Mt. Olive Online Publication November 15, 2020
Mt. Olive Online Publication November 15, 2020
A local third grader and her mom have unleashed a creative venture that keeps face masks in reach while raising money to help animals.
Melissa Hayek and her 8-year old daughter Ella Hayek of Budd Lake have spent the last six weeks making hundreds of mask lanyards. They have sold 300 to family, friends and strangers since September and plan to continue until masks are no longer the norm.
As many have come to realize, it is easy to forget a face mask or misplace it while at school, at work or even at home. Removing the face mask and then placing it down on an unclean surface can only add to the spread of germs.
Mask lanyards provide a solution since it connects to the face mask and allows the users to hang the mask around their neck to catch a breath, share a smile, sip a drink or grab a bite to eat.
“You put the lanyard on the mask; it’s just hanging around your neck at lunch or at recess, you take it off; don’t need to put it down on a dirty surface,” explains Melissa Hayek, a paraprofessional in behavioral therapy who works with students in grades pre-K through kindergarten at Sandshore Elementary School in Budd Lake.
The Hayek’s got the idea to make mask lanyards from their friends in Maine.
Melissa Hayek’s childhood friend, Ashlee, has been making the beaded necklaces with her 10-year old daughter Molly. They live in Maine where Melissa Hayek grew up.
“We were buying the lanyards from her at first,” explains Melissa Hayek. Raised in the same town as the famous author Stephen King, Hayek describes the area as “desolate with farms everywhere. It’s out there hidden; it’s hard to make extra money out there.”
With her love for animals, Molly takes in foster animals such as cows, pigs and sheep. To help offset the costs to take care of these animals, Molly and Ashlee have allocated the proceeds from their mask lanyards to “feed those animals she was fostering,” explains Melissa Hayek.
Like Molly, Melissa’s daughter also shares that same passion for animals, so like COVID 19, the idea spread.
“My daughter is huge into animals,” says Melissa Hayek, mother of three kids. “That’s just her love.”
So at first they bought several lanyards from their friends in Maine to help support their foster animals, but then decided to expand in that effort and start making their own to help dogs, cats and horses.
Helping animals is not unusual for the Hayeks.
“We raised ducks and donated them to Alstede Farms,” says Melissa Hayek.
It was Ella Hayek who said “let’s give proceeds to animals in need,” says her mom.
“I love animals!” says Ella Hayek, who has four pets at home. “Animals need humans and humans need animals. We need to all help each other in this life. Animals speak to my soul.
“I have two dogs and two cats,” she describes. “Russell is my big dog; Lady is my small dog. Lotus and Lavender are my cats.”
The Hayeks got busy making mask lanyards less than a month ago.
“It’s a new thing,” explains Melissa Hayek, who has lived in Budd Lake for four years. “Been doing it for six weeks,” since September.
The orders have been steadily coming in, keeping the pair very busy.
“All the schools have been buying them,” says Melissa Hayek, who also works in the district’s afterschool program for Hand-Over-Hand Therapy for children with autism, and teaches yoga to kids with autism through the district’s Peak program.
“It’s been super successful,” she says. “I feel like a machine.”
“I love making things with my mom!” says Ella Hayek, a third grader at Chester M. Stephens Elementary School in Budd Lake.
Ella has a twin brother, Mason, “so sometimes her brother helps,” says Melissa Hayek, who has encouraged her kids to help others when they can.
“In second grade we did a lot of things to be kind to each other and people that live in our community,” says Ella Hayek. “We were not able to do our Kindness Tour because school closed right before we were supposed to help the community. Whenever anyone needs help, you should always help; it’s the right thing to do.”
Made for girls, boys, men and women, “anyone who wears a mask, this is for them,” says Melissa Hayek, adding that it is one size fits all.
The mask lanyards are 18 inches long from clasp to clasp and are made specifically for any type of face mask with bands that are placed ear to ear.
“We use a soft piece of wire,” explains Melissa Hayek, describing the material between fishing wire and an actual soft piece of metal.
The wire comes in a big roll. They then lace the wire through a multitude of different colored skinny round beads, using close to 200 beads per lanyard.
Melissa Hayek says they have been using “lots of Mt. Olive colors, holiday colors,” and they also take requests for colors such as blues, teals and purples which seem to be more popular.
