Monday, December 31, 2012

Sandy 4 Sandy: LBI Vigil for Peace reset due to northeaster

Photo by David Wyrsch
Pockets of flooding and floating debris are
found on LBI after another northeaster.
When Kate Schulze-Bahn, coordinator of the Sandy 4 Sandy: Vigil for Peace, received phone calls from friends and family members on Long Beach Island that urged her to postpone the event once again due to inclement weather, she decided to officially cancel the occasion. The candlelight vigil set to remember victims of Superstorm Sandy and the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., which was rescheduled to take place at the James “Moose” E. Morrison memorial gazebo in Barnegat Light, on Saturday, Dec. 29, is no longer happening.

Schulze-Bahn, who lives a few hours away from LBI in Chester Springs, Pa., said she has handed over her position as the event’s coordinator to local residents who she suspects will be able to better understand the community’s situation. She said she was unaware of this week’s recent storm, which left pockets of flooding and floating debris along the 18-mile island. But with the forecast calling for more rain and perhaps some snow, she thought the weather was too unpredictable this time of year to encourage people to travel to the area.
“You guys are just getting nailed left and right; better safe than sorry,” she told The SandPaper. “We don’t need another tragedy on top of a tragedy. This time of year the weather is so iffy, you cannot predict it through January. The weather is getting crazier. It’s a shame.”
A few dozen people who had not received the memo about the event’s initial rescheduling had showed up for the vigil at the Barnegat Lighthouse on Friday, Dec. 21. Schulze-Bahn said she felt sorry they had to brave the cold and wind, but was happy they were able to connect with each other despite the circumstances.
“The people that actually met there still had a little prayer and a little vigil anyway, so it was kind of nice. They were in good spirits; nobody was mad. They were excited to come out for it the next time,” Schulze-Bahn claimed. “It was a positive thing all around, and I think everybody involved in it was doing it for the right reason. It wasn’t for a show, or for popularity, or to see who could like another page on Facebook. I think everybody involved was genuinely going for the right reason.”
Area residents are hoping to reschedule the vigil for sometime during the spring or summer, when the weather is more manageable. The event’s Facebook page will continue to inform participants of the event’s happening in the future.
“At some point I think we should still do it,” remarked Schulze-Bahn. “It’s the worst feeling to have to cancel something like that, but weather is weather. We just don’t want (the victims) to think we forget them.”
To keep up with the event’s latest activities, visit https://www.facebook.com/SupportSandyVictims?fref=ts.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

'Jersey Shore Strong' contest gives impacted couple a wedding

Couples have been planning their weddings at the Jersey Shore for a countless number of years. The many vendors along the East Coast have made Long Beach Island and surrounding shore towns a captivating place to celebrate the marriage of two people in love.

Photo via JSWA
One lucky couple will receive
a chance to make their dream
wedding a reality, even in the
face of storm devastation.
But the wake of Superstorm Sandy has left many engaged couples with a plethora of wedding glitches. Many of them lost their homes and have bills upon bills to consider. Some of them lost their venues or vendors, who also suffered major damage from the storm, and have had to relocate or reschedule.
The Jersey Shore Wedding Association, comprised of more than 50 local, preferred vendors that work together to make the area a leading wedding destination, is hosting a Jersey Shore Strong wedding contest for local couples who have been affected by the storm and are still hoping to make their dream wedding a reality, even in the face of destruction.
“We all saw the devastation out there, all heard stories of loss,” said Arlene Schmid, co-owner of JSWA and owner of Parties by Design. “The members of the Jersey Shore Wedding Association are not plumbers, nor construction workers. But we are in the wedding industry, and we do know how to put together a wedding. We all help in the ways we can,” she explained.
The couple who win the contest will receive free wedding planning for the ceremony, including invitations, gift baskets, floral arrangements, video footage, photos and tuxedos, as  well as the reception, including a candy buffet, cake and weekend stay. Other services may be available as many vendors are donating their services to the contest every day. So far, more than $11,000 in products and services has been given.
“Shortly after the storm, our members started reaching out to each other. One florist called another to see if they needed a place to do wedding flowers for somebody. One of the venues that was up and running called up others to see if they needed to move their weddings to their place,” Schmid noted. “There’s been an overwhelming sense of support and helpfulness amongst the vendors. It motivates you to want to do something to help.”
Couples who are interested in competing in the contest must go to jswa.org to submit their stories, in 500 words or less, to jswaweddingcontest@gmail.com. Applications must be in by midnight on Christmas Eve.
The public will be asked to vote for the winning couple via the JSWA Facebook page and through an email survey, between Tuesday, Jan. 1, and Thursday, Jan. 10. The winning couple will be announced between 2 and 6 p.m. at the JSWA’s Winter Bridal Show on Sunday, Jan. 13, at the Captain’s Inn, located in Forked River. Contestants must attend the bridal show to accept the prize. Admittance is free and includes a bridal fashion show, live entertainment, food tasting and, of course, a chance to meet some of the area’s best wedding professionals.
All brides and grooms are invited to enter for a chance to win the $11,000 grand prize drawing and honeymoon giveaway at the bridal show. Participants who preregister for the event will receive an extra entry when they sign in at the show.
For more information, email any questions to info@jswa.org.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sandy 4 Sandy: LBI Vigil for Peace reset for Saturday, Dec. 29

