My Life Publications https://www.mtolivelife.com Online Local Community News for New Jersey Tue, 12 Nov 2019 20:25:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New Jersey Seniors Trail National Average in Medicare Advantage Participation https://www.mtolivelife.com/new-jersey-seniors-trail-national-average-in-medicare-advantage-participation.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/new-jersey-seniors-trail-national-average-in-medicare-advantage-participation.html#respond Tue, 12 Nov 2019 16:21:57 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48108 New Jersey Seniors Trail National Average in Medicare Advantage Participation

 

With the Medicare Annual Medicare Enrollment period well underway, Clover Health, one of New Jersey’s fastest-growing Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, reveals that just 27% of New Jersey seniors are enrolled in an MA plan, despite significant increases in enrollment nationwide over the past decade.

 

Each fall, older adults enrolled in Medicare are able to easily switch and join an Advantage plan. In 2019, the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) began on October 15 and runs through December 7. New coverage chosen during this year’s AEP will begin on January 1, 2020.

As of September 2019, nearly 1.8 million adults in New Jersey were eligible for Medicare—a 5.7% increase in that population since September 2018. Nevertheless, Garden State residents remain enrolled in MA plans at far lower rates than their peers throughout the country (34%).

 

“Choosing a healthcare plan is one of the most important decisions older adults make each year,” said Hiram Bermudez, VP of Northeast Operations, Clover Health. “That’s why Clover is urging the 73% of New Jersey seniors not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan to research their options outside of traditional Medicare and explore the high-quality, personalized benefits offered through MA, often at a lower cost.”

 

Medicare Advantage plans are part of the official Medicare system, but can also provide substantial hospital and doctor visit coverage, low premiums, and a wealth of additional benefits—including prescription drug coverage, in-home checkups, vision, dental, and hearing care—not covered by traditional Medicare.

 

Through December 7, New Jersey seniors can sign up for one of Clover’s comprehensive Medicare Advantage plans. This AEP, Clover is offering:

  • Numerous zero-dollar premium plans, including the lowest-cost PPO plan in New Jersey
  • Zero copay for primary care visits and low-cost copay options for specialist visits
  • Customized plans for beneficiaries who receive government assistance
  • Competitive supplemental benefits including dental, vision, prescription drug and hearing coverage, as well as fitness benefits and 24/7 access to doctors

 

Older adults and others eligible for Medicare nationwide can also explore their options through the newly modernized Medicare Plan Finder from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, designed to help anyone compare coverage and benefits across available plans.

 

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Disclaimer: Clover Health is a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan and a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Clover Health depends on contract renewal.

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Mt. Olive Couple Hosts Annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Senior Center https://www.mtolivelife.com/mt-olive-couple-hosts-annual-thanksgiving-dinner-at-senior-center-2.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/mt-olive-couple-hosts-annual-thanksgiving-dinner-at-senior-center-2.html#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 17:57:21 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48091 By: Michele DiPasquale

 

This year, Thanksgiving Day is November 28, and for many, it is a time to gather with our friends and family to give thanks for all that is good in our lives.

Regrettably, there are those without family or friends with whom to celebrate this uniquely American holiday of gratitude, so for the fourth year in a row, Mary Lalama and her husband, Township Council President Joe Nicastro, both publishers and owners of New View Media Group – a network of local newspapers mailed to over 130,000 homes and businesses in Morris County – are hosting their Thanksgiving for all at the Mt. Olive Senior Center from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The feast will be a full Thanksgiving seated dinner, beginning with appetizers and antipasti, salad and pasta, continuing on to turkey, stuffing, mashed and sweet potatoes, assorted vegetables, and finishing with an assortment of pies for dessert. Goody bags of the day’s menu are also given to everyone to take home to enjoy as leftovers.

Branda’s Italian Grill in Budd Lake, LongHorn Steakhouse in Flanders, Philly Pretzel Factory in Hackettstown, and corporate caterer Victoria Scherrer Onder are among the generous donators of the Thanksgiving banquet. Last year, table centerpieces were created by local Girls Scouts.

When asked what prompted Lalama and Nicastro to open their hearts and offer Thanksgiving dinner to anyone who may have nowhere to go for the day, Lalama answered directly from her heart.

“My family and I were sitting around on Thanksgiving four years ago and I said ‘Look at all this food we have. We are truly blessed and fortunate, and we need to think of a way to give back.’ So I said next year we’re going to host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who is less fortunate or anyone who will be spending the day alone.”

Forging ahead further and embracing what Thanksgiving truly is all about, Lalama and Nicastro even provide transportation for those who otherwise may not be able to join them for dinner. About 50 people have joined them so far, while some folks get their dinner delivered to their homes, as they may be unable to physically leave them.

“The dinner is for anyone – single or a family – who may be less fortunate or who just are alone for the holiday. We hate to see people spend the holidays without family or friends, so we offer them a place to come and enjoy the company of others,” Lalama said.

And though a buffet-style dinner would be easier, Lalama insists on a fully-seated dinner, in which her children and other volunteers serve everything.

“We want everyone to feel like they are at a restaurant for the holiday,” she said.

“I love the fact that we can help people come together and provide them with good food, good conversation, and good company. We get a lot of elderly people that just want someone to be with and know that someone cares about them. I love the look on their faces when they interact with each other and the volunteers,” Lalama said.

Lalama said people are welcome to attend without reservations but are asked to sign up in advance by calling her at (973) 768-1815 or emailing her at mary.lalama@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TO FIND HER DAUGHTER, PAMELA’S DETERMINED SEARCH https://www.mtolivelife.com/to-find-her-daughter-pamelas-determined-search-2.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/to-find-her-daughter-pamelas-determined-search-2.html#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 17:53:20 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48081 TO FIND HER DAUGHTER, PAMELA’S DETERMINED SEARCH

By Richard Mabey Jr.

I have the honor and pleasure of knowing Pamela Reynolds Ross, since the first grade. For the most part, we were in each other’s classes all through grade school. We were very good friends. We stayed friends all through high school, but in attending a regional high school, sadly we lost a bit of the close friendship that we shared in grade school. Truly, Pamela is one of the kindest individuals whom I have ever known in my entire life.

Pamela has been working very hard, for several decades, to find her biological daughter, whom Pamela gave up for adoption when she was only 17 years old. This was back in 1971. It was a different time then, a different culture. Nobly, Pamela signed adoption papers, thinking that would be best for her baby daughter.

As the ink hit the paper, on the adoption papers, Pamela was truly alone. She was offered no legal counsel at all. She was offered no psychological counseling at all. The powers that be assured Pamela that she was doing the right thing. That giving up her baby daughter was for the best for her little daughter.