They order their material mostly from Amazon since it is COVID, but also get some at Michaels. The beads come in bags, with 500 bags in one package, with one color per bag. She says they offer 20 different colors.
The Hayeks have spent $2,500 so far on materials and are selling the lanyards for $10 each. Actual cost per lanyard is $5; the remaining $5 is being donated to help animals.
The project is “100 percent non-profit,” she says. Any monies that do not go to help animals is being spent to purchase materials.
“She’s choosing at the end of October,” her recipients of the proceeds, Melissa Hayek says about her daughter’s decision. Proceeds most likely will go to a farm, or to adopt puppies at PetCo or perhaps to an agency that provides hound dogs that search for missing animals.
“She may choose a couple of different ones,” says Melissa Hayek. “She has big hopes and dreams when it comes to saving animals.”
So far they have sold at least 300 lanyards but expect to sell many more. Customers have been in Mt. Olive, through the schools and on her kids’ sports teams. Ella is involved in cross country; her twin, Mason and eldest son, Stephen, a 7th grade at Mt. Olive Middle School, are involved in football and wrestling.
Other customers live in nearby towns such as Hackettstown and Roxbury and are family members.
It takes about 15 minutes per lanyard to make, says Melissa Hayek, adding that she and her daughter have spent about 75 hours on this project so far, working on the lanyards on weekends and some mornings.
The Hayeks continue to take orders for their specialized mask lanyards.
To order, text Melissa Hayek at 862-251-9166, or message her through Facebook to the name Melissa Hope.
If they have the color, they can make the lanyard right away. For any custom-made orders, there could be up to a two-day wait period, she advises.
“We just made a lot to sell,” she says. “As we make them, they get sold.”
The number of lanyards they plan to make is limitless.
It all “depends on how long this world will be wearing masks,” says Melissa Hayek. “We are trying to make a different somewhere and make a difference in the community.
“It’s such a huge convenience,” she concludes about the mask lanyards. “People love them, so why not.”
The pandemic may have eliminated their meal sharing with guests at their outdoor hut during Sukkot this year, but it did not stop this local rabbi from visiting more than two dozen homes to share in the festival…and holding onto faith.
One of Judaism’s three central pilgrimage festivals, Sukkot is celebrated five days after Yom Kipper every year. This year’s weeklong festival was held Friday, Oct. 2 through Friday, Oct. 9.
This year’s Jewish holidays were limited and held partially outside to stop the spread of COVID 19. Despite those restrictions, Rabbi Yaacov Shusterman, spiritual leader of the Chabad of Northwest NJ in Flanders, decided to make a greater effort to celebrate.
“We actually visit homes every year, but this year especially, since many people couldn't visit our Sukka, we went to them,” says Shusterman.
With his family joining his efforts, Shusterman visited 25 homes in four towns throughout the week of Sukkot. With him he brought prayers and symbols of the holiday that represent the blessings of nature, including an etrog or lemon-like fruit from the citron tree; a lulav or green or closed front of a date-palm tree; hadass or twigs and leaves from a myrtle tree; and aravah or twigs and leaves from a willow tree.
“The Torah tells us to take four species and make a blessing over them,” explains Shusterman. “There are many reasons for it but one of them is that each one symbolizing another part of our body. Teaching us to be in control of these four important parts of ourselves.
“The holiday symbolizes our giving thanks to God for protecting the Jewish people throughout the 40 years in the desert with everything they needed,” says Shusterman. “That's why we also go outside so to speak, surrounded by walls on all sides and eat there are our holiday meals.”
Every year for the holiday, Shusterman and other Jewish people build outdoors on their property a Sukka or hut-like structure used to sleep, eat and convene during the week of Sukkot.
“We have a large Sukka in our backyard and we have many people joining us for all the holiday meals,” says Shusterman. “My kids really enjoy the holiday because they're able to meet so many people.”
Like other celebrations this year, traditional festivities had to be altered due to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, all our meals were just with our family,” says Shusterman. “We didn't have any guests.”
With all the uncertainty and obstacles when it comes to work, school, politics, social and religious gatherings, Shusterman holds onto faith as his guide.
“A foundation in our belief is that God is in control of everything,” concludes Shusterman. “We trust in him and we know that he will help us get through everything.”
"We're spreading the word to make Antoine Gayles lucky #7 on November 3rd." This is a paid advertisement by Antoine Gayles. Picture posted with permission.
