantine are people and families who are losing money and basic necessities. By donating we all aid people in need in this difficult time, even if it is just a box of toothpaste.”
Adds Cabsaba, “For the time being, we are focused on passing all donations to the Mt. Olive Pantry because we saw that through the pandemic, unemployment has spiked, and that has left people with difficulty to feed their families. The Mt. Olive Pantry offers those people in need with the food, water, and other essentials during this health crisis.”
Future Goals Of ARRT Tutoring
Since the tutoring program is non-profit, the students have not made any money for their tutoring services.
“If we were charging money, however, we would spend it on items that would assist tutoring lessons, such as large white boards or magnetic number counters, so as to aid the students we teach and help them gain a better understanding of the topics we explain,” says Robbie Cahili.
For now, they plan to continue on their path of helping their younger peers.
“Goals we hope to achieve are to help students from Mt. Olive, but also in other districts too,” says Robbie Cahili and Cabsaba. “On a personal level, we hope to help ourselves to have a deeper understanding in the process of educating, and to improve our soft skills (time management, self-confidence, communication). In addition, our team wishes that this program will grow over time and will be more known to the community.”
Cabsaba informs students how to seek tutoring.
“They can reach us on our website at arrt-tutors.com where you can book a session and to donate to Mt. Olive Pantry,” says Cabsaba. “We are available from 2:30-6 p.m., so students who are stumped after a school day can book a ticket, so one of us can guide them on any assignment they need help with. You can reach us via email by using the Drop us a line link on our website.”
They also offer some advice to their peers stuck at home learning virtually like themselves.
“Advice that we would offer our peers who are stuck at home learning remotely is that this is a difficult time for everyone, that's why, in this time of struggle, we all have the ability to grant happiness to those that are struggling,” says Robbie Cahili. “Even if it's a simple thank you or a grand present, we have the power to sprinkle happiness upon someone's life, for even a bit can go a long way.”
After practicing law separately for more than 25 years, Douglass Sclar and his brother Bradley Sclar finally sealed the deal and formed their own law firm. Operating from offices in Roxbury and Marlton, Sclar & Sclar, LLC serves all of New Jersey.
Both alumni of Roxbury High School, Doug received his B.S. from University of Maryland and his J.D. from Seton Hall University Law School; Brad earned his B.S. from Penn State University and his J.D. from Duquesne School of Law.
Prior to their recent partnership, both worked for some of the most well- respected law firms in the state.
Sclar & Sclar, LLC have a strong reputation in construction law as well as providing clients with powerful representation in real estate (residential and commercial), municipal court defense, condominium and homeowner association law, business law, corporate and collections.
Doug cut his legal teeth clerking for Superior Court Judges Seymour Margulies, J.S.C. and Charles J. Harrington Jr., J.S.C. In addition to his general practice, Doug serves as the Public Defender for Roxbury Township Municipal Court as well as the backup Public Defender for Mt. Olive and Mount Arlington/Wharton Joint Municipal Courts.
Brad has performed as the lead construction attorney for some of N.J.’s most prestigious law firms and has also served as in-house counsel for a busy general contractor. His encyclopedic knowledge of N.J.’s construction laws and changing regulations, as well as his reputation as a powerful litigator, has led him to be the guest lecturer at construction conferences and seminars. His high-profile cases have sometimes broken new ground in construction law. Brad is also a member of the Marlton Environmental Commission.
Brothers Become Partners
“We always talked about creating our own law firm, but found ourselves in different parts of New Jersey and Brad was, for the most part, associated with large law firms,” explains the younger brother, Doug. “At the end of 2016, Brad decided to leave the big firm setting and suggested we become partners. Technology had advanced to the point our North/South New Jersey locations made sense so we opened Sclar & Sclar, LLC in January of 2017.”
The two brothers may have learned some key skills in their earlier years.
“We both set our sights on law during college,” explains Doug. “I had the extra push of Brad being older and paving the way. Our parents were decidedly in favor of our choice as we both had the gift of arguing with them and each other from a young age, so the choice made sense.”
Working as a lawyer can involve over-time and stress, but their passion for their profession have outweighed those challenges.
“While the work is stressful and there are long hours, there is a sense, most of the time, that you are helping someone in need,” says Doug. “Every once in a while you can really do some good and there are many times we provide pro bono (free) legal services to those in need. It is also satisfying to work through a case or a closing or a contract negotiation from start to conclusion.”
