Lisa Marie Stecker of Greater Media Newspapers’ Advertising Department shows some of the food that was donated during a holiday food drive sponsored by the newspaper group from Dec. 9-21. The food was brought to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Neptune, for distribution throughout the region.
Volunteers who share a passion for an active lifestyle regularly dedicate their time to individuals who have a medical disability.
The volunteers make up Team Kevin Strive, which was started to raise awareness and to show that people who have a medical disability can still be participants in an active lifestyle.
The nonprofit Team Kevin Strive started when Kim Hansen, of Freehold Township, entered herself and her son, Kevin, 16, in a race. Hansen said Kevin is a special needs child who is medically fragile, but loves to be active.
Hansen and her son have been racing for three years, while Team Kevin Strive is 1 year old.
“My passion is to let Kevin experience anything he can and wants to experience,” Hansen said. “It makes me really excited and happy to see him doing things he enjoys.”
She said Team Kevin Strive’s goal is to raise money that can be used to purchase wheelchairs that have been designed for racing. The equipment allows individuals who have special needs to participate in races in ways that would otherwise not be possible.
“We have racing chairs, bike chairs and even boat chairs that pull the kids in the water,” Hansen said. “Our motto is you can do anything if you just try.”
She said Team Kevin Strive provides opportunities to individuals with special needs who want the thrill of racing by providing a “pit crew” and racing chairs for races of different distances.
“This past year we have done two triathlons and numerous 5K runs,” Hansen said. “Being disabled does not mean you cannot achieve your goals. It is just amazing how unselfish everyone is in helping those in need. You want to help these kids have a really good experience.
“What is so amazing is that these volunteers come just because they want to. When they see these kids smile, they want to come back and do more with them and the kids just have a great time,” she added.
Team Kevin Strive is sponsored by Hooters restaurants. Hansen said Hooters and the Elizabeth Police Department help to raise awareness and money so that children who have special needs may have an active and fun lifestyle.
“The kids hit the finish line and there is really nothing more tear-jerking than going through that with the child you are pushing,” she said.
Individuals who would like to volunteer for Team Kevin Strive may visit the website www.teamkevinstrive.org for additional information.
The Monmouth County Park System has planned numerous activities for county residents to enjoy. Here’s what is planned for January:
Surprise Story Time
Jan. 2 from 11-11:45 a.m.
Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown
If the weather is nice, look for the clue at the Horticultural Center’s entrance that leads to the secret spot. If it’s rainy or cold, they will be inside. Recommended for ages 3-7. Free.
Opening Reception for the Deep Cut Gardens Photography Exhibit
Jan. 2 from 1-3 p.m.
Deep Cut Gardens Horticultural Center, Middletown
Meet with the photographers of the exhibit. Light refreshments served. The exhibit will then be open daily Jan. 3-31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.
Jan. 3 from 12:30-4:30 p.m.
Thompson Park Creative Arts Center, Lincroft
Choose from a large selection of bisque fired pottery pieces to glaze and make your own. Children 12 and under are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. The cost is $6 per hour plus price of bisque ware; cash or check only. Pieces will be fired in about a week.
Coffee Club Mahjong
Tuesdays, Jan. 5, 12, 19 and 26 from 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Fort Monmouth Recreation Center, Tinton Falls
Shuffle your tiles and build your walls as you play this ancient, fast-paced Asian game. Both American and Chinese rules will be followed. All levels welcome. The cost is $4 per person per day; cash or check only.
Teen Open Gym Basketball
Wednesdays, Jan. 6, 13, 20 and 27 from 3-4:30 p.m.
Fort Monmouth Recreation Center, Tinton Falls
Teens age 13-18 are invited to play or practice on the courts. Cost is $5 per person per day; cash or check only. Under 17 with parent present.
The Casual Birder
Jan. 7 at 9 a.m.
Henry Hudson Trail — Meet in the Popamora Point parking lot in Highlands.
Jan. 21 at 9 a.m.
Manasquan Reservoir — Meet at the Visitor Center Bait Shop.
