Thursday, January 31, 2013

LBIF event signifies LBI's recovery, praises local surfers

Photo by Ryan Morrill
Over 300 people showed up at the LBIF to
view a documentary on Superstorm Sandy.
The sound of clinking beer bottles, genial conversation and jazz-fusion tunes played by local band Nicotine and Brown filled the dimly lit gallery of the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies on Saturday night. More than 300 people gathered to view the release of “East Coast Rising.” The 23-minute documentary, produced by Transition Productions, chronicles the before and after effects of Superstorm Sandy on New Jersey’s shore towns, as seen through the eyes of local surfers. The film showcases the surfers’ anticipation of large waves brought on by the hurricane season, as well as the looming fear of destruction that could, and did, occur.

Many of the night’s participants had already watched the heart-wrenching video online, via a link on the Jetty + Waves for Water Facebook page, which has been keeping residents abreast of the group’s Sandy relief initiatives. Yet they really wanted to come out to show their appreciation for the relief efforts spearheaded by the shore’s surfing groups.
“I’m here because I want to support any activity that helps the victims of Sandy recover. When surfing’s involved, you know it’s important," said Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora. “It gives us a better attachment to the ocean and nature because you’re riding in concert with nature, not against it,” added the long-time surf enthusiast, who grew up in Manahawkin and Surf City.
The event raised more than $12,000The $20 tickets sold out weeks in advance, and there was an extra $10 donation for beer and wine as well as a raffle. A silent auction included such items as artwork donated by local artists, including Ann Coen, Matt Burton and Chris Pfiel, as well as a stand-up paddleboard valued at $850 donated by Paddle for a Purpose via South End Surf ’N Paddle. A package given by Royce Weber included a 5-foot 10-inch Roberts surfboard along with one-hour surf and sailing lessons.The funds benefited Waves for Water’s Unite and Rebuild relief project, which, in conjunction with local apparel company Jetty, has helped repair many of the Superstorm Sandy-devastated towns along the coast, including Long Beach Island and the surrounding communities.
“It’s always great to have these moments,” said Jon Rose, founder of the California-based nonprofit organization Waves for Water. “Events like these are nice reminders and validations of the work that’s happening. They’re morale boosters. It’s important to keep the momentum and spark going.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
With the help of some big-ticket auction items,
The 'East Coast Rising' event raised over $12,000
for W4W's Sandy reilef initiative.
“I’ve worked everywhere: Japan, Pakistan, Haiti. It doesn’t matter where a natural disaster happens. It’s a little easier in a first-world country because everyone can pool together leftover resources, but there are still the same human needs. Disasters don’t discriminate,” he added.
Depending on the need, Rose said the organization would continue to work in the area for at least another year. When asked about his commitment to his organization’s mission, he said, “I don’t know how to not do this. It’s hard to explain; it feels like a calling.”
Later in the night, Rose wrote out four checks worth $5,000 each to help local individuals in need. Jetty co-owner Jeremy DeFilippis also awarded a $5,000 check to Vilardi Construction LLC, whose owner, Dan Vilardi, is still displaced, yet has “acted as a warrior” during the recovery process. Vilardi has put a measureless number of hours into helping friends and neighbors rebuild their homes and businesses, including Foster’s Farm Market in Beach Haven. So far, the local apparel company has donated more than $200,000 to activities involved with the relief initiative, which it has raised through the sale of its Hurricane Sandy Relief T-shirts and pullovers.
Although the event at the LBIF served as a much-needed break in the disruption of everyday life that Sandy has imposed on the area, it also acted as another chance to involve the public in the recovery process. Postcards of local surfers riding rolling waves and of colorful landscapes of the rising and setting sun along the Island’s beaches, telling the story of the region’s recovery following the storm, were handed out. A mailbox was provided so people could send them to friends and family members to help spread the word about Long Beach Island’s upcoming summer season.
“The ultimate story is that LBI will be open for business this summer,” said local surfer and freelance writer Jon Coen. “We realize that people who are in New York and Pennsylvania and North Jersey keep seeing the images of the Jet Star (roller coaster) falling into the ocean off Casino Pier, and Breezy Point burned to the ground, and they think that these coastal areas are ruined, and they might start planning their trips to upstate New York or Cape Hatteras, or something like that. But LBI is not Seaside, and while Jetty and Waves for Water is working alongside other surfers in Seaside and they’re not going to be back to normal this summer, we will be almost normal. So we’re trying to tell people, ‘Hey, we are open, come down, plan your trip,’ because we need people to come down and spend their money next summer.”
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Jazz-fusion tunes played by local band Nicotine
and brown helped participants get into the LBI-
summertime mood.
The evening was an obvious symbol of the area’s and its residents’ readiness for the coming season. The aroma of seared mahi mahi, crabby mac-n-cheese and lime chipotle slaw, among other delicious delicacies catered by Mud City Crab House of Manahawkin, left the partygoers feeling relaxed and excited for the upcoming summertime activities and certain of continuing recovery efforts with the local surfers.
“The community’s surfers have come to the forefront and really taken an activist’s role during the recovery process,” said Ray Fisk, a local resident and owner of Down The Shore Publishing. “These things are really cool to see.”
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Founder of NJ Charter Schools Assn. publishes first book

