Mt. Olive Online Publication December 28 2020
Mt. Olive Online Publication December 28 2020
Photo by Randi Beck
By Cheryl Conway
Special is definitely the way to describe Mother’s Day this year.
Besides chillier temps, Mother’s Day this past Sunday, May 10 required some creative measures in celebrating, spending some time and expressing love and thanks to moms throughout the nation. Social distancing orders remain in place through June 7 as mandated by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy last week.
Many moms realized and accepted that they would not be pampered at a beauty salon, eating at a brunch buffet or favorite fancy restaurant for dinner surrounded by extended family members, going on a shopping spree at the mall nor cheering on the sidelines at their kid’s soccer game.
Rather than focusing on those traditional material things they may have received in the past, some local moms are simply happy to find a way to connect or spend some time with their spouse, kids, and own moms… whether it will be outdoors or virtually.
Read about how some of these local moms planned to spend their Mother’s Day. “Mt. Olive Online” wishes everyone a Happy Mother’s Day, whether a mother or not, honor your mom, your grandma, your mother-in-law or even mother nature because this cold front is in need of some warming up, that’s for sure.
Mary Backer of Flanders accepted that this was not going to be her typical Mother’s Day with her husband Chris Backer and their two kids, son Tyler, 18, and daughter Chelsea, 6, but she was adjusting to what the day will bring.
“My expectations of Mother’s Day prior to the social distancing I guess was to maybe have our usual brunch with my kids, my mom and sister,” says Backer. “Then my husband, kids and I go to my in-laws for an early dinner and visit to celebrate with my mother in law. It is usually low key I always get a nice gift like a gift certificate for a pedicure or something like that.”
Sunday will be different, she says, but she still planned to make it a special day.
“I have really not put any expectation on Mother’s Day now because of the circumstances,” says Backer. “I know we obviously won’t be having brunch out or dinner at my in-laws so I guess maybe we will get take-out for dinner and hoping to just spend the day with my family doing some fun things together that we normally don’t have time to do.
“Praying for a beautiful day so we can spend time outdoors maybe light up the firepit and just hang out there and talk and enjoy each other’s company,” says Backer. “I have never been a gift person, I live to give, but don’t feel the need to receive so I am really ok with no gift just the gift of my family’s time.”
Some of her wishes: “I would like to sleep in a bit, watch church together as a family, have a nice brunch at home and just take the day to hang out with my family,” she adds.
As a resident of Mt. Olive for the past five years, Backer admits she is grateful for her family and her life.
“I am so grateful for my beautiful children and that they are healthy and happy also that they are generally good and kind-hearted,” says Backer. “I am grateful for my husband who always takes such good care of all of us. I am grateful for our dog and our home and that we have all remained safe and healthy through this time. I am most grateful for the love and support we have for each other.”
She is thankful for the town she lives in and loves being a mom.
“We have so much to be thankful for just living where we live,” says Backer. “Mt. Olive is an amazing town and they have such wonderful schools amongst other things to offer our children.
“We also have so much to be thankful for just being able to be called mom,” says Backer. “To have the blessing of children to love and to guide through this world and this crazy thing we call life.
“We should celebrate ourselves,” says Backer. “Motherhood is not for the faint of heart and takes strength and love and so much more. We should be very proud of ourselves for doing so well in this role we have been given. Celebrate being an amazing, strong, smart, loving woman because you need this and much more to be a mom!”
With the mandate to maintain social distancing, Backer planned to reach out to her elders with caution.
“We will do a drive by visit with my mother and mother-in-law and most likely have flowers or balloons for them along with their gifts,” says Backer. “We have one grandmother still living, she lives in NYC and normally we would go visit her so hoping to get to at least talk over the phone for a bit.”
To other moms and the Mt. Olive community, Backer spreads her good wishes to all.
“I would like to wish all my fellow mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day and to the other moms of seniors @ MOHS class of 2020, we are all here for each other to help and support our kids through this difficult time and though our hearts are breaking for what they are missing we have an amazing community that will make this special for them,” says Backer. “A huge thank you to all the moms of MOHS drama/ stage crew, you are a unique group of wonderful and caring women; and to the MOHS Marching Band moms- the support and love for our kids and each other has been such a blessing to me and to my son!”
Jennifer Feliciano of Hackettstown was excited to be celebrating her first Mother’s Day this past Sunday as a new mom, and while she admits it will not be how she expected, she planned to enjoy every moment.
