Mt. Olive Online Publication October 25, 2020
Mt. Olive Online Publication October 25, 2020
By Cheryl Conway
Mt. Olive High School Seniors will have their pomp and circumstance in-person on Wednesday, July 8, when the 2020 MOHS Graduation has been finally announced and planned.
Mt. Olive School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki made the long-awaited announcement at a late-breaking Parent University held at noon, Thursday, June 11, two days following the New Jersey governor’s decision to increase outdoor gatherings to 500 after July 3. The increase enables the district to plan an outdoor gradation for all of the seniors, despite that their big achievement will have to hold out two weeks after the last day of school on June 23.
Better late than never, most would agree.
“I’m really happy that patience paid off,” says Zywicki during his Parent University. “For weeks now I’ve been saying let’s be patient.”
On Wednesday, the day following N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement, Zywicki met with MOHS Principal Kevin Moore, Director of Secondary Education Kevin Stansberry, senior class advisors and officers of the Class of 2020, to come up with the best plan for an in-person graduation given the parameters.
After a “lot of thought” from faculty, seniors and administration, the consensus agreed on a plan to host three separate traditional in-person graduation ceremonies on that day with 130 graduates at each session, to allow security and staff to facilitate each event while meeting the 500-person requirement.
Each graduate will be allowed to invite two guests, says Zywicki.
Times would spread out at about 9 a.m.; 5 p.m.; and 7:30 p.m., to “try to avoid the heat” since it is expected to be a hot summer day.
“It’s going to be extremely hot,” says Zywicki.
The other reason for spreading out the ceremonies is to provide enough time to sanitize in between, he notes.
Each senior “will have all of the pomp and circumstance they deserve with two guests present,” says Zywicki.
The three ceremonies will be recorded and then spliced together into one video with a watch party on social media for everyone to see the entire commencement.
Zywicki says the plans still need to be approved by the state, particularly in regards to the length of each ceremony.
Some students voiced their hope for one graduation with their full class but Zywicki says that is not a possible option at this point.
“We want to be with the people we’ve known our entire life,” tweets senior Gianna Maceyak.
“Is there any way that we could do a graduation with the whole senior class and just livestream it for the parents and others who may want to attend?” tweets senior Liz Barr. “I would really like to graduate with my whole class together.”
While Zywicki understands the senior class’ plea for one giant graduation, he says graduation “it’s about the whole community.”
He says he can’t have one whole ceremony, with a 500-person limit, because there needs to be room for security, chaperones, people dropping off others. He explains that the district will not receive approval from the state to host a graduation with 400 students because “you can only have so many people on site,” and taken in the numbers of cars that will be arriving and departing the high school grounds, that will exceed the 500 person limit.
The group also discussed its plans for the MOHS 2020 Senior Prom.
Zywicki says the “senior class wants to have a prom. They want to have closure as a group; many have been together since Kindergarten and so they want to be able to come together as a group one last time.”
The plan is to host an outdoor prom on Friday, July 10, “just for the seniors,” at Marauder Stadium, on the field. He says it “may be flips flops,” and not as fancy as a traditional prom would be.
“That week will be a big celebration of the class of 2020, who’s gone through so much and this way they get a great send off,” says Zywicki, “for the best sendoff possible.
“We’re going to make it as awesome as we possibly can,” he says, adding that there is lots of planning ahead.
For the eighth graders, Mt. Olive Middle School is planning to have a Virtual Graduation Ceremony at 7:30 p.m. tentatively, on Thursday, June 25, the day after the students finish their last half day there.
Zywicki reasons that an in-person traditional graduation is not optimal since the indoor gathering limits under Murphy may still be at 50 people or 25 percent of the building capacity at that time.
He also says the eighth-grade accomplishment is a “promotion” rather than a graduation.
But before the virtual promotion, the school is planning a Drive-Thru Graduation so students can drive through, wearing their caps and gowns, “hop out” to take a picture, and get their diploma from Zywicki, MOMS Principal James Kramer and the Mt. Olive Board of Education President, and then keep on going.
As far as clap outs at the elementary schools, moving up ceremonies are more likely in the fall, says Zywicki, and will be handled by each school principal.
Pictures of each senior congratulating their upcoming graduation were supposed to be installed around the loop at Turkey Brook Park on Thursday, June 11, but the rain, wind and thunderstorms affected the installation into the ground, Zywicki announced.
Funded by the school district with the support of the Mt. Olive Twp. Council by the request of Council President Joe Nicastro, the banners were expected to be “wrapped up over the weekend” for all to see.
As of Saturday, the signs were in the ground and several seniors and parents paraded around in their vehicles.
The banners around the loop have set the stage for what’s to come next month as the seniors prepare to exit the Mt. Olive School District in style after all.
By Cheryl Conway
Common it is now to hide behind a mask to protect against a virus, but when it comes to racism, there are a few hundred who face the issue head on after last week’s peaceful protest in town.
After two failed attempts to organize a protest in Mt Olive, a group still united at a peaceful gathering at Turkey Brook Park in Budd Lake to speak out against racial injustice in society and even in their own community. About 200 wound up participating at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 7, in a march that started at the park, ventured down to Rt. 46 and then through the Morris Chase development.
Like the world around them, the Mt. Olive community is juggling multiple issues right now but on the forefront is systemic racism. Those who originally tried to organize the local protest canceled their plans after faced with harsh criticism, lack of support and even some threats.
Despite the weeklong debate, the protest happened, may be the first of more to come and if anything is a step toward facing racism once and for all. Protests have been happening nationwide after a 46-year old black man, George Floyd, was arrested and killed in Minneapolis on May 25 by white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who stepped on his neck for eight minutes, 46 seconds, until he could not breathe, while three other police officers watched.
“We will not stop until justice is served and our voices are heard,” says Trinity of Budd Lake, who attended the protest. “More protests are needed because we need to show everyone that we are serious about this racial injustice. Through the law enforcement, to the community that we live in, to the schools we go to, racial injustice is everywhere, and it needs to end.
“The protests may not be trending on social media or on the news everyday anymore, but they are still going on and they are going to continue,” continues Trinity, a 2018 graduate of Mt. Olive High School. “This is not a trend. This is our lives and we deserve to be heard.”