Providing a local service to clients, years of experience and compassion for others are some of the key elements that have driven the Sclars’ success.
“Despite serving all of New Jersey, we take great pride in providing a local practice feel to our clients,” says Doug. “Our diligence, experience and empathy for our clients has served us well. The bulk of our business has been referrals/word of mouth which is a testament to the satisfaction of our clients with the service we have provided.”
For those looking for a lawyer to represent them, no need to look far when you got Sclar & Sclar, LLC.
“Our experience and compassion,” is what sets them apart from other attorneys, says Doug. “We have both been practicing for over 30 years.
“Brad’s background is in construction law, representing anything from contractors to large construction companies and licensed professionals (architects, engineers and the like),” says Doug. “Multi-million-dollar construction claims are met with the same diligence and focus as the smaller cases.
“I have been a general practice attorney my entire career which has allowed me to take on everything from the municipal court ticket/DWI to representing condominium associations to real estate and drafting of wills,” he continues. “The depth and breadth of a case does not deter us from protecting our client’s interest vigorously and seeing it through to the end. We both take pride in our work product and our clients’ satisfaction with our effort and result.”
For more information on Sclar & Sclar, Inc., go to www.sclarandsclar.com.
Succasunna Office: 15 Commerce Blvd. Suite 310, P.O. Box 44 Succasunna, N.J. 07876; Phone: 973-584-3200; e-mail email@example.com.
Marlton Office: Five Greentree Centre, Suite 104 525 Rte. 73 North, Marlton, N.J. 08053; Phone: 856-988-8008; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy faces, even under their masks, shined brightly alongside giant menorahs in area towns earlier this month when dozens gathered to celebrate Hanukka.
While COVID 19 prevented the annual community gathering in Mt. Olive this year, other local towns did gather outdoors for public celebrations during the eight-day Jewish festival held Thursday, Dec. 10 through Friday Dec. 18. A lighting was held at 6:30 p.m. in Chester on the first night at Gazebo Park and another lighting followed on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 5 p.m. at Main and Corner Moore streets in Hackettstown.
A winter holiday held since 3621 (140 BCE), Hanukka retells the lesson every year how light defies darkness. Despite all the darkness brought on by the pandemic eight months ago, may the light of the menorah help to brighten the world.
“When the world turns dark, it is our job to illuminate it,” says Rabbi Yaacov Shusterman, spiritual leader at the Chabad Jewish Center of Northwest N.J. Western Region in Flanders.
“Although our actions may seem too small to make a difference, the little good we do adds a lot of brightness to the world,” he tells all those who attended the community Hanukka celebrations this year. “However, we have to remember that wherever we are in life, we have not arrived yet. There is a whole line of lamps waiting for us to light. And arriving is not what counts. The main thing is that we are moving on the right path and upwards!
“May the lights of the menorah illuminate the world and our surroundings, and may the collective lights of all our menorahs bring an end to this darkness forever,” he says. “Happy Hanukka.”
Hanukka celebrates miracles of when of the small Jewish army- the Maccabees- defeated the Syrian-Greek army; when it overcame obstacles and chased the Greeks out of Jerusalem, declared independence and recaptured the Holy Temple. The greatest miracle was when the jug of oil that the Maccabees found that was intended to light the six-foot menorah for just one night, lasted for eight days.
Area Celebrations Brighten Dark Times
With state mandates that have restricted indoor gatherings to less than 10 people, some may agree that it is a miracle that any celebrations could be had this year. The Chabad Jewish Center of Northwest N.J. in Flanders made that happen in some surrounding towns.
“In Chester we had around 50 people; in Hackettstown 20 people,” says Shusterman. “The age group varied, we had children younger couples and all the couples at each.”
Shusterman typically invites a local dignitary to light the shamash, or center candle, and help lead the prayers.
“In Chester, the mayor of the borough and the mayor of the township were there,” says Shusterman. “The councilman and women were there; the first responders and the fire department were there.
“In Chester, Dr Larry Weinstein, a local doctor from Chester did the prayers,” he says.
“In Hackettstown, the dignitaries were not able to join us this year, unfortunately.”
In years past, the Chabad has hosted community Hanukka celebrations with festivities both inside and out. This year, gatherings were all held outside with strict guidelines, enforcing masks and social distancing.
“Everyone gathered in their own little group, families by family and we stayed apart from each other,” says Shusterman. “We have to make sure that we all wore masks and social distanced.”