The Sandy 4 Sandy: LBI Vigil for Peace has been rescheduled for Saturday, Dec. 29, at 4 p.m. The event was originally planned for Friday, Dec. 21, at the Barnegat Lighthouse, but officials said the surrounding bulkheads are still not structurally sound enough due to storm damage. Friday’s weather forecast is also calling for gale-force winds, making it a tricky time to hold a candlelight vigil. The event will now take place at the James “Moose” E. Morrison memorial gazebo on Seventh Street in Barnegat Light, next to Kubel’s restaurant.

Photo by Ryan Morrill
A number of people came out in June for the 
dedication of the James "Moose" E. Morrison 
memorial gazebo. Residents will make their way 
to the pavilion once more  for next week's vigil.
“Koconut” Kate Schulze-Bahn, a third-generation LBI-goer who grew up vacationing on the north end of the Island, has coordinated the event in the hope of drawing LBI’s residents together following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy and the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. Although she now lives in Chester Springs, Pa., with her husband and four children, all younger than 6, she said she wanted to host the event in Barnegat Light, where “Old Barney” stands as a strong, shining symbol for the surrounding community.
“Home is where the heart is, and LBI is my heart and soul,” she said. “Every special, best memory I’ve ever had in my life has been there. So I want to give back and bring everybody together because it means the world to me, that place.”
Although Schulze-Bahn said all tragedies affect her, the Sandy Hook massacre “really struck a chord.” As a mother and a survivor of a five-year stint with post-traumatic stress disorder, which she said nearly cost her life in 2011, she hopes the vigil will help people put aside their political and religious differences and really think about the way our nation views mental health.
“I made it out alive, and it’s almost one of those things where you wish you didn’t because in the beginning it was so stressful to deal with,” she stated. “I almost lost my battle. Right at the beginning of 2011, I was in such a bad place that I was suicidal. I was at the worst, worst, worst of my PTSD.” At that time she thought about breaking into the lighthouse and jumping off the top after nearly being killed by a man she went on vacation to Hawaii with in 2005.
Schulze-Bahn said she dealt with a lot of depression, paranoia and anxiety following the incident and often suffered through nightmares. She also dealt with her fair share of perinatal and postpartum depression when she was pregnant with her children.
“Lucky for me, I found some really, really good help: some really great therapy, some great medicine, some great doctors. It helped me through that year, and since then I’ve been medicine-free, therapy-free and just free of all that pain. Had I not gotten that help, I probably would not have been here,” she said.
Schulze-Bahn said the man who massacred those elementary schoolchildren and school staff in Connecticut “was sick and clearly had mental health problems.” She noted that many people often suffer through their own emotional battles, something she said no one should feel ashamed about.
“It’s almost 2013; people suffer from mental illness,” she said matter-of-factly. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of; it’s like physical health. If you’re physically sick, you go see a doctor, you take medicine. If you’re sick with emotional or mental health, you do the same thing. There’s no shame.”
Schulze-Bahn said she hopes the vigil will bring a sense of peace to everyone who attends. She wholeheartedly believes that every animal and every person in the world deserves a life free of pain, hunger, abuse and violence.
“If we can just all come together and try to hold onto that and stand strong just like the lighthouse has always been strong for us, I think we can actually make a difference. It has to start somewhere,” she said.
Although there are many different towns on Long Beach Island, Schulze-Bahn believes that coming together as a community, especially after being hit by a natural disaster, will show people how strong the little town really is.
“Even though we’ve gone through Hurricane Sandy, we still stand strong for other people who are going through other tragedies. That’s what LBI represents to me. Everybody is so giving. They come together in the worst times and rebuild. We regroup and we rebuild,” she declared.
Schulze-Bahn is encouraging people to bring donations for local charities. Besides monetary gifts, she suggested new, unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots Foundation, pet supplies for the Friends of the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter and nonperishable foods for a shelter in need.
Although she would not say what celebrity guests she has invited to the event, she said there is a chance someone famous might show up. Andrew Pearson, a New Jersey filmmaker, will be creating a documentary of the evening.
After the event, the public is invited to gather at Kubel’s. A tentative band is set to play, but anyone is encouraged to contact Schulze-Bahn to volunteer. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/SupportSandyVictims, email her at koconutkate@gmail.com, or call 609-618-1357.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

N.J. Ocean County Library hosts storm resources expo

Nearly 300 community members showed up at the Stafford branch of the Ocean County Library on Monday, Dec. 17, for the Beyond Sandy: Storm Resources Expo. Through the next few years, many of them will require the information regarding the various ways they can continue to rebuild their lives. The expo was repeated the next day at the Toms River branch.