Trinity, a rising junior who is studying biology at Hampton University in Virginia “which is an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and University), says “I did not decide to host it. I heard about it, and one of the organizers reached out to me to speak at it, however, they tried to cancel it because people were complaining about how the walk was from the Middle School in Mt. Olive to the police station which is a five minute walk and we would not be seen. I posted everywhere that I was still going to protest because it is our right.”
Originally three of her former MOHS classmates were organizing the protest but decided to postpone because they said “the police involvement in our protest counteracts the message of Black Lives Matter. We have decided to cancel the event and replan an event starting from scratch with the guidance and support of Black Lives Matter of Morristown to ensure we send a powerful message of solidarity with the black community and create an event that aligns with the values and message of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Another young man was planning on taking over the reins but also canceled due to threats from white supremacists, he claims on the community Facebook Page.
Since these individuals were threatened, Mt. Olive Online decided to not include their names in this article.
The Mt. Olive Police Department did not return phone calls to Mt. Olive Online regarding the planned protest.
While it appeared that the protest was canceled, now twice, some still forged on to gather in solidarity.
“A lot of people thought it was canceled, however, I put it on all of my social media platforms,” says Trinity. “I invited everyone. Everyone who supported the cause or who was black. Unfortunately, not all of those people showed up, however, a lot of people in general still ended up going. I even had my mom and some friends post about it, too.”
As her first participation in a protest, Trinity did not know what to expect but she knew the rules to enforce.
“I have never held any protests or participated in any, so this was the first,” says Trinity. “The only rule we had to follow while walking was to stay to the side or on the sidewalk if there was a sidewalk.”
Trinity, and the others involved did not seek any township approval, since that failed the first time around.
“The original organizers talked to the police and the mayor and the council members,” says Trinity. “The police were the ones that were trying to hide the protest. They claimed they wanted us to stay safe, but there are many ways to keep us safe. The organizers were told that they were only able to hold the protest from Mt. Olive Middle School to the police station, which is a five-minute walk. They did not want to do anything else. They would not listen to any other routes to walk, and I was not having that.
“A protest is about our voices being heard and us being seen,” says Trinity. “That route they wanted us to take would not have us be heard or seen at all. There are barely any cars that drive on that road to begin with, let alone during quarantine when everyone is home and everything is closed. I was also told that the council members did not want to hold this protest at all and they did not support it. The mayor also did not want the protest to happen, either. However, he knew we had a right to protest. No one in Mt. Olive wanted to have the protest, and many people got racist threats from others in the community because of it.”
“This was kind of a last-minute thing and no one had a set plan,” says Trinity. “It started at Turkey Brook Park. When I got there at 3:01 p.m., and it started at 3 p.m., many people were already walking around the park and protesting. I stood in the front and started protesting too and after about three laps, I told the others that this wasn’t doing much because no one could see or hear us. Me and many others started walking out of Turkey Brook and some were against it, but we kept going and eventually everyone followed.
“We took a left when we got out of Turkey Brook and walked to Route 46,” she explains. “We stood there for about 10-15 minutes chanting and holding our signs. A couple people driving by stuck their middle fingers up, but most of them honked at us and gave us a thumbs up or held up their fists in support of us.
“We then walked up to Madison Avenue into their neighborhood and continued to protest peacefully,” she describes. “People came out of their homes and chanted with us and recorded us and then we turned around and walked back up to Turkey Brook where a couple people, including me, spoke about the injustice in the world that we live in. We also had a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd.”
While social distancing is the order for now, Trinity say, “We did not social distance because we had to stay close together on the side of the roads, however, we all kept our masks on and when we had our moment of silence and speakers, people kept their distance from others.”
She was also not concerned about the outdoor limit of 25 people, according to executive order #148 by N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy.
“I was not concerned about anything,” says Trinity. “I knew that we had a right to protest and we were going to protest.”
As far as clean up, she says “There was no clean up needed. Everyone took everything with them at the end.”
While they were not notified of the protest, Trinity says “The police did attend. One police officer followed us the whole way and told us we can walk wherever just stay to the side. He was very helpful the whole time. Other police officers just drove by and blocked traffic in certain blind spots, so that we were safe and nothing happened. Only one actually interacted with us and that was the one that followed us.”
Stance On Racism
Clean up, social distancing, police and a large crowd were not Trinity’s concern. It was the issue of racism that mattered most.
“I participated and kept this going because our lives matter,” says Trinity. “There should be no reason that there is this racial injustice EVERYWHERE. In Mt. Olive, there are racist people everywhere. It was very prevalent when others started to get racist threats and on the Facebook page, Mount Olive Community Forum, there were also very racist people.
“It’s not that we are saying all lives don’t matter but all lives cannot matter until black lives matter,” clarifies Trinity. “Our lives are at risk every single day. Protests work and we needed to show to our community that we matter. We are black, but that does not mean we are less than others and they need to stop treating us like that. Not only here but everywhere.”
Those involved in the peaceful protest carry the same message.
“Our message is that we are humans, too,” says Trinity. “Our message is that we matter. The color of our skin is not a threat. The color of our skin is not a ticket to be shot or killed. That we should all be seen and treated equally.
“My mother should not have to be afraid that her children may not come home one night because they got pulled over by a police officer,” continues Trinity. “The police are supposed to protect and serve and they have not done that for the black community. We want to be seen as equal. Racism is taught and you are not born racist. We should be seen the same as everyone else.”
Her goal, like many others, is “We want to be equal,” says Trinity, who is biracial. “My mother is white and my father is black, however, I will always identify as a black woman. The color of my skin is black and I am black. I live in a world where people only see the color of my skin. This issue is relevant to my life. But at the end of the day, I love being black no matter who hates it.
“We do not want to be looked at as lesser than white people,” says Trinity. “We do not want to be treated differently as white people.”
This protest is the first of others to follow, and it is hoped that with every step, every march, every sign, this is the beginning of the end to racism once and for all.
“I feel as though the amount of people that showed up to a protest that many people thought was canceled showed people that we do matter and this isn’t just happening in other places,” says Trinity, who confirms that “Me and a few other people are trying to get another protest.
“This is happening in their own community,” she says. “Even though they can’t see it, it is happening, and I think a lot of people realized that we do want a change and we are serious about this.”