“My first year teaching, like many people’s first year of teaching, was staggeringly traumatic. For somebody to go to Princeton, and then get a job, and feel like they’re totally unprepared, tells you something about the field,” admitted Sarah Tantillo, author of the recently published The Literacy Cookbook. “It was a challenge. I don’t want people to suffer the way I did,” she added with a laugh.

Photo provided by Sarah Tantillo
New Jersey Charter Schools Association
founder Sarah Tantillo has published her
first book The Literacy Cookbook.
Based on many years of experience as a high school English and humanities teacher, as well as an educational consultant and founder and director of the New Jersey Charter School Resource Center and the New Jersey Charter Schools Association, Tantillo has written The Literacy Cookbook to be used as a practical guide for English and non-English teachers alike. It is published by Jossey-Bass.
“This is the book that I wish somebody had handed me when I started teaching, to help me understand how to teach kids how to read, write, speak and listen effectively. But it’s not just for first-year teachers. It’s for anybody who’s looking to improve the practice,” she said.
Tantillo attended Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin and even landed a job as an English teacher there after graduating from Princeton in 1987. Although the Belmar resident acknowledged that the state’s common core standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects have certainly improved since then, she said not all English school teachers, or any school teachers for that matter, follow the same teaching curriculum. Teachers must work off of what is available to them through the school, which makes effectively instructing students on how to read, write, speak and listen a very complex yet essential feat, no matter what the topic of discussion might be, whether it’s science, history or even math.
Many teachers have not been clear on what types of goals they’re supposed to be reaching, Tantillo said. The common core standards eliminate that problem, she stressed.
“I think the common core standards have tremendous potential to transform the field if people could really dive into them and devote significant attention to how these standards will inform their instruction because they are targeting really appropriate goals for children in terms of English language arts and literacy. They are organized in a very logical way, and they address every standard,” Tantillo noted.
The Literacy Cookbook, which is geared to those who teach at the K-12 level, also derives from other similar books on reading and writing instruction published within the last 10 years, which Tantillo said “simply weren’t available to me in the ’80s.” Her professional reading and graduate school training at Harvard University, as well as other career development opportunities she has encountered, have helped her to achieve a sensible and practical means for explaining the best way to train different types of learners, especially those who are struggling to grasp the different concepts.
An expert in the literacy field, Tantillo said she has tested each of the methods mentioned in the book on other school teachers. These techniques, she said, are actually proven strategies.
“I have a lot of confidence that what I’m putting out there is practical and useful for people, and that if they dig into it on Saturday, then Monday morning they can do some things differently.”
Tantillo is currently working on a follow-up book to The Literacy Cookbook, which she said really tackles the common core standards with what she calls RPMs, or rigorous, purposeful and measurable objectives.
Anyone who purchases The Literacy Cookbook will receive a free 30-day trial subscription to the accompanying website, The website is filled with even more resources for teachers to find downloadable materials related to a range of topics.
“The website is a key part of the puzzle because I could not have put everything that’s on the website in the book. The book would be 1,012 pages long if I did that,” Tantillo said with a chuckle.
Area residents might recognize the book’s illustrations as being the work of Tantillo’s friend, Sandy Gingras, owner of the two LBI How to Live stores and author/illustrator of books under that imprint.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Habitat for Humanity of Southern Ocean County to help repair homes devastated by Sandy

Habitat for Humanity of Southern Ocean County’s board of directors put the finishing touches on the organization’s Home Repair Program application on Monday, Jan. 21. The two-page submission form is specifically geared toward local residents who suffered devastation to their houses from Superstorm Sandy and need help repairing those damages.