A native of Mt. Olive, Feliciano became a mom on Nov. 8, 2019, when she and her husband Luis Feliciano welcomed in their baby girl, Violet Ariyah,
“My expectations for this Mother’s Day was to go to church and get my sweet Violet baptized at Trinity Church while celebrating with family and friends,” says Feliciano. "Unfortunately, her baptism has been postponed until September.” Violet reached her milestone six-month old birthday, Friday, May 8.
“This Mother’s Day I plan on spending quality time with my mother and sister and finally giving them the biggest hug with Violet as well,” says Feliciano. “I just plan on having a relaxing day hopefully outside with my family who I have missed terribly.”
Because of social distancing, Feliciano has been staying home with minimal contact with others, including her mom and sisters.
“My mother will be happy just hugging me and Violet after social distancing for two months,” says Feliciano.
“l am still concerned about germs,” admits Feliciano. “My mom is an essential worker and still traveling to Morristown during the week which still makes her exposed. Luis and I are feeling more comfortable now since time has passed being around immediate family. As long as everyone wears a mask, washes their hands and has clean clothes on, I will be hugging my mom and sister. I also know that my family is healthy and will respect our boundaries.
“It’s not that I haven't seen them, we just kept our distance between each other,” explain Feliciano. “I do plan on staying home during this whole quarantine, I just am ready to give my mother a hug and what not better day than Mother’s Day!”
With her new baby to love and cherish every day, and family close by, Feliciano’s heart is full.
“I am grateful for so much,” says Feliciano. “I am grateful for my husband Luis who has been home with me and Violet during this crisis and everything he does for me and our family. It’s also been nice watching them bond and grow together. I am very grateful for Violet and to be her mother. I waited a long time to finally become a mother and I have been loving every second of it. I am also super grateful for my close-knit family. Family is so special to me and I feel very blessed to have such a wonderful family including my Feliciano family.”
She offers advice to her peers.
“My advice to other moms is to make the best of each day,” says Feliciano. “Do things that make you feel happy and good about yourself and to hug your babies, children and significant others often.”
Hiking, takeout and Zoom were on Kathy Cochran’s to-do-list for this past Sunday.
As a mother of three and grandmother of three, Cochran would have enjoyed her Mother’s Day with her extended family but understands the need to social distance.
“My wish every Mother’s Day is to plan a nice long hike with my husband and all or some of our family,” says Cochran. “With this our daughter Stephanie’s very first Mother’s Day, we would have planned a visit to Maryland to spend a day or two with Steph, her wonderful husband Keith and our precious grandson, Camden Nicholas, whom we haven’t seen for several months now due to the pandemic and will be turning 5 months on May 9!”
Cochran and her husband Larry Cochran had other ideas in mind, but still hoped to connect with their son Sean, 36 and his wife Lauren; daughter Stephanie, 32, and her husband Keith; Kimberly, 29; and grandchildren: Emma, 6; Declan, 2; and Camden, four months.
“My husband and I will visit our kids and grand-babies on a long Zoom call,” says Cochran who moved to Mt. Olive 32 years ago “for better schools and landed in a wonderful, child-friendly development in Budd Lake.”
She admits: “I’m so thankful for Zoom and FaceTime during this Pandemic! Permits us to feel close to family and friends while remaining safely apart.”
She shares, “My husband and I are planning a walk at Waterloo Village, takeout at Bistro 46 and our Zoom call with our kids and grand-babies.”
Reaching out to her mom and mother-in-law will be through her memories.
“Sadly, I lost my mom when I was a teenager, and we lost my wonderful mother-in-law several years ago, but I’ve learned so much from both of them that I try to bring into my parenting and grand-parenting every day which allows me to keep them both close,” says Cochran.
Cochran embraces her role as a mom and is grateful for the experience.
“I’m always grateful for the most amazing, fun, wonderful and important job in the world, being a mom to our three amazing kids, and a Baba to our three beautiful grand-babies, and having a wonderful husband to share it all with,” she says.
“It’s so rewarding and such a gift to be where I’m at in life to see what your kids accomplished more than you did and that they’re good, responsible, hard-working, kind adults,” she adds. “They all inspire me to be a better mom, wife, grandma (Baba), friend and person, and I’m so very proud of them all.”
She offers some words of wisdom to other moms on how to overcome challenges and be present in the lives of others held dear.