Check out this great video
The Mt. Olive School District has taken some bigger steps this school year to improve its race relations and increase equity.
The school year kicked off with a presentation to staff and faculty focusing on race and culture, followed by the formation of an Equity Task Force.
In August 2020, Dr. Tyrone Howard, author and professor at UCLA, addressed the full Mt. Olive faculty and staff in virtual presentation to kick off the district’s examination of the relationships between bias, race, culture and the impact it has on student's learning, development and sense of belonging.
“Dr. Howard's visit was over a year in the making having been invited to the district in June of 2019,” explains Mt. Olive Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki. He was brought in for the district’s Staff Professional Development Day, which is offered annually and funded by Title II Federal Grant Funds. This year’s presentation cost close to $6K.
Zywicki says “we wanted to kick off this year’s conversation about equity,” but in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an innocent black man killed by a white police officer, “he was booked until August.”
Howard provided a “framework on how to have these different conversations,” explains Zywicki. The virtual presentation lasted two hours and was provided to more than 700 staff and faculty members in the Mt. Olive School District.
“I thought it was really well received,” says Zywicki. “He has a fantastic way of framing things.”
Following Dr. Howard's presentation there was a student panel discussion to talk about issues and share ideas.
The entire Mt. Olive community has also been invited to participate in a virtual book club to read and discuss Howard’s book titled “Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools.”
In the book, Howard shows how adopting greater awareness and comprehensive understanding of race and culture can improve educational outcomes. The book outlines the changing racial, ethnic and cultural demographics in U.S. schools; calls for educators to pay closer attention to how race and culture play out in school settings; presents data from schools that have improved achievement outcomes for racially and culturally diverse students; and focuses how educators can partner with parents and communities.
Zywicki says he has gotten 90 responses showing interest in the book club. The books are currently on order as there has been a delay in receiving them. Each book costs $25 and is also funded by Title II Federal Grant funds toward professional development.
As a tie into Howard’s presentation, the district has started an Equity Task Force.
Equity Task Force
Established this past summer, the task force held its kick-off meeting in mid-September.
When Zywicki first began in Mt. Olive as superintendent, he says he noticed that “there were equity gaps” within the district. He says he presented his observations to the Mt. Olive Board of Education such as the lack of world language courses to students in all grades from K-eight, as well as the lack of diversity in staff.
For a deeper dive into these concerns, an Equity Task Force has been created. More than 50 volunteers are involved, representing students, alumni, community members, educators and BOE members. Many of these volunteers “reached out” during and after Dr. Howard’s speech, says Zywicki.
Its purpose is to create an Equity Dashboard to set goals and monitor progress with five Racial Equity Focus areas which include: Racially Inclusive Curriculum, Discipline Policies, Building Relationships, Access to Higher-Order Classes, Diversifying School Staff.
Additional Equity Focus Areas include: Disabilities and Cognitive Diversity Awareness and Inclusion, LGBTQ Awareness and Inclusion, and Human Rights Education.
Under some of the focus areas are subcommittees.
Established under Inclusive Curriculum are the subcommittees: Racial and Ethnic; Disabilities and Cognitive Diversity Awareness; LGBTQ and Gender; Religious; and Human Rights Education.
Under Building Relationships is SEL; and Climate and Culture. Under Academic Achievement is Graduation Rate; Access to Higher-Order Classes and Programs; Internal Data: MOTSD RTI Universal Screening Indicators; External Data: Standardized Assessments, Post-Secondary Placement.
Zywicki says “it’s going to take some time” for change.
“I identified this as a real need” in 2018, he says. Changing over faculty to include a more diverse staff will take some time, for example, especially when the current faculty is a result of 10 to 20 years of hiring practices.
A Good Start
Mt. Olive BOE Member Dr. Antoine Gayles attended the first meeting of the Equity Rask Force on September 17. Gayles’ referred to the meeting as a “good start,” he says during the Sept. 21 BOE meeting.
He says there will be quarterly meetings and updates.
Every August, the Equity Task Force will provide an annual report, he says. He is “looking forward to seeing what this group can pull together to move us forward for equity for all,” says Gayles.
Five members of Mt. Olive In Color are also participating in the Equity Task Force, according to Afreen Fahad, co-founder of Mt. Olive in Color and 2015 graduate of MOHS.