Trinity is not involved as an activist with any organizations or causes. Sine race issues have been concerning to her, she joins the fight to end racism.
“The protest was not connected to any other organizations,” such as Black Lives Matter nor Antifa, she says. “Just many people in the community wanting to be heard and make a change.
“The race issues are concerning to me because no one should have to be treated as less than another because they are not the same color,” says Trinity. “We are all humans and we all bleed red blood.
“Instead of judging me by the person I am, I, and every other black person is misjudged by the color of our skin,” concludes Trinity. “We are a threat to others because we are black, even though we are good people, and we are getting killed for it with no justice. Nothing is ever done unless it is recorded, or it goes viral on the internet. That is not how it should work. We should all be equal no matter what color you are.”
Reactions From Others
“I did not attend,” says Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor Rob Greenbaum. “I was out of town with my family. I heard everything was peaceful. No issues.”
While Greenbaum admits to not supporting a protest in town, he says “I can’t stop a protest/first amendment.”
He had thought the protest was cancelled, but even so, decided to share his views on a Mt. Olive NJ Community Page after members of that Facebook page shared vile, hateful and threatening remarks against each other.
“People have asked me to speak out on the issue because of the fears, threats and intimidation which permeated Mount Olive NJ Community Forum webpage, which by the way has no connection whatsoever to the town,” Greenbaum writes.
“I thought long and hard about my speaking out at this very moment as I believe it will only fan the flames of hatred,” he writes. “My voice is no greater than those of the organizers and no less likely to get attacked. All you need [to] do is go to that stupid Facebook page and look at the venom spewed on me.
“No matter how I feel about the cause, I never wanted this protest in town,” writes Greenbaum. “It is divisive, and I guess in a way intended to be so to bring light to the issue. I have always tried to unite rather then divide the community.
“Many questioned my not closing the park when the protest was first scheduled,” he continues. “For the safety of the protestors and the community, the park presented an excellent location where safety could be maintained, rather than the protest moving to a commercial district or neighborhood.
“As to the concerns about social distancing and the spread of the virus which were raised, protests cannot be stopped, only attempts made to make them as safe as possible for all,” he writes. “The virus concerns would have been exactly the same in Turkey Brook or if the protest was held in the streets and neighborhoods of our town.
“I, like many, will never be able to truly know what it is like to be black in our society and to truly understand and/or appreciate the systemic racism in society,” writes Greenbaum. “What I do know is that our police department, since I have been mayor, treats all equally. I applaud the efforts of our department and can only hope that the events which have led us to this point, are a lesson to embrace and to avoid any conduct which could be viewed as based on race.
“As to many of the Facebook posts, I can only say that I was disgusted with the segment of the population that was vile and threatening,” he continues.
“Having said that, I don’t think many of the posters saw a distinction between protestors and those that acted in a criminal fashion destroying property, looting and setting fire to neighborhoods as witnessed by everyone on the news.
“Without those visuals, and the resultant fear for safety and property, I know there would have been a different response from the community to the protest,” writes Greenbaum. “I also am quite certain that the protests would have been peaceful and that the vast majority in town supported. We have had vigils in town for the massacre at the mosque and temple without so much as a negative peep from the community.
“Tolerance needs to be better practiced,” concludes Greenbaum. “I expected better from the community then what we got!! I can only hope that people act differently in the future.”
N.J. Governor Phil Murphy has been supporting the protests across the state, and even was criticized after attending two this past week. After marching in the Hillside Strong March to End Racism, Police Brutality and Embrace Diversity on Sunday, June 7, followed by a Black Lives event in Westfield, Murphy was condemned for going against his own executive order #148 he signed on May 22 which limited outdoor gatherings to 25 people. The protests have attracted hundreds if not 1,000’s of people.
Murphy’s support of the protests have been vocalized during his live daily briefings.
In response to his reasoning behind why it is ok to protest but not gather inside businesses, Murphy says during his Tuesday, June 2 briefing: “We’re trying to keep people alive. Given the gravity of killing and stain on racism in this country we have to acknowledge there is a desire and there is a right to peacefully protest.
“This is about a loss of life,” Murphy continues, that dates back to the beginning of the fifth century, “since slavery came to America and hole we continue to dig out from under.”
He did stress the need for all participants to wear a face covering, wash hands, practice social distancing and even get tested for COVID-19.
“It’s been side by side peaceful protests,” says Murphy. “Please wear masks, please try to stay away from each other. We don’t want this to reignite another wave of viral infections, that’s the last thing we need right now.”
As for the local protest, “It was what all protests should be,” said Charlie Uhrmann, founder of the All Veterans Memorial at Turkey Brook Park and All Veterans Alliance.
Uhrmann, who had happened to be at the AVM working on the property while the protest was happening says, participants “were very, very polite. Everybody respected each other, stayed in their lane. That’s how it should be.”
By Cheryl Conway
Township officials and volunteers of a non-profit group that protect the feral cat population are working together to create an ordinance to save cats’ lives now and in the future.
The Mt. Olive Township Council unanimously agreed to table its ordinance for first reading during its council meeting Tuesday night, June 9, that could have risked the lives of older cats or those deemed unadoptable. First reading has been moved to its next meeting set for Tuesday, June 23.
After learning about the proposed ordinance just a day before the meeting, cat advocates clawed their way to be heard via emails to council members and the mayor. Officials listened and agreed to fix the language to appease the Mt. Olive Trap-Neuter-Return group which has spent more than a decade saving cats’ lives and township dollars.
“The council agreed to table their ordinance for now and work with MOTNR on fixing the problematic language,” the MOTNR issued in a statement to Mt. Olive Online. “They already agreed to remove subsections iv and v which had said euthanasia was the solution for older animals and animal deemed to have unadoptable temperament (i.e. feral cats etc).
“We will meet with them to try to iron out the other issues and see if we can come to an agreement for a real no-kill ordinance the council can pass, an ordinance that reflects current practices,” the MOTNR group released.
Petition Still Active
Before the council proposed this ordinance, the MOTNR group took a proactive approach to collect signatures to place its own No-Kill Ordinance on the ballot for voters to decide. Since is uncertain as to whether the council will have its proposed ordinance completed before the election, MOTNR volunteers have decided to still collect signatures.