“My advice to all moms is to Celebrate Being a Mom Every Day... Being a mom is truly a most wonderful gift, and an opportunity to make yourself and the world a little better,” says Cochran. “Try to remember what you needed and how you felt when you were the age(s) of your children. Remain present in your children’s lives, especially when its hard and when they’re teens; and stick to your morals and values even when it’s difficult. Set boundaries with your children, but explain why, and that it’s because you care and love them. Live by example, and remember to give priority to your relationship with the father of your children.”
Cochran admits to challenges that moms can face, and from experience, offers her opinion on how to cope.
“Being a mom, especially a working mom or a mom with children with special needs, or in a family with extenuating circumstances, can and will test you,” says Cochran. “Try to relax, have fun, control what you can control and above all, enjoy your children for who they are and make every effort to give your children opportunities and experiences that will allow them to grow to be the best person they can be. Ensure your children know they’re loved by your actions as well as your words. Remain focused on the goal... Raising little ones to be well-adjusted and good big people.”
Cochran’s son, Sean, lives in Chatham with his wife Lauren and their son Declan was born with a genetic condition called CTNNB1. They started a foundation a year or so ago to find cures and treatments for CTNNB1. They have a Facebook page called “Advancing CTNNBI Cures and Treatments” and a website at curectnnb1.org where there is a story about Declan and his family, as well as stories and pictures of other children born with this condition, the current research, history of this condition, explains Cochran.
“Through their foundation, Sean and Lauren have partnered with two geneticists thus far: Dr. Wendy Chung at Columbia University in NYC and Michele Jacob, PhD at Tufts University School of Medicine,” she explains. “They’ve raised quite a bit of money already, which has resulted in mouse models to find better treatments and we pray a cure, and they continue to connect with other families across the world with loved once managing CTNNB1 in hopes to build a stronger network to bring awareness and increase the research.”
Heather Ryan was looking forward to a fun-filled day surrounded by the people she loves most.
Born and raised in Budd Lake, Ryan has plans to marry Cagney Moog on October 11. Moog has a six-year-old son, Gerard, from his previous marriage, so in five months she looks forward to her official role as a stepmom.
Her plans this year for Mother’s Day, before COVID 19, was to have “Lunch out with my son's biological mom, Josie, we get along very, very well; and then dinner with my mom and presents and cake.”
With the virus lingering, and being immune-compromised, Ryan needs to take precaution.
“Josie is gonna come over and we'll have a brunch here at my home and then go to my parents for dinner and cake,” says Ryan. “They live in Budd Lake as well and have been quarantining because of me. I have stage four metastasis breast cancer. I have for about five years now. So because I'm immunocompromised my parents have been quarantining pretty hard core too.”
Ryan says “I got swabbed for COVID last Friday and results came back negative, thank God.”
Knowing that she is virus free, Ryan planned to see her mom on Sunday.
“I helped my mom make her usual ice cream cake and will be there Sunday night to cut open!” says Ryan. “My brothers and father and fiancé will be there as well.”
As Mother's Day approaches, Ryan shares what she is grateful for.
“I love that Josie and I get along so well,” says Ryan. “I love that my son doesn't have to see us fighting or arguing or have any issues with trading Jerry back and forth. I think that us having a positive relationship really affects how my son grows up and I want him to be kind, caring and understanding. Things that he can take from his mother-son relationship and apply to the rest of his life. I can only pray that, that's what’s happening.”
She offers her advice: “Just try patience. Take a moment to breathe when things get crazy or life takes a turn. You can always restart your day. Maybe read a book with your kiddies. Cook something. Try a science experiment or a scavenger hunt!”
She most likely will not see her mom nor mother-in-law since they both live a distance away, but she is so grateful that her five kids, ages 10 to 24- were expected to be home with her this Mother’s Day. Kristina of Sparta, who requested to not include her last name, lived in Budd Lake for nine years from 2001-2010. She remains optimistic that Sunday will turn out to be a special day, even though the mandate is extended for social distancing.
“We would have spent the day with my in-laws,” she says. “We would have gone out for brunch and then all of our relatives would have come over to our home for a special dinner.”
But instead, “My kids say they are going to make me dinner and dessert,” she says. “They have a lot of enthusiasm. I am sure the day will be filled with messes, love and laughter.
“I hope the weather is nice so we can spend some time outside together,” she continues. “We like to go for walks and play games in the yard. It would also be nice to sit on the deck while the kids cook in the kitchen.”
Giving in nature, Kristina plans to send some love to her moms.
“We mailed cards and pictures to my mom and my mother-in-law,” says Kristina. “We will try to have virtual visits with them on Sunday. My husband would like to drive by his mom’s house to have a short outdoor social distancing visit. We will also bring her flowers. We haven’t seen her since February and we usually see her much more often. But she lives two hours away, so we may do that on Saturday if the weather is nice. My mom is in another state, so we can’t do that for her.”