MOIC has been full-steam ahead trying to implement change in the district when it comes to improving systemic racism and equity.
"In August, MOIC had an initial meeting with the superintendent, Dr. Zywicki, and other key school officials to discuss the Dear MO letters and petition for reform submitted to the Board of Education,” explains Fahad. “During that meeting, Dr. Zywicki helped detail a plan to bring together an Equity Task Force with community stakeholders.
"The plan was to have the task force use the materials submitted in the MOIC petition, the framework created by Dr. Howard from UCLA, and the input of the task force members to create a list of actions for long-lasting change in the MOTSD,” explains Fahad.
While the list of members on each committee is in the process of being finalized, “MOIC’s intent is to have representation and a seat at every table,” says Fahad, who is optimistic that the Equity Task Force can play an integral role toward improved relations in Mt. Olive.
“Mt. Olive in Color is eager to get to work and create lasting impacts within the MOTSD,” says Fahad. “While the Equity Task Force is still in its early stages, its intent to bring the community together by increasing representation and including stakeholders from different communities (ie. BIPOC, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities) will ultimately help create much needed change and progress in Mt. Olive. As the Equity Task Force gains traction, it has the potential to serve as a major driving force in moving MOTSD towards being a more inclusive environment for all students.”
Fahad is hopeful that the Equity Task Force will help promote change in the district.
“Policies created by the Equity Task Force will be vital in holding the school district accountable for change and will create equitable standards of achievement, discipline, and a framework for thorough staff training,” says Fahad. “Additionally, MOIC’s hope is that the Equity Task Force can aid in auditing the current curriculum and propose adjustments that shift to an anti-racist curriculum, exposing students to global views and perspectives to create respectful, future leaders,” he says.
The Equity Task Force is just one step toward change, Fahad says.
"In addition to the Equity Task Force, a tactical plan must be implemented to align its policies, teachings, and guidelines with the overall goal of creating a culture of inclusivity,” says Fahad. "The school’s community needs to mobilize to ensure that students, teachers, and staff are engaging in conversation, celebrating different cultures and participating in these lasting changes. Most importantly, this change must be tangible and noticeable by all school community members.”
Morris County authorities are reporting a moderate increase in the rate of COVID-19 cases, consistent with a statewide uptick, citing a correlation with increased indoor gatherings prompted by cooler outdoor temperatures.
“New Jersey is seeing moderate increases in community spread of COVID-19 and the New Jersey Department of Health has indicated that it is anticipating a second wave. There has been an increase in transmission associated with gatherings, especially gatherings held indoors,” said Morris County Health Officer Carlos Perez.
As the weather turns cooler, people need to be reminded that indoor gatherings should be limited to immediate household members, he explained. Additionally, as people plan for seasonal holidays and celebrations, they should limit the number of close relatives and friends in attendance and, if possible, plan parties outdoors around a fire pit or patio heater, according to Perez.
The slight rise in county numbers was first reported at a Morris County Board of Freeholders meeting last week by Scott DiGiralomo, director of Morris County’s Department of Law and Public Safety. He said the county remains vigilant and poised to assist the community should there be any significant resurgence of the virus, which had its greatest impact on the county back in April.
The County Office of Health Management and local health departments continue to perform essential duties to prevent the spread of infections, including enhanced surveillance and contact tracing, which is the process of identifying and notifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 to prevent further spread of the disease.
“It is important that persons instructed to quarantine and isolate by their local health department and/or healthcare provider do so to prevent the spread of infection,” said Perez.
Contact tracers, he said, will not ask for social security numbers, bank or credit card information, health insurance information, immigration status, or criminal history.
“They are only following up about potential exposure to COVID-19 cases, to determine if a person has symptoms and needs to self-isolate,” Perez said. “Report any calls from persons identifying themselves as contact tracers and requesting such information to your local police department.”
Health professionals emphasize that COVID-19 is preventable if individuals:
Planning to travel during the upcoming holidays?
Remember: There are 38 states/territories on a state issued travel advisory list, and the list is updated and changes regularly. Anyone leaving New Jersey to travel to a state/territory on the travel advisory list should quarantine for 14-days upon their return to the state.
More information is available at the NJ COVID-19 Information Hub: https://covid19.nj.gov/index.html
Review and follow CDC travel advisories when planning travel abroad:
In less than two weeks, voters will get to select three candidates to fill three seats on the Mt. Olive Township School Board of Education.