“In the meantime, we are still collecting signatures for the no-kill ordinance to go on the ballot, which we need to keep moving on as it's on a deadline and it needs to remain an option until or unless the town passes a good no-kill ordinance that protects the animals,” the MOTNR group said.
“Because of deadlines, we need to keep that petition moving forward while we work with the township on revisions to their proposed ordinance, in case agreement is not reached on their proposed language.
“If you haven't signed the ballot initiative petition yet and you're registered to vote in Mt. Olive, please sign here: https://tinyurl.com/y8u6ulfz
“Enter your name and email and you'll THEN see a second screen with the ordinance language and a place to sign,” the group explains. “Please sign and print your name and address in full as they appear on the voter rolls (please use full name and include town and zip code, even if your mailing address is another town as long as you live in Mt. Olive ). PLEASE DO NOT USE AUTOFILL AS IT WILL PUT YOUR NAME TWICE INSTEAD OF YOUR ADDRESS AND INVALIDATE YOUR SIGNATURE.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for a fact sheet about the ordinance. PLEASE ASK household members and other registered Mt. Olive voters to sign as well, as it's hard to get enough signatures without going door to door or talking to people in public places, which are not possible right now.
Right now, the MOTNR group has 385 perfect signatures, but needs 497 by July to make the November ballot.
Mt. Olive Twp. Council’s Proposed Ordinance
The Township Ordinance for first reading Amending chapter 169, as stated on the June 9 agenda stated: “Although well intended, the language proposed by Mt. Olive TNR is overly restrictive, does not give our professionals and veterinarians any discretion and can have many unknown financial impacts that would burden the general taxpayer if approved. Having a formal policy that states irremediable illness does not give our professionals, veterinarian and health director discretion of when an impounded animal can be euthanized. Stray and feral cats with serious injuries which may not be irremediable would cost significant resources to treat. The proposed policy if approved would require the township to treat regardless of cost. In an effort to find balance, the attached ordinance should be considered which would prohibit the euthanasia of any animal until a reasonable attempt is made to contact accredited sanctuaries or rescues to determine whether a better option is available based on an animal's evaluation and medical history. This language will codify that euthanasia shall be used as a last resort but leave discretion up to professional as to not cause an undue burden on the taxpayer.”
Mt. Olive Township Mayor Rob Greenbaum explains during the council meeting the ordinance’s intent and says many misread the language.
He says there is a “lot of misinformation spread on what we’re looking to do. We are a no-kill town,” Greenbum explains, but when medical conditions of the cat “is so great it doesn’t make sense to prolong the life of the cat.” He says it would cost the town too much. “If there’s a better option that’s what we’d be in favor of.”
Greenbaum says people need to understand “we’ve taken a very humane approach” and that “euthanasia is the last step.”
The “township shouldn’t be on the hook to maintain the life of the animal,” says Greenbaum.
Volunteers Are Purring
"The Mt. Olive TNR Project is grateful that the council tabled their draft ordinance and invited us to offer revisions, because as written it would have condemned impounded animals to death simply for being older, feral, very scared, or otherwise not behaving well in the stressful pound setting,” the MOTNR group wrote.
“That is not what Mt. Olive currently does, and is not what Mt. Olive residents want,” it continued. “Impounded animals should only be euthanized as a last resort due to untreatable medical conditions causing irremediable suffering.
“There's no reason, in 2020, for healthy and treatable animals to be killed,” the group said. “Mt. Olive does not currently euthanize such animals, and the ordinance language should reflect that. Feral cats can be Trap-Neuter-Returned, and rescues and shelters take older and special needs animals. When rescues are full, Mt. Olive residents have always stepped forward to foster until placements are available.
“Numerous other towns in the area have gone no-kill and save all their healthy and treatable animals, including two towns that impound at the same vet office Mt. Olive uses,” the group added. “MOTNR worked with the mayor's administration last year on an ordinance that reflects the current no-kill practices, and is now working to put that ordinance on the ballot for residents to vote on in November.”
According to the 2019 MOTNR report to the Board of Health:
The town has saved more than 75% on cat impoundment fees each year since going no-kill. In 2008, the town spent almost $20k on impounding and killing cats. Adopting TNR, going no-kill, and working with rescues has reduced cat impoundments so drastically that, even with increased vet care and some extended boarding to allow time to find rescue placements, the town usually spends less than $5k/year total on cat impoundments.
Most impounded dogs are reclaimed by owners within a few days, with only a few per year needing placement or vet care, the report stated.
According to Michelle Lerner, president of the Mt. Olive TNR, “In the years that the town has been no-kill in practice, it hasn't had to spend much money on vet care, since most dogs are reclaimed by their owners and cat impoundments are down so much. The animals are only there temporarily, and longer-term care is the responsibility of the rescues, shelters or individuals who take them after impoundment.”
Lerner says, “If the town is concerned about someday having to provide a more expensive treatment to an animal temporarily in their care, like a surgery or if there's a hoarding case or something, there are other ways to address that than euthanasia.
“First, even if they just paid for it outright, providing such care would cost less than what the town used to pay for impoundments, because there are so many fewer animals and costs are down so much due to improved procedures,” explains Lerner.
She provides other cost-cutting options.
“We also recommended years ago that the town follow Sustainable Jersey's guidance to put a voluntary donation line on cat and dog licenses to fund vet care for impounded animals beyond what's required by the state,” Lerner continues. “The Board of Health agreed to do that a few years ago but has not yet followed through. Also, the town reimburses MOTNR for up to $7.5k of our expenses each year helping with the town's feral, stray, surrendered and impounded cats. We're very grateful for the assistance because it allows us to spend less time fundraising and more time helping the town's animals, but we've repeatedly stated that the money can be redirected to cover vet care at the pound if the town is concerned about paying for it. Given how few impounded animals require vet care each year, that would be more than enough to pay for it and is a better solution than killing treatable animals.”
Others Speak Out
Jill Kohrs of Mt. Olive, wrote to the council requesting the ordinance be tabled, as she is one cat owner who almost lost her cat to euthanasia.
“Back in December we adopted our cat, Blue,” explains Kohrs. “I saw a picture of him on the Mayor's Facebook page, which prompted me to contact Mt. Olive TNR to find out more information about him. Six months later - Blue is a lap cat, playful, sweet, young and healthy and very much part of our family. However, when at the pound, he was so scared, that the vet thought he was feral, and ear tipped him for TNR.