Photo by Kelley Anne Essinger
A group of Ocean County Library employees
who worked diligently to host the expo greet
residents as they enter the Stafford branch.
Waiting to greet them in Stafford and offer some much-needed information and support were representatives of about 30 out-of-state and local organizations, ranging from the Salvation Army and National Council on Aging to the Ocean County Department of Human Services and the N.J. Division of Consumer Affairs. Each group offered resources regarding many different disaster-related issues, including mental health services for anyone dealing with emotional distress, especially children and the elderly; where to find home and cleaning supplies; how to repair and winterize homes and properly clean up mold; and tips on how to avoid disaster-related scams.
Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Small Business Administration representatives were there to prompt people to register with FEMA and submit an application for a Business Disaster Loan through SBA. The SBA program offers financial assistance to homeowners and renters for disaster-related losses during times of federally declared disasters. Officials said the loan could potentially offer homeowners up to $200,000 for damages associated with real estate property, and could ultimately provide homeowners and renters with up to $40,000 for damages associated with personal property. Interest rates are as low as 1.688 percent. Loan repayment terms are up to 30 years.
The deadline to register with FEMA and apply for a BD loan is Monday, Dec. 31. To register with FEMA, visit disasterassistance.gov, or call 1-800-621-3362. To apply to SBA, visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. For additional program details, contact SBA at 1-800-659-2955 or sba.gov.
Displaced residents with children who may need to transfer schools because they are temporarily living in a different location found assistance at the fair from the National Center for Homeless Education. The organization offers case-by-case help to children and their families and unaccompanied youth in homeless situations in accordance with the federally mandated McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
“The whole premise of this is to ensure educational continuity; to cut down on the lags that children experience as a result of being displaced. That, of course, would lead to greater success in their respective educational programs,” said Danielle Anderson Thomas, coordinator of the education for homeless children and youth and migrant education programs of NCHE. “Many times school is the only place that allows for some stability for a student that might be in such a situation, the only place that remains normal for them.
“That’s so important, particularly when you have highly mobile families who might move regularly and go from place to place to place. You can imagine what it might be like if each time a family moved the child had to attend a different school,” she emphasized. For more information about NCHE, visit serve.org/nche.
Whatever a family’s needs may be at this time, Ocean Partnership for Children Inc., Ocean County’s free care-management organization, was available at the fair to help community members find housing and offer service planning for children with behavioral and mental challenges, which executives said often affect the entire family. The organization works with about 200 families a year, but expects it will receive a number of new cases because of Superstorm Sandy.
“Trauma is such a big deal,” said Kathryn Colhoun, director of community resource development at Ocean Partnership. “Most of the families we work with have a trauma history, whether it’s with the youth or the parents, and it’s just a cycle quite often.
“We work with the entire family because they’re all interconnected. You can’t just treat one person in the family. Everyone’s affected, even in a case where maybe the parents are really struggling. That’s going to put enormous stressors on the family. The kids might react to that even if the hurricane wasn’t that big of a deal to them. Now maybe they’re displaced. There are so many factors that affect the youth with everything going on right now. It still hasn’t settled at all,” she explained. For more information about Ocean Partnership, visit oceanpartnership.org.
Ocean Mental Health, which recently partnered with the Ocean County Library to hold support groups in conjunction with Superstorm Sandy (many to be held throughout January at the Toms River branch), was offering information about its many different mental health services. The CREST program is specifically geared toward people who are experiencing a mental health crisis and need urgent help. It offers immediate access to short-term, recovery-oriented services.
“The program offers one month of case management services. Basically, it links the person to a subscriber, it provides linkages to ongoing services for mental health if those are indicated, and then also case management in other areas,” said Christina Gaetano, director of development at OMHS. "If what they’re experiencing is making it difficult for them to complete their FEMA paperwork, or if they don’t have enough financial stability and they need to link to social services, we help them manage those linkages and advocate for them to get whatever resources they need so they can live a healthy life,” she described. For more information about Ocean Mental Health, visit oceanmhs.org.
Valerie Bell, assistant director of public services at the Ocean County Library, said the organization does not have any plans for another resource expo at this time. Of course, she said, if the need arises, the library will certainly continue to help the community receive those necessary services. For more information about the Ocean County Library, visit theoceancountylibrary.org.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Limited-edition, Long Beach Township holiday beach badges on sale now

Long Beach Township preseason holiday beach badges are on sale now until Monday, Dec. 31. Decorated with a festive Christmas wreath hanging from a lifeguard stand, the limited edition badges are the perfect holiday gift for the LBI-lover in your life. The tags cost $30 each.

