Wednesday, September 14, 2016

LGBTQ Intergenerational Group seeks to broaden diversity, perspective of its participants

Photo via Google
The group invites LGBTQ individuals
as well as their family and friends.
Members of the LGBTQ Intergenerational Group that meets at Stockton University’s Manahawkin Instructional Site in Stafford Township are hoping to draw more participants, especially younger individuals. The group, hosted by Stockton’s Center on Successful Aging the second Thursday of every month, from 10 a.m. to noon, is typically attended by three to four couples in their mid-50s to early 70s. While they find comfort in connecting with other like-minded individuals their own age, most of them said they want the group to include a more diverse age range. So far, the group doesn’t consist of enough different generations, which the members believe would help broaden their perspective.
“We know there’s a need in this area (for this type of group) because there’s nothing else here, but we don’t seem to be drawing what we need,” said Gina Maguire, SCOSA program assistant, who noted there are more opportunities available in northern Ocean County and beyond.
The current participants, most of whom declined to provide their identities due to fear of discrimination, said they’d like to share some of their wisdom with younger folk about growing up as an LGBTQ individual in a less accepting time.
Group member Earl Lewis, 64, of Little Egg Harbor, who was recently elected as treasurer for the board of trustees at the senior living community where he resides as an openly gay man, said he was fired from his job at a museum in New York in the late 1990s due to his “inappropriate lifestyle.” Since then, he said, he’s decided to live life as “an open book.”
“I think our life experiences have taught us to either guard our private lives, or, in my case, I have kind of an ‘f-you’ attitude,” he said. “If you don’t like who I am, that’s fine; you don’t have to. But you’re going to know me as I truly am. It’s only a part of who I am, but you’re going to know the whole picture.
“You have no idea how painful it is to be fired for something you have no control over and has no bearing on your ability to do your job. So I wasn’t going to waste my time,” he added.
Other attendees of the group, who had faced similar issues at work, said there are big differences in how older gay people handle these issues compared to younger gay people since the culture has become much more accepted by newer generations. But the younger generations didn’t fight the fight, the members said. They don’t share the history.
Ocean County itself has a history of prejudice, one member noted, referring to the “Freeheld” saga, when Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office police lieutenant Laurel Hester was denied by the Ocean County Board of Freeholders the right to transfer her pension benefits to her domestic partner after being diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2005.
The history of gay rights in New Jersey and across the nation has been a hot topic of discussion at the group's recent meetings. Last week, the members shared their concerns about the upcoming national election and how it could impact the progress of the LGBTQ community as a whole. While most of the members believe they haven’t faced any oppression in the local region, some of them said they’d be wary of putting up a gay flag on their lawn, especially considering the area’s largely conservative outlook.
But the group isn’t just about sharing war stories or discussing politics. It’s also a great place for LGBTQ individuals to talk about new books and movies surrounding the culture as well as to share educational information.
Edith Giberson, who initially started the group in February as part of her master’s degree program in social work at Monmouth University to help further human rights and social justice in the area, noted there are many gaps in LGBTQ healthcare. For instance, she said, the closest assisted-living facilities geared toward LGBTQ individuals are in Philadelphia and the Bronx.
“There’s a lottery to get in, and it’s really difficult. And neither of them are in New Jersey,” noted Maguire, who added that, according to a recent Monmouth University study, many doctor’s offices claim not to have any LGBTQ patients or say they simply treat everybody the same.
“But it’s different,” Maguire stated. “It’s not the same. It’s like being colorblind. It doesn’t work like that. People have been treated poorly because they have a partner instead of a husband or wife. There really is a disparity in care.”
Mostly, however, the members of the group are just looking to share a safe place with other LGBTQ individuals. It’s always safer to talk within “your own community” than to be spouting those thoughts and feelings to a straight audience, one member said. Plus there’s a sense of camaraderie. Some of the members grab lunch together after the meetings or meet up for other outside occasions.
To make it easier for other people to attend, the group expects to hold Saturday meetings in the winter, when the new Bay Avenue Community Center opens in town. LGBTQ individuals and their families and friends are invited to attend.
For more information about the group, visit
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Beach Haven School’s new superintendent getting students involved with local library, knitting

Carl Krushinski, the new superintendent of the Beach Haven School, which opened for its first day of the new school year last Wednesday, is focused on more than just the students’ day-to-day classroom education. He hopes to help foster the district’s already tight-knit bond by getting the children involved in more community-focused projects and outings such as having the students take regular trips to the Beach Haven Public Library.
When Krushinski started as superintendent in July, he was offered an opportunity to be a part of the local library committee, which he said has given him insight into some of the other aspects of town, including the need for the students to become more involved with the facility.
Photo via Google
Beach Haven School students will get to interact
with the library's knitting group in the future.
“Over the last three years the prior superintendent didn’t really let the students go to the public library, so one thing that I decided to do this year is give some of the grades actual library time to get a library card and check out books and be a part of all that,” Krushinski stated.
Students in kindergarten through third grade will get to spend time at the library during the regular school day at least once a month, he noted.
Krushinski is also acting with the school board to help restore the school’s own library, which he said used to be more extensive before it was “dismantled a bit” during the last few years. The school board and library committee will be working together over the next three years to rebuild the collection of books.
The superintendent hopes to also join forces with the public library’s local knitting group to encourage more of a connection between the students and the community’s older citizens. An avid knitter himself, Krushinski said the art form is great for improving hand-eye coordination as well as to practice counting. He said he learned how to knit many years ago while working at an elementary school in Plumstead Township, where it was taught to help students with ADHD.
“We found that when they knit, it helps them to focus and keep their hands busy, which I thought was a great idea,” Krushinski stated. “Over the years I’ve wanted to make this more available to students that have never had the opportunity. So now with this local club right down the road, I think we can get something going.
“The way I look at Beach Haven, the community stands behind its school 100 percent. But there’s very little opportunity for people that don’t have children in school anymore to participate. So this, I think, will be a great connection between the kids and some older adults,” he added.
Down the line, Krushinski would like to get the students involved in knitting projects that can be donated to the hospital or a homeless shelter to help cultivate stewardship among the children.
“I think there’s a lot of potential down the road for that,” he said. “It’s a great skill because it’s something the students can do whenever they have some down time, so it gets them away from electronics.”
In the meantime, Krushinski said he is concentrating on moving through the school year and making recommendations as needed. He hopes to maintain a “really positive interaction” with the students and their families as well as the overall community.
“It’s been great so far,” he said. “Everyone has been very informative and helpful. We had a great first day from beginning to end, and everything went extremely well. It’s just one big family.”
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Setting the pool heater is just a tap away with a smartphone