As a mom and wife of some heroes, Kristina is grateful for so much.
“I am so thankful that we are all healthy especially since my husband and two of my children are first responders,” she says. “They have been working a lot and staying safe. For that, I am very grateful. I am also thankful to have all of our children home with us, despite the circumstances. Our two oldest are moving away in the next few months so this time at home with them is extra special.”
She offers some heart-felt advice for others trying to remain positive on this one-of-a-kind Mother’s Day.
“During these trying times, it is important to stay focused on the positives,” says Kristina. “I think we should try to take a little time for ourselves each day to do things that we enjoy. That may be exercise, a hobby or getting a little alone time. I like to get up early every morning so I have some time to myself. I like to walk and I set little goals for the day. I also take a lot of pictures, which is my hobby. Doing the things I enjoy helps me focus on the positives and not on the difficulties of our situation right now.
“I hope everyone has a beautiful Mother’s Day,” she concludes. “May it be special in its own way - a Mother’s Day to remember.”🌷🌸❤
Photo by Randi Beck
By Cheryl Conway
Now that the New Jersey governor has issued that all N.J. schools stay closed for the remainder of the school year, the Mt. Olive School District will come up with creative ways to finish strong.
Upsetting for many, especially the Mt. Olive High School seniors and their parents, district leaders are looking into options in order to still hold award nights, graduations and even a prom. Trips are cancelled along with all activities and spring sports, but there is some hope for those final celebrations to the school year.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” says Mt. Olive Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki, by the governor’s news to remain closed, during his weekly Parent University meeting held Monday, May 4, hours after the governor’s announcement. “We are going to make the best of it.”
Yes, the seniors are losing out on many things, says Zywicki, but at the same time are gaining other skills like learning how to deal with adversity and how to adapt to unexpected situations.
Zywicki addressed the community last week with 474 attendees listed on the call through Facebook Live.
The district will continue to adhere to the 180-school day requirement via social distance learning, he says. Since the district still has three snow days that it did not utilize, the school year can be shortened, he says, but the graduation date of June 26 will remain the same day regardless.
Zywicki reminded the attendees that students and parents should reach out to their teachers, guidance counselors, principals of any issues at home.
“Please let us know what’s going on,” says Zywicki, adding that some students are juggling multiple things such as helping to take care of siblings or elder relatives, are fighting the COVID 19 virus or have parents on a ventilator. There are “many situations going on.”
Zywicki announced some changes during his session such as reducing specials at the elementary school level to twice weekly. He also spoke about five different options for graduation.
He has been meeting with senior leaders from the class of 2020 to learn what their plans may be for graduation and he says they have come up with a series of options: Traditional graduation, if the social distancing mandate is lifted; graduation with just faculty and graduating students; students with just one or two immediate family members; a graduation movie with pre-recorded speeches from students in which every student is invited to the Mt. Olive High School TV studio to receive their diploma with Zywicki and the principal, followed by a “Big Graduation Movie” live-steamed via Facebook; or a Drive-In Graduation with a big screen in which students drive up and receive their diplomas through the vehicle’s window.
Zywicki says options one and four are his top favorite ideas but will have to wait to see what the governor’s orders will be after June 7.
Regarding the prom, Zywicki says he is trying to move the date to June 24 or June 25, or a date right before graduation. An idea may be to have the special night at MOHS and limit it to just the Mt. Olive seniors.
For the Mt. Olive Middle School graduation, Zywicki plans to meet with organizers from MOMS to determine what plans can be made for eighth graders.
Zywicki also announced that full refunds, minus the $29 trip security fee, will most like be returned to eighth grade parents who signed up for the D.C. trip.
“I am happy to let you know we are able to do that,” says Zywicki.
Some issues such as when students can get into the schools to get their belongings, details on award nights, distribution of caps and gowns as well as yearbooks, returning Chromebooks, have yet to be determined.
Moving forward, Zywicki plans to hold separate Parent Universities for different groups in order to address more questions and issues. There will be a separate universities for different age groups, he says.
The following dates include: May 13, Updates for All Parents; May 18, MOHS Class of 2020 Parents; May 19, MOMS Parents; May 20 Grades 1-5 Parents; May 21, PK & K Parents: May 26, General Updates All Parents. All sessions start at 4 p.m. via Facebook Live: facebook.com/MountOliveTSD.