Photo by Jack Reynolds
Beach badges are required in Long Beach
Township on LBI from June 16, 2013 to
Sept. 2, 2013.
According to Don Myers, beach patrol supervisor of Long Beach Township, the holiday badges are a hot commodity and are selling out fast.
“People love getting them for stocking stuffers,” he said. “Their discounted price doesn’t hurt, either.”
Beach badges purchased after June 15, 2013 cost $40 each; a $10 increase compared to the preseason price. Only 2,013 holiday badges are available. Each one is individually numbered.
Badges are required at the beach in Long Beach Township for anyone 12 and older, from June 16, 2013 through Sept. 2, 2013.
Badges can be purchased at the front desk in Town Hall, located at 6805 Long Beach Blvd. in Brant Beach, on Friday between 12 and 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The tags may also be purchased at the Beach Patrol Headquarters, located at 79th Street and the bay in Beach Haven Crest, during the rest of the week. For more information, visit http://www.lbtbp.com/badges/.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lighthouse vigil to remember victims of Superstorm Sandy and Sandy Hook Massacre

In memory of the victims of Superstorm Sandy and the recent Sandy Hook School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, a candlelight vigil and local charity donation event will be held at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on Friday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. The outdoor event will take place at the base of the lighthouse, where participants will be asked to share in a moment of silence and prayer. Bring your own candles, lighters/matches or flashlights. Warm attire is recommended.

Photo via Etsy
The lighthouse vigil will honor
victims of Superstorm Sandy
and the Sandy Hook Massacre.
“Old Barney is a symbol of strength and community,” announced the event’s Facebook page. “After witnessing the kindness from others during our own recent tragedy from Hurricane Sandy, we’d like to offer the same to those who now suffer from their own losses in Newtown, CT. We’d like to show that – as islanders – regardless that we are still recovering, we are here for our brothers and sisters up North, as our nation has been for us. A lighthouse sits at the very edge of our country, and I hope by gathering there, we can help its light glow brighter, and shine out across the ocean to the shores of our neighbors, and show that we are against the plague of violence.”
Donations for local charities, including the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Toys for Tots and the Friends of Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter will be accepted beginning at 6 p.m.
Everyone is invited to gather at Kubel’s restaurant, located at 28 West Seventh St. in Barnegat Light, following the vigil. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/Barnegat.Lightouse.Vigil.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, December 17, 2012

LBI Health Dept. temporarily relocated; looking for new, permanent location

The Long Beach Island Health Department has temporarily relocated from its Haven Beach location to the multipurpose room on the second floor of the Long Beach Township Municipal Complex building, located at 6805 Long Beach Blvd. in Brant Beach. All of the department’s services are still available Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Photo by Jack Reynolds
The LBI Health Dept. is temporarily working
out of the LBT Municipal Complex building
until it can find a new permanent location.
The department had to relocate immediately following Superstorm Sandy, as its original building had suffered significant floodwater damage.
“The water not only came through the side doors and entryway doors into the building, but also through the basement and up through the heating ducts. So there was a considerable amount of waste material in there,” stated Tim Hilferty, director of the health department. “Because we rent the facility and because of the substantial damage to the other parts of the infrastructure with the heating system and things like that, the owner of the property has decided it would be in the best interest of everybody for the health department to try to find another (permanent) location.”
He said they expect to be working out of the municipal building for at least another month or two. Plans to find a new site are under way. The organization has applications in with FEMA to work out of trailers, possibly near the Acme supermaket complex in Beach Haven Park, where they could stay for at least 12 to 18 months until they can find a permanent location.
For more information about the LBI Health Department, visit lbihealth.com or call 609-492-1212.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

N.J. mental health experts say holidays may trigger difficult feelings in disaster victims

The holiday season can be a difficult time of year for anyone, especially after a major disaster such as Superstorm Sandy. Any number of mixed emotions may arise as those at the Jersey Shore, who are still dealing with devastated lives nearly two months after the storm shook through their hometowns, try to joyfully partake in the traditional holiday festivities.