In a room, the size of a closet, Pamela signed the adoption papers. Then, in a matter of seconds, her precious baby was whisked away from her, never to be seen by Pamela ever again.

The biological father of Pamela’s beloved baby girl was a 24 year old Vietnam Veteran, whom Pamela had fallen deeply in love with. Dreams of marriage, a cottage, a white picket fence, were shattered, when the love of Pamela’s life, left her and shirked his responsibilities to help Pamela raise her beloved baby girl. Sadly, Pamela’s boyfriend at the time, suffered from a serious case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

Fast forward to the present time. Pamela simply wants her biological daughter to have the option to have the opportunity to meet her, if she wants. Pamela’s daughter is now 48 years old and would be capable of making that decision on her own. In Pamela’s own words, here is her perspective in a nutshell.

 

“The whole point is this:  I’m not trying to replace the adoption family or win custody.  I never wanted to put my daughter through a tug-a-war. I simply would love to know she is well.  Importantly, she should have her vital health history.  I’ve asked if someone would kindly contact
her and let her know our contact information.  At the age of 48, she can choose what she wants to do with that information.”

 

So without further ado, here are the essential clues to the identity of Pamela’s biological daughter, whom Pamela relinquished for adoption back in 1971:

 

Pamela gave birth to her baby girl on January 18th of 1971, at Chilton Hospital in Pompton Plains, New Jersey. The adoptive father was an accountant. The adoptive mother was a registered nurse. The couple had a six year old son, at the time they adopted Pamela’s baby girl. Sadly, Pamela has not been able to find a court or agency that will attempt to contact the woman who Pamela gave birth to and relinquished for adoption.

 

The adoption process took place on November 16th of 1971 at the Morris County Courthouse in Morristown, New Jersey. The Adoption Agency, Department of Children and Families, was also located in Morristown. The adoptive couple were both of the Roman Catholic faith.  From all indications, it appears that this couple lived in Morris County in 1971.

 

Sadly, these are the only clues that Pamela has, in her search to locate her biological daughter. Pamela is now 66 years old. Her biological daughter, whom she gave up for adoption, is now 48 years old. Pamela is more determined than ever to find her daughter. Pamela is emotionally prepared, if her biological daughter does not want to talk to her or see her. But for Pamela, she just longs to know if her daughter is healthy, safe and sound.

 

If any of these clues ring a bell for you, please do contact Pamela. Her email address is: paross@visuallink.com. Regardless of how far reaching it may seem, if you know anyone for whom these few clues fit, please do contact Pamela. It would mean so very much to Pamela.

 

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Honoring and Aiding the Great Veterans of Our Great Nation in Morris County https://www.mtolivelife.com/honoring-and-aiding-the-great-veterans-of-our-great-nation-in-morris-county-2.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/honoring-and-aiding-the-great-veterans-of-our-great-nation-in-morris-county-2.html#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 17:49:54 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48077 Honoring and Aiding the Great Veterans of Our Great Nation in Morris County

By Steve Sears

When it comes to honoring or veterans of war in November and year-round, Morris County leaves no stones unturned when vets need a hand.

“Morris County yearly holds two formal events for veterans: Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  Freeholders award county medals on both days, and there are many other events for veterans held around the county by towns and local organizations and veterans’ organizations throughout the year,” says Kenneth Brenzel, who is the Morris County Veterans Service Officer. The annual Memorial Day event was held in May, and the annual Veterans Day event on October 23. New for the latter event was a resolution presented to the county’s American Legion leadership for the Legion’s 100th anniversary.

More than 19,000 veterans live in Morris County. The oldest veterans are World War II vets who are in their 90s.

“The county’s veterans’ office,” says Larry Ragonese, Morris County Communications Director, “participates in some of those ceremonies. There is also a Veterans Administration clinic located in the county, which is run by the Veterans Administration.”

“We attempt to make the county’s ceremonies special for the veterans,” says Brenzel, “to ensure they are treated with respect and that the ceremonies offer a dignified atmosphere. That includes finding a speaker who can offer a meaningful message,  ensuring a color guard, appropriate music, and to ensure we follow military protocol in the ceremonies.” Brenzel also adds that the Board of Freeholders and Veterans Office have begun holding frequent veterans’ commanders’ summits. “They include leaders of county American Legion, VFW and other military organizations with county government officials, freeholders, and others. The goal is to have a continuing dialogue with veterans in the county to make sure we are attending to their needs.”

It’s all about what’s currently being provided, but always improving. Ragonese then elaborates on the scope of the mission. “Morris County is working closely with its veterans’ community to try and better understand the needs of its members and to ensure that we offer programs and services of value to them. We also are trying to better communicate with our veterans, setting up regular meetings with veterans’ leaders, creating a new veterans webpage and calendar of events, and trying to help publicize events of importance to veterans.”

Out of the auspices of the Morris County Veterans Services, events and medal ceremonies are held beyond those previously mentioned.  “This office coordinates with the Morris County Communications Office to hold two Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medal ceremonies,” says Brenzel. “One is held in May around Memorial Day, on the front lawn of the Morris County Courthouse, the other is held around Veterans Day, in the County Administration Building in the Freeholders Meeting Room.  These ceremonies are to honor veterans who live or have lived in Morris County. The Morris County Freeholders present each participating veteran with a medal, a certificate, and a Morris County Veterans pin.  A biography of each veteran is read prior to the award.” Brenzel then adds, “My office has also responded to requests of various veterans’ groups in Morris County that wish to have their veteran members receive medals  at their locations, as well as participating in the Morris County Superior Court’s annual veterans ceremony.”

Also, there are two new events this year. The Veterans Services Office is hosting bi-monthly “Munch and Learns”, where representatives of various veterans’ organizations will give presentations on what services their organization provides to veterans. Veterans Services also offers the previously mentioned and periodic “Commanders Summits”, in which the post commanders of the veterans organizations, such as the American Legion, VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), Vietnam Veterans of America, Blind Veterans of America, and others meet with administrators of Human Services and this office to discuss various veteran topics, issues, problems, to promote increased communications between the County offices and the veteran community, to better serve our veterans. “This office,” says Brenzel, “participates in numerous veterans’ events hosted by other organizations to inform veterans of the services this office can provide, give brief consultations, make appointments for veterans to start VA (Veterans Administration) claims, and talk about VA benefits.”