It’s no secret that Long Beach Island is one of the best places to spend the dog days of summer. But residents and visitors of the area also know that the cooler weather during the fall season presents its own special outdoor experience, especially if it includes relaxing in a heated pool.
With Pentair’s ScreenLogic interface now offered at Hutchison Fiberglass Pools and Spa in Surf City, the convenience of setting the pool heater to the perfect temperature is just a tap away with a smartphone. The plug-in system allows users with an Apple or Android phone to control a pool’s functions and other outdoor systems from anywhere in the world.
Photo via Hutchison Pools
A pool in Beach Haven is heated up before
vacationers even arrive at the home.
“Anything you want to have outside – pool or garden lights, outdoor speakers – you wire it up to this box and it’s controlled on your iPhone,” said Joe Hutchison, owner of Hutchison Pools. “It’s basically the same system people have in their homes to control their TVs and their lights and everything, only it’s for a pool.”
Hutchison decided to offer the product to customers after seeing it featured at the Pool and Spa Show in Atlantic City in January. Although the product came out a few years ago, he said “it really blew up this year.” It’s especially useful for seasonal homeowners who’d like to have their pool heated up by the time they arrive for a weekend visit, or if residents are coming back from vacation or even just from the store.
“Instead of people who are on their way down and want their heater turned on calling us to do it, now they can do it themselves. So it gives them more control over their system,” Hutchison said. “You can program it to come on and do whatever you want at any time.”
The easy-to-use technology is great for making sure everything’s turned off when rushing out the door, he added. The interface also offers peace of mind since it can be used to make sure everything’s working properly. The program can even check the salt level of the pool, though pool chemicals cannot be monitored.
Email and text message alerts are immediately sent out if there’s a problem so it can be taken care of right away. Hutchison staff work up and down LBI every day and can immediately respond to issues. The company monitors about 200 pools weekly throughout the season.
Using the ScreenLogic interface requires having Pentair’s EasyTouch automation system, which Hutchison’s has been installing in the area for 10 years. The full Pentair package costs about $2,500 altogether and comes with a complete three-year warranty, Hutchison noted.
About 20 to 25 of the plug-ins have been installed by Hutchinson’s this season, and the local business expects to sell more in the future.
“Everybody who has it loves it,” Hutchison stated, noting he and his son, Joey, who also works for the company, both have the systems installed at their homes.
Hutchison said he loves the convenience of operating it by phone instead of through a remote control that requires batteries, which is also an available option.
“You have your phone on you at all times, so it’s nice to be outside when you’re having a big party and just go on your phone and change colors and do stuff like that,” he said. “I even have the remote, and I just don’t use it anymore. It’s all through my iPhone.”
For more information, visit or call 609-361-0202.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in HomeFront.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Beach Haven’s Essex Avenue beach closed due to severe erosion from Hermine

Photo by Gretchen Coyle
Storm surges eroded the sand up to
the dunes at the Essex Avenue beach.
While Tropical Storm Hermine fortunately didn’t hit Long Beach Island with severely devastating conditions as initially predicted by some weather forecasters, Beach Haven’s recently replenished beaches were impacted by the strong storm surges.
“All the beaches had a good bit of erosion. Maybe about a quarter to an eighth of what they put down was taken back,” said Beach Haven Police Sgt. Tom Medel.
The replenishment work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Environmental Protection’s post-Superstorm Sandy project was conducted in Beach Haven by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. this past May and June.
The borough’s Essex Avenue beach was the most harshly affected by Hermine, with erosion all the way up to the dune fencing. On Monday the local police department closed off the beach entrance due to a 2-foot drop-off.
“We were afraid that somebody was just going to not see it in the dark or low lighting and possibly hurt themselves,” Medel said.
Although street flooding can also be an issue in town during storms, the borough experienced only very minor flooding.
“We got lucky that way,” Medel stated.
If the storm had created a major issue for the town, local emergency personnel were ready for action.
“We dodged a bullet, but we were prepared,” said Jim White, borough council president.
White, along with Bill Tromm, head of Beach Haven’s Emergency Operations Center, attended a briefing on the storm at the Ocean County Sheriff's Department Office of Emergency Management in Berkeley Township Sunday night. The meeting, led by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, was held so state and local officials could discuss the different commodities that were available if necessary.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.