Bright Side Recent News

Bellmawr Ranks #8 as Top Ten Camden County Town for 2020

Bellmawr is still tops. The Borough has been ranked #8 in South Jersey Magazine’s annual listing of Top Towns for 2020.

In 2019, Bellmawr ranked #9 .

In 2017 and 2018, Bellmawr was ranked #8.

To put together this year’s Top Towns rankings, the editors of South Jersey Magazine gathered data from the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Department of Education and the state’s Division of Local Government Services.

A weighted formula combined average property values and taxes, crime incidents reported per 1,000 resident, and high school performance numbers consisting of average SAT scores, graduation rates, and more.

The rankings are further broken down into two categories: big towns (population above 10,000) and small towns (population under 10,000).

This year, Haddonfield placed first as 2020 Top Ten Overall and also first place as Top Ten Town in Camden County.

5 Towns Rounding Out the Top 25 Overall

  1. Haddonfield
  2. Moorestown
  3. Medford
  4. Woolwich
  5. Harrison Twp.

Top 10 Camden County Towns

  1. Haddonfield
  2. Voorhees
  3. Cherry Hill
  4. Haddon Twp.
  5. Waterford
  6. Collingswood
  7. Winslow
  8. Bellmawr
  9. Gloucester Twp.
  10. Pine Hill

Top 10 Small Towns

  1. Medford Lakes
  2. Chesterfield
  3. North Hanover
  4. East Greenwich
  5. Shamong
  6. Mansfield
  7. Tabernacle
  8. Bordentown City
  9. Swedesboro
  10. Berlin

To view South Jersey Magazine’s full report that includes rankings for Burlington County and Gloucester County’s top towns, click here.

Bright Side Police & Fire

New Jersey American Water Announces 10th Annual Volunteer Firefighter & EMS Services Grant Recipients

CAMDEN, N.J. – MAY 18, 2020 – In honor of National EMS Week, New Jersey American Water is proud to announce the recipients of its 10th Annual Volunteer Firefighter and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program. This year, 26 volunteer fire and EMS departments located within the company’s service areas have been chosen to receive grants, totaling over $40,000, which will be used to support initiatives, training and/or upgraded equipment to help the responders better protect themselves and the communities they serve.

“We began this program 10 years ago, and we are so proud to continue this tradition of giving back to our everyday heroes,” said Denise Venuti Free, director of Communications and External Affairs, New Jersey American Water. “This year, we doubled the total amount of the grant funds available and the amount each department could receive because we know how important it is to support these brave volunteers who risk their lives to protect their communities.”

This year’s grants will be used in various ways by each department from purchasing first aid kits and emergency rescue apparatus to accountability boards, which keep track of first responders during a rescue, and decontamination cloths, which wipe carcinogenic toxins off the skin.

The 2020 Volunteer Firefighter & EMS grant recipients include:

  • Adelphia Fire Company
  • Bayview Volunteer Fire Department
  • Beverly City Fire District #1
  • Bound Brook Fire Department
  