Among the other services provided are assisting veterans and their families with claims to the VA,  including claims for Service Connected Disability Compensation, Non-Service Connected Veterans Pension, Surviving Spouse Pension, Burial Benefits, Headstone/Flat Marker, and Presidential Memorial Certificate Requests; conducting home visits to elderly and/or disabled veterans regarding VA claims, and hospital and rehab facility visits for veterans in these facilities; distributing over 25,000 United States flags annually to veterans organizations in Morris County to decorate veterans graves for Memorial Day; hosting Veterans Free Legal Clinics and Resource Expos, where county lawyers provided free consultations to veterans, and several area organizations provide information regarding the services they provide for veterans, and much more.

“As the office’s only accredited veterans service officer,” says Brenzel, “my primary duty is to assist veterans and their families with guidance to navigate the time consuming and often very difficult service connected disability compensation claim and non-service connected pension processes as well other non-monetary types of claims (burial benefits, grave markers, Presidential Memorial Certificates).  I see roughly 50 veterans in the office per month; we make or receive about 250 phone calls per month as well as 700 to 800 emails per month.  This coupled with committees, outside events, meetings, mandatory training, it can leave little time for planning and executing events, but we get it done. “

For more information, call (973) 285-6866, or email Kenneth Brenzel at kbrenzel@co.morris.nj.us. The Veterans Services offices are located at 540 West Hanover Avenue in Morristown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Netcong’s VFW Post 2347 Has Been Dedicated to Veterans Since 1943 https://www.mtolivelife.com/netcongs-vfw-post-2347-has-been-dedicated-to-veterans-since-1943-2.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/netcongs-vfw-post-2347-has-been-dedicated-to-veterans-since-1943-2.html#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 17:47:05 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48067  

Netcong’s VFW Post 2347 Has Been Dedicated to Veterans Since 1943

By Steve Sears

The Veterans of Foreign Wars – VFW, for short – will soon be celebrating its 120th anniversary with a commemoration ceremony to be held at their National Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri.

Anniversaries are always nice, but what these celebrations are best made for is reflection: remembrances of earlier days, beginnings perhaps, the good accomplished, all meant to forge continuous movement forward.

And, it’s about history. The VFW has much of that, especially at Post 2347 in Netcong.

“It is the oldest post in Morris County and was formed in 1943 during the WWII era. It has served veterans and the local Netcong area since (that time),” says Steven Niblett, who joined the VFW in 2009 and became the Adjutant for Post 2347 in Netcong until 2015, when he became the Post Commander. “I am currently Post Commander and was elected District 10 VFW Commander (Morris County) in 2018 and I am in my second year as District Commander.”

But, to find the building may be a challenge. “The post address is 45 Main Street, Netcong but most folks don’t know it’s there because it sits so far back from Main Street and there are shops and apartments in front of it between the post and Main Street,” states Keith Nitka, who was Junior Vice Commander two years and then Post Commander for four years, and also served as Chairman for the Patriots Pen and Voice Of Democracy scholarship programs that the VFW holds every year. He weighs in on the Netcong VFW’s early days of its 76 years (and counting). “Yes, the Netcong VFW post is the oldest post in Morris County. The building was purchased by the charter (Founding) members of the post. The building was a livery stable before it was purchased by the post, and the odd thing about it today is that the post only owns the building and property that the building sits on. The grassy area around the post and even the parking lot is owned by someone else. The charter members were children of the great depression and didn’t see a need to purchase (spend their hard-earned cash on) the entire piece of property.”

There are 1.6 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary throughout the world, and the organization lives by its “No One Does More For Veterans” statement. The definition, mission statement, and vision of the VFW since its 1899 inception, as gleaned from the VFW website:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a nonprofit veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, guard and reserve forces.

Our Mission: To foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. To serve our veterans, the military and our communities. To advocate on behalf of all veterans.

Our Vision: Ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country.

The VFW’s core values are as follows:

Always put the interests of our members first

Treat donors as partners in our cause

Promote patriotism

Honor military service

Ensure the care of veterans and their families

Serve our communities

Promote a positive image of the VFW

Respect the diversity of veteran opinions

All of the above is especially well on display in Netcong. No matter the location, it’s there, and the good it does for its 100-plus veterans membership and beyond deserves to be bellowed, and that’s in addition to being involved with events including Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and the Netcong Days display. “We will have a solemn ceremony at the Stanhope Cemetery on Veterans Day, and post members and family usually go to Applebee’s for lunch on Veterans Day for fun and fellowship,” says Niblett.

Nitka adds some more specifics. “This post as all others help Veterans and active duty military transition to civilian life, help with finding jobs and schooling. We also help out where needed with monetary support for those in the community, not just veteran or active duty. One of the bigger things that Post 2347 does is at Thanksgiving. In November the post, in conjunction with St. Michaels Catholic Church, will give out $50.00 gift cards to ShopRite to assist with the Thanksgiving meal for those who need it. We (also) take part in Toys for Tots, and also a big aspect of the post is to assist veterans in getting the mental health they require after deploying.”

Nitka served in the United States Navy from 1987 to 1991 on active full-time duty, and then from 1991 until 1996 in the Navy Reserves. He did two deployments while on active duty. The first was a UNITAS cruise around South America and the second was to the Persian Gulf for Desert Shield and then Desert Storm. While in the reserves, he went to San Diego, California for drug smuggling intervention operations. He is adamant and upfront about his support of veterans. “The VFW is the largest Veterans advocate organization in the country, and we fight every day in Washington, DC and around the country to better the lives of our military and veterans.” He elaborates. “Through healthcare and compensation for injuries sustained in combat; assistance with widows, widowers and children of our fallen comrades;  assistance with food and clothing in our communities and friendship to those in need; and we assist children in achieving their dreams of higher education through the Patriots Pen and Voice of Democracy scholarship programs. We can help you get a new roof on your home if you can’t afford it yourself. We listen to veterans going through hard times mentally and physically. We don’t judge or shun them but embrace them and welcome them. We all have one very tangible thing in common. Unlike the American Legion or American Veterans (AMVETS), to be a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) we have all been in Combat or served in a Combat zone, that is the one prerequisite that is needed for entry into this organization and sets us apart from the rest.”

Niblett served in the United States Army, his tours of duty taking him to Korea, Honduras, and Iraq. He also served two three-year tours in the 1980s with the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California, and a two-year tour at Picatinny Arsenal (located both in Jefferson and Rockaway) from 1989 to 1990.  “I also served in the Army Reserves from 1991 to 2007. I retired as Lieutenant Colonel after 28 years of service in 2007,” he says, “and I joined the VFW to give back to fellow veterans in need and to serve my community.”

Nitka, now stationed in Virginia, sums up what it truly means about VFW brotherhood — Post 2347 and beyond. “I have friends in the community that I miss, but as a VFW member, no matter where I go in the world, I am welcome at the local VFW post as a comrade and brother. I am now a member of post 8545 in Smithfield, Virginia, and just as in Netcong, there is a strong community in the post, and we help where and when needed in the local community here.”