Photo by Ryan Morrill
Wendy Westberg, director of counseling services
at St. Francis, works at the temporary location.
Although things may appear dismal at times, it is important to remember there is help. Mental health personnel come in all forms, from privately practicing clinical psychologists and licensed clinical social workers to local support groups and empathetic family, friends and neighbors. When feelings of anger, frustration, loss or sadness take over, it is important to speak up, seek help and remember that you are not alone.
George Peters, a clinical psychologist who works on staff responding to crises in the emergency department at Southern Ocean Medical Center, said that so far, not many people there have been in need of counseling assistance associated with the storm. Although the Manahawkin hospital does not have a mental health department on the premises, he said he was a bit surprised no one has even sought help at his private practice. However, he has heard from colleagues that people are beginning to seek help in other areas of the state, such as in Monmouth County, where the physical destruction from the storm was more severe.
“Right now I think people are in an immediate survival mode, an immediate post-traumatic recovery phase,” said Peters. “They’re more focused on the physical aspects of rebuilding their lives. So they’re trying to salvage whatever they can physically from their homes: their keepsakes, their photos, their insurance policies. They’re assessing the actual physical damage to their properties and their homes. They’re trying to work with the government agencies or their insurance companies.
“This activity, at least for the adults, is kind of pre-occupying them at the moment. They have a task that they’re focused on. Over time, once they get settled back in and the holidays are over, it might hit them all of a sudden, like ‘Wow, what have I have just been through?’” he explained.
Adults and children often deal with the process of grief and loss in very individual ways, and many people will likely deal with the basic five stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — at different times and in different orders, said Peters. Of course, he added, these feelings are normal, especially after a life-altering experience.
What may be a cause for concern, urges a “Coping with Disasters During the Holidays” pamphlet sent out through the American Red Cross, are  difficult feelings and reactions such as crying spells or bursts of anger, difficulty eating or sleeping, a loss of interest, family avoidance, fatigue or depression, increased physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches, or an increase of alcohol or substance abuse that lasts two weeks or more. If such feelings persist, seeking professional mental health services becomes necessary. The Red Cross suggests calling the Disaster Mental Health Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, or texting “TalkWithUs” to 66746. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of harming themselves or others, call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Directors of the St. Francis Center set
up offices at St. Mary's Parish Center.
The St. Francis Community Center, which has temporarily relocated its directors’ offices from Brant Beach to St. Mary’s Parish Center in Manahawkin, is still offering counseling services throughout Southern Ocean County via the organization’s outpost locations, which now include extended hours.
“Holidays are a lot of hope and sharing, and I think it’ll be different for many, many people this year,” said Wendy Westberg, director of counseling services at St. Francis and a licensed clinical social worker. “It’s important to keep up with as many traditions as you can, but also realize that you’re going to have to have some new traditions. People will be in different places; people’s Christmases will be different. It’s all going to impact everyone. There is still excitement around the holidays. So when that does subside, I think there will be some more sad and angry feelings,” she emphasized.
According to Westberg, very young children may regress and go back to bed-wetting or thumb-sucking, and may appear more dependent upon their caretakers. Older children may act out or express their fear in their play, or they may appear numb. Teenagers may engage in more risky behaviors or have difficulty expressing their feelings. Any age group can have a heightened sensitivity to triggers and may be fearful of or fascinated with storms. Maintaining patience and offering extra hugs and support can go a long way.
Westberg encourages people to avoid isolation during times of emotional distress. To make an appointment with the counseling center at St. Francis, call 609-494-1554, Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. St. Francis offers individual and family counseling. Plans to maintain a group counseling service for victims of Sandy will be in effect sometime during January, when the LBI-based center reopens.
“Groups are a good format for people to be with other people who are in the same situation, to realize they’re not the only one (feeling this way). It kind of normalizes what they’re going through and how they’re feeling, and usually they can progress faster. It’s different when a counselor tells them, ‘Many people feel that way.’ But when a person sitting next to them says the same thing, it makes more sense,” said Westberg.
Other local, community support groups have already begun to pop up in the area. Ocean Mental Health Services recently partnered with the Ocean County Library to provide meetings at the Stafford and Little Egg Harbor branches. Meetings were recently held at both locations. Another session will take place at the Stafford branch on Sunday, Dec. 23. For more information, visit theoceancountylibrary.org.

— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Friday, December 14, 2012

LBI's N.J. Maritime Museum invites nonprofits to host programs on-site, post-Sandy

The New Jersey Maritime History Museum, located in Beach Haven, houses a significant portion of the state’s marine artifacts from out-of-print shipwreck files and rare photographs to antique navigational equipment and pre-historic fossils found off the coast. Luckily, it was spared any major damage during Superstorm Sandy. Although the elevator, outside garages, workshop and machinery used to restore old relics were destroyed, the museum itself and its artifacts were unscathed.