There are seven candidates vying for a three-year term on the BOE. Running for reelection are BOE Members Dr. Antoine Gayles and John Petrie, whose three-year terms expire this year. BOE member Dr. Asunta Beardsley is not seeking reelection as she is relocating outside the district.
The other candidates running in the November election include: Christopher Zeier, Richard Vanatta, Brian Schaechter, Colleen Suflay and Rhonda Cohen. Former BOE members Schaechter and Cohen are running with Suflay on the same ticket with the slogan “Schools in Motion.”
As a public service, the Mount Olive Democrats asked the community to
suggest questions to be asked of each of the seven candidates running
for the three positions being voted on this year.
“One goal of our organization is to share information with our community regarding important issues,” explains Irene Sergonis of Budd Lake, a committee member of Mt. Olive Democrats who recently ran for Mt. Olive Twp. Council.
“We received individual responses from Dr. Antoine Gayles, John Petrie
and Christopher Zeier. Brian Schaechter, Colleen Suflay and Rhonda Cohen
responded together. Richard Vanatta did not respond.”
To learn more about these candidates and responses to some concerning questions see the link https://mountolivedemocrats.org/posts/board-of-education-candidate-responses/
With breast cancer being the most common cancer diagnosed among New Jersey women, outside of skin cancer, the Morris County Board of Freeholders has proclaimed October 2020 as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, urging the public to continue a diligence that has led to some success in combating the disease.
“The American Cancer Society reports that the decades-long decline in the breast cancer death rate continues - down by about 40 percent since 1989 - and that is attributed to early detection due to regular screening and people knowing the symptoms, as well as improved treatments,” said Freeholder Director Deborah Smith, who introduced the proclamation last week.
But breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women, outside lung cancer, and access to breast cancer screening and optimal treatments for all N.J. women remains an urgent public health issue, she added.
“The sooner it is detected, the greater chances of a full recovery,” said Smith, “so we must continue our vigilance and continue our awareness.”
The proclamation was unanimously approved by the Freeholders during a virtual public hearing.
The Morris County Board of Freeholders has proclaimed October 2020 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, urging the public to be more vigilant in light of expert reports that pandemic-driven social distancing has inadvertently closed channels of detecting abuse.
Domestic violence and child abuse have become a major concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Jersey Attorney General noted earlier this year that, while reports of abuse to police and calls to hotlines are actually down, experts and authorities contend it is only because victims have become further isolated.
“Abuse is often not reported by the victims, but by co-workers, school officials or friends and family the victims encounter outside the home,” said Freeholder Kathryn DeFillippo, the board’s human service liaison. “During times of natural disasters and national emergencies, history has indicated that domestic violence increases substantially. But during those periods, people are not interacting with co-workers, school authorities, friends and family outside the home.”
The proclamation, approved last week by the board during a virtual public meeting, was delivered to Jersey Battered Women's Service (JBWS) President and CEO Diane Williams, whose agency also oversees the Family Justice Center located at the Morris County complex in Morristown. She joined the virtual meeting, explaining the phenomenon created by the pandemic.
“Our calls just dropped, and we knew domestic violence didn’t just disappear; It went underground a little further,” said Williams, adding that JBWS responded by intensifying its outreach and community presence, and eventually connected with 210 new clients.
“We are eternally grateful for the continued support from the community, especially the freeholders, the county and all of our partners,” William added. “Thank you so much for providing this additional awareness and supporting the work that we do.”
Also attending the virtual meeting were Morris County Sheriff James Gannon and retiring Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp.
Library Goes Virtual For Kids
Virtual Storytime: 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.
County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph invites the public to participate in a spooky, thrill-filled virtual scavenger hunt. Space is limited for the Virtual Haunted House Halloween Scavenger Hunt that ie set to take place on Wednesday, October 28, at 7:30 p.m. Reserve a spot, gather a team and the family together to explore the many spook-tacular places by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. An email with the ZOOM link will be sent the evening of the terrifying event.
During the scavenger hunt, participants will visit Philadelphia’s creepy Eastern Penitentiary, discover the New York City home of Mark Twain, check into the Hollywood Hotel where celebrity ghosts haven’t checked out. Participants will also learn the chilling fate of Giles Corey at the Salem Witch Trial Memorial and sneak into the White House in search of the presidents whose ghosts have been spotted there. Beware of what’s around the corner!