“Based on my personal experience, I cannot imagine not having him with us and am concerned about any policy allowing euthanasia solely based on the behavior of cats under stress at the pound,” says Kohrs. “Just because "suspected" feral does not necessarily "mean" feral. Blue is a prime example of this!”
Glenn Lattner of Budd Lake, president of the Board for Pet Adoption League in Hackettstown, says “As an animal lover, I am very much in favor of putting in place an ordinance that promotes no kill policies. Based on my experience with the town and with local animal groups, there are always many people who would have an interest in helping animals live good lives, whether through fostering, adopting or other means and are very opposed to euthanizing animals when it is not humane to do so and they can live good, happy lives.
“I believe that euthanasia is only a last resort for animals who are terminally ill and cannot have a quality of life,” says Lattner, who also worked with the MOTNR group years ago.
“In all other cases I am strongly opposed to it and believe it should be avoided,” adds Lattner who says that through the rescue organization of the Pet Adoption League “we have space in the PetSmart in Mt Olive where we have cats that stay until we are able to get them adopted. There are always other alternatives for these animals, who are a big part of our lives and our community!”
Carolyn Grignon of Mt. Olive, a MOTNR volunteer, says “As volunteers and residents, we all think it's important to have a strong written policy protecting impounded animals. If euthanasia is allowed for old age, temperament and medical problems that would mean a large percentage of felines we saved would have been put down. That includes ferals, strays and lost residents' cats and surrenders.
“We would be reliving the past of putting down animals that can be saved like before,” concludes Grignon. “We need to move forward not backwards.”
Photo by: Molly Conway
By Cheryl Conway
As temperatures are heating up, more options are slowly opening for residents to cool off and soak up some sunshine.
Budd Lake Beach and the Centercourt Pool in Flanders have announced plans to open, while there may be a splash of hope for Pirates Cove, also known as the Splash Pad at Turkey Brook Park, to trickle in some fun for local young ones.
“We are still planning and will let you know if and when we decide to open the pool and splash pad,” says Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor Rob Greenbaum.
With the water being treated with chemicals and no lifeguard on site this summer, swimming at Budd Lake Beach Park is at one’s discretion.
Swimming in the lake, fishing and operating boats will be permitted says Mt. Olive Twp. Business Administrator Andrew Tatarenko, but “all on their own risk.”
When asked if it is safe to swim in the lake, Greenbaum says “I believe so.”
Officials advise that the lake will not provide recreational activities, nor swimming lessons this summer, and will operate as a passive park.
“Budd Lake will be opened as a passive recreational park this year,” says Tatarenko. “It will not operate as a public recreational bathing facility. The decision was made early in the year due to the HAB’s, not COVID related. There will be no lifeguards on site.”
As an open public park, Budd Lake Beach plans to open Friday, June 19, “with no admission fee, located on the southwest shore of Budd Lake,” as stated on the Mt. Olive Township website. “Budd Lake Beach Park is not operated or promoted as a public recreational bathing facility. As such, it is not subject to the requirements of the NJ Public Bathing rule, N.J.A.C. 8:26-1 et seq. and does not offer lifeguards.
“Budd Lake Beach Park offers a wide variety of recreation opportunities with a 100 ft. fishing pier, opportunity to launch your own personal watercraft such as canoes, kayaks and paddleboards,” as stated on the website.
With COVID 19 still lurking, social distancing remains in effect.
“Mask Up! Protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” as stated on the website. “Wear a mask, especially within six feet of others. Practice social distancing! Keep at least 6 feet (like a beach blanket space) between family groups.
“No picnic tables or benches are available,” it also states. “Please bring your own items such as beach chairs or blankets. All park rules apply, including but not limited to: Open from 8 a.m. to dusk. No smoking, alcohol, drugs or controlled substances, no glass, grills, fires, or cooking. Dispose of trash properly, including recycling. No feeding the wildlife. Pets must be on a leash and picked up after.”
Tatarenko says Budd Lake is “no different than any other lake. Since it is not open as a Recreational Beach, weekly testing of bacteria will not occur, however, it will still be monitored for Harmful Algae Blooms. If the HABs are present, advisories will be posted.”
Explains Tatarenko, “As with many lakes throughout N.J., the HAB’s were present in 2019 which caused us to close the beach for a prolonged period of time. We would like to manage the HAB’s first before we invest our resources into operating a municipal beach.
Studies and Treatment of Budd Lake
Larry Kovar, president of Aquatic Analysts Inc. of N.J., a lake management consulting company in Stillwater, presented an overview to the Mt. Olive Twp. Council at its March 3 meeting.
“AAI has been performing ecological surveys every two weeks
since April,” says Kovar. “We treated Budd Lake on June 10 with a systemic aquatic herbicide, Sonar to control growth of two invasive submerged aquatic
weeds: Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed.”
At the meeting, Kovar says “the goal is to try to get the invasive species under control and allow the native species thrive in the water.”
He says, “what’s happening is the invasive species outcompete the native species by growing closer to the water faster earlier in the season and cast a shadow on the native species and the native species start to die off.”
In 2018, Kovar implemented a systemic herbicide application in the entire lake trying to target the two invasive species, he explains.
The goal for this year is to monitor the vegetation in order to recommend a more aggressive plan in the entire lake and to bring in a weed harvester, he tells the council back in March.
The purpose of the weed harvester is to cut that plant down to a depth of 5.5 feet, he says, as the majority of the plant is a “vacant stem” in which the plant below dies off.
Currently, he says he is trying to manage the nutrients in the water, he tells the council. With the lake being around for thousands of years, he says lots of nutrients have gotten into the water.
“We need to manage the watershed,” says Kovar.
From all his tests, studies and treatment so far of the lake, Kovar says “Yes it should be safe to swim in for now.”
Grant Money Approved
The studies on the lake was “contingent on a grant that was applied for through the DEP,” explains Tatarenko. “The governor has made $2.5 million dollars available to assist in HAB management.”
The township had “submitted an application for a more aggressive chemical treatment plan, continued weed harvesting and an algae control program,” he says. “Annual cost would be approximately $140,000 of which we would be responsible for 1/3.”