Photo by Ryan Morrill
Habitat for Humanity of Southern Ocean
County's board of directors finalized
the Home Repair Program applications
on Monday, Jan. 21.
“It’s taken a little bit of time. While other Habitats do this kind of stuff, we’re kind of starting from scratch,” said Greg Muszynski, director of operations for the local nonprofit organization. “So I’ve kind of been looking around for best practices from other affiliates and trying to tailor them to what our capabilities are,” he added.
Specific eligibility guidelines apply for the program, including income level, the ability to repay, point of need and willingness to do the sweat-equity hours, or the time candidates devote to receiving the right to purchase their own homes.
The type of needed repairs is also an important factor, as the organization “does not want to bite off more than they can chew and end up not being able to deliver on what we promised,” Muszynski explained.
Individuals or families that fulfill all of the expected requirements will be asked to take part in a home visit with one of the institution’s construction committee personnel to make sure all qualifications match up.
“We’re going to try and focus on doing the most with what we have. So if we can take on smaller projects that might only take a week or two, we can help more people than if we were going to do kind of a larger project,” said Muszynski.
Though the organization’s primary focus is not centered on larger scale projects during the area’s recovery process at this time, Muszysnki said the group might opt to do so on a case-by-case basis.
Immediately following the storm, the group received calls from area residents who needed help with demolition projects. Muszynski said the organization wasn’t able to offer that type of assistance then.
“We are not first responders. We are the people that come in after everything begins to sort of settle back down,” he noted. “We tend to help the people who don’t necessarily have the resources to do it themselves, and people who may not have had flood insurance because they couldn’t afford it. These are people who generally do not qualify for traditional bank loans for repairs.
“Part of the beauty of this program, and Habitat in general, is that while we make mortgages, we are not a bank. If you run into trouble as a Habitat partner family, we are there to kind of help you out of that trouble as well. If you run into some financial difficulty, we want to be the first call you make because we’re flexible enough to try to help you through whatever problems you’re having. We’re not going to drop the hammer on somebody and say, ‘Well, you’ve got to be out of your house, you missed a mortgage payment,’” he added.
Habitat for Humanity affiliates from Camden, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio have offered to help the local organization with the upcoming projects.
The home repairs will later coincide with a single-family house project in Ocean Acres, which the organization took on through an Affordable Housing grant it received from Stafford Township. The project is supposed to help fulfill the town’s Fair Share Housing obligations in accordance with the state’s Council on Affordable Housing requirements.
Applications are available at the organization's office in West Creek. Email for an electronic copy.
For additional information, visit Muszynski said he is hoping the area churches will also help spread the word.

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lavish Salon re-opens in Beach Haven on LBI after Sandy

Photo by Kelley Anne Essinger
Lavish Salon owner Brittany Romano and her
staff have returned to Beach Haven, and the
shop is in full swing, offering all previously
offered services. 
After suffering from 2 feet of floodwater damage following Superstorm Sandy, Lavish Salon is back in action at its Beach Haven location on Bay Avenue. Salon owner Brittany Romano and her accompanying hairdressers, assistants and manicurists worked out of Deb’s Mane Tease in Beach Haven West for nearly two months, while the shop’s landlord, Kevin Wark, worked tirelessly to repair the damages at the LBI site. The women welcomed their clients back to the Island last Saturday on Jan. 12, complete with portable space heaters.