“The (flood) water was a foot short of our floor joists,” said Jim Vogel, curator of the museum. “If it had gotten into the insulation and into the flooring, it would have been a mess especially with our laminate flooring. We are tickled pink it didn’t come another foot, because at that point, we would have had a very serious problem, and we would have lost some of our shipwreck files and stuff like that, which can’t be replaced.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Deb Whitcraft, president of the N.J. Maritime
Museum, opens the gallery to local nonprofits
that need a place to maintain their programs.
“Luckily, everything that we did lose can be replaced. We have a lot of work to do, but we’re grateful it wasn’t worse. There are a lot more people that took a much bigger hit than we did,” he said.
Although things at the museum are certainly operating at a much slower pace than usual, having just re-opened after the storm on Friday, Nov. 30, Vogel and his wife, Deborah Whitcraft, who is president of the museum, said they are grateful to have weathered the storm fairly well.
Considering themselves one of the lucky ones, Vogel and Whitcraft have extended an invitation to local nonprofit organizations from Long Beach Island and its surrounding areas to host their programs inside the museum gallery, free of charge.
“In order (for nonprofits) to continue their mission during this time, places like this have to and should open their doors to allow them to maintain a somewhat normal schedule of events and presentations,” said Whitcraft.
Having gratefully accepted the offer, the Long Beach Island Foundation has made plans to maintain part of its Science Saturday program at the museum. The Alliance for a Living Ocean hosted a book presentation by surf journalist Chris Dixon, who was recently in the area gathering research for an article in Surfer Magazine, at the gallery on Thursday, Dec. 6.
“The maritime museum has been a longtime partner and supporter of Alliance for a Living Ocean,” said Christopher Huch, executive director of ALO. “This past summer, the museum allowed us to present our weekly puppet show series at their facility when our space was not large enough. After Sandy rendered our office unusable, the museum has continued its generosity by allowing us to hold events (on its premises).
“This demonstration of cooperation among nonprofits on LBI continues to allow our community to grow and fosters a rapid recovery of our tourism-based economy in our region," he explained.
ReClam the Bay, St Francis Community Center’s dominos and mah jongg women’s playing groups, and the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association, which recently held an emergency meeting in the museum’s gallery in order to sort out the damage that many of the group’s boat owners had suffered from the storm, have also partnered with the museum during the area’s recovery process.
“It’s neat that the nonprofits are now, more than ever, really working together to share facilities,” Whitcraft said. “The storm has really made working together a really important part of our community.”
Whitcraft, who lives above the museum with her husband, is also a licensed notary public and is offering her services for free at this time. Anyone who is in need of Internet access or has to make copies or fax documents to insurance adjusters or representatives is encouraged to call her at 609-226-3838 to make arrangements at the facility.
“People have to have Internet access, which in many cases they don’t have in their homes right now. I want people to know that they can contact me 24/7 to access the Internet CafĂ© and come in and use our services,” Whitcraft emphasized.
Although the museum’s hours of operation run only from Friday to Sunday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the fall and winter seasons, nonprofit organizations may set up programming in the gallery anytime during the week.
“We’re very flexible,” said Vogel. “If people want to come in and see the museum, we’re here every day. It’s no problem to turn the lights on and let them use the place.
“We’re not going to charge anybody. We’re going to make the place available to any groups that need a place to be,” he added.
For more information about the New Jersey Maritime Museum, visit njmaritimemuseum.org or call 609-492-0202.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Members of AmeriCorps help out Ocean County, N.J.

Photo via OCCAR
Shawn Vrooman, Trinity Peterson and
Adam Hein discuss their plan of action.
Immediately following Superstorm Sandy, a number of AmeriCorps members ages 18 to 25 traveled to the devastated areas in New Jersey and New York to offer a helping hand during the recovery process. Ocean County AmeriCorps Response, a group of 12 revolving members from Washington- and Minnesota-based organizations affiliated with the national program, has been offering free, immediate disaster relief assistance to local area residents who need help renovating their homes. Removing drywall, insulation and other debris as well as mitigating mold to help offset future building costs and potential health complications are the group’s main priorities at this time.

“It’s extremely rewarding to do this work because a lot of these people that we’re working for aren’t covered through their insurance, or don’t have the means to hire contractors,” said Sean Fleming, 23, crew leader of the Conservation Corps of Minnesota. “Some of them don’t have any family. To just be there for them and be able to do the work that’s easy for young people like us to do, like ripping out Sheetrock, is very gratifying,” he added.
“It’s a perfect match of things young people are suited to do and should be doing to help communities recover from a major disaster like this,” agreed Steve Petrich, 22, a crewmember of the Washington Conservation Corps. “It's kind of cool; people have gotten out of the whole ‘society thing’ because everything’s gotten destroyed, and now it’s people helping people.”
Photo via OCCAR
Max Tiemann lends a hand,
tending to a leaky ceiling.
The organization is seeking philanthropists to help set up volunteer reception centers in both Southern and Northern Ocean County, which the members are hoping will continue to offer support to local residents following AmeriCorps’ imminent departure.
The group is currently working alongside Jetty, a local apparel company based in Little Egg Harbor Township, and Waves for Water, a nonprofit organization from Los Angeles dedicated to providing assistance to disaster-impacted communities around the world. The groups have been coordinating many of Long Beach Island’s outreach efforts following the storm.
“The nature of our presence here is temporary,” said Adam Hein, 27, a crew supervisor for the Washington Conservation Corps. “We’re here to help facilitate local organizations with their recovery efforts. Setting up a reception center and potentially some long-term volunteer housing so we can bring in some people willing to do the work is one thing (we’re working on). It kind of depends on who takes over when we leave. The goal is for us to build enough relations in the community to where we can hand it over to people that will run things after we’re gone,” he explained.
The Ocean County AmeriCorps Response team is currently looking for help from anyone who is eligible to work in confined crawlspace areas, as well as persons who are qualified to work with asbestos removal.
Personal protective equipment, including P-100 respirators, safety glasses and Tyvek suits, is needed to outfit volunteers up and down the coast.
Photo via OCCAR
Crewmember Shawn Vrooman 

grabs a broom and gets to work.
“We don’t come with a lot of funding or resources. We come with manpower to help organize and facilitate things,” said Hein. “We’re doing as much work as we can in the field right now; there are lots of boots on the ground. We follow one contact until they dry up, and then we find more. That’s what we’re here for,” he added.
AmeriCorps is also strongly urging volunteer groups to document the number of hours each person works for the purpose of helping to offset the state’s disaster costs. According to officials, depending on the type of work volunteers perform, FEMA will deduct $15 to $25 an hour per volunteer, as part of its Public Assistance Grant Program.
Although information regarding the turn-in process for those hours is still unknown, Jerry Buker, 27, team leader for the Conservation Corps of Minnesota, said volunteer groups should document the names, dates, hours, tasks, locations and types of power equipment used for each volunteer working with them.
Anyone who needs disaster relief assistance or is interested in volunteering with Ocean County AmeriCorps Response should call 732-804-9859. For more information regarding FEMA’s PA Program, visit fema.gov.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stafford Township, N.J. Coordinates Annual Holiday Toy Drive

