My Paper Online https://www.mypaperonline.com Online Local Community News for New Jersey Thu, 21 Feb 2019 15:01:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Donation to Budd Lake Fire Department https://www.mypaperonline.com/donation-to-budd-lake-fire-department.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/donation-to-budd-lake-fire-department.html#respond Thu, 21 Feb 2019 15:01:33 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47376 Mt Olive Life in combination with our advertisers like to give back to the community when we can. This month we features our great fire departments. To show our support and thanks to both the Flanders Fire Department and Budd Lake Fire Departments for all they do we would like to present a check to each department in the amount of 400.00 each.

In photo Council Vice President Alex Roman,  Councilman Daniel Amianda, Councilwoman Colleen Labow,  Jeff Kalafut Juba Team Realty, Fred Detoro Fred Marshal, Chief Joe Capano, Councilman Greg Stewart,  Councilman John Ferrante, Mary Lalama Mount Olive Life, Council  President Joe Nicastro

 

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Donation to Flanders Fire Department https://www.mypaperonline.com/donation-to-flanders-fire-department.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/donation-to-flanders-fire-department.html#respond Thu, 21 Feb 2019 14:59:25 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47372 Mt Olive Life in combination with our advertisers like to give back to the community when we can. This month we features our great fire departments. To show our support and thanks to both the Flanders Fire Department and Budd Lake Fire Departments for all they do we would like to present a check to each department in the amount of 400.00 each.

Council Vice President Alex Roman, Councilman Daniel Amianda, Councilwoman Colleen Labow, Jeffrey Kalafut Juba Team Realty, Chief Tyler Wargo, 2nd Assistant Chief Frank Zeller, Councilman Greg Stewart, Councilman John Ferrante, Mary Lalama Mount Olive Life, Council President Joe Nicastro

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Marcy Merola Honored https://www.mypaperonline.com/marcy-merola-honored.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/marcy-merola-honored.html#respond Thu, 21 Feb 2019 14:56:21 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47368 Andrew Tatarenko Business Administrator,   honored a Mount Olive employee who went above and beyond her duties and helped save a resident’s life at the Council Meeting that was held on Tuesday, February 19,2019. Marcy Merola has been employed with the Township since May 15, 2017.  Marcy started part time as our Senior Transportation Coordinator.  Not only does she coordinate the routes, but on many occasions,  Marcy does the transports herself.  She has formed a tremendous bond  with the senior community and is a great asset to Mount Olive.  Marcy was recently made full time this year, due to her exceptional work and growth of the senior transportation program.

On Friday, January 18, 2019 Marcy Merola, filled in for one of our drivers to take a 69- year old resident to his weekly dialysis appointment to St. Clare’s Medical Center in Dover.  Marcy had taken the man, who lives alone, to dialysis treatment in the past, noticed that he wasn’t waiting at his door as he normally did.  Before pulling away from his residence, Marcy noticed that he seemed disoriented and that his breathing appeared labored. Due to her knowledge of his previous health conditions, Marcy grew concerned for his condition.   After pulling out onto Rt. 46, Marcy asked the gentleman if he wanted her to stop and get him a bottle of water.   Seconds later, Marcy noticed that he had slumped over, appeared to have stopped breathing and became unresponsive.  She immediately pulled over and called 9-1-1.  Marcy determined the man’s pulse was very low and realizing she couldn’t get the gentleman out of the car, Marcy quickly thought to recline the chair back and proceeded with chest compressions until the police department arrived.  Marcy’s quick actions during this critical time, undoubtable helped to save the man’s life.  On behalf of the Mayor, Marcy was presented  “Life Saving Award”  for going above and beyond her duties as a Township employee.

In photo: Derrick Web Deputy Director Health Department, Emily Platt, Marcy Merola, Andrew Tatarenko Business Administrator and Trevor Weigle Health Officer/Director

2nd Photo Marcy Merola and Andrew Tatarenko Business Administrator Mount Olive Township

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ValleyArts Provides Great Culture Awareness https://www.mypaperonline.com/valleyarts-provides-great-culture-awareness.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/valleyarts-provides-great-culture-awareness.html#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 22:36:44 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47294 By Steve Sears

ValleyArts, a non-profit creative community organization that resides in the Valley Arts District, encompassing 15 blocks in Orange and West Orange, offers creative community, youth programming, creative entrepreneurship, art shows, music programming and much more.