Despite the restrictions, those who attended kept their holiday spirits high, enjoying the music, donuts, dreidels, Hanukka gelt and lights.
Shusterman describes the mood as “very cheerful and festive.
“People were so happy to come out,” says Shusterman. “It was such a beautiful, positive atmosphere. Everyone had smiles and was upbeat.”
Help Feed Those In Need
The Mt. Olive Democrats plan to hold a food drive on Saturday, January 2, from 10 am to noon at Turkey Brook Park in Budd Lake. Please donate non-perishable food, personal hygiene items and detergent. The group plans to host a monthly drive to help those in need within the community.
According to recent Census Bureau data 26 million Americans reported they lack enough food to eat. The recently passed Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act will provide $400 million for food banks through The Emergency Food Assistance Program but this falls short of helping all those experiencing hunger in Mt. Olive. Food pantries provide an important link between federal and local food assistance programs and the community.
All donations will be given to the Mt. Olive Food Pantry and Abiding Peace Lutheran Church food pantry, both located in Budd Lake. Donations are welcome from everyone.
The Morris County Board of Freeholders recently issued the following statement regarding Governor Phil Murphy’s announcement that Morris County, Atlantic Health System and the State of New Jersey will establish a “Mega COVID-19 Vaccination Center” in commercial space located in Rockaway Township.
“We are proud to be partners with Atlantic Health System and the State of New Jersey in this very important effort to stem the devastating tide of COVID-19. By launching this massive vaccination center in our backyard, we will bring the vaccine not only to Morris County residents, but also to our neighbors and families throughout North Jersey as we continue to fight this deadly virus. This is a unique opportunity for Morris County to help bring the vaccine to thousands of people daily and to be an integral part of a national endeavor that, we pray, will one day restore normalcy to the daily lives of all Americans. We are truly thankful to have found such supportive partners in this effort as Atlantic Health and the State of New Jersey, and we look forward to moving expeditiously on this plan.”
It is important to note that federal and state guidelines for the issuance of COVID-19 vaccinations require that vaccinations be provided first to individuals in long-term care facilities and direct care givers. The next level of vaccinations will involve first responders.
This facility is not yet open and, when established, will not be open to the general public until future notice. No one will be permitted to walk in to the facility without authorization and no vaccine will be provided to individuals who show up unannounced.
A no-cost, COVID-19 testing station has recently opened for Morris County residents and people who work in Morris County inside the Student Center at the County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph.
The tests will be made available by appointment only for Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
No one will be permitted to walk into the facility without an appointment, and appointments must be scheduled on-line through the Morris County COVID-19 Information website. Proof of residency or proof of employment within Morris County will be required upon arrival at the Student Center for the appointment. While individuals scheduling a test will not be charged for the service, they will be asked to provide information about whether they have health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare or no healthcare coverage.
Individuals will be limited to two, no-cost tests per month, whether they receive the tests at the CCM facility or through the at-home testing program currently available to Morris County residents and workers through the county’s COVID-19 information website.
Please monitor the COVID-19 information page on the Morris County website to learn of any changes in the testing schedule at CCM or updates on other testing programs.
Vault Health Saliva Test
The test being made available at CCM is a saliva test provided by Vault Health and developed by Rutgers University. It is as accurate as the nasal swab. The test only detects active COVID-19 infection. The test will not determine if an individual has antibodies indicating past exposure to COVID-19.
Anyone who makes an appointment for the test will be required not to eat, drink or chew gum at least 30 minutes prior to having he test administered.
Directions and Precautions
Parking at CCM for people with appointments will be reserved in Lot 6, where individuals using public transportation to and from CCM also may board or disembark from a bus. To find directions to CCM and learn more about public transportation options to and from the campus, go to the CCM website.
Everyone arriving at the campus is required to wear a protective face covering or mask from the time they arrive in the parking lot to the time they leave.
Library Goes Virtual For Kids
Do your kids miss Storytime and coming to the library? Tune in Monday through Friday to see all of the Children's Room Librarians reading stories on Facebook and Instagram.
Library Open For Curbside Pickup
The Mt. Olive Public Library is open for curbside pickup.
Requests can only be made via phone call or email.
There is a limit of six items for adults and eight for kids and young adults.
Patrons will be called once their items are available for pickup.