“We are an amazing community,” Zywicki concludes. With teacher Appreciation Week last week he also requests that students and parents give shout-outs to their wonderful teachers. “Go Marauders.”
Stay tuned for more school district news, such as a detailed story on the passed 2020/2021 school budget and reduction in state aid, in upcoming issues of "Mt. Olive Online."
By Cheryl Conway
The government can take the people out of their religious houses of worship during this pandemic, but it cannot take away their religious spirit.
Groceries, alcohol, gas are all considered essential, but many would agree that religious services are just as important.
Despite the shutdown of these houses of worship to stop the spread of COVID-19, many people have held onto their faith by attending classes virtually. Religious leaders from various faiths have been offering services and lessons online to their community to lift their spirits and keep them connected to their faith during this pandemic.
Many people turn to religion as a way to cope and get through difficult times. Whether someone has lost a loved one, a job, is sick with the virus, is lonely from social distancing, has become depressed or is losing faith, religion can be the guiding light to hope and for healthier, happier and safer days ahead.
Rabbi Yaacov Shusterman and Fraida Shusterman, co-directors of the Chabad Jewish Center of Northwest New Jersey in Flanders, have been offering services and classes for the past few weeks via Zoom.
They are currently offering Sunday morning Minyans, and Torah classes throughout the week for men and women of the Jewish community.
Their sessions are held Sunday and Tuesday morning, as well as Tuesday and Thursday evening.
“We study the Talmud, the Torah, and the Jewish home,” says Fraida Shusterman.
She says their goal is “To be here for the Jewish community through this crisis in every way possible. While our physical doors are closed, we remain together, and heart and soul and our virtual doors are wide open.”
It is important to stay connected to Judaism during a time of crisis because “Judaism provides us with the strong faith that Hashem is in control and we have to strengthen our faith in Him.”
While most do not appreciate that their houses of worship are closed, local religious leaders are adhering to the executive orders to stay closed for now.
“We are required to follow the precautions by the health department, so we turn our homes into a house of prayer and Torah study, and good deeds,” says Shusterman.
Her advice to stay positive during this time: “Our Sages have taught that Hashem is in control of every step of a person's life and He is with each and every single one of us.”
For more information on attending or to receive an invite from the Chabad, email email@example.com.
Other religious faiths are also offering services.
Fr. Antonio Gaviria, pastor at St. Jude Parish in Budd Lake, is offering religious services to the Catholic community, the Mass or the Eucharist every Sunday at noon.
“We celebrate Mass Every Sunday at 12 Noon through streaming live on Facebook,” says Gavira. He says about 400 to 600 members attend on average.
“People can connect on Facebook and our site is: stjudebuddlake,” he says.
“The topic basically is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist because we, Catholics, are obliged to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy days of obligation.”
Gavira says he offers these virtual prayer services to keep the community connected to religion.
“Our goal to provide this service online is to keep our community connected with God and connected with one another and connected with Saint Jude Church,” says Gavira.
“I think it is important to stay connected because we, human beings, need such connections,” he explains. “It is part of our structure as humans. And as people of faith we need that connection with our creator, God.
“Good and Evil coexist since the beginning of life,” says Gavira. “Our mission as humans is to overcome evil with goodness. So, I see this time as time of cleaning; as a time to go back to our principles and to what is essential in life. Virus and pandemics have existed. If [we] go through history, we can find so many times of virus and plagues. This is a challenge to overcome evil with goodness.”
Gavira understands and supports the decision to keep his church closed at this time.
“I think this is a smart guideline,” he continues. “We have to protect our lives and the best medicine to avoid a rapid contagious of this virus is through social distanced because we don’t have neither an effective medicine yet nor a vaccine.”
He offers some guidance.
“My advice to my Christian Community is to stay connected, don’t give up in your faith and hope and I look forward to meeting you every Sunday at 12 noon on Streaming live on Facebook,” says Gavira.
“Finally, I would like to let you know again that life is journey with ups and downs,” he says. “But we walk with the certainty that God walks with us in good times as well in bad. This is a critical time. But, with the help of God, we will rejoice again, and we will get together to celebrate life.
“Also I would like to invite all you to pray for all people who have passed away because of the virus and for people who work in hospitals (doctors, nurses, cleaners, etc.) so that God give to the deceased happy repose; and to the professionals of health strength and courage to continue their mission to save lives.”
Jennifer Feliciano of Hackettstown has “been tuning into Trinity Church on Facebook live at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday mornings,” she says. “I have been pretty consistent with it.