If the grant had not been awarded, “a similar approach to last year will be implemented with a systemic algae treatment and harvesting plan,” he says. “Additional grants are being applied for to study the Budd Lake Watershed and to GIS map the stormwater system so that future improvements can be implemented to control to the stormwater sediment entering the lake.”
According to Tatarenko, the grant the township had applied for was a Water Quality Restoration Grant: RFP #1, NJ DEP, requesting $365,000 to do the following:
The intent of this proposal, is to seek funding for HAB mitigation and control by chemically treating the lake with aquatic herbicide, continue with the implementation of an aquatic weed harvesting program to manage the invasive species and remove vegetative growth and treat the algae with Copper Sulfate along with Aluminum Sulfate applications over the next three years.”
On March 31, the Mt. Olive Twp. Council unanimously passed on second reading Ord.#8-2020 appropriating $545,000, $180,000 of Which is From the Open Space Fund and $365,000 of which is from a Water Quality Restoration Grant, for the Prevention, Mitigation and Control of Algae Blooms in and by the Township of Mt. Olive.
With that grant money, Kovar says he can continue the monitoring program to see what’s going on ecologically with the lake,” he tells the council. He can continue the different measures “to bring the lake back to where it used to be,” he says such as the weed harvesting program; the systemic herbicide treatment; monitoring program with water samples to measure dissolved oxygen and water temperatures; and possibly an alum application which is an “expense” two application process that removes the nutrients to manage the phosphorus and the nitrogen in the water.
“The HAB’s are becoming a very significant threat to mankind right now,” Kovar tells the council. In the past, weeds were the concern, whereas now the concern is more on nutrients and algae to control the algae blooms.”
Tatarenko says he is confident that the lake is in good hands.
“I feel our environmental consultant has a good handle of the lake’s ecosystem and is providing us with the proper guidance to manage the lake,” Tatarenko says. “I’m optimistic that our more aggressive treatment plan along with long term plans of improving the stormwater system will have a positive impact.
Water At Turkey Brook
Anyone who has been at Turkey Brook Park has seen the water retention basin. Many have questioned its quality.
“There is a stormwater detention basis at Turkey Brook Park which feeds into Budd Lake,” says Tatarenko. “There was evidence of invasive vegetative growth which needs to be treated. The last two years it was mechanically harvested, however this year, we will be treating it with aquatic herbicides.”
With the news N.J. Governor Phil Murphy announced that public and private pools can open June 22, Centercourt Mt. Olive plans to open its pool. Stay tuned for additional information coming out next week. Go to email@example.com for details.
Residents are being asked to share their input on four options proposed for the reentry of school in Mt. Olive for the 2020/2021 school year.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki presented the draft of the Reentry Plan last week to the Mt. Olive Department of Health, mayor, police department, district staff, members of the Mt. Olive Board of Education, PTO presidents, students and parents. He is now asking for feedback on the four options.
To view the Reentry Plan Slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1yOz4SCFRD-Gb0zs-nC4X_lo1gJrTq8DyIbyDf1e67Lo/edit#slide=id.g80bf3753a2_1_64
To provide feedback, fill out the Reentry Plan Feedback Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfw0j6tjK7gzWdsWC8nOrgsTEQr2Xlb6Wa8Zz3DOLOU-ge6Lg/viewform?usp=sf_link
As plans for the end of the school year festivities are finalized, details for reentry are still unknown for Mt. Olive schools. But, like its preparedness plan before the mandated shut-down of schools in March, district leaders want to have plans in place so it is ready.
Zywicki says “in Mt. Olive we are ahead of the curve with things.” To do that, “we need to engage in conversation on what exactly the fall will look like,” he told parents during the Tuesday, June 9, Parent University session. “Right now there is no plan” by the N.J. State Board of Education, and it may be three or four more weeks before details are shared.
Zywicki says he “did not want to end the school year without engaging everyone in this conversation on what it could look like.” So back in mid-May, he launched a process to examine the options.
In the absence of a plan from the state of N.J., district leaders examined ideas released by other states in a “need to learn from others,” including Maryland, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois and countries such as Denmark, Norway; as well as Israel and South Korea, who Zywicki reports had to close when their numbers spiked even after investing “tons of hand sanitizer and dividers.”
“In the absence of a plan for the state of New Jersey, where are we looking for best practices?” asks Zywicki. “The decision is a health decision,” he says, and will ultimately come from the governor and N.J. State Department of Health.
For the Mt. Olive Reentry Plan, Zywicki put together a group of 55 people including five members of the Mt. Olive BOE, staff members, teachers, bus drivers, administrators, nurses, secretaries, guidance counselors, to work together on the draft.
The four options include:
Traditional Schooling- “We go back to normal,” says Zywicki. “A lot of us are craving to go back to normal. I’m truly craving to go back to normal.”
Traditional Schooling with Intensive Social Distancing. Zywicki says this option carries “a lot of complications” like no switching classes, temperature checks, wearing masks, providing PPE, contact tracing, eating lunch in classrooms.
Split Schedule with either Am/Pm or A Day/B Day- half of the students would be in school and the other half would be learning virtually. Challenges with this option include needing a “ton of sanitizing” in between sessions and bussing.
“That’s the one that keeps me up the most at night because of working parents,” says Zywicki. He says this option is “not optimal,” and questions “how do you go back to work? I don’t like that one, but I need to prepare for that one if that’s the directive they get.”
Continue with Virtual Learning, which has had its challenges and has taken a “tremendous toll” on students working in isolation, away from friends, not playing sports, no activities.
As the father of four kids, Zywicki says “my kids are so sad because they are not around their friends.” Virtual learning, “it’s imperfect in many ways.”
Five different committees were established from the group to examine, using different “lenses” to come up with five recommendations and five concerns for each plan, totaling 125 recommendations and concerns overall.
The committee for each plan includes: Operations & Governance, Personnel, Finance, Physical & Mental Health and Personalized Learning.
“We are having these conversations in June so that when this decision is made come July and August… it’s not a fire drill,” says Zywicki. “We are trying to come up with solutions and contingencies. I understand it was a large undertaking,” he says, and he appreciates all of the work by the subcommittees.
“It was a lot of work,” Zywicki tells the board members during the Mt. Olive BOE meeting held Monday, June 8. “I think we are ahead of a lot of districts.”