In hopes of making the holiday season an especially joyful time for residents in need in Stafford Township and on Long Beach Island this year, the Stafford Township Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 297 and the Stafford Township Recreation Department will be hosting the organizations’ annual Christmas Toy Drive. Donations of toys and gifts for male and female children ages 9 through 18 are of great need. Gifts for all ages are also appreciated, as “hard times set no age barrier.”
Photo via Nassau Inn
Stafford Township is making things a bit
brighter for residents in need in Stafford
and Long Beach Island.

Donations of new and unused toys and clothes, as well as gift certificates, may be dropped off, day or night, at the Stafford Municipal Building, located at 260 East Bay Ave. in Manahawkin. Checks should be made payable to the Stafford Twp. PBA 297 Toy Drive. It is requested that all gifts are dropped off unwrapped, so the items may be easily categorized according to age group.

The Southern Regional High School’s Student Council, under the direction of history teacher Steven Derion, is also contributing to the local drive. The council is focusing on collecting gifts for teens. It is coordinating its efforts with the Stafford Township Police Department, which will be delivering the items to local families. Items may be dropped off at the high school in room 9-14 until Friday, Dec. 14.

The council “concentrates on the teenagers because families get food and little kids get toys. It’s always the teenagers that get forgotten in those things,” explained Marilyn Dougherty, media liaison for the Southern Regional School District.

For more information about the Christmas Toy Drive, call 609-597-1000 or email staffordtoydrive@hotmail.com


This article was published in The SandPaper.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Donations accepted at OCC's Southern Education Center

Photo via OCC
Food and other supplies for victims of
Superstorm Sandy are being collected
at the Southern Education Center.
Students from course instructor Betsy Hyle’s Academic Success Classes at the Ocean County College’s Southern Education Center have set up donation bins to collect nonperishable foods and other supplies for the St. Francis Food Pantry, which is based at the Southern Ocean County Resource Center in Manahawkin following Superstorm Sandy. New coats and other cold-weather gear collected through the drive will be donated to the Lighthouse Alliance Family and Youth Center in Tuckerton. All toys received will be given to the Toys 4 Tots campaign, which is offering donations to local shore towns.

A bake sale will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 11 and 12, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. All funds received will be used to purchase local supermarket gift cards that will go to residents in need.
Donations may be dropped off at the SEC’s student lounge, located at 195 Cedar Bridge Rd. in Manahawkin, between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday; and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call Vivian Lombardo at 609-978-2077, extension 678. 

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unemployed N.J. residents may apply for temporary work

New Jersey residents interested in applying for temporary work restoring the region’s land and infrastructures following Superstorm Sandy may contact the state’s One-Stop Career Centers, which are assisting with Gov. Christie’s plan to hire unemployed residents to help with cleanup and recovery efforts related to the storm.

Last month, the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development received a $15.6 million National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to aid such endeavors.
According to a Nov. 14 press release, temporary jobs may also include working on projects that provide food, clothing, shelter and other humanitarian assistance to disaster victims. The extent of these temporary jobs is restricted to six months or 1,040 hours. Temporary employees may receive a maximum wage of approximately $12,000 per worker, excluding the cost of fringe benefits. An additional amount will be available for fringe benefit costs associated with the hire, paid in accordance with the employer’s policies.
Those eligible for hire include persons who have been temporarily or permanently dislocated as a result of the disaster and individuals who are long-term unemployed, as well as qualified dislocated workers who are unemployed and are not receiving unemployment compensation or other types of income support.
In order to receive funding, New Jersey’s 21 counties included in the federal disaster area declared in the wake of Superstorm Sandy will have to identify relief, restoration and cleanup projects and determine how to deploy the workers. The NJLWD’s initial application to the USDOL asked for funding for 1,000 temporary workers.
Counties and towns may hire people directly through the state’s One-Stop Career Centers and may also contract with private nonprofit agencies and organizations to assist with disaster relief efforts.
For more information, log onto www.Jobs4Jersey.com, or call 877-682-6238 or 800-233-5005 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Email sandyhelp@dol.state.nj.us with any further questions. 

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

HSUS and N.J. Health Department house displaced Sandy pets

Immediately preceding Superstorm Sandy, the Ocean County Health Department partnered with the Humane Society of the United States to set up a temporary emergency animal shelter, which closed on Friday, Nov. 30. During the course of the month, the former dog kennel located on Collinstown Road in Barnegat had housed more than 200 pets.