“Trinity United Methodist Church is also my home church on Main Street in Hackettstown,” says Feliciano. “I attend these services because I enjoy the singing, the sermon passages and pastor Frank Fowler sharing the good word. It also brings positivity and happiness to my day and into the universe.”
For more information on the services offered at Trinity Church, go to www.catchthespirit.org.
Freeholders Approve Aggressive Covid-19 Contact Tracing
To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help move Morris County towards recovery, the Morris County Board of Freeholders, in coordination with local and county health officials, is taking steps to initiate an aggressive countywide contact tracing program.
While public health is handled at the municipal level in New Jersey and across Morris County, the Freeholder Board wants to be ready to offer countywide support to all 39 municipalities in what would be an enormous task.
Morris County will seek guidance from the state (which is partnering with New York and Connecticut) on compatible and interoperable contact tracing software. At the same time, the county will move ahead with hiring personnel needed to manage the contact tracing effort.
“We want Morris County to be in the best position to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to be ready to move towards recovery,” said Freeholder Director Deborah Smith.
“Our goal is to stay ahead of the curve, to be over-prepared, and to secure the personnel we will need for this contact tracing effort while qualified public health individuals still are available,” added Freeholder John Krickus.
Towards those goals, the Freeholder Board has approved and is expediting the hiring of a part-time public health nurse and three-to-five disease control field representatives to bolster the existing Morris County Office of Health Management staff.
Also, the county is fortunate to have volunteers with medical backgrounds from the Morris County Medical Reserve Corp who already have begun to offer their services for the contact tracing program.
Additionally, there are 12 health departments serving 32 municipalities in Morris County, which allows for even greater public health resources countywide. Morris County provides public health services for the other seven municipalities.
Contact tracing involves a bit of investigative health work. Trained staff will interview people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and to try to determine who may have recently been in contact with them.
They then contact those people who have been exposed and can advise them to quarantine to help prevent spreading the disease.
Typically, exposure means having been within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 10 minutes, though the contact time may be lower for people in more contagious settings, such as a hospital or medical facility.
MUA Cancels Hazardous Waste Disposal Event
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority has decided to cancel the Household Hazardous Waste disposal event scheduled for May 16 at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy in Parsippany.
The event is being cancelled out of an abundance of caution to protect the health of county residents and MUA staff, while adhering to state and federal social distancing and gathering guidelines.
The MUA also is announcing that the scheduled June 13 Household Hazardous Waste event will be moved from the County College of Morris in Randolph to the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy in Parsippany.
For residents who planned to attend the May event, it is recommended that you safely store any materials and dispose of them in June.
"While we have come to know how important events such as these are to the public, we believe this decision is in everyone's best interest in order to take the necessary precautions to ensure everyone's safety. I hope you will all join me at our next disposal event in June,” said MUA Executive Director Larry Gindoff.
Two Household Hazardous Waste events planned for the fall remain scheduled at this time. These two events are currently set for Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy, and Saturday, Oct. 10, at Chatham High School.
Please visit the MCMUA website for additional updates regarding Household Hazardous Waste and other programs.
Freeholders Laud All For PPE Distribution
Morris County continues to work with our county’s long-term healthcare facilities, senior facilities, and with first responder agencies to provide urgently needed personal protection equipment for the continuing battle with COVID-19.
The county Office of Emergency Management has coordinated distribution of thousands of PPE items that are critically needed by healthcare and emergency first responders during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, the Morris County team has distributed personal protective equipment to more than 120 facilities and first responder agencies throughout Morris County.
They have distributed approximately 200,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, surgical masks, Tyvek coveralls, isolation gowns, face shields, eye protectors, bottles of hand sanitizer, and gallon bottles of sanitizer to our facilities and first responder agencies.
“This has been a remarkable effort to get our front line responders in this battle against COVID-19 the items they so desperately need to safeguard their health as they work to care for our families, friends and loved ones,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Deborah Smith. “I thank our county team for their hard work and our healthcare workers for their life-saving dedication.”
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said “There is nothing more essential right now than ensuring that workers caring for our fragile residents are protected with the gloves, masks and gowns they need for both their own and their patients’ health and safety.”
Gannon noted that Morris County Sheriff’s Officers have worked closely with the Morris County Office of Emergency Management on frequent deliveries of PPE to medical professionals at long-term health care facilities, and to some police departments.
The Morris County OEM has been recognized by the state for the innovative manner in which it has effectively employed surveys, facility and first responder assessments, and for the inventory and PPE distribution model that it has used since the inception of COVID-19 operation.