“It felt really good” to be back, Romano said with a sigh of relief. “Through the holidays, I almost wasn’t ready because I knew once I got in, there was going to be so much work. But I’d say right after the New Year, the urge really kicked in, like it was time to be back. It was great. Just to be in there felt so good. We were pretty much booked all day, and we were getting random clients not even with appointments stopping in to say, ‘Hello.’ So it felt really good to be back,” she emphasized.
The salon has resumed its normal winter business hours, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. The salon will also open on Tuesdays in May and June and will include Sundays during July and August.
“In the beginning, after the storm first happened, I was a little worried, and I really didn’t think (business) would be good. But it’s been good already,” Romano said. “We might actually even be busier than we were last year, between workers on the Island and more people finding out about us, because a more limited amount of businesses is open right now. We’ve had a bunch of new clients already, and it’s only been a couple of days.”
After only five days working at the salon’s home base in Beach Haven, Romano said eight new clients had come in for service. New customers had even come in for assistance while Lavish Salon’s employees had been working at Deb’s Mane Tease during November and December. Romano attributed the steady clientele to posts about the business’ relocation, made through Facebook.
The congenial spirit inside the salon may have helped, too.
“Our scheduling was a little tough, with clients trying to get in touch with us to schedule their appointments, and then having to think about what products we had to bring in for those particular clients that day, because we used all our own products,” Romano explained. “But the environment itself, everyone that works there at Deb’s, was such a pleasure. They were so welcoming, it was as if we worked with them for years. So we didn’t feel awkward at all. It was a great atmosphere to temporarily be in,” she added.
Photo by Kelley Anne Essinger
The salon's employees spend the afternoon
putting together new furniture in the gallery.
Back at the salon’s permanent location, some new furniture still needs to be ordered and put together, and a great deal of organizing still needs to take place. The building’s baseboard heating system was reintroduced the Wednesday following the opening weekend.
Romano plans to offer a day of $5 manicures and blowouts for men and women in February, which she said would be a nice treat for the area’s residents. For more information, visit

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jersey Shore Town Officials Oppose Beach Fee Elimination Bill

In the midst of recovery from Superstorm Sandy, state Senate President and 3rd District Sen. Stephen M. Sweeney and 23rd District Sen. Michael J. Doherty introduced New Jersey State Senate Bill 2368. The bill, if passed, would require shore municipalities accepting government funds for storm-damaged beach replenishment to provide free beach access and public bathroom facilities.

Photo by Jack Reynolds
Beach crews on LBI and other neighboring
shore towns that need beach replenishment
following Sandy could be a thing of the past
if the beach fee elimination bill is passed.
In response, Surf City Borough Mayor Leonard T. Connors Jr., who incorporated the idea of beach tags on Long Beach Island in Surf City when he first became mayor of the town more than 50 years ago, called the bill “absolutely ridiculous” and said he “unalterably opposed it.” He said he does not expect the area’s taxpayers to pay for the lifeguards, daily beach cleaning, parking issues, extra security personnel and civil suits brought against the local municipalities in connection with beach-related issues that come with accepting visitors on the Island during the summer season. Residents and non-residents alike, he believes, should share those costs.