Zywicki says the feedback will not be shared with participants but will be used “to make tweets to the plan. Maybe there are other ideas out there.”
Says Zywicki, “All options are imperfect, will keep me up at night, all is compromised. I’m aware some of these options will not make us happy.”
He suggests, “let’s be patient. I want to get us back to normal as soon as possible. It’s the hand that we are going to be dealt with but I’m going to play the best hand that we can.”
In the end, the plan will have to be contingent with the state governor and N.J. State Department of Health.
Social Distancing: Fields Open
Mt. Olive Township Mayor Rob Greenbaum opened up all fields, including basketball and volleyball courts for passive play with social distancing restrictions. No organized or contact sports allowed, the mayor said. Playgrounds and Splash Pad remain closed.
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.
Library Board To Meet In Person
The Mt. Olive Library Trustees’ meeting is changed to Tuesday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m. in the library’s Gathering Room. Masks and social distancing required!
Morris County Library To Start Curbside Service
The Morris County Library will begin curbside service for books, music and other library materials over the next two weeks, as permitted by the state's announced relaxation of COVID-19 rules for all libraries in New Jersey.
Drop-off services will resume via the library book drops starting on Monday, June 15. Pickups of new materials will begin on Tuesday, June 23.
Patrons will not be allowed to enter the county library, as the state is allowing only pick-up/drop-off services at this time via contactless delivery at the library curbside.
"We are absolutely delighted to be able to at least partially reopen our county library, which serves thousands of Morris County residents, and is such a vital resource for students and seniors and children,'' said Director Deborah Smith. Freeholder
"We ask you to take advantage of this great resource once our staff has the curbside program ready to operate,” added Freeholder Stephen Shaw. “And we look forward to a time in the not-too-distant future when we all can come back inside the library.''
County Library Director Darren O'Neill explained that his staff will follow safety and health protocols at all times while handling materials that may pose a risk of COVID-19 exposure. The library only will allow a return of materials via book drops, with returned items moved to a designated area for quarantine of at least 72 hours.
More details will come soon on when patrons can place holds on library material for curbside pick-up.
All Morris County Library materials that are currently checked out by patrons will have late return fees waived at this time. Patrons are asked to return them starting on June 15.
The Morris County Library is located in Whippany. Due to COVID-19 the county library has canceled all scheduled in-library programming and use of conference and public meeting rooms until further notice. Patrons are encouraged to visit the library on Facebook and Instagram for updates and information on virtual programming and online learning opportunities.
To check on whether your municipal library also offers pickups and drop-offs, please visit their unique websites.
Navigating Hope Mobile Program Resumes Operation
Morris County will resume its mobile social services program, Navigating Hope, started on Monday, June 8, after a three-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Navigating Hope staff will offer information on how to apply for benefits and services such as SNAP, TANF, General Assistance, Medicaid, etc. Paper applications will be available along with instructions for completing the application process online.
For health reasons, applications will not be taken inside the Navigating Hope van at this time.
“The current health crisis has caused an increased need for social services, so we are glad to be able to restart the county’s Navigating Hope mobile program,” said Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, who is the county governing board’s liaison to Human Services.
“We urge residents to stop by the van when it comes to their community, to get needed applications and advice about county and state assistance programs.”
Navigating Hope will operate in coordination with the Morris County Sheriff’s Hope One mobile substance abuse services van, sharing the same schedule, until further notice.
All times are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Here is the current schedule for June:
June 15, Boro Plaza, 350 Route 46, Rockaway
June 22, Trinity Soup Kitchen, 123 East Blackwell St., Dover
June 24, Wild Geese Plaza, 375 Rt. 46 East, Mt. Olive (Budd Lake)
It is a complementary service to the Hope One van, which provides mobile mental health and addiction services across Morris County. Navigating Hope offers on-site benefits eligibility screenings and application assistance, as well as linkage to other community services.
For more information on scheduling and events, contact the Navigating Hope team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.”
Residents Urged To Nominate Top Recyclers
Morris County residents, towns, agencies, businesses, schools/colleges, community groups, and municipalities are encouraged to submit nominations for the annual statewide recognition program for excellence in recycling, and inspiring others to do the same.
The state Department of Environmental Protection, in conjunction with the Association of New Jersey Recyclers, annually recognizes excellence in recycling in order to highlight program successes achieved by agencies, businesses, individuals and others in keeping N.J. communities clean and healthy.
Nominations are due to DEP by Friday, July 31 and awardees will be notified in September. Award winners will be honored at the ANJR Symposium and Awards Luncheon in October.
Applications can be submitted in these categories: Institution, Business, Retail Merchant, Government, Leadership, Rising Star, Outstanding Education/Educational Program, Recycling Industry, Source Reduction/Resource, Management/Sustainability, and Volunteer Citizen.
“We have many avid recyclers in Morris County who have long made a positive difference in our county’s environment, making it a better place to live and work,” said Morris County Freeholder Tayfun Selen. I encourage our residents and organizations to nominate those recycling leaders for well-deserved state recognition.”
Freeholder Selen is the liaison to the county Municipal Utilities Authority, which oversees recycling in Morris County.
In 2019, Kellie Ann Keyes, Roxbury Township’s municipal recycling coordinator, Clean Communities coordinator and assistant general supervisor received a Rising Star Award in the statewide event. Earth Friendly Products of Parsippany was named as one of the top business recyclers in the state by the Department of Environmental Protection in the 2016 award event.
ANJR is a non-profit, non-partisan network representing the public and private sectors that works to promote sustainability by encouraging sound resource management and recycling strategies through education, advocacy and enhancing professional standards. To learn more about ANJR, visit: www.anjr.com/
Beginning Monday, June 8, the Morris County Covid-19 drive-through test center at County College of Morris in Randolph will be open to all Morris County and Sussex County residents who want a nasal swab test without a prescription and whether or not they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. All first responders and health care workers, who work in Morris and Sussex counties, also will be offered priority testing without a prescription or symptoms, regardless of their county of residence.
The virus testing is free. Antibody tests, however, are not offered at this site.
The change in testing procedures is part of the Board of Freeholders' effort to safely reopen Morris County as the number of COVID cases decline in Morris and Sussex counties, and across the state.