Join a Park System naturalist for this laid-back morning bird walk. You will meander for about an hour and see what birds we can find. No need to be an expert at identifying birds to enjoy. A limited number of binoculars will be available to borrow if needed. Open to ages 8 and up. Free.
Family Gym Time
Fridays, Jan. 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 9:30- 11 a.m.
Fort Monmouth Recreation Center, Tinton Falls
There will be tunnels, gym mats, scooters and other play equipment set up for your entertainment. This is an open play format with no instruction provided. Parent supervision is required and Rec Center staff will be present if you have questions or need assistance. Open to ages 1-4 with adult. The cost is $10 per pair per day; cash or check only.
Science of Fingerprints
Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 9 and 10 at 12 p.m.
Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Howell
Come see what shape your fingerprints are and then make a picture using your print. Free.
Roving Park System Naturalist
Jan. 9 at 10 a.m.
Henry Hudson Trail — Meet at Popamora Point, Highlands.
Sunday, January 24 at 10 a.m.
Thompson Park – Meet in the Marlu Lake parking lot.
Join our Roving Park System naturalist for a walk and learn about seasonal points of interest. Free.
Men’s Open Gym Basketball
Sundays, Jan. 10, 17, 24 and 31 from 8- 10 a.m.
Fort Monmouth Recreation Center, Tinton Falls
Shoot some hoops on the Rec Center’s full court gym. The cost is $5 per person per session; cash or check only.
Jan. 10 from 1-3 p.m.
Historic Longstreet Farm, Holmdel
Come see what the blacksmith is making in his workshop. Free.
Seashore Scientist Drop-In Series — Predator and Prey
Jan. 21 from 6-7 p.m.
Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park Activity Center, Long Branch
Explore the complex relationships between predators and prey during an interactive discussion featuring hands-on experiments. Free.
Nature Lecture Series: Winter Water Birds
Jan. 21 from 7-8 p.m.
Bayshore Waterfront Park Activity Center, Port Monmouth
Learn about winter water birds that frequent habitats along the coast during this discussion led by a Park System naturalist. We will also reveal some of the best places to see these water birds before winter melts away. Free.
Seashore Open House
Jan. 24 from 1-4 p.m.
Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park Activity Center, Long Branch
Have some seashore-related fun during the open house. Free.
Jan. 30 from 1-5 p.m.
Thompson Park, Lincroft
Celebrate the fun that winter can bring with ice skating (weather permitting), wagon rides, cross-country skiing and so much more during this family-friendly festival. Admission, parking and most activities are free.
To learn more about these Park System activities, visit www.monmouthcountyparks.com or call the Park System at 732- 842-4000. For persons with hearing impairment, the Park System TTY/TDD number is 711
iPlay America rings in the New Year with a blast during the Fifth annual New Year’s Eve Bash from 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 31. iPlay America’s New Year’s Eve Party pass includes unlimited rides and attractions, a $10 game card, party favors, spectacular prizes and giveaways throughout the evening, a confetti cannon, light show and great music pumping through the entire park, with a live D.J., all for just $39.99. A la carte treats can be purchased at Sonny’s Boardwalk Grill, Boardwalk Bites, Rob’s Pizza, The Grind Coffee Co. and Mixx Frozen Yogurt throughout the celebration.
The New Year’s Eve Party and Prix Fixe Dinner pass is just $79.99 for adults and $54.99 for children age 12 and younger. This pass includes everything in the New Year’s Eve Party Pass plus a champagne toast for adults 21 and older. Dinner reservations begin at 7:30 p.m. and are for 90 minute seatings with staggered seatings every 15 minutes. Toddlers are free. Reservations are required to 732-577-8200.
You can watch the ball drop on one of iPlay America’s multitude of big screen monitors. iPlay America is located at 110 Schanck Road in Freehold.For more information call 732-577-8200 or visit iPlayAmerica.com/NYE2016.
Mise en place is a French culinary term that means “putting in place.” For chefs, having ingredients prepared and arranged before the cooking process begins allows for greater organization and efficiency in executing a recipe. Applying that concept in everyday life can bring that same organization to almost any task.