The state has asked Morris County OEM to review its PPE operation with New Jersey’s other 20 counties as a best practice model.
Morris County OEM Director Jeff Paul says the credit goes to the “phenomenal effort” of the entire staff at the county Office of Emergency Management and the County’s Fire Instructor staff, as well as the Morris County Sheriff’s Office delivery team.
“We formed ‘Team Morris’ and nothing was stopping our seven-day operation in support of our healthcare and first responder heroes who are taking care of our residents,” said Paul. “The work that everyone continues to do is truly remarkable and we owe everyone a deep debt of gratitude and a BIG thank you!”
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.
Buzz's Spring Reading Challenge: Are your kids looking for a fun challenge, that could also brighten up your home? Take part in Buzz's Spring Reading Challenge and help Buzz grow flowers all over Mt. Olive. Printable reading logs and flower coloring pages can be found online at www.mopl.org/youth.
Morris County Sounds The Alarm for Help
Morris County is putting out an emergency call for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and medical professionals who are available during this COVID-19 health crisis to sign up for paid openings at healthcare facilities across Morris County that are short of qualified medical personnel and looking to hire people immediately.
The County Office of Emergency Management has created Operation Save-a-Life, which will develop a roster of available medical personnel and provide that list to healthcare facilities, or for home health care providers, that are short-staffed due to the virus and in dire need of employment help.
“Nursing homes, assisted living, long-term care, and rehabilitation facilities across Morris County are working hard to take care of their patients and residents,” said Morris County Emergency Management Director Jeff Paul. “But many are desperately in need of qualified people and struggling to fill staff shortages that are making it difficult to maintain a quality level of care for patients in need.
“Now, more than ever, we need to sound the alarm and do our best to support our healthcare facilities who are working hard to keep their patients safe and to help save their lives,” he added.
To sign up for these critical jobs through Operation Save-a-Life, and help some of the most vulnerable people during this pandemic, qualified medical personnel are asked to call the Morris County Office of Emergency Management at (973) 829-8600.
For those who do not speak directly with a call taker and get the OEM voice mail recording, please leave name, contact number and medical certification (i.e. Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse, etc.). One of the Office of Emergency Management staff members will return calls within 24-48 hours.
“We are talking about protecting some of our most vulnerable people, our senior citizens and disabled residents, many are older veterans or former police and firemen who long ago served on the front lines protecting us; now they need our help,’’ said Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
“Please, we need your help right now,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Deborah Smith. “On behalf of all Morris County residents, we ask you to consider filling this great need.’
County OEM officials have spoken to healthcare providers across Morris County to identify this need, and are reaching out to RNs, LPNs, and others in the medical field to see if they can match the need with available personnel. Those who are hired would be paid directly by the individual facility.
The New Jersey Firemen’s Home, located in Boonton, is one example of a facility that needs help caring for its 62 patients/firefighters, who are in danger of possibly having to be moved from their safe location due to a lack of staff.
“We love our firemen, and we don’t want them to leave our facility, but at the same time, we need to make sure that they are provided with the same level of exceptional care that they are accustomed to here at the New Jersey Firemen’s Home,” said Donna Russo, Director of Nursing for the New Jersey Firemen’s Home. “We welcome healthcare providers, RN’s, LPN’s, to join our team.”
There is a lot of talk these days about the “New Norm.” Depending on where you live, social distancing strategies, face masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, canceled plans and constant changes have us all grappling with a new way of life. It is safe to say we are in uncharted territory. While we pine away for the old norm, there are still many things we can do to make the best of our new reality.
1. Unplug and reduce media
2. Routines – schedule, routine and consistency are so important
Make the bed,
Ask yourself the magic question: “How can I make this a great day?”
The morning dump- free write
Sitting in nature with your morning cup of tea or coffee
Gratitude Check - two to three things I’m grateful for that happened today?
What did I do well today- two to three things I did well today?
Meditation or Prayer
3. Socialization – physical distance not social distance – connect with at least 1 person a day outside of the people you live with. Spend quality time with the people in your house. Make dinner a must for everyone.
* Laugh, smile, cuddle, hug, spoon, touch the people who are safe in your life…it produces endorphins
4. Do one fun thing a day
5. Balance out the negative emotions with positive emotions. Positive emotions cultivate happiness, resiliency and help us to live a longer, healthier life. Pick a new emotion to add into your day: Joy, Love, hope, inspiration, awe, wonderment, gratitude, kindness, pride, curiosity, interest, etc.