According to records kept every year by Surf City borough, those expenditures cost the town nearly $20,000 annually. The un-audited revenue generated from beach badge fees in Surf City in 2012 was $563,838, said David Pawlishak, the borough’s chief financial officer. The town’s total expenses for maintaining the beaches that year were $584,129, a loss of $20,291. Those numbers do not include insurance premiums, which Pawlishak said would probably cost the town much less if it were not responsible for such a liability as a public beach.
Connors has sent a letter to the town’s residents, asking them to contact their senators to express their discontent with the proposed legislation.
“The minute the beaches are free, I can guarantee you we will no longer have lifeguards, we will no longer pick up the trash, we will no longer have police protection and so forth, because the taxpayers aren’t going to be able to afford to pay that,” Connors told The SandPaper. “People will be swimming in an unguarded beach, and the (beach crews) are not going to be picking up the trash like they do at dawn every day. The beach sweeper costs many, many thousands of dollars. Who do you think pays for that? The people that use the beach. It’s not anything that benefits the municipality,” he added.
Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini agreed, saying, “We’re totally against the beach badge elimination bill because it’s a user fee. It’s a public safety issue: Beach badge fees pay for our lifeguards.” And, he added, the township can’t entirely absorb those costs because of the mandated tax levy. “We feel the bill is a totally irresponsible move by the senators that proposed it,” he said.
Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove, a former Long Beach Township mayor and lifelong Island resident, said good, clean beaches with free admittance would be available only in a perfect world. She said the Island’s inhabitants are proud of its beaches, which are kept clean and safe because of the revenue generated from the area’s mandatory summer beach badges.
“People complain if there’s garbage or seaweed or jellyfish on the beach, so we try to get things done as quickly as possible so the beach is clean and safe. But that all costs money,” explained Gove. “If you really added up the amount it takes to maintain the beaches all year long, it’s more than the amount that comes in. Some of the people, business owners, don’t even get to use the beaches because they’re trying to make money. We don’t have those revenues of big casinos or a boardwalk to help defray the costs. So, therefore, we ask the people that are using the beaches just to help pay for it. That’s what’s helping our area’s economy. We’re not doing it to keep the people away. We’re trying to get the people to come here by saying, ‘Look how pristine our beaches are.’”
Gove said the state is having enough trouble as it is with the economy, especially after Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc along the shore. She added that Island Beach State Park, which is state-run, also requires beach fees.
On behalf of the shared interests of their corresponding constituent municipalities, representatives of the 9th and 1st legislative district delegations, including Gove, have written to state Senate President Stephen Sweeney to ask that he reevaluate his decision to sponsor legislation S-2368. They also contacted Gov. Christie and asked him to veto the legislation should it make it to his office.
“In accessing the overall damage, it is imperative that we do not lose sight of the fact that those municipalities where beach replenishment projects were more recently completed were able to withstand the hurricane/superstorm better than those municipalities in need of beach replenishment,” the letter noted. “This is a testament to the overall success of the beach replenishment program. Withholding desperately needed replenishment funds clearly sends the wrong message and devalues how important beach replenishment is to protecting our state’s coastline, especially in those counties that stand to lose substantial tax revenue in the coming months and years from damaged and destroyed properties.”