“Straddling two townships is a really positive position to be in. It allows us to draw from the talents of both towns, offer creative programming for both towns and have two populations as potential audiences,” says Jeremy Moss, Executive Director of the ValleyArts.

For Moss and ValleyArts, challenges are many. “ValleyArts opened the artfullbean cafe to become a creative thought space. It has also allowed us to meet many of the constituents who live in both of the towns, in a warm, welcoming, creative atmosphere. There are challenges though. Making sure we are inclusive of all has always been a priority, though outreach to everyone has its challenges. Working with different municipalities and Boards of Education can bring challenges to our table too. One of our biggest challenges is that we do so much with such a small staff, and we have to be mindful of not biting off more than we can chew! Finally, in the ever increasingly competitive hunt for funding, fundraising is our number one challenge we face. We always welcome support, whether it be donating, becoming a member, attending our events or volunteering.”

ValleyArts underwent a remodeling in 2016. “We are situated in a former derelict warehouse that was repurposed to include artist live work spaces. It also formed a quadrant with the existing buildings that houses galleries and artists. Two years ago, ValleyArts recognized it needed to change the way it did business. The reception area and front office were remodeled, with money from grants, into the artfullbean cafe and boutique. It was a transformative moment for Valley Arts.”

As spring arrives, many nice things are happening. The Creative Community Workshop series, which will include cake decorating, block printing, musical instrument making, beading, yoga, and self-expressionism, will be offered for adults and children. Registration will open soon, and you can support this and all ValleyArts programs by donation, attending events, purchasing items from the café/boutique, and by registering for workshops. Second Saturdays will return in the spring to the artfullbean café, giving acoustic musicians opportunities to perform before an appreciative audience. ValleyArts is also currently working on a First Sundays music program to the Community Gallery, which will be an intimate concert series.

Also, launched in January was the ValleyArts sound booth, the ‘Listening Post’, a soundproof booth that can used for podcasts, voice over and narration, and is available for rent by the hour or day.

ValleyArts is located at 400 South Jefferson, #10 in Orange. For more information about all they offer to the community and how you can get involved, call (862) 252-7035 or visit www.valleyartsnj.com for more information.

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West Orange Mom Donates Kidney to First Responder In Need https://www.mypaperonline.com/west-orange-mom-donates-kidney-to-first-responder-in-need.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/west-orange-mom-donates-kidney-to-first-responder-in-need.html#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 22:34:33 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47290 By Dawn Chiossi

 

    Mothers, they give all of the time with their time, energies, love, talents, gifts, the list goes on and on. With all of the gifts they give to others, they can only hope that some of them will actually make a difference in the life of someone else.

     In the case of Melissa Kohlman, West Orange Mom and Seton Hall University Math and Science Department Secretary, she won’t ever have to wonder. Recently, she gave the best gift of all to a stranger in need, the gift of life.

    It happened when she became a living kidney donor, donating to someone who desperately needed it.

    In an ironic twist, that recipient was someone dedicated to helping others at the worst times of their lives, North Hudson Firefighter, Robbo Pisani. Pisani has been battling end-stage renal failure since January 2017. The surgery was held at St Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston on Nov 7th.

     Sometimes there are moments in life where things or decisions become crystal clear, something that points people in a particular direction. They are often referred to as Godwink moments. These moments can happen any time, in the course of daily lives, even on a routine commute home. Kohlman states that the decision to be an organ donor for Pisani was one of these kinds of moments.

   She shares that she first heard about Pisani and his situation back in July when she was driving home during her routine seven minute drive home, listening to her usual radio station, NJ 101.5, and usual evening radio show host Steve Trevelise.   

   When she heard the emotional way Trevelise was talking about Pisani, “his oldest and dearest friend,“ and his battle with kidney failure, Kohlman was so affected, that she felt like she had to do something. That something was to volunteer to be a living donor for Pisani’s kidney transplant.

    In the United States alone, approximately a staggering 100,000 people are in need of a kidney transplant. While many people wait from 5 to 10 years for a kidney from a deceased donor, the chances of living donation are much higher. Long term survival is vastly improved for patients who receive a donor kidney compared to those who remain on dialysis.