New members are welcome. “They (prospective) new members can visit the post on a Tuesday night when I am usually there,” says Niblett. “The candidate must have his DD214 Service Document to prove that he served overseas in a hostile war environment.” Also, members of the community can become a “partner” in the “Cause.” “The community can collaborate with us any time by calling us at the post,” Niblett adds.

VFW Post 2347 is located on 45 Main Street (right near the Route 46 and 206 intersection) in Netcong. For more information, call (973) 347-9858. Mailing address is P.O. Box 252 Netcong, New Jersey 07857. For general VFW information, visit www.vfw.org. For New Jersey VFW details, located at 171 Jersey St, Building 5 2nd Floor, Trenton, 08611, call (609) 393-1929, or visit www. vfwnj.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Local Dentist, Dr. Ira Goldberg, Spends Weekend Teaching Implant Procedures https://www.mtolivelife.com/local-dentist-dr-ira-goldberg-spends-weekend-teaching-implant-procedures-2.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/local-dentist-dr-ira-goldberg-spends-weekend-teaching-implant-procedures-2.html#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 17:12:17 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48060  

Dr. Ira Goldberg, a leading local authority on dental implants, spent time at the end of September training dentists who were seeking to expand their dental implant knowledge and skills.  As a respected educator, its not uncommon for Dr. Goldberg to share his knowledge and expertise with others.

As part of the faculty of MaxiCourses, Dr. Goldberg states, “It always an honor to work with dentists who want to further their talents with dental implants.  These doctors are spending time away from their families and own offices to learn skills that will make them better dentists for the benefit of their patients.”

 

A MaxiCourse is a 10-month in-depth program dentists participate in when they wish to expand their knowledge regarding dental implants.  There are programs worldwide, and are sponsored by the AAID, which stands for the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.  Dr. Goldberg is actually a past officer of the AAID on a District Level, where his current title is Immediate Past President.

 

“Dental implants have revolutionized patients’ options,” says Dr. Goldberg.  “Instead of removable dentures and aggressive bridgework being only options, we are able to offer other services retained by implants.  Whether a person needs a single tooth or a full jaw replacement, its amazing what we can now offer.”

 

When asked about his role as an educator to other dentists, Dr. Goldberg thoughtfully stated, “I’ve always heard that when you’re passionate about something, it shows.  I’ve been providing implant services for over 24 years, and I’m always excited about it.  I guess that’s why other doctors and dental professionals ask me for my thoughts, help, and guidance.  Its quite an honor; I love to share.”

 

Dr. Goldberg holds many honors in the field of implant dentistry.  He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology / Implant Dentistry, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, just to name a couple.  Regarding his Diplomate status, there are only several hundred dentists world-wide that hold this distinction.  It is an extremely grueling examination process.

 

Dr. Ira Goldberg is the owner of Morris County Dental Associates in Succasunna.  He performs all phases of implant dentistry, and rarely are referrals required.  For a free consultation, including a free 3-D scan (if necessary), please call his office at (973) 328-1225 or visit his website at www.MorrisCountyDentist.com

 

 

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Derek Dougherty Eagle Scout Project https://www.mtolivelife.com/derek-dougherty-eagle-scout-project.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/derek-dougherty-eagle-scout-project.html#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 17:10:14 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48053 Derek Dougherty has been a scout since the 1st grade. He belongs to Boy Scout Troop 159. When Derek began thinking about an Eagle Scout Project, he approached his pastor, Father Stan Barron, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Flanders, to see if there was something he could do for his church. Father Stan told him that he would like to have a Prayer Garden. This discussion started in September of 2018 and the actual planning began the following February. According to his mom, Darlene Dougherty, “Derek was so excited to work on a project like this as it is something everyone could use and he could see every time he went to the church.”

Derek spent the spring and summer designing and building the Prayer Garden which is now complete on the grounds of St. Elizabeth’s. On a recent Sunday morning, Father Stan blessed the garden, with parishioners and Derek’s parents, brother and extended family there to share in his accomplishment. The garden is in a convenient location right behind the church building, directly outside of the classrooms. On the morning of the blessing, the Garden was even being used by one of our teachers to hold her class.  We encourage people to stop by and spend some quiet time in this tranquil location.

Shannon Jones, St.E’s Youth Minister and Confirmation Coordinator knows Derek well. “Not only is Derek an outstanding Scout, he also plays an integral role as a leader in our SPARK Teen Ministry program” says Shannon. “Derek serves on both the Teen Advisory Board and Peer Leader Team and was a key member of our 2019 Mission Team.  I am so proud of Derek and grateful for his continuing leadership in ministry.  With his enthusiasm, kindness, and dedication, Derek’s character is top-notch and we are blessed to have him on our team!”

The project took Derek on an amazing journey. It took time to put everything together and push through paperwork with all the Boy Scout committee reviews. During the process, he made so many connections with people/businesses/organizations and has been the recipient of many donations (monetary/product). He has also had many volunteers to assist him with this project.  Derek’s parent’s, Darlene and Scott, say he has grown into an amazing young man, part of which they feel has to do with his commitment to his church and his involvement in Scouts.

Well done Derek, you Eagle Scout project is a gift for St. Elizabeth’s to enjoy for years!

 

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All Veterans Memorial: The People’s Memorial in Mount Olive https://www.mtolivelife.com/all-veterans-memorial-the-peoples-memorial-in-mount-olive-2.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/all-veterans-memorial-the-peoples-memorial-in-mount-olive-2.html#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 17:05:37 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48041 By Dawn M Chiossi

Patriotism is much more than brass bands, flags, or parades. More than pageantry for many, patriotism is a personal feeling. Featuring an appreciation and reverence, patriotism encompasses a quiet surge of pride and gratitude for the people who battled for America’s freedom– knowing that democracy and liberty are hard-won.  It is a feeling that encourages caring, empathy and giving back.

Founded in 2005, Mount Olive’s Turkey Brook Park’s All Veterans Memorial Park (AVM) fervently celebrates that type of patriotism. With Veteran’s Day approaching, there’s never been a better time to visit this inspiring site.

The All Veterans Memorial Park is sponsored by the Hackettstown-based Publius Organization. During the Global War on Terror, this non-profit organization was originally designed to provide goodwill opportunities to various organizations and individuals who wanted to develop their own troop-support campaign.