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

LBI artist loses to Sandy, sells 'Remember the Shack' postcards

Photo by Ryan Morrill
"Remember the Shack 10/29/12" postcards
feature four earlier photos of the LBI novelty.
Renowned local artist Tony Desiderio is selling “Remember the Shack 10/29/12” postcards to help him pay for the $10,000 he lost in art work damages due to Superstorm Sandy. He suffered similar damages this past June when a “freak storm” consisting of 60 mile an hour winds, lightning and flooding blew through Long Beach Island and destroyed most of his handmade, framed prints, which he sells out of an exhibit trailer on his front yard in Beach Haven Crest during the summertime. Along with a monthly Social Security check he uses to afford rent, the money he receives from his sales during the area’s tourism season just barely allows him to buy the everyday necessities throughout the year.

“I started rebuilding after the June storm again, and it took me the whole summer. I couldn’t open up; I had to wait. I said, ‘I’ll have everything ready for Christmas.’ And don’t you think, Oct. 29, the biggest tragedy of my life occurred,” Desiderio remembered. “I lost all my trade tools and everything else. The trailer had so much water in it that it rusted the hinges, and we had to break the door off. So it’s completely shot now; the tires are flat. I lost 71 frames; all the mats and giclees all got ruined. They’re all waterlogged; they’re all busted up. If I don’t have art, you might as well say I can starve here,” he admitted.
On behalf of his daughters’ urgency, Desiderio evacuated from his oceanside home on LBI the day before Sandy hit. He fled to Staten Island, N.Y., with just the clothes he was wearing. For six weeks, he stayed with his daughter Dominique Desiderio-Murphy and his son-in-law Mike Murphy in their studio apartment, while other Sandy evacuees returned home to repair their storm-ravaged homes in nearby Zone A areas, including South Beach, Midland Beach and other low-lying areas on Staten Island. LBI residents were not allowed back on the Island for a few weeks following the storm as emergency personnel worked to clear the area of treacherous materials.
“I didn’t want to evacuate the Island. Everything that I own is here: my paints, my brushes. This is it. And I just wanted to be with it,” said Desiderio. “I was so depressed, and I had to put off an operation. I was living up in New York, going out of my mind in a studio apartment with my daughter and son-in-law for six weeks. All I wanted to do was come back (to the Island). Totally I had nothing; I was completely wiped out.”
To ease his mind, friend and local writer Corinne Gray Ruff sent Desiderio a book to read. Inside, he said he found a $50 check to help him get back on track. The Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences also reached out to the local artist, offering space in its art studio for him to use at will.
“That’s what we’re here to do, to be a part of the community and open our doors to anyone that was affected by the storm, especially artists, and share our space,” said Kristy Redford, LBIF’s public programs and membership coordinator. “I knew he was one artist who had lost everything, and we have our painter’s loft available, so I didn’t hesitate to offer that to him.”
Members from Jetty + Waves for Water supplied Desiderio with a power saw and drill so he could begin making frames again. His daughter also started a Tony Desiderio LBI Artist Hurricane Help donation page through, which many of his supporters have donated to.
Desiderio said the outpouring of generosity he has received from residents of LBI has given him the strength, courage and financial means to purchase new art materials and continue with his passion, creating artwork. In return, he said he had donated the two last “A Moment of Prayer” canvases that were saved during the storm, to local residents Chris Ball and Ann Coen. He had originally painted the picture for the Twin Towers Orphan Fund in 2001, and also donated a copy to the Veterans Square Clock project in downtown Barnegat in 2003.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Renowned LBI artist, Tony Desiderio hopes
to sell enough of the post cards to pay for all
of the artwork he lost due to Superstorm Sandy.
Since painting at home is more suitable for his when-inspiration-strikes method, Desiderio said he would be creating a special painting of one of his famous “Crying Mermaid” artworks to be auctioned off at the LBIF. To make the piece more relevant to Sandy, he said he added a puppy to the picture, which would represent the five dogs he and his daughter rescued from LBI after the storm. The dogs are now in Staten Island, but the Doberman he found will be returned to him when his second-floor apartment is in a more livable condition.
Anyone interested in ordering Desiderio’s “Remember the Shack” postcards, which feature a gravestone in the middle of four different pictures he took of the shack in 1976, ’86, ’96 and ’01 and used for his Long Beach Island Classic “The Shack” Years Gone By project may call Desiderio at 609-848-0166. A minimum purchase of five cards is required. Cards cost $2 each. For more information, visit

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ALO holds first cleanup of the year on LBI, Jetty gives $10,000

Photo by Jack Reynolds
ALO's executive director welcomes
volunteers during LBI's first
environmental cleanup of the year.
Cleaning up the beaches on Long Beach Island has become more of a year-round task than a before-and-after-summer duty for the Alliance for a Living Ocean and its many passionate volunteers following Superstorm Sandy. The local environmental group has been organizing weekly cleanups along LBI and the surrounding regions as part of a community-wide effort, led by Jetty + Waves 4 Water, to rebuild the area’s devastated towns.