    For Kohlman, there was no choice. “When I heard the host talking, I got such an odd feeling. Without sounding crazy, I knew right away, I was going to donate a kidney to this man.  It was a feeling that was nagging and consuming me. It was what my mind and body was telling me to do,” she remarks.

    She even called in to the radio show saying she’d donate a kidney.

    Becoming a living donor was all about giving back to Kohlman, sharing her blessings and wanting her children and the community to know that “life isn’t about just you, it’s about other people.”    

    After the hospital discerned that their blood types matched, and Kohlman underwent numerous, subsequent medical tests, the surgery was a go. “I was just like, ‘I knew it!’”  Kohlman enthuses.

    When asked how she is feeling, Kohlman says she is feeling fine, and she shares that Pisani is feeling “great,” and she proudly relates that the firefighter is off dialysis now and is slated to even go back to work in February.

    Kohlman discloses that she had never even thought about becoming an organ donor before she had heard of Pisani’s battle, but says she’d never look back. “If I could donate a kidney again, I would.”           

  In fact, both Kohlman and Pisani did a follow up on Trevelise’s radio show the Monday before Christmas Eve, much to Kohlman’s delight.  “It was exciting to see Rob!”

    With that one Godwink decision, Kohlman received so many great things including a new friend in Pisani and the chance to make a difference. “I’m so proud to be a donor, to improve somebody’s life, and to help someone,” she shares.

Kohlman urges everyone to give the gift of organ donation. “To see the direct, immediate impact on someone’s life, it’s amazing.”

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Hopatcong Teacher Wins Mike Kovins TI:ME Teacher of the Year https://www.mypaperonline.com/hopatcong-teacher-wins-mike-kovins-time-teacher-of-the-year.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/hopatcong-teacher-wins-mike-kovins-time-teacher-of-the-year.html#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 22:31:25 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47286 By Steve Sears

For Shawna Longo, General Music (Music Technology) teacher at Hopatcong Middle School, every day she enters the doors to the job she loves is a pretty good day.

“Yes,” she confirms, “100%.”

Longo, who won the 2016 Governor’s Educator of the Year for Hopatcong Middle School and in 2018 was awarded the Master Music Teacher Award by the New Jersey Music Educators Association, was recently named Mike Kovins TI:ME (Technology in Music Education) Teacher of the Year.

Longo, who is married with a 7-year-old son and places family first in her life with her students as a close second, will be recognized as the 15th recipient of the award at the TI:ME 2019 National Conference in San Antonio, Texas, on February 13.

“It is a huge honor,” says Longo, “When I got the phone call that I received the award, honestly – it talks a lot for me to not know what to say – I was without words for a moment. I knew the list of people  who had received this award before me; they were my inspiration. When I was diving into integrating technology into my music classes, they were the people whose books I read, they’re published auto-hors, people who have been doing this for decades and decades, and I would send the questions and reach out to them, because I’m not afraid to ask for help. I love to learn, I love to try new things. It’s not always going to go perfect, and it’s being okay with that, and I think its important teaching the kids that.”

Longo, who is a resident of Morris Plains where she serves as Vice-President of the Morris Plains Board of Education,  is certified to teach students in grade K – 12, but for the past 9 years has taught Middle School only, applies often the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, and  mathematics) method to her teaching. “It’s making connections for kids,” she attests, “because too often schools are focused on testing and high stakes testing, and we all get why they are I existence. But kids become robots to what right or wrong, is it A, B, C or D, is it true of false, versus there may not be a right answer, take the information you’ve been given and what are you going to make of it? What are you going to create utilizing this skill, this knowledge, or how can we make their learning come alive in other content areas and make it real to them?”

What of music itself? Longo feels music is very personal and emotional. “I can hear a song on the radio and it can take me back to an exact moment and it can be 20 years ago, but I will remember exactly where I was, how I felt, and what was going on in that moment because its ingrained in my brain and it’s that emotional connection to that song that takes you there.”

Her accolades being what they are and significant, her heart is with her students. “I do this for the kids,” she states. “But I will say being recognized by your peers for the work you’re doing and what your providing for the kids, is nice every so often. But absolutely, the kids are the forefront. They’re everything I do and why I do it and how I do it. It’s really why I went into education. I’ve always been passionate about music and performing arts, and I wanted to be able to pass that on,” says the 18-year educator.

Visit Shawna Longo’s website at www.creativeEDUconsulting.com.