“The ability to be organized has become increasingly more important because living in contemporary America, life has become very complex and multifaceted. We live in an age of specialization which creates more options and more decisions,” said Michael Osit, Ed.D., a psychologist, author and speaker from Warren.
Osit offers an example. Forty years ago, he said, one would go to the grocery store to buy orange juice and it was available fresh or frozen and came in either a frozen can or a glass bottle.
“I recently went to the local market and found 27 varieties of orange juice — pulp, no pulp, some pulp, concentrate, vitamin D, and it now comes in cartons, juice boxes, pouches, bottles, etc.,” Osit said. Such mundane decisions can overwhelm individuals and lead to an inability to focus, and in turn, to stay organized.
“To become organized takes a good deal of emotional control and focus,” said Michael Vito, Ph.D., a psychologist with offices in Morristown and Watchung.
To get (and stay) organized, individuals must be “convinced of the value of organization,” Vito said.
Organization, Vito said, leads to better mental health by creating a “less stressful and better functioning” state of mind.
“Organized individuals run their life instead of their life running them. They are in control, which optimizes positive outcomes and minimizes stress and crisis occurring in their life,” Osit said.
According to National Association of Professional Organizers Member Director, Lori Vande Krol, good organizational systems reduce stress and allow people to focus time and energy on what matters most.
“With the speed and volume of information and clutter in our lives today, it has become even more important to have the right systems in place to manage it all,” Vande Krol said.
Organized people, Osit said, can greatly reduce anxiety when life is relatively predictable and surprises are at a minimum.
“Organized people frequently have a plan B, so they do not feel trapped or victimized in specific situations,” Osit said.
The first step to getting organized, whether at home or at work, involves a commitment to putting in the work upfront.
“Employ a ‘work now, play later’ philosophy,” Osit said.
In other words, “become a list maker and prioritize items,” Osit said.
Other suggestions that Osit offers include the following: immediately enter appointments into either a mobile phone or calendar; promptly list items on a to-do list; leave buffer time for appointments and deadlines to account for unexpected events such as traffic or illness; and develop routines for daily tasks so they are automatically completed.
Although technology is often designed to help with getting organized, the opposite effect often occurs.
“Technological devices can be critical tools to help a person be organized in their life if used appropriately (calendar, reminders, to-do lists, alerts, etc.), but they are also a significant distraction from the task at hand, which can cause inefficiency,” Osit said.
The Internet, tablets and mobile phones, Osit said, have created a “tremendous distraction from the present moment.
“Even when people are not sending or receiving messages, a piece of their attention is on the device that could buzz or vibrate at any moment.” Osit said.
Simple advice, like make a plan and stick to it, can facilitate greater organization.
“Put the keys in the key spot and the junk in the junk spot,” Zito said.
In the last decade, the organization industry has experienced growth, as evidenced by the increase in membership in the National Association of Professional Organizers. In 2005, there were 2,945 members, and today there are nearly 4,000 members, about a 30 percent increase, Vande Krol said.
“Interestingly, I am seeing a revitalized interest in living a simpler lifestyle by downsizing space, possessions and activities,” Vande Krol said.
Heather Pierce, owner of House in Order, a professional organization company serving central New Jersey, said the most common request she receives is for help in organizing paperwork.
“Many people hold on to much more paper than they need to because they don’t know what to keep and what to get rid of,” Pierce said.
People often become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of paper that enters their home whether it’s via mail, their child’s backpack or shopping receipts, Pierce said.
“They do nothing to clear the paper clutter. The result is often cluttered kitchen counters, drawers or cabinets, overstuffed filing cabinets, bags and boxes of papers that get moved from place to place, but never sorted and dealt with,” Pierce said.
Pam of Toms River, a client of Pierce, said her “breaking point” with clutter came after she retired and was at home amidst years of accumulated items.
“I started feeling overwhelmed with my possessions,” Pam said.
With Pierce’s service, Pam was able to organize papers that had piled up for years.
“Now I follow a path that there is a place for everything. I’ve been able to break old habits,” Pam said.