Members of ALO met up with nearly 50 volunteers bright and early at Bayview Park in Brant Beach on Saturday, Jan. 5, for its first environmental cleanup of 2013. The group worked well into the afternoon, collecting litter left over from Sandy and the more recent December northeaster, which re-flooded the area and scattered piles of storm-tainted debris from curbsides and sidewalks into the streets and onto bay beaches.
“It was a little discouraging getting out for the first time since some of those large storms to have to go and clean up areas that were already done, just knowing how much work went into cleaning those areas,” said Chris Huch, ALO’s executive director. “But the stuff that ended up being deposited by the last flooding event was stuff that was going to end up on beaches or wetlands at some point, whether from runoff or things like that. So it’s a step in the right direction, even though it was a minor setback. In terms of the larger picture, it was a really good thing,” he added.
Because of the severe devastation caused by the slew of recent storms, ALO has been focusing on cleaning up many areas it wouldn’t necessarily be concerned with, such as low-lying streets, parks and playgrounds. On Saturday, volunteers targeted the beaches in Ship Bottom and Beach Haven, as well as some streets and playgrounds in Brant Beach, Holgate and Beach Haven West. Volunteers ridded the areas of plastics, paper and other general litter, though cleaning supplies and large pieces of wood or decking too heavy to remove or dispose of were also found.
Angela Andersen, recycling/clean communities coordinator for Long Beach Township, headed a group of 15 volunteers, including students from Temple University’s rugby team, during the cleanup’s first trip to Holgate. Permission to enter the area had not been granted by the township before then due to safety concerns. Picnic tables, gas grills, lawn furniture and other large debris from the Joan Avenue Park, one of the township’s Green Acres parks and bay beaches, were stockpiled and immediately picked up by nearby disaster-relief contractors who transported the debris to the Ocean County Landfill in Manchester.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Long Beach Township's recycling/clean
communities coordinator leads a
group of Temple students to clean
the hardest hit area on LBI.
“It was a real good first sweep because it opened the way for the municipalities so they can come through, because we really have to start rebuilding our bay beaches,” Andersen noted. “We’re going to have to rebuild the tennis courts at the park because they got undermined, and we’re going to have to replace the playground equipment so that it gets back in ship-shape for the summer,” she added.
The storm-related cleanups began in November during Thanksgiving weekend. Though plans to start the cleanings on LBI were discussed immediately after Sandy hit the area, Huch said the organization did not want to get in the way of the municipal crews who were steadfastly working to sort out more-dire issues. Since then, the township, along with Jetty + Waves 4 Water, has been providing cleaning supplies for the volunteers. The Long Beach Island Health Department, which relocated to the Long Beach Township Municipal Complex in Brant Beach after its building suffered flood damage, has been offering free tetanus shots to safeguard residents and workers.
Todd Stone, 22, a college student who works as a Beach Haven lifeguard during the summer, had initially reached out to ALO to assist in helping clean up the area when he knew he would be home from school for Thanksgiving break. Huch said Stone had created a Facebook page for the event that accidentally went public and wound up bringing in more than 1,000 volunteers to help clean up the entire area from LBI to Tuckerton during the first event.
“Todd was one of the big people that stepped up and got the event going in the right direction, so he definitely deserves a lot of credit,” Huch emphasized.
Many volunteers, from local residents and neighboring inhabitants to out-of-state groups such as AmeriCorps and former ALO interns, have worked alongside ALO every week since then, for days at a time, to clear lingering Sandy remnants. But Huch said the number of people assisting has dwindled. Though he said he understands that people need to get back to their daily lives, he expressed a great need for further cleanups.
In order to help ALO continue its mission, Jetty, a local surf and skate apparel and screen-printing company, donated $10,000 to the nonprofit organization in December, which the company raised through its sale of Hurricane Sandy relief T-shirts. Jetty is still selling the shirts and will soon begin selling relief hoodies to support future donations.
“ALO is an important organization to have around and support,” said Jeremy DeFilippis, co-owner of Jetty. “They’re a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and they don’t even have an office right now. We imagined they could probably use every penny of (our donation) and more to get things back up and running. Something like (Sandy) could basically put an organization that small to sleep if they didn’t get donations.
“We just want to support their effort after Sandy and also hopefully help them get their feet back underneath them with everything that the ALO does, keeping our beaches clean, keeping our waterways clean and running some good events throughout the summer,” he added.
Huch said the generous donation will help ALO rebuild its office in Ship Bottom, which suffered from 3½ feet of flood water and mold damage even though the group immediately set to work cleaning the building after the storm. The organization will have to purchase new furniture and program materials that were destroyed as well. In the interim, Huch said he is working remotely from his bedroom at home, and the large donation made purchasing a smart phone for work purposes incredibly convenient.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Kate Stauffer of Temple buries a baby turtle
she found amidst the debris, along the beach.
“We really didn’t comprehend how vast of a donation we were getting (from Jetty),” said Huch. “We’ve had a lot of support from community members and Alliance for a Living Ocean members since the storm, but a donation of that size, even though it’s not going to be enough to put us back in the same place we were before the storm, was something that’s hard to even talk about. It was so exciting to see, and I was so taken aback by their generosity.”
ALO’s environmental cleanups will start taking place every other weekend, to give volunteers some time off and to encourage others to join the event. Reusable water bottles donated by Mizu, a California-based company and decorated with Jetty + Waves 4 Water decals, are being sold for $10 each, compared to the $12 other local distributors will offer; it is hoped that price will attract a larger attendance at the cleanups.
ALO is in the process of updating its website system to allow for faster updates. To stay current with information regarding the organization’s environmental cleanups, visit its Facebook page here.

This article was published in The SandPaper.