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On the cutting edge of STEAM, Eisenhower Middle School teacher tapped for National Advisory Group  https://www.mypaperonline.com/on-the-cutting-edge-of-steam-eisenhower-middle-school-teacher-tapped-for-national-advisory-group.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/on-the-cutting-edge-of-steam-eisenhower-middle-school-teacher-tapped-for-national-advisory-group.html#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 22:28:26 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47281 By Jillian Risberg     


He’s passionate about bringing back practical business applications and project-based learning through Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics — and now Eisenhower Middle School STEAM Teacher Phil Moskowitz gets to take his expertise to the next level on Pitsco’s National Teacher Advisory Group (TAG).  

It’s Moskowitz’ second year with the group, selected as one of twenty exemplary educators from across the country for the mission of “leading education that positively affects learners.”  

According to the Robotics advisor, it’s huge when kids of this age are willing to fine-tune their critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills.

“I think the younger that we hook them on thinking outside the box and trying out ideas and not being afraid to fail — it’s only going to make them better,” Moskowitz says.  

He initially looked at Pitsco as a school vendor but upon further research, thought it was a cool thing to be part of. And everybody gets the STEAM Teacher’s class, not just gifted and talented. 

“That kind of gives me the ability to reach students of every level, so I get a lot of girls who are interested in this stuff that may feel uncomfortable doing a tech club because it’s more male focused,” Moskowitz says.  “In class they’re really detailed at this age than some of our boys.” 

From problem solving to creative thinking, being exposed to STEAM and all it entails is part of the bigger picture.

“Even if you’re not interested in robotics or engineering, those skills are going to benefit you in any walk of life,” Moskowitz says. “The technical side of things — robotics, engineers and coders, software developers; all that stuff is the wave of the future, so I’m just trying to give them a piece of knowledge that hopefully gets them into an expanding field, which I know is years away, but learning the basics now isn’t going to hurt.”

When it comes to STEAM, Moskowitz says incorporating it more often makes perfect sense. 

“As much as it’s a specialized type of class, it can literally be cross curricular; that’s what I think STEAM really is, the ability to learn hands-on with real world experiences and skills,” he says.  

“So having a math class that does sports statistics or a journalism class that does multimedia presentations — it’s 21st century technologies that these kids are going to have to be diversified in,” the Robotics advisor says.  

Teaching those critical skills for the future on a basic, everyday level, even interpersonally is very important.

“We see kids all the time not be able to convey their thoughts or ideas,” Moskowitz says.  “So being able to struggle but still talk about why they chose the direction they did with their classmates and collaborate on a project with someone they may not associate with outside of the class is really key.”  

According to the STEAM teacher, it’s all about having that conversation and reaching common ground, even though they may disagree. 

“Steve Jobs was more introverted in the ideas he had but still has a whole cult of people following his products and vision, so it speaks to the way they’re able to lead,” Moskowitz says, adding that even if you’re not on par with their politics or philosophy doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate their innovation and fearlessness.

These type of skills are evident in some other top tech people out there today.

“I think you see it a lot,” Moskowitz says. “If you look at someone like an Elon Musk, who is uber smart — he’s still engaging with people on social media and polling his fans and consumers.

The Robotics advisor says he tells kids all the time about working with people they don’t necessarily get along with but have to be able to move forward.

According to educationcloset.com, students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process are the future innovators, educators, leaders and learners of the next century.

When Moskowitz came on board, he says Roxbury was offering a lot of things at the high school that weren’t being offered at the middle school, so he was fortunate to have such support to create this program from the ground up.

And he calls it one of the best professions ever.

“I’m like a big little kid,” says the Robotics advisor. “I come to work and play with robots and 3D printers and electronics. It really doesn’t feel like a job and that’s everyone’s goal, to love what you do everyday and see the kids take hold of this idea and run with it.”

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STEAM Expo Headed for Roxbury Schools https://www.mypaperonline.com/steam-expo-headed-for-roxbury-schools.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/steam-expo-headed-for-roxbury-schools.html#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 22:26:27 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47278 By Jane Primerano

Correspondent

 

ROXBURY TWP. – The Roxbury Township Public Schools are calling all tech-geeks, budding engineers, math geniuses and young artists to the Eisenhower Middle School gym from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 9, for the Roxbury STEAM Expo: Seeds of Sustainability.