More than just a series of monuments, the All Veterans Memorial was created to honor the brave men and women who are and have been in the United States Armed Forces. Created with the empowering idea of fostering a sense of unity between civilians and the military, the AVM goes even further. Providing education, outreach programs, and events, the AVM’s mission is to promote public awareness, involvement and support for all U.S. Service Members.

Located at 30 Flanders Road in Budd Lake, next to the historic Seward Mansion at the entrance of Turkey Brook Park, the All Veterans Memorial is open to the public and is completely free. Visitors of all ages are welcome.

Expansive and pristine, a place of utter beauty and contentment, it is often said that a sense of peace comes over visitors the moment they enter. Affectionately nicknamed “The People’s Memorial,” the site was built exclusively by volunteers.  Sprawling 1.3 acres, it celebrates the taste of freedom and what it takes to get there.

“Many people believe that the township built the memorial,” Developer, Charlie Uhrmann tells. “However, after they learned that ordinary people–with pure love for their country–created every facet of the park, they are always shocked.”

100% funded by private donations and volunteers, “the All Veterans Memorial has kept its promise to never accept taxpayer funding,” Uhrmann prides. “No one within our organization has ever received any compensation.”

Born and raised in Wisconsin, and first residing in Florida, Uhrmann is passionate about a variety of philanthropic causes.  After moving to New Jersey, and when the casualties from the Global War on Terror increased, she turned her efforts in that direction. “I think that 9/11 fundamentally changed people on the most basic level,” she remarks candidly. “I wanted to do something to pay it forward.”

Although Uhrmann is very much the idea-person behind the park, she is eager to point out that the All Veterans Memorial is very much a team passion. She describes that the brainstorm for it was one of those rare and amazing coincidences where all elements just came together. It was a time when her son was in the final stages of his Eagle Scout community project–building a memorial of his own– and when fellow friends and volunteers, Bill and Linda Sohl and Thea Dunkle were relocating the Mount Olive War Monument.

“I saw the location allotted in Turkey Brook Park, and immediately all of these ideas began swimming in my head,” Uhrmann relates. “I wanted an all-inclusive place that would honor absolutely everyone, and give people a place where they could peacefully reflect. I wanted the memorial to show the aspects of America’s rich history, what America as a young country has gone through…for people to learn the facts behind wars, our three branches of government, our presidents, and the price of freedom.”

To help with this awesome project she recruited five of New Jersey’s most admired hardscapers and an architect. In particular, Uhrmann mentions Karl Meier of Meier Stone in Flanders. “He was extremely instrumental in providing engineering and much of the materials and labor. His fingerprints are all over the park. Without Karl, we would not have nearly what we have today. He truly is one of the most talented craftsmen of all time,” she enthuses.

With an artistic eye and creative plan, Uhrmann relates that she intentionally sought to have every element of the park interconnecting and flowing into each other. This not only stresses symmetry and design, but it also shows off the almost magical element to the memorial. The memorials very shape was inspired by the Congressional Medal of Honor. “If you are flying overhead in a helicopter, you can see the shape. It’s amazing,” Uhrmann enthuses.

The park holds several memorials with the All Veteran’s Memorial Ceremonial Ground being the main complex. In the center is Mt. Olive’s original war monument, The STAR or Pentagon Platform, The Presidents Preamble Stage, Bill of Rights Wall, the Charlie Johnson Memorial Gazebo, The North Star Seating Area, the Spiritual Cenotaph, the Warrior Obelisk Monument, the POW/Remembrance Wall, and the War Dog Memorial.

Mt. Olive’s Original War Monument was donated by World War II Veteran, John Planker. Honoring Mount Olive’s local fallen heroes, the inscription reads, “Erected in Grateful Tribute to the Men and Women of Mount Olive Township Who Faithfully Served In The Armed Forces of Our Country.” Originally it had been located at Budd Lake and dedicated in 1968. The monument found a proper home at the All Veteran’s Memorial in 2000.

The STAR or Pentagon Platform is designed to resemble the U.S. Pentagon.  It designates the five branches of service that are equally divided: Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines. Pavers note the honorary military service of all who have served. The platform then flows into the Global War on Terror Memorial Bridge which honors New Jersey’s fallen.

 

The bridge then connects the VALOR Bar, or Presidential Preamble Stage, paying tribute to all United States Presidents and their civil service. The Bill of Rights Wall displays templates of the first ten Bill of Rights Amendments that were ratified by Congress.

The Charlie Johnson Memorial Gazebo was built to honor the memory of Mt. Olive resident and former Mayor, Charles H “Charlie” Johnson. Serving as a Sergeant in the Air Force 9th Division in World War II, Johnson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Force Medal for his service to his country.

The NorthStar Seating Area was built by the Home Depot and Karl Meier. Dedicated to New Jersey Gold Star Mothers and those who lost a loved one during war, the comfortable area is designed to give a sense of peace.

Designed and funded by Eagle Scout Eric Wood, Uhrmann describes the Spiritual Cenotaph as something that “entombs every spiritual book of authority from every religion of our service members. It symbolizes the faiths and beliefs of all the fallen soldiers out there.”

The Warrior Obelisk Monument represents the four consequences of war: Missing in Action, Killed in Action, Wounded in Action, and Prisoner of War. it honors those who have suffered for American’s very liberty.

The POW Remembrance Wall was designed by Uhrmann, funded and sponsored by Peter King, and painted by world-renowned artist Doron Viner.

With every element the AVM creates, Uhrmann researches it all. “I learn so much,” she asserts. “Take for example, our Presidents Preamble. It isn’t just a laundry list of all the United States Presidents, we include the events that the particular president is famous for, famous quotes, and more.”

With so much, she takes great pains to make sure that all of the information is not overwhelming to visitors and is easily understood. “If you are visiting the Bill of Rights Wall for example, each amendment is separated. That way people are not only reading, but they are also completely focused,” Uhrmann says. “One visitor told me that this was the first time she had ever read the Bill of Rights in its entirety before. I love seeing the parents and children visiting the park and seeing parents explain everything. It really opens up a conversation between them.”

Constructed in several phases, it seems that there is always another facet of the site to build and Uhrmann wouldn’t have it any other way. She discloses that upcoming plans for the park will include a prayer garden as an extension of the North Star Seating Area.

“The garden will be a complete zen area,” she remarks. “When visitors want more privacy to reflect or honor a loved one, this place will be perfect. It is meant to be a spiritual place.” She mentions there will be a waterfall, and people will be completely surrounded by nature. They will also have the opportunity to write messages if they wish.

The Spiritual Cenotaph will be in view. The inclusive, religious spirituality is meant to give a sense of serenity and comfort to the grieving.