To learn more about events offered at CCM both virtually and on campus, visit www.ccm.edu.
Photo: Marsha Guirlande Pierre
CCM Offers Creative Arts Workshops For High School Students
The Department of Art and Design at County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph is offering a series of virtual creative art workshops, titled Imagining Utopia, for high school students to develop creative works that visualize a better world.
The series, consisting of three workshops, is open to all 10th, 11th and 12th grade students in Morris County. The first workshop will introduce the theme Imaging Utopia - Thinking Creatively to Envision a Better Future. The second will be a discussion and feedback session. The final workshop will consist of group sharing and presentations of works created by the students.
Workshop dates are:
Sunday, November 1, from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, December 6, from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Students can register for the workshops at https://ccm-edu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYqdumvrjotHNUFV59goEwT5M9S7qdocpUv/.
The workshop leaders are Marsha Guirlande Pierre and Paul Rabinowitz. Nieves Gruneiro-Roadcap, professor and chair of the Department of Art and Design at CCM, will be serving as producer. Morris Arts is sponsoring the series.
Guirlande Pierre is a Haitian-American freelance artist who received her BFA in dance performance from Montclair State University. She has performed works by Camille A. Brown, Bill T. Jones, Daniel Shapiro and Joanie Smith, Frederick Earl Mosley, Christian Von Howard and Alwin Nikolais. She also has performed professional works with Earl Mosley’s Diversity of Dance, The Nathaniel Hunt Project, VOID, Padierna Dance Project and The Lab by S. Galberth. In addition, she has worked with Gaspard & Dancers, Maxine Steinmein & Dancers and joined the apprenticeship program with Limon Dance Company. She is a Resident Artist with ARTS by the People and has participated in Jump the Turnstile, Stories in Motion, Bridging Gaps, Intonation and leads music and dance workshops at The Neighborhood Community Center in Morristown.
Photo: Paul Rabinowitz
Rabinowitz is an author, photographer and founder of ARTS by the People, a nonprofit arts organization based in New Jersey. Through all mediums of art, he focuses on details that reveal the true essence of a subject, whether they be an artist he’s photographing or a fictional character he’s bringing to life on the page. His photography, short fiction and poetry have appeared in magazines and journals.
He was a featured artist in Nailed Magazine. He is the author of “Limited Light,” a book of prose and portrait photography, and a novella, “The Clay Urn.” He currently is working on his first novel “Confluence” and a collection of prose poems called “Grand Street, Revisited.” His short stories “Little Gem Magnolia” and “Villa Dei Misteri” are to be released as short films. He has produced many mixed media performances and poetry animation films that have appeared on stages and in theaters in New York City, New Jersey, Tel Aviv and Paris. He is a written word performer and the founder of “The Platform,” a monthly literary series in New Jersey, and “Platform Review,” a journal of voices and visual art from around the world.
For more information on the workshops, email email@example.com.
To learn more about the programs offered through the Department of Art and Design at CCM, go to http://bit.ly/CCMArtandDesign/.
CCM Artist Presented With Environmental Art Award
Leah Tomaino, a well-respected artist who typically uses old brown shopping bags to create collages and an adjunct professor at County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph, was recently presented with a national environmental art award for one of her artworks.
Tomaino of Randolph received the Bobbi Mastrangelo Environmental Art Award at the National Association of Women Artists 131st Annual Exhibition for her collage “Oh Morning Glories.” The exhibition is being held online this year through December 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and can be viewed at www.thenawa.org/.
Tomaino, who teaches two- and three-dimensional design at CCM, works primarily in the medium of collage on canvas. Her interest in working with collaging brown bags began in 1999 when recycling became popular. For her, working with brown bags serves as a metaphor for the cycle of life: the bags start as a tree, are turned into a brown bags and used for a short period of time, and then are recycled by Tomaino, who tears them and turns them into works of art. Tomaino says that in her artwork she seeks to convey the beauty and serenity of nature that still exist in today’s largely urban society.
At first glance, one appreciates the vibrant colors and delicate depiction of Tomaino’s nature scenes, but a closer inspection reveals months of hard, tedious work. Tomaino applies each vibrantly painted ripped strip of paper to her canvas, building upon the pieces until she finally completes her vision. This attention to detail gives each of her pieces a unique flare.