The Expo is open to students in kindergarten through sixth grade and looking for projects in the fields of plant, animal, food and human science or physics and chemistry. Entrants are encouraged to determine what is the problem or need, who has the problem or need and why it is important to solve. They are asked to look at needs they have themselves or needs of another person or group. Then they are to create a list of needs, a “mind map.”

The school is also seeking vendors to help support the expo. They are reaching out to PTA and PTO groups, local businesses, non-profit groups and teachers to help with the fund raising and other aspects of the expo. The school put out several informational flyers for potential entrants.

One lists science and engineering practices: Asking questions and defining problems, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematical and computational thinking, constructing explanations and designing solutions, engaging in argument from data and obtaining, evaluating and communicating information.

A second flyer compares the engineering design process with the scientific method. It explains to the students that scientists and engineers have different objectives.

Scientists study such things as how nature works while engineers create new things, new products but also websites, environments and experiences. Because of these different objectives scientists and engineers follow different processes. Scientists use the aptly named scientific method to perform experiments but engineers follow the creativity-based engineering design process. Both of these processes can be broken down in steps.

The steps of the engineering design process are delineated: Define the problem, do background research, specify requirements, brainstorm solutions, choose the best solution, do development work, build a prototype and test and redesign.

The information on the flyer points out engineers don’t always follow the engineering design process in that formal order, one after the other. Sometimes they design something, test it, find a program and then go back to an earlier step to make a modification or change to the original design. This way of working is called iteration.

 

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Roxbury High School’s Theater Department Set to Present Les Miserables https://www.mypaperonline.com/roxbury-high-schools-theater-department-set-to-present-les-miserables.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/roxbury-high-schools-theater-department-set-to-present-les-miserables.html#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 22:24:25 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47275 By Dawn M Chiossi     

    If musicals are a favorite, come and enjoy the next can’t miss spring musical by Roxbury High School’s Drama Program. Theater lovers and people everywhere are invited to enjoy Les Miserables.

The musical will take place on March 7, 8, and 9.  Times for performances will be Thursday, 7:00 p.m., Friday, 7:00 p.m., Saturday at 7:00 p.m. with an additional matinee performance at 1:00 p.m.  All tickets will be $12.00. Tickets will automatically be held at the box office and can be picked up to 45 minutes before the performance date. Reservations will close one week prior to the show. Tickets will then be available at the Box Office before each performance.

    To every enthusiast out there, there’s something utterly cathartic about going to see a play or a musical. Besides a fun evening out, it offers the audience an exciting, active and interpersonal connection that viewing a movie does not.

When people think of plays, chances are they envision the top blockbuster musicals, and Les Miserables is at the top of the list.  With swirling music, heartbreaking performances, and cathartic plots; the musical offers characters that the audience cares about, and the music is so addictive, that they are often singing long after the play is over.

    Roxbury invites everyone to enjoy the timeless stories of Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Cosette, Eponine, Marius and Enjolras interwoven with the French Revolution. Regardless of the production of Les Mis, it is so enveloping, that it resonates with audiences everywhere.

   Officials from Roxbury are so excited to launch this production.  According to Drama Club Advisor, Patrick Hachey, who has been teaching at Roxbury for 15 years, auditions are open to any high school grade level, and the cast is comprised of 87 students in the show and another 25 students involved in the set and technical crew. He mentions that auditions were held back in November, with rehearsals began in December and are still ongoing.

    When asked how they are going, Hachey is tight-lipped, but says: “I am very excited about the students in the production and I am confident that they will give successful performances in March.”

    Hachey states that choosing Les Miserables for a production at Roxbury was effortless, with everyone involved being passionate about the material woven in the play, and the story they are telling.  Les Mis was something he and the rest of the creative staff chose back in August of 2018.

   Warm and enthusiastic, regarding plays and club itself, he states that the productions are a collaborative, team effort. “In addition to my role as Producer/Director, Set Designer/Builder I have a team of colleagues who are every bit as responsible for the show’s success as me,” he says. In particular he mentions: R Daniel Salyerds: Musical Director/Technical Director, Krista Sweer: Vocal Director/Rehearsal Pianist, Rebecca Pietras: Choreographer, Jeff Conrad: Pit Conductor, Pat Rogers: Costumer, and Monica Roman & Scott Schilling: Visual Artists.