Bags will be placed outside of the library, marked with the last four digits of the patrons card number
Due to COVID-19, patrons may not enter library.
No books will be left outside the building after curbside hours.
Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Thursday: 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Closed on Sunday.
For questions email: email@example.com; call 973-691-8686 ext.106.
The Centenary University Equestrian Center received the Gold Medal Horse Farm Award for 2020 at a virtual Evening of Science & Celebration on Nov. 12. The prestigious distinction, presented to no more than five farms annually, recognizes outstanding equine facilities in New Jersey, with a focus on environmental sustainability and management. The award underscores the efforts of the equine industry to maintain the beauty of the state.
The award is conferred by the N.J. Equine Environment Stewardship Initiative, sponsored by the Rutgers University Equine Science Center, the N.J. Agricultural Experiment Station, and the N.J. Department of Agriculture Division of Natural Resources. The initiative highlights environmentally friendly farms, promoting the sustainability of agriculture and encouraging public support for the industry.
Centenary’s award-winning Equestrian Center comprises 64 acres in Long Valley. The complex houses 90 horses and includes two indoor arenas, a newly renovated outdoor arena, a derby field, and an eight-horse Kraft horse walker.
All N.J. horse farms can apply for the Gold Medal Horse Farm Award by submitting an environmental assessment report and a documented Animal Waste Management Plan or Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP). Centenary’s equine farm follows a CNMP developed with the assistance of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Application also requires a site visit. Proper manure storage and a biosecurity program to minimize disease risk are important aspects of the evaluation. In addition, water quality, soil erosion, stream and water management, feed and pasture management, and sanitation are reviewed.
Background scenery, fencing, buildings and cleanliness are also weighed in the judging.
Centenary’s equine center makes innovative use of advanced knowledge in the field and innovative tools, such as a repurposed dairy barn cleaner. The waste generated by 90 horses is removed daily, stored in a facility with concrete flooring and block walls, and removed to a compost facility monthly. The farm is also committed to pasture management; soil samples are taken annually and pasture land is fertilized for optimal growth and performance.
“It is our goal to continue appropriate manure management and pasture maintenance, and to continue the best management practices for equine farms in New Jersey,” said Kelly Munz, department chair and professor of equine studies. “On behalf of everyone at the Centenary University Equestrian Center, we are honored to be receiving the Gold Medal Award for equine environmental stewardship.”
Centenary’s nationally recognized Equine Studies program offers degrees in business management, equine science, equestrian public relations and media, and equine training and instruction. A degree in animal health is also available, allowing students to work with the Equine Center’s veterinary team. Centenary also has a therapeutic riding program, and the Equine Program has fielded multiple championship riding teams.
To learn about Centenary University’s Equine Studies program, visit www.centenaryuniversity.edu/academics/undergraduate-studies/equine-studies/
“Atticus,” acrylic, by CCM student Jay Garcia, of Netcong
The ongoing pandemic is not stopping the Department of Art and Design at County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph. Anyone can enjoy the creativity of CCM students through the online Portfolio and Presentation Exhibit. The exhibit includes the work of both fine arts and design students at the college and can be found at www.ccm.edu/fall-art/. Viewers will find beautiful works of art, along with a virtual walk-through of the college’s gallery.
“While it is unfortunate that the increase in COVID rates now prevents us from showing these works in the college’s gallery, this online option also means people can view the exceptional talent of our students from the comfort of their homes,” notes Todd L. W. Doney, CCM professor of visual arts.
The impressive artwork featured in the exhibit is the culmination of the students’ hard work and creativity while in the Portfolio and Presentation courses at CCM. In those courses, students learn to critique, improve and select their best work. These artists develop skills for writing documents that help market their work to galleries, museums and even prospective clients. Many students develop their portfolios with an end goal of gaining entrance to four-year colleges and universities.
For information on the degree programs offered through the Department of Art and Design at CCM, visit http://tinyurl.com/yc4pfzef/.
The holiday season is very different this year for all, but Centenary University’s Office of Veteran Services donation drive to benefit vets was as successful as ever. The office, in partnership with Centenary’s Office of Community Engagement, the Woman’s Club of Hackettstown, and Waterloo United Methodist Church, collected and distributed contributions for the residents of VA medical centers in Lyons and East Orange.