Uhrmann points to it as her favorite monument, because of the way it forges connections between people. As someone with a love of traveling all around the globe, she hunted various locations for just the right material for the Spiritual Cenotaph. “I learned so much researching every facet of the various religions and garnering as many books as I could. It was so rewarding to show the origins of how each of the various religions began. The project opened so many doors. I’ve met so many people.”

Touching her the most, was the gift of a Bible given to her by a man named Marcus Goch. “Upon seeing the finished center, he insisted he wanted his Bible as part of it.” Uhrmann shares. “I didn’t want to accept it at first as it was a gift from his parents, both who are gone now. It really says something about him that he wanted to share his gift with us.”

When asked what display attendees find most popular, Uhrmann shares that it is hands down the War Dog Memorial, sponsored by Bill Wynne, Brian and Lorriane Huster, Helen BeeBe, and Bill and Linda Sohl.  Knowing that canines were as much a part of the armed forces as their human counterparts, the monument spotlights five different dogs in various wars and missions. Uhrmann, along with canine artist Ashley Bogosta, captured the real, authentic likeness of each dog. “Each lifelike dog is painted to exact detail,” Uhrmann tells. After researching each dog, visitors can see them in the exact landscape that made them famous. “Everyone has a soft spot for dogs,” Uhrmann quips.

The All Veterans Memorial hosts several notable, and often heartwarming annual events. During Armed Forces Week, (one week before Memorial Day) they provide guided tours to students. “Here they come to learn the many details and hidden secrets throughout the park,” Urhmann tells. “They learn the meaning behind each element and how it was built, as well as our rich American heritage and governments.”

On Memorial Day, the AVM comes alive. For all, it hosts a deep emotional connection. “Our Memorial Day Celebration always captivates those who are in attendance,” Uhrmann prides. “We begin with a patriotic medley performed on the bagpipes by Vietnam veteran Mark Noyes. “As Mark plays, re-enactors from every war present the period flags of the war lines to the Path to Enduring Freedom, acting as a perfect backdrop to our color guard. As each Service Flag is raised, Mark plays each branch of the service medley.”

She goes on to explain that they allow three families to set their fallen loved one’s service paver at the Path to Enduring Freedom. In the past, they have had several World War II warriors set their own stone while their family members look on. The setting of the service paver is both videoed and photographed and given to the families after the ceremony. Both the Boy and the Girl Scouts participate, and Mount Olive Girl Scouts and Brownies also place small bouquets of flowers or candles at each fallen warrior at the Purple Heart Bridge.

There are unintended consequences of war, and with utter sensitivity and caring, the All Veteran’s Memorial hosts their POW/MIA 24 Hour Vigil. Taking place every third Friday and Saturday of every September, it is co-sponsored by the Morris County American Legion. This ceremony seeks to help the families by giving them a sense of peace and closure, knowing how awful it is that a loved one has never returned home. This year, the All Veteran’s Memorial went the extra step researching the names, ranks, serial numbers, and dates of disappearances of every New Jersey POW/MIA member out there. They then created dog tags containing that information. During the vigil they called out each name and info, securing the dog tags to the POW/MIA/PTSD Remembrance Wall.

Always reaching out a hand, the All Veterans Memorial participates in a myriad of outreach programs to enhance the quality of life for those who need it. Among them, are the Helping Homeless Heroes and Homeless Hounds Campaigns, providing backpacks filled with necessary items for the homeless. With the cooler weather approaching, it is the perfect time to aid those who do not have warm shelter.

“There are upwards of 3,000 homeless in Essex County alone,” Uhrmann relates. They include pets in the campaign simply because “Shelters often do not accept people with pets, and owners won’t leave them behind,” Urhmann tells. Backpacks contain items such as a Bible, hats, scarves, gloves, warm blankets, socks, a comprehensive first aid kit, food, water, even things like cold pills (in case of illness) and moisturizers, hygiene items, chapstick, as well as much more. For pets, they will include a box of treats, a blanket, water, and more.

Motivating others to connect, touching hearts, offering a beautiful, inclusive, non- political place to reflect, the All Veteran’s Memorial puts 100% of their hearts into everything they do.

“I hope the All Veterans Memorial will continue to inspire others, that it will show what an amazing country we have here. That it conveys that freedom is paid by the blood of our children. It’s a reminder of the people’s pride in their country and all that we have gone through,” Uhrmann says. “The AVM is part of me.”

For further information or details, please call 973-479-4959 or visit www.allveteransmemorial.org.

 

 

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Shining light in the deepest darkness: Operation Chillout lifeline for veterans  https://www.mtolivelife.com/shining-light-in-the-deepest-darkness-operation-chillout-lifeline-for-veterans-2.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/shining-light-in-the-deepest-darkness-operation-chillout-lifeline-for-veterans-2.html#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 16:53:45 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48029 By Jillian Risberg

It’s unfathomable to comprehend how someone who fought on the front lines of our military is now living on the streets— but the tragic reality about homelessness in America often focuses on our veterans.

As New Jersey’s only all-volunteer mobile outreach for homeless veterans, Operation Chillout gives them the tools and support they need to rebuild their lives.

“In a year we’ll be celebrating our 20th anniversary,” says Raymond Chimileski, who founded the organization Dec. 21, 2000 in Dover for a homeless Vietnam veteran living under a bridge. “We never expected to be doing this again, that’s for sure.”

They have no office, no brick and mortar, no salaried staff or employees. They’re not professionals or caseworkers — just a group of friends.

“Civilians curious why this was happening and what could we do,” says Chimileski, a former social worker with the state of New Jersey and New York, who did a lot of his work in Paterson, Newark, Trenton and NYC.

According to the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, there are roughly 2,500 to 3,000 homeless veterans in the Garden State, while the Bureau of Census’ figure is  630. And in 2015, the US Department of Veterans Affairs says it provided housing for almost 1,300 homeless vets here.

“I was not afraid to take a ride down to Paterson to the railroad tracks where we used to meet homeless vets at the post office,” the executive director says. “I started the behavior of ‘this is okay, these people are not dangerous; it’s safe to go there.’”

He says we have to give a lot of credit to our homeless vets for the role that they play in their communities, protecting non-veteran homeless, and they know how to survive.

“They take the alpha position; make sure that nobody’s coming in and doing funny stuff with the other, more vulnerable people,” Chimileski  says. “Veterans are well-trained, they’re very resilient — and have skills that you and I would never learn unless we become homeless.”

It’s a 24/7 gig and Chillout has a core leadership team of 12 people that meet every month to determine how to provide services or care for the homeless in different areas.

They continue to respond to homeless vets throughout the entire state of New Jersey and Chimileski says sometimes things are written in the stars.