6. Are your basic needs met? Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, getting enough water and exercise frequently.
A painting created during the pandemic by Todd Doney, professor of fine arts at County College of Morris, based on a photo he took of the Great Swamp this past November.
The School of Liberal Arts at County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph has launched “quar-ART-ine,” a virtual platform featuring the artistic works of professors and students created during or inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “quar-ART-ine” website, located at www.ccm.edu/quar-ART-ine, is designed to feature a wide range of creative works, from poetry and painting, to photography and pottery, to dance and music, to design and more.
“The intent of “quar-ART-ine” is to provide people with some enjoyment during this very difficult time, to highlight the creativity that exists at CCM and to show how our faculty guides students in developing their talents,” says Dr. Margaret Ball, dean of the School of Liberal Arts.
A poem written by and digital image created by Keith Smith, professor of fine arts at County College of Morris.
Each week, a different academic program in the School of Liberal Arts will be highlighted on the website and featured on CCM’s Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts. Currently on the site are several poetry readings and poems in recognition of national poetry month that took place in April and videos from professors from a number of creative disciplines.
Upcoming are submissions from the departments of Art and Design, Communication, English and Philosophy, and Music, Performing Arts and Music Technologies. Check back each week to see what is featured.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half of the students at County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph reported that they faced financial challenges, ranging from food insecurities to housing issues. Now that many have lost jobs, been confronted with health and mental health challenges, required laptops or other equipment to take classes online, or encountered other challenges, the financial issues students face have reached unprecedented levels.
The federal CARES Act provides funding to students who are dealing with financial issues that threaten to impede or interrupt their ability to continue their college education, but not all students and situations qualify. To ensure that funds are available to assist as many students as possible, the CCM Foundation has launched the Titan Emergency Fund Campaign. The Titan Emergency Fund was created earlier this year to provide students with financial support to meet unexpected expenses, from car repairs, to food, housing, medical and other issues, so they can stay on track to earn their college degree or certificate. The campaign is intended to increase the amount of funding that is available to meet the heightened challenges students are now facing.
A survey of CCM students, released in January by The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice at Temple University, found that 33 percent of respondents had experienced food insecurities, 35 percent faced housing issues and 11 percent had experienced homelessness. Also 56 percent of CCM students receive financial aid through grants, loans and scholarships.
“The number of students facing financial issues was staggering before COVID-19 and now the pandemic has disrupted the lives of our students in even more troublesome ways,” notes Katie Olsen, executive director of the CCM Foundation. “To help ensure that our students are not forced to give up on their dreams, the CCM Foundation Board has launched this campaign to provide much-needed assistance. Gifts to the Titan Emergency Fund will help students meet unexpected expenses and will be awarded immediately where need is the most critical. We all can help.”
Awards to students from the fund can range from small to large amounts, depending upon specific needs. All contributions to the fund will be awarded directly to students. To make a donation to the Titan Emergency Fund to help a student today, go to www.ccm.edu/FundDonate/.
This Mother’s Day more than ever before it was evident that the world needs our mother – THE EARTH. For almost two decades Sandra Ramos has been attending the Battered Women’s Custody Conference in Albany, N.Y., with the mother’s from Strengthen Our Sisters, which started in Passaic County. When Sandra first opened her home to battered women in 1970, batterers screamed yelled or begged for forgiveness. Over the years they have learned to use the system. What is the best way to hurt her mother? TAKE HER CHILDREN! In our patriarchal society, most batterers have more access to money, more than their victims. They have been able to manipulate and hire expensive representation. Over the past 50 years, Ramos has been rarely able to find lawyers to represent her clients in custody cases pro bono because they take too long. As time passes statistics show that 73% of batterer’s who seek custody – get it. Children have been sold into sexual slavery and murdered by vengeful batterers.
This year the Battered Mother’s Custody Conference has been postponed due to the Pandemic. The courts are closed and distancing regulations will keep Strengthen Our Sisters from holding its annual Mother’s Custody March outside the Paterson Courthouse. However, there needs to be a review board of people that understands PTSD and The Battered Women’s Syndrome, as well as an expert from the Batterer’s Counseling Program to adjudicate the cases in the interest of the children.
The turmoil of the Earth would certainly be minimized if Mothers were truly honored and children were not used as a ploy. In most cases Protective Mothers need not be jailed, which as we know now could lead to their demise.
~ HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ~
In the name of all that is right and just,
Submitted by Sandra Ramos, director and founder of Strengthen Our Sisters
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