Margie Pavlichko, director of veteran services at Centenary, has been the motivating force behind the drive for more than half a decade. She matches the needs of veterans in the community with Centenary groups, and then sorts, counts, and re-packs items received. She then hand-delivers all of the packages to the VA medical centers. The drive kicks off on Veteran’s Day and concludes in early December.
“The generosity of the community never ceases to amaze me,” said Pavlichko. “This takes a village, and I am grateful for that village. COVID-19 made everything from donation drop-off to delivery more complicated, but the community stepped up and their response was phenomenal.”
Seventy-four holiday goody bags were delivered to the two VA hospitals, with the assistance of Centenary graduate student Monica Leitner. Centenary students also participated in a virtual event to make Veteran’s Day thank-you cards, under the auspices of Rachel Danitz, community engagement coordinator, with the help of student Elizabeth Brouse.
Project partners also included the staff and volunteers at the VA medical centers. The Hackettstown Library was a central drop-off site, as was Waterloo United Methodist Church, whose pastor, Rev. Timothy Nicinski, is also Centenary’s chaplain.
Centenary University President Dr. Bruce Murphy, and his wife, Jeanne, have both worked to strengthen relationships between the university and veterans in the community. Both are U.S. Army veterans themselves, with more than 50 years’ combined service. Jeanne Murphy, a retired colonel, was instrumental in connecting the Woman’s Club of Hackettstown with Pavlichko.
Centenary University has a proud history of programs that help veterans, enlisted service members, and their families earn college degrees. Centenary offers a one-stop Office of Veteran Services and a designated Veteran’s Resource Center. In addition, the university has participated in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which has helped to fund veterans’ tuition since its inception.
Thanks to the generosity of former CDR John S. Jenkins, Jr., JAGC, USN, the Marilyn Lewis Jenkins ’51 Endowed Scholarship will also assist active duty or retired service personnel and children of military families to afford a college education at Centenary.
The university recently announced that it is participating in the Community College of the Air Force’s (CCAF) General Education Mobile (GEM) Program, which enables air and space personnel enrolled at CCAF to earn an associate in Applied Science (AAS), taking virtual general education courses through Centenary. The university also offers a free riding program, Operation Centaur, for veterans to participate in equine classroom, ground activities, and riding, as well as to learn more about the relationship between horses and humans.
For more information about veteran services at Centenary, contact Margie Pavlichko at Margie.Pavlichko@centenaryuniversity.edu or call (908) 852-1400, ext. 2318.
Submitted by Diane Lang, positive living expert, life coach, speaker.
When we take time to reflect, we get a chance to pause. We get to take some time to regroup and think back on the year we just had and analyze it. We can recognize what we have learned and how it changed who we are. We can see what worked and what did not work. How strong and brave we have been. What risks we took and what we could have done differently.
We can untangle our lives and give the situations and challenges we have been through meaning.
11 Ways To Reflect On 2020
What did you learn about yourself? I think for most of us with the pandemic and election of 2020, we can all see how stressful this year was but if you are writing out your reflection then you know you survived and cultivated resiliency. What other things did you learn about yourself?
What do you want your life to look like one year from now? After reflecting on 2020, you can see the things you do not want to deal with anymore, what did not work and make changes to make 2021 different.
Why didn’t your goals from 2020 go as intended? Did confusion and uncertainty take over? Did you get paralyzed by the fear? Did the grief become overwhelming?
What did you love to do in 2020? What cultivated happiness for you? Did you do those things often? If not, why? How could you change that for 2021?
What habits and beliefs do you have that you need to stop? That are holding you back and keeping you stuck? What unhealthy habits did you do in 2020 that you want to change?
In what ways did you grow and change in 2020?
Do you have good routines? For many, 2020 eliminated their usual routines. Did you form new ones? Are they working? Routine, consistency, and schedules are must for balance and happiness.
What am I bored of, that I need to let go off? Social media? Internet/googling? Checking emails? Binging on TV/Netflix? Etc.
What did you find yourself jealous/envious of in 2020? Jealousy and envy are different. Jealousy is fear of losing someone. Envy is noticing the lack of something in your life. Jealousy and Envy are both great teachers.
What frustrations/Challenges came up for you in 2020. Did you work through them?
Has your definition of success and/or happiness change for you this year? If it did, write out your new definitions.
Experienced journalist since 1990, living in Flanders for 22 years and covering Mt. Olive Township for the past 12 years.
Have a story idea for us or want to advertise? Call for pricing?
Send us a message and let us know what's happening today in Mt. Olive.