"To assist in getting Morris County's economy reengaged, and knowing many employers are requiring returning workers to be tested prior to returning to their jobs, COVID testing at CCM now will be offered to all Morris County regardless of whether they have nurses in full gear at Morris County COVID test center at CCM
with Sheriff's officer wearing face mask symptoms and without a prescription," said Morris County Freeholder Director Deborah Smith.
Morris County, in partnership with Atlantic Health, is offering drive-thru COVID-19 testing at CCM. Residents seeking tests should use the college's Center Grove Road entrance to access the testing site, which is located in parking lot Number 1.
To be tested, make an appointment.
Testing is scheduled starting at 9 a.m. on weekdays only. There is NO fee for testing.
Please sign up for an appointment at
AT THE TESTING CENTER:
ID an0d appointment verification will be confirmed before entry;
Please pay attention to all signage, which is in English and Spanish;
Vehicle windows must remain closed until instructed to open;
Do not move forward until instructed to do so;
There are no emergency services available. For a medical emergency,
please go to the nearest hospital or dial 911;
No photographing or video recording is permitted.
For persons with a healthcare provider, provide provider’s fax
number when making an appointment. Results will be forwarded to
healthcare provider via fax.
For persons without a healthcare provider, results will be provided by
the Morris County Office of Health Management. Provide a phone number
where to be contacted.
For more information on COVID testing and the county's response to the pandemic, visit:
When Benedetta Tomasini returned to Milan, Italy after completing her studies at County College of Morris (CCM) last August, she never expected she would end up in one of the early epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everything happened so fast,” says Tomasini. “One day I’m saying, ‘The virus won’t ever get here. It’s in China; it’s far away.’ I was not the only one who made that mistake, but since then my life has changed completely. I found myself locked down inside the walls of my house with nothing to do. The police were everywhere to make sure people were not out for anything other than getting groceries and medication.”
A member of the CCM Class of 2020, Tomasini came to New Jersey as an au pair and then enrolled at CCM. As Milan has now started to reopen, she has been able to return to work where she utilizes the English and Spanish language skills she learned as a student at CCM. She handles social media and other responsibilities for Ornella Prosperi, a leading global provider of horse racing and jockey clothing.
“I deal everyday with clients from European countries, from the U.S., from
Japan and sometimes from Australia,” she says.
But it’s not just the languages she learned as a student at CCM that have assisted her.
“Being a student at CCM was one of the best gifts that life has given to me so far,” says Tomasini. “I could not be happier, more thrilled and proud of myself. CCM helped me with my own growth, and to me that lesson is the most important one. Every class I took helped me to learn how to grit my teeth and take one day at a time. I was also lucky to have some inspiring professors who taught me how to smile at life, even during rainy days.”
As an August 2019 graduate, Tomasini is part of the CCM Class of 2020 and had initially planned to travel back to New Jersey to take part in commencement. Since that now is not possible, she will be awakening at 1 a.m. in Italy to view the virtual ceremony CCM will be premiering on Friday, June 12, at 7 p.m. Tomasini earned her Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts from CCM.
After graduating high school in 2014 at age 19, Tomasini was uncertain about her future and what she wanted to do in life. What she did know is that she liked the idea of spending some time in the U.S. so she applied to be an au pair in America.
“While I was living my best life as an au pair with the best host family I could have
ever asked for, I was required by the program I was in to take some college classes so I could extend my visa for another year,” says Tomasini. “I heard that CCM offered ESL classes so I enrolled. After almost a year, it was time to go back home to Italy but I wanted to stay in New Jersey longer, so I enrolled at CCM to get an associate degree and was able to stay with my host family.”
Being an international student whose first language is not English was not easy, she says. “But like the song says, ‘Nobody said it was easy.’” Plus, she adds, she was helped along the way by the professors and staff at CCM.
“I never met a person at CCM who stepped away from helping me. I am where I am now because of them and the support of family, friends and my host family. I am extremely thankful.”
Submitted by Diane Lang, positive living expert, life coach, speaker.
What is balance? We always talk about work-life balance, but I think there is much more to balance then time management.
How do you define balance? It’s an individual statement that you need to think about and answer. I always thought balance was doing work you love with a life mixed with personal things you loved to do. When we spend our lives doing work we do not like or with hobbies/people we do not enjoy, we will feel unbalanced. Don’t get me wrong, I know we won’t love everything we do in life and there is just some stuff we need to do but what if the majority of our life was based on purpose/meaning and love? Wouldn’t that create a more well-balanced life? A happier life?
I remember when I first started a side hustle of writing and speaking, my topic of choice was on moms re-entering the workforce. Mom’s would always ask: Should I go back to work? If I do, should it be part-time or full time? Should I work from home? My answer was always the same what is the “Why” behind the choice you make.
What type of career would make you the best mom? Parent? Person? It’s different for everyone. This is the question you should ask yourself to have a balanced life. Does your career make you be the best person you could be? Do the people you spend your quality time with lift you up; empower you? Do do your hobbies/extra activities bring you flow; enjoyment; pleasure?
If you can mix your professional life and personal life with things that give you purpose/meaning, enjoyment, fulfillment, and love then some of the other responsibilities we must do will not feel so bad. We will have a lot to look forward to. Sundays will not be a day of stress because we must go to work tomorrow. We will feel happiness/joy coming home after work and we will look forward to our free time to fill it with activities and people we love. That is what balance looks like to me.
I also think of balance as being my best self. It means letting go of unrealistic expectations.
It means being your true self even on days that you feel no one likes the real you and insecurity is taking over. If you're busy trying to be someone else, you will never feel balanced. How could you when you haven’t been authentic or vulnerable? You cannot have loving relationships without authenticity and vulnerability. Balance means accepting yourself as you are today with the hope of being even better tomorrow. Hope moves us forward and helps us to take action. Balance means knowing the reason why you are doing something. Balance means doing your best work but not working all the time. Balance means putting yourself at the top of the priority list and taking care of your basic needs such as sleep, diet, and exercise. Balance means taking time off to refuel and reboot. Balance means removing things from your life that no longer serve you. Balance means getting rid of the mindset that is negative, harsh, and judgmental. Balance is self-care which is a mix of self-love and self-compassion.
Take some time this week to define balance for yourself. We are slowly going back to a life after quarantine. I know for me; I want my post COVID-19 life to be much better than my life pre-COVID-19.
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