CCM To Honor Veterans & Essential Workers
County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph and its Student and Veteran Support Organization will be hosting a Heroes and Healers event as a Veterans’ Day tribute to honor the bravery and sacrifice of veterans, active military personnel, first responders and healthcare workers.
The event will feature a drive-through Hill of Honor display consisting of photos of everyday heroes and healers. Event organizers are asking people to submit photos of those they would like to honor by including them in the outdoor exhibit. Photos can be submitted at https://bookstore.ccm.edu/campus-life-events
A $20 donation is requested. Proceeds will be donated to the Nourish NJ foodbank in Morristown. The donation can be made online when submitting a photo.
The Hill of Honor will open to the public on Saturday, November 7, at 10 a.m. A special program will follow at 11 a.m. A candlelight ceremony also will take place at sundown that day, starting at 4:45 p.m. A candlelight ceremony will take place again on Veterans Day November 11, starting at 4:45 p.m. A video of the event, including a slideshow of the photos, will be released on Veterans Day on YouTube. The Hill of Honor will remain open to the public until November 12.
Also sponsoring Heroes and Healers are the CCM Departments of Campus Life, Student and Veterans Services and Special Events, along with the CCM Foundation.
$2 Million Bequest Will Fund Diversity Scholarships At Centenary
Louise M. Monez Hill never forgot the aunt who funded her college education during the Great Depression. Later in her life, Hill wanted to pay it forward to a new generation of students, designating a $2 million estate gift to establish a new endowed scholarship fund at Centenary University. The Grace Y. Bissett and Louise Monez Hill Scholarship Fund will be named in honor of the donor and her aunt, Grace Bissett, a businesswoman who owned an upscale dress shop and provided the opportunity for Hill and her brother to attend college.
Hill, who passed away on Jan. 28, 2019, was a 1940 graduate of Centenary Junior College, a precursor of the current university. The diversity-based scholarship will support the education of students with financial need who intend to pursue a career in teaching, religion, social work, or a similar field and who are devoted to improving racial relations.
The generous bequest comes at a time when the university is advancing a new strategic plan that outlines four imperatives, one of which centers on fostering an inclusive environment on campus and in the surrounding community. To that end, the university has appointed a Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging Task Force comprised of students, faculty, administrators and alumni.
Centenary University President Dr. Bruce Murphy noted, “It is a wonderful gift that came at an opportune time. Louise’s bequest sets a strong foundation for one of the most important initiatives outlined in our strategic plan. Generations of students, as well as the entire campus community, will benefit from her generosity.”
Hill grew up in Warren County during the Great Depression. With money in the family tight, her aunt stepped up to pay college tuition for Hill and her brother, Thornton Monez. After earning an associate degree from Centenary, which was then a two-year women’s college, Hill embarked on a grueling schedule, rising at 4 a.m. to commute via train to work as a secretary at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. On weekends, she’d take the train east into New York City for classes at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in 1948 and master’s in 1951.
“Centenary gave Louise a sense of independence,” explained Rowena Monez, Hill’s niece, who is a Pennsylvania attorney. “It fostered the growth and maturity she needed to go on to Columbia University.”
Following her graduation from Columbia, she enjoyed a long career as a speech teacher at Roslyn High School on Long Island; her most well-known student was the late Michael Crichton, best-selling author of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, and other novels. Retiring in 1976, Hill and her husband, Walter Hill, settled down to a pleasant life filled with travel, gardening, art, classical music, and were avid news enthusiasts. Louise also had another hobby—investing.
“When it came to investing, Louise was self-taught,” recalled Monez, adding that Hill enjoyed reading The New York Times, Barrons, The Wall Street Journal, and Value Line. “She didn’t think of herself as all that good at it, but she did quite well on her teacher’s salary.”
Vice President for University Advancement Karen DiMaria noted that estate gifts provide the opportunity for donors like Hill to make a lasting impact on the lives of Centenary University students: “An estate gift leaves a legacy that truly makes a difference for many years to come. Louise’s generous bequest has the power to change the lives of promising students through a Centenary University degree.”
ABOUT CENTENARY UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in Parsippany, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.
Her Heart Stays In Hackettstown & Centenary
Seventy years after her college graduation, alumna Gloria Blake Kehler lives across the street from campus—in a former Centenary University dormitory.