“We’ve been able, for one reason or another to go for 20 years — doing it as we do, the way we do it for the reasons that we do it,” the executive director says. “Every donation that comes in, every case of backpacks, every case of warm coats, sleeping bags, whatever — goes directly to the people that we serve.

“We’ve been in every county and also have a rapid response team in six counties in Northeast Pennsylvania and a chapter in Rhode Island,” he says.

They find many of the homeless vets through their two seasonal projects, the winter program begins in November and finishes when the last backpack is distributed, usually in the middle of February.

As they prepare for Street Streak — where they ask for donations of new, warm clothing (hooded sweatshirt, knit cap, thermal underwear, heavy socks, waterproof non-leather gloves), they are reminded of how this all began.

It was the homeless Dover vet who explained how he was hurting.

‘It’s cold, I need anything that you would need,’ he told them back then.

“So we went down to the Army/Navy store, bought all those things and brought it back to him,” Chimileski says.

And that formula stuck.“We’re still putting those same supplies in backpacks 20 years later and giving them away,” the executive director says. “We’ve been working this for so long that we know a lot of the areas where the homeless veterans congregate.”

That could be a soup kitchen or interim temporary housing situation.

According to Chimileski, they provide their resources to about 65 locations that they frequent throughout the winter and summer.

For the summer campaign (starting Memorial Day and ending Labor Day), they collect and deliver cases of bottled water, t-shirts and baseball caps.

“This year we’re targeting supplies for about 1500 backpacks and this past summer we distributed about 35,000 bottles of water,” he says.

Another way that they get referrals is through their hotline, where agencies, police, EMTs, family members — the veterans themselves can call, asking for assistance.

“We check out that the person calling is a veteran,” the executive director says. “This could be a case where after several months the rent wasn’t paid and the vet is evicted, winds up on the street.”

So far this year they placed about 340 homeless veterans, rescued them off the street and put them into temporary housing, which is usually local to where they’re calling from.

“If they’re calling from Hackensack, we’re going to find a temporary location in Hackensack in a motel and put you up 3 to 5 days,” Chimileski says. “Whatever it takes for you to get connected to the agencies that are going to work with you, do case management, get your VA healthcare established and find you a spot for permanent housing.”And the VA and Catholic Charities bring in a number of referrals.

“Up to 10/12 a week,” says the executive director. “We’re taking as many as we get and those are the numbers of people that we’re adding to our seasonal campaign.”

In 2017, Chillout built their first micro (tiny) home — an RV on wheels that soon a formerly homeless veteran will live in for up to two years.

“It’s transitional housing that’s going to be here right in Long Valley, where our headquarters is at a working farm — Ort Farms,” Chimileski says. “During those two years the veteran will be able to work on the farm with Rutgers Veteran’s Agricultural Program to get his certification as a Master Farmer.”

According to the executive director, it’s a unique project and the only one of its kind in the Garden State. But you can find others in Farm Belt states such as Oklahoma and Kansas.

“Home Depot Charitable Foundation is building our patio and deck for the home, pro bono; they gave us a grant,” he says. “With the ordinance that Washington Township wrote, we are able to build up to five micro homes in Long Valley, one per property. And one of our volunteers works for the Ort family, so the property was given to us for free.”

This micro home is mobile because Chimileski says they never intended to keep it there. They actually expected to take it on the move to different counties requesting temporary housing. It just so happens that this one will probably become permanent in Long Valley.

As we approach Veteran’s Day, it is important to know that not all veterans are homeless. One out of every five homeless people that you see on the street probably is a veteran.

“It’s 20 percent of the population and some places, like the urban areas and inner cities, one out of four persons could be a veteran,” the executive director says. “So it’s a time to remember that the people we pass on the street who we would like to help out; Operation Chillout is taking it to the next step — we actually are helping them out.”

He says they are a dedicated, 501c3 not-for-profit, which means any donation to them can be taken as a tax deduction the following year.

“When we thank our veterans for their service, we should remember them for all the good things they did and not paint them with a negative stereotype,” Chimileski says.

Remember that veterans are our brothers, our sisters, our mothers, our fathers, our uncles and we’re all in this together.

“We support them when they’re fighting for us and we need to make sure that we support them when they come back,” he says.

Chimileski says it is by no means solving the problem.

“We’re here to help each person as we find them; one person, one gift,” says the executive director. “With that low expectation, we’ve been able to do what we do.”

The organization was audited a few years ago so they decided to look at their demographics to determine where their referrals were coming from.
“And it was suggested that we let people know that if all the homeless vets — the men and women that Operation Chillout has been serving since Dec. 21, 2000 could come together in one place and hold hands from Long Valley to the Green in Morristown, the line would be 22 miles long,” Chimileski says. “That’s pretty amazing.”The number of homeless vets is on the rise and they are actually meeting more on the street.

As disheartening as this may sound, the executive director says they have monthly success stories. The numbers of veterans who they’ve helped is proportionate to how old they are when they meet them.

“The Vietnam vets that we met 20 years ago, we know that some of them still live on the street,” he says. “They’re never gonna come in until they’re physically unable to live on the street. They’ve been acculturated to that system of dependency and care — of soup kitchens and agencies.”

Chillout also gets the young men and women just returning from the Middle East, where they may have done three, four or five tours.

“They come back and their whole lives are disrupted because they can’t continue where they left off,” Chimileski says. “ They have PTSD, emotional challenges, family challenges, economic challenges — and they wind up homeless very young, in their 30s.”

If Chillout can intervene early, he says they can break the cycle of dependency and get the vets connected with services to turn their lives around, so they don’t end up like their brothers from Vietnam on the street for more than 50 years.

When it comes to his endless efforts to make a difference for this population, the executive director says it’s a much needed thing.

“When we met at the end of December (2000), a few of us with our wives — people compared notes, ‘what did you do on your winter break,’” Chimileski says.

One friend went to Florida, another couple went skiing in Vermont and the executive director told them he helped out a homeless veteran.

“‘Tell us more,’ so I told them the story about going there and meeting the guy,” Chimileski  says, adding that one of the wives asked when it happened.

 

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Denville Councilwoman Nancy Witte Gives Her All in Everything She Does https://www.mtolivelife.com/denville-councilwoman-nancy-witte-gives-her-all-in-everything-she-does-2.html https://www.mtolivelife.com/denville-councilwoman-nancy-witte-gives-her-all-in-everything-she-does-2.html#respond Fri, 08 Nov 2019 16:40:28 +0000 https://www.mtolivelife.com/?p=48018 By Christine Graf

When Denville Town Councilwoman Nancy Witte graduated from high school, she was interested in pursuing a career in the military. At the time, the U.S. Military Academies were not open to females. Congress did not authorize the acceptance of women into the academies until 1975. As a result, White decided to forgo a military career and entered college at Chapman University in Orange, California. She graduated in 1971 with B.A.’s in Health and Physical Education and American History. She also played on the softball and volleyball teams while in college. After teaching in Arizona for two years, she returned home to Denville where she taught for an additional thirty-six years. Before retiring nine years ago, she taught at Valleyview, St. Mary’s, and Lakeview schools.