  While Roxbury High School’s plays are always popular with the school population and the general public, Hachey states that the feedback for Les Miserables has been even more so. “The reaction to this particular musical has been overwhelmingly positive,” he enthuses. “Many people are familiar with this story, especially with the recent film from 2012.”

 For Hachey, the Roxbury Drama Program is as much about teamwork as it is about passion, devotion and artistry to the craft of acting. “As a student and now as an educator, I have always taken great joy in the creative arts, and there is something especially wonderful about the collaborative nature of the theater,” he enthuses. “Whether you are the lead in the show, an ensemble member, a member of the technical crew, or a painter during the construction of the set, each student plays a vital role in making the production a success. The lesson of teamwork, individual accountability, time management creativity, and aesthetic sensitivity are inherent to the production. The life lessons that the students learn during the production are invaluable.”

    When asked what he is looking forward to most in regard to the production, Hachey points to the magical moment in acting when all of the diligence, creativity and rehearsal they have worked for melts together.        

 “My favorite thing about the musical is to watch our students slowly grow into their roles of the show and eventually create a performance that is uniquely theirs.” He shares. “I can’t wait to sit back during the performances and watch the results of the many hours of hard work. My hope is that our students walk away from this experience feeling artistically fulfilled and confident in their abilities as individuals and as an ensemble to conquer any project they set their minds to.”

   Roxbury High School’s Drama Club produces two plays a year; a fall drama (non-musical) and a spring musical. Last fall, the drama was The Crucible. To reserve tickets in advance for Les Miserables, visit www.roxbury.org.

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Church Holds A Valentine Superbowl https://www.mypaperonline.com/church-holds-a-valentine-superbowl.html https://www.mypaperonline.com/church-holds-a-valentine-superbowl.html#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 22:18:05 +0000 https://www.mypaperonline.com/?p=47266 by Elsie Walker

 

About 25 years ago, the pastor at the Port Morris United Methodist Church, in Landing, asked the congregation to bring valentines to worship.  The pastor rotated with other clergy in giving a weekly service at a local nursing home and his next turn was coming up around Valentine’s Day. He wanted valentines to give out to the residents, some who might be forgotten on Valentine’s Day.  Over the years, the church has had different pastors, but that ripple of love which started with valentines for one nursing home has grown. It has become a yearly church event held the afternoon of the NFL’s Super Bowl. It is a Valentine making Super Bowl at which hundreds of valentines are made or donated. This year, those tokens of love will be going to residents at four nursing homes and two veteran facilities.  The coordinator of the event for the past 17 years has been Tina Berchak, of Stanhope.

“From a very young age, I have always valued family and the support that we get from our loved ones.  This project is unique because it is timeless.  As long as there are people willing to receive the cards, we will be making them.  In the past, our youth group hand delivered the valentines and we warmed so many hearts and that is something that I don’t want to give up,” Berchak shared.

One element that Berchak particularly loves is that it is a multi-generational event. Those who came to make valentines this year ranged in age from elementary school students to seniors in their 80s.  The generations sit side by side at tables which contain all the elements needed to make a good valentine: paper, stickers, colored pencils, crayons, stencils, and scissors. Each table becomes a team, working together and sharing laughs and fun.   Of course, making hundreds of valentines takes energy. The event includes a break with a variety of treats including heart-shaped pizza. There are also Valentine’s Day themed games.

Berchak reminds the valentine makers that every valentine counts. She’s been there in the past when cards were given out to nursing home residents and saw how much it meant to them that someone cared. This year the tokens of love are slated to go to Merry Heart Nursing Home in Roxbury, Homestead in Newton, Regency Grand in Dover, Heath Village in Hackettstown, Veteran’s Haven North in Glen Gardner and Lyons Vets Hospital in Lyons.

In addition to those valentines made at the event, others are brought in, store bought, to add to the expressions of love. All the valentines share the message, “from your friends at Port Morris United Methodist Church.”

Rev. Dr. Nick Petrov, the current pastor of the church, noted that the valentine event is a significant outreach for the congregation.

“We often speak that St. Valentine’s [Day] is a love holiday, but not everyone realizes that many people live alone, isolated, homeless, or in nursing homes. Not many of them would hear the words ‘I Love You!’ At Port Morris United Methodist Church, we believe that God loves all people and we are called to love as well…. We strive to be a loving and kind congregation, reaching out to those that need us the most.”

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