When Pierce meets with clients, she discusses any fears or anxieties they may have about the reorganization process.
“Every client is different, so my plan for each client may be different — what works for one person does not work for all. It is important to set clear expectations as far as the desired outcome, projected time needed to complete an organization project, costs of completing a project and the roles each of us will play in the overall completion of the organization project, Pierce said.
It takes a great deal of courage for many people to reach out to a professional organizer for help, Pierce said.
“Many people feel shame, anxiety and embarrassment about the disorganization of their home or office,” according to Pierce.
By conquering the clutter, she said, clients are able to focus on the things that matter most to them.
“Generally, you first want to determine your vision. In other words, how would your ideal space or day look and feel?” Vande Krol said.
Seeing a revitalized interest in living a simpler lifestyle, Vande Krol said, has led to individuals downsizing space, possessions and activities.
Get Organized at Home
Some basic tips for better organization at home, according to www.webmd.com, include: find a place for every item; keep clutter out of the house; shop for containers after de-cluttering is complete; get rid of duplicates; de-clutter nostalgia, such as children’s artwork, by taking a picture of a child holding art work or crafts.
Get rid of old clothes using the 80:20 rule: we wear 20 percent of the clothes we own 80 percent of the time; look for simple solutions, like a key hook by the front door; and schedule de-cluttering for areas that need it daily, weekly and monthly.
Get Organized at Work
A focus on time, space and mindset is the key to organization at work, according to www.entrepreneur.com.
Concerning time, the website recommends that individuals start the day with structured time by sorting through email and responding to quick responses and referrals right away, deleting unimportant information and scheduling more essential tasks.
Space, which refers to physical and virtual space, is critical to productivity, the website stated.
The absence of office interruptions can improve concentration when writing or researching a topic, and this might be a task better completed away from the office, according to the website.
Switching off pop-up notifications on mobile devices and on computers, in addition to limiting the number of times email is checked, can result in greater organization of virtual space.
Finally, there is an individual’s mindset. To reduce the feeling of overload and the procrastination associated with taking on overwhelming jobs, divide large tasks into small chunks to better focus, according to the website.
Get Organized at School
It’s as easy as ABC to keep school-related tasks in order, according to www.scholastic.com.
First: “A” place for everything — keep a ready-to-use homework kit filled with school supplies. Next, “be” focused — studying needs to come first when scheduling time and planning activities. Finally, “calendars” posted in a central place at home can help students prioritize tasks, such as test dates and report due dates.
Children should keep a small, personal to-do list in order to get a better understanding of time management, according to the website.
Fo info, visit the National Association of Professional Organizers at www.napo.net.
Plans to develop a new 115-kilovolt transmission line on Route 33 in Millstone Township are underway. The infrastructure is classified as high voltage, and the 115 kV lines are used to transmit electricity to a large service area.
Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) Area Manager Gerald Ricciardi appeared before the Township Committee on Dec. 16 to discuss the power line.
JCP&L, which is owned by FirstEnergy, provides electricity to counties in northern and central New Jersey. Ricciardi manages areas in Mercer, Middlesex and Monmouth counties, which includes Millstone Township.
The power line will extend from what JCP&L calls the Englishtown substation in Manalapan to its Wyckoff substation in Hightstown, crossing through Millstone Township.
Ricciardi said the need for the 115 kV transmission line is due to an increase in electricity consumption. He told municipal officials electricity usage has essentially doubled in 40 years. By way of example, he described the home he grew up in and his current home.
“(My parents) had one window air conditioner, so when it got real hot, my sisters and I would sleep on the floor in their bedroom,” Ricciardi said, speaking of his home in 1975. “They had one TV. The kitchen appliances were a toaster and I believe a toaster oven.
“Today, we have six TVs, (my three) kids each have one in their room, we have one in our bedroom, one in the basement and one in the TV room,” he said, referring to his current home. “The TVs all have a DVD hooked up, or a PlayStation or an Xbox. We have three laptop computers, a desktop (computer) and a tablet. We have five cell phones, we have a microwave, and a (blender) in the kitchen.”