As they prepared for their Centenary University graduation, the Class of 1950 adopted the motto, “Not to make a living, but to nobly make a life.”
Gloria Blake Kehler ’50 has done just that, living right across the street from the campus she called home as a commuter student for two years, when the University operated as a college for women.
“I’ve seen Centenary grow from a small junior college to a University,” mused Kehler, who still walks across the street to campus often. “I’ve seen big changes over the years, including the type of students who come to Centenary. It’s very diversified now, which is a good thing.”
Born on nearby Schooley’s Mountain, Kehler was the youngest of four children. Both of her parents were deaf and her mother was mute. While it was difficult at times, she recalled, “They were wonderful parents.” During high school, she set her sights on higher education, but knew it would be tough for her family to afford. “I always knew that I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t see it as a possibility at the time,” said Kehler, the first in her family to attend college. “When I became a senior in high school, I became a little more determined.”
Like many of today’s Centenary students, Kehler worked her way through college, juggling classes with jobs in the bursar’s and admissions offices, the switchboard, and at the delicounter of the local Grand Union market. After graduation, she married Richard Kehler, a successful insurance salesman. She devoted herself to raising the couple’s six children, all of whom attended college. Today, the couple also have 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. As a teenager, Kehler was a cheerleader—the only sport open to women at the time. Later, she and her husband stayed active playing tennis, golfing, and downhill skiing, switching to cross country skiing when downhill became a challenge.
Kehler’s stately Hackettstown home, now shared with one of her grandsons and his family, is a duplex once used as a Centenary dormitory. She recalled that a professor and his family lived on one side of the duplex, with students and a “dorm mother” occupying the other side. In a throwback to those collegial days, all of the bedrooms in the home still have individual sinks, installed for the convenience of students who shared a bathroom and shower.
While walking across campus this summer, Centenary University President Dr. Bruce Murphy, noticed Kehler sitting on a bench reading. He walked over to introduce himself, discovering that she was an alumna. Since the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented the Class of 1950 from returning to campus for their 70th reunion, Murphy invited Kehler to visit the Edward W. Seay Administration Building for some socially distanced reminiscing. At the time, she shared memories of former First Lady Elinor Roosevelt coming to speak at Centenary: “I remember her car driving up to the front portico of this building. I was quite impressed.”
In honor of her class, Murphy presented Kehler with a presidential coin, custom engraved with her name and the words “nobly make a life. “That’s exactly what you did,” Murphy said. Fondly recalling classmates and her years as a Centenary student, Kehler said, “Centenary broadened my view of the whole world. I think it made me a better person and a better mother.”
Submitted by Diane Lang, positive living expert, life coach, speaker.
More than 60% of Republicans and nearly 80% of Democrats report being stressed out about the current political climate in the United States according to “Stress in America 2020 Report from the American Psychological Association.” For many, 2020 has been a rough year and it seems like the last few months will just add more stress due to the election on top of the norm of holiday stress and winter blues.
Five Ways to deal with Election Stress
1. Watch your social media intake- social media can be a very overwhelming place that can cause us to feel FOMO (fear of missing out) compare ourselves to others and addiction issues. It is also adding to the stress of the election. Social media has become a very cruel place and can trigger many of us to feel stress, anger and fear. When you go on social media sites, be mindful of how it makes you feel. Do you become more stressed? Does your body tense up? Do you notice you are getting triggered? Anxious? Fearful? If you are, limit your social media intake or take some time to do a digital detox.
2. Read the news – when we watch the news, we can get triggered by the news persons tone of voice, facial expressions and body language. No need to add the extra stress or fear instead read the facts.
3. Vote – this is the one area you have control in. Most people feel better when they vote. It also gives them an action to take which gives them a sense of control. Do the research, get the latest facts on each candidate, then vote. Knowledge is the enemy of fear.
4. Set Boundaries – It's ok to tell someone you do not want to discuss politics or the election. If you feel that a political conversation will turn into a heated argument or cause conflict, it's best to stay away from the conversation totally. Remember boundaries during holiday dinners.
5. Self-Care – make sure to take care of yourself. This is an incredibly stressful time, and we need to make sure we have healthy ways of coping. I suggest doing one mindfulness activity a day. This will give you some time to refresh and pause from the stressors of the world. It could be a daily walk, deep breathing, sitting in nature, journal writing, meditation, yoga, etc.
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