It was when she was eight years into her teaching career that Witte heard about a new program being offered by the U.S. Army Reserve.  Called the Split Training Option, it allowed new enlistees to attend basic combat training in the summer and return the following summer to attend advanced training.

“I’m not sure why, but I was always interested in the military. My father served in World War II, but he didn’t go overseas,” she said.  “There just seemed to be a draw that I felt I wanted to serve the country in some way.”

Witte made the decision to enlist in the Army Reserve Split Training Option and agreed to a six-year commitment. She was required to serve one weekend a month and two to three weeks during the year. Witte was a member of the 78th Division at Edison’s Camp Kilmer.

“I joined in 1979. I had been teaching for eight years and when this opportunity came I was thirty years old at the time,” she said. “That’s not exactly when you join the service. But I though I would give it a try because I didn’t want to be in my fifties and say, ‘Boy, I wish I had given it a try.’ I didn’t want to look back and kick myself for not trying.”

Witte attended a 12-week basic training program at Fort Dix. For her, the most challenging part of basic training had nothing to do with the grueling physical challenges.

“Throwing hand grenades was one of my biggest challenges,” she said. “Holding those live things in your hands wasn’t the most comfortable thing I’ve ever gone through.”

When given the opportunity to choose what job she wanted to do in the Army Reserves, she said she wanted to choose something “that was totally different than what I did in the regular world.” As a result, she decided to be a technical draftsman.

“I went in as a technical draftsman. It was something I had never had an opportunity to do because girls did home ec and boys did industrial arts,” she said. “I had never had the opportunity to learn and understand drafting and architecture. That just appealed to me. I learned to draw bridges, make roads and small buildings.”

Witte had numerous different assignments during her 20-year military career. She spent just one year as a draftsman after learning her opportunities for advancement were limited.

“Drafting is in engineer corps,” said White. “Females aren’t allowed to get promoted beyond a certain point in the engineer corps because it was a front line position. So then I went down to Huntsville, Alabama, and I became an ammunition specialist. Our unit was assigned to find places to store ammunition in Europe if we were ever to go to war. We were a conventional ammunition group which meant we didn’t deal with nuclear or biological.”

After a stint as an ammunitions specialist, Witte became a personnel sergeant. The job involved handling the files for soldiers in her unit. She enjoyed working in personnel and spent the majority of her military career serving in that capacity. By the time she retired from the military in 1999, she had worked her way up through the ranks from private to master sergeant. Early in her career, she did consider becoming an officer. The fact that she had a college degree would have made that possible.

“I think I would have made a good officer, but my age was very much against me; the cut off age was thirty-one. My unit encouraged me to do it, and the officers were supporting me. I did everything I was supposed to do and went before the board, but because of my age, I would not have moved up in the ranks of officers that easily,” she said. “So I decided on my own to forget it and try to be the best non-commissioned officer I could be, and that’s what I did. I was content with that. It’s just wasn’t in the books for me to be an officer. I was meant to be where I was.”

In 1981, Witte received the First Army Reserve Soldier of the Year Award. During her career, she also received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal. She also traveled to Germany and the Netherlands on six different occasions. It was these overseas assignments that were the highlight of her career. She also enjoyed the comradery that exists in the military.

“Being a teacher, I was around children all of the time. It was nice to have weekends every now and then with adults. That was a side benefit I got after I joined,” she said. “I worked with a lot of good people.”

When Witte reached 20 years of service in the military, she decided it was time to retire. Since that time, she has remained very active in the community. She is currently serving out the remainder of her four-year term as an At Large member of the Denville town council. She ran for office after being encouraged to do so by the mayor.

“I’m coming to end of first term which will be my only term,” said White. “I’ve loved it. I’ve never done an elected position before, and it’s been a total learning experience from the very beginning. It’s an extraordinarily time consuming responsibility. I’ve tried to live up to the responsibility that’s been given to me, but right from beginning I said I was only going to be a one-term councilman.”

When asked why she agreed to take on such a heavy responsibility, she replied, “Growing up in Denville and enjoying all of the wonderful things it has to offer and being brought up by parents who were big on volunteerism, I felt this would be another way I could help Denville. I truly love Denville and I felt that this was something that I should do—that I could do.”

Witte has enjoyed serving on the town council, and although council members don’t always agree, she said they always treat each other with respect. For her, the biggest challenge has been dealing with residents who may be misinformed about a particular issue. They often become very upset after receiving information that is inaccurate.

“They come to a council meeting all upset about something and don’t want to listen when it is tried to be explained to them,” she said. “We have to deal with people who are very, very upset and try to help them understand the real situation.”

After Witte’s term ends, she will have more time to travel and focus on her hobbies. Traveling is one of her passions, and she took a cruise to the Panama Canal to celebrate her 70th birthday. Witte has visited all 50 states and 29 different countries. She also plays the French horn in New Horizons Band, a band for people 55 years and older. In September, she attended an adult band camp in Maine. During the camp, she lived in a dorm and played with 170 musicians and instructors from all over the east coast and beyond.

Witte is also heavily involved with numerous volunteer organizations and is very active in her church, King of Kings Lutheran Church in Mountain Lakes. She served as the church’s youth director for 27 years. She is now the church’s fellowship director, she also plays in the bell choir. Witte has been honored with numerous awards for her volunteerism including the 2014 Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award.

She was also one of the founders of Lakeview School’s Veterans Day program which has been taking place since 1993. The event has grown tremendously over the years, and she continues to be involved in an advisory role. Witte also founded the Discover Denville Day walking tour which gives children the opportunity to learn about the city’s history. She started the tour around 1985 after one of her students said he didn’t know the town had a train station.

Although she is involved in many charities, the Joey Bella Memorial Fund is especially close to her heart. After her nephew was diagnosed with cancer at the age of twelve, the organization helped the family with bills and even bought him a new bike when his was stolen. Sadly, her nephew passed away at age fifteen. Witte never married and has no children, and she was especially close to her two nephews. After her sister’s divorce, she and her sons lived with Witte for many years.

When it comes to volunteering, Witte said she has no plans of slowing down. That’s good news for the residents of Denville.

 

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