According to a chart Ricciardi shared with the committee, the electricity consumption rate is expected to grow 22 percent by 2040.
Ricciardi discussed the benefits of the transmission line. He said it will feed Millstone’s Applegarth substation, the largest substation in the township, which he estimated provides power to 40 percent of Millstone residents. He said the new transmission line will increase reliability for the area.
The project to develop the 115 kV transmission line began about three years ago, but was delayed because JCP&L had to acquire easements from Route 33 property owners. Ricciardi said trees in the area where the transmission line will be placed had to be cleared to prevent them from interfering with the line and causing power outages.
Ricciardi said JCP&L is now prepared to move forward with the project.
When Mayor Bob Kinsey asked how winter weather would impact the power line’s construction, Ricciardi said safety is JCP&L’s top priority.
“We are not going to work on (Route 33) when it is snowy or icy,” he said. “The (contractors) will just pack up and either do other things or they will have some time off. We will wait until the snow clears.”
Committeeman Gary Dorfman asked when the public should expect the power line to be completed.
Ricciardi said JCP&L is anticipating construction to be completed in June, with the line becoming fully operational in the fall. The projected start date for work is between Jan. 4 and Jan. 11. He said construction will begin in Manalapan before it extends along Route 33 into Millstone.
Perrineville Jewish Center, Millstone Township, will be starting a chapter of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. Teens will have the opportunity to meet and become friends with other Jewish teens in other BBYO chapters throughout the Northern and Central Councils of the Greater Jersey Hudson River Region. BBYO is unaffiliated with any Jewish denomination (i.e., Reform, Conservative, Orthodox) and accepts members of all backgrounds and interfaith families. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Gracie West literally jumped for joy with the good news her doctor recently delivered to her. Gracie, 12, of Freehold Township, has been battling cancer for two years. After she found out her latest scans showed no evidence of the disease, she was jumping on a trampoline within the hour.
“I knew I was going to hit the clear mark,” said Gracie, who is the daughter of Don and Sharon West.
Sharon West said it felt like “the world lifted off your shoulders” when she heard from the doctor that her daughter’s scans were clear.
Gracie, whose nickname is “Cookie,” as in one tough cookie, is a seventh-grader at the Barkalow Middle School, Freehold Township. Two years ago she was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma.
But it was a special blessing given to her by Pope Francis in December 2014 that brought Gracie the greatest sense of healing. “I felt calm and peaceful, like everything was going to be fine after (the papal blessing),” the youngster said. Gracie’s trip to see Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was the result of a wish granted to Gracie and her family by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Pope Francis hugged and kissed Gracie and gave her a benediction. The pope also shook hands with her brother, Joey.
“It was just the most amazing thing,” Gracie said.
The most difficult part of her battle against cancer, Gracie said, has been “not being able to do the stuff I normally do,” like swimming and playing with her French bulldog Topy, who is named after her first chemotherapy drug, Topotecan.
Gracie’s approach to life can be summed up in the mantra that guides her: you have no choice but to be strong, but you can choose to be happy and positive. Whether facing cancer or a just bad day, Gracie lives by these words.
Sharon West said the support of family members, friends and the community has been critical throughout her daughter’s fight against illness.
The West family established the Cookie’s Crumblers Foundation with a goal to not only help Gracie crumble her cancer, but also to help other children fight cancer.
A portion of the foundation’s proceeds will be contributed to research aimed at curing and eliminating childhood cancers.
The Cookie’s Crumblers 2016 Inaugural Gala of Gratitude will take place on June 4 at the Battleground County Club, Manalapan. For more information, visit Cookie- Gala2016.eventbrite.com
FREEHOLD — A live camel on the streets of Freehold Borough caught the attention of many residents and visitors to town on Dec. 13.
The camel, a donkey, sheep and goats were participants in the First Baptist Church of Freehold’s living Nativity scene at 81 W. Main St.
Joseph, a 5-year-old camel, and the other animals were provided by Noah’s Ark Critter Care of Millstone Township.