Photo by Ryan Morrill
HSUS staff off veterinary care to pets at
the temporary emergency animal shelter,
located in Barnegat, N.J.
Most of the animals were picked up from their devastated homes by HSUS via the New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Pet Rescue hotline, animal control or the SPCA. Others were dropped off by displaced county residents who had been staying at one of the area’s two designated pet-friendly shelters and were later transferred to places where animals were not accepted.
“These are not stray animals that were just kind of roaming the streets after the storm. Most of these animals actually had owners,” said Brian Lippai, manager of the Northern and Southern Ocean County Animal Facilities. “Most of these folks either lost their home, or a portion of their home, but their home is uninhabitable. So they have to make other arrangements.
“It’s difficult because if they do find housing, a lot of these folks can’t take their pets for one reason or another; somebody’s allergic, or their friend can’t take another dog or another cat because they’re not compatible. You name it, there’s a reason why somebody can’t take their pet,” he explained.
Exotic pets, including rabbits, fish, hamsters and even a few hermit crabs, as well as a plethora of cats and dogs, stayed at the shelter. Each animal was fed, groomed and medically treated on a daily basis by HSUS staff and volunteers. Many of the animals’ owners regularly came in to snuggle and interact with them.
“We really want to provide (the animals with) what they would be getting in their own homes, even though they’re in a temporary situation,” said Michelle Lago, a consultant with the HSUS animal rescue team. “It’s a disaster out there, but it’s not a disaster in here. We try to make it like home for them.
“The last thing we want to place on an owner who’s lost everything is that their pet needs vet care. We have it; we’ve got it under control. We can take care of it, and we can send them home with a healthy pet or a pet with medication. We really provide the owner with everything that we possibly can. So it’s one less thing on their mind,” she emphasized.
Although most of the animals’ owners have been contacted and their pets have been retrieved or surrendered to the county, there were still about 40 of them still at the shelter this past weekend. Two dogs and a number of cats still remained on Saturday, Dec. 1. Though obviously distraught, it was easy to see they were receiving plenty of attention from the staff and volunteers who were caring for them.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Brian Lippai, manager of the Ocean County
Animal facilities, soothes an anxious dog
waiting to be picked up by his owner.
“The animals are well taken care of, but they wish they could be home with their owners, sitting on the couch, chewing on a bone or chasing a ball. I can’t blame them,” said Lippai, petting a gray and white poodle that had greeted him with a loud bark.
Seaside Heights resident Mary O’Connor had a bright smile spread across her face as she picked up her cat Spooky Boo from the temporary shelter that day. But she wasn’t taking her feline friend home. Spooky Boo was headed for Maplewood, where resident Becky Sierp would be fostering her for a few weeks until her owner, whose beachfront home was destroyed during the storm, could find a place to rent.
The two women, who had never met until that day, got in contact via FosteraSandyPet.org, an online social network that is connecting displaced families who need help caring for their pets with potential foster caregivers. The network is a collaboration among St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, HSUS and the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey. So far, more than 600 community members have signed up as fosters.
“It’s not really feasible for me to travel to the shore and help with cleanup since I live so far away, but I can help this way,” said Sierp, while loading Spooky Boo and her provided supplies into the back of her car.
Sierp said she would keep in contact with O’Connor via phone and e-mail and would be sending weekly updated pictures.
“The community support has been amazing,” said Lago. “Even though they’ve been the ones going through these horrible circumstances, people have been coming in and bringing donations, supplies, treats, food, cat litter and toys, which we’ve been able to pass on to owners or fosters. We’ve been able to provide everything they need because of these donations, so we’re very thankful for that.”
The rest of the animals still waiting at the shelter will be transferred to one of the county’s two animal facilities until their owners or temporary caregivers can retrieve them. Pets relinquished to the county will be put up for adoption through state and out-of-state animal facilities.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Mary O'Connor places her cat Spooky Boo
into the back of Becky Sierp's car who is 

fostering the animal until its displaced
owner can find a place to rent.
“We’re not going to euthanize any of these pets; we’re going to find them homes,” said Lippai. “We’re not going to say, ‘Beat it’ and let the cats out the back door, either. But the shelters pretty much work at full capacity 90 percent of the time, so we’re hoping anyone who’s willing to foster one of these pets will do so.”
Dorothy Reynolds, president of the Friends of the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter, said she hopes many people will consider adopting a shelter pet at this time, especially during the holidays. She also urged people to remember that pets are not novelties, and that they need a “warm, loving, forever home.”
If anyone is unable to care for his or her pet, Reynolds suggests stopping by a shelter to acquire pet supplies, or surrender them to an animal facility.
“Many people think if they let their animals go as strays, someone will wind up taking care of them. But oftentimes that’s not the case,” she said. “It’s a frightening experience for a pet to be taken from their home, where they’ve had a caregiver, and to be dropped off in the woods,” she added, while also mentioning that many stray animals are more susceptible to contracting diseases or getting injured or abused.
Anyone looking for his or her pet should call the New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Pet Rescue hotline at 1-855-407-4787. The direct line is available 24 hours a day. For more information, visit fosterasandypet.org.


This article was published in The SandPaper.