“This is the first year the First Baptist Church has done the live Nativity,” the Rev. Teresa Ely said.
The living manger was held on the front lawn of the church and attracted about 200 participants, according to church member Jean Buscaglia-Yurkiewicz, who coordinated the event.
Church members and people passing by were able to take part in the living Nativity by dressing in biblical costumes, several of which were handmade by Buscaglia- Yurkiewicz and her mother, and posing for photos with the animals. Participants were able to dress up as Mary, Joseph, shepherds and the wise men.
“One of the most recognizable symbols of the season is the Nativity scene. People have them in their yard and in their home. This was a way for people to actually be a part of that scene. It is a way to help everyone remember the reason for the season,” Ely said.
The Nativity, Ely said, “brought all kinds of people together who shared in the joy of the Christmas season. As a church family we are looking for ways to connect with the community around us.
“Some of those ways are practical, like collecting food for the local food pantry. Other ways are about making face-to-face connections with our community.
“Joseph the camel was wonderful. The variety of reactions from children was wonder, uncertainty, delight — there was so much laughter,” the reverend said.
The church will make this an annual event, Buscaglia-Yurkiewicz said.
Kim Mooney of Noah’s Ark Critter Care said Joseph took the ride from Millstone Township to Freehold Borough in a horse trailer. The 7-foot-tall, 1,200-pound camel requires three handlers.
Cantor, 49, works as a health care consultant and has served on the Marlboro Township Council since 2004. Cantor will seek the Democratic nomination in June 2016 for the right to run in November. The sheriff’s position carries a three-year term.
According to the Monmouth County Directory, the sheriff is the chief executive officer of an agency with 600 employees and a $68 million budget which consists of four divisions: law enforcement, communications, special operations and corrections, as well as the administration of the Monmouth County Police Academy and the Office of Emergency Management.
As a councilman, Cantor has served as the liaison to the police department and as a member of the Emergency Planning Council. He is a licensed emergency medical technician and has been a member of the Marlboro First Aid Squad since 1996.
Cantor has served in the U.S. Army since 1985, on active duty and in the Army Reserves. He currently holds the rank of colonel in the Army Reserves.
“When I joined the Army in 1985 as a Private First Class, I did it with one thought in mind and that was to serve my country,” Cantor said. “Thirty years later, I am entering this race with the same mindset. I simply want to serve county residents during difficult times.
“My wife and I are raising our two daughters here in Monmouth County and there is nothing more important to us than making sure they are protected and safe. This election has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with making sure Monmouth County families are afforded that same peace of mind.
“My experiences both at home and abroad have provided me with the unique perspective of someone who has established efficiencies to save taxpayers money, worked on responsible budgets and also helped establish governments and spearhead reconstruction and development in some of the world’s most dangerous environments.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to speak with voters to let them know how all of those experiences make me the most qualified candidate to keep families across the county safe as their sheriff,” he said.
“Jeff is an extraordinary candidate,” Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal said. “He is a colonel and has spent over 30 years serving our country. He is probably the most qualified candidate we have seen for Monmouth County sheriff in quite some time. In the age of growing heroin and drug usage in Monmouth County, I cannot think of somebody who is more qualified than Jeff Cantor.”
Cantor said he is concerned about the safety and security of all county residents.
“I have just returned from a two-month deployment in Europe where we were tasked with ways to help our European allies deal with the (Syrian) refugee crisis and help combat foreign fighter flow with the migrants,” he said. “As a civil affairs officer, one of my mandates is protecting civilians around the globe. It is something I take very seriously and thoroughly believe in. … I have never played partisan politics while on the Marlboro council, nor will I ever do so. … If I can get Sunni, Shia, Kurds and Turkomen to work together, I can certainly get Democrats and Republicans to work together for a common cause.”
Republican Shaun Golden is the current Monmouth County sheriff. He was named acting sheriff in January 2010. Golden was elected to a three-year term in November 2010 and re-elected in 2013. He is a former member of the Colts Neck and Toms River police departments. Golden also serves as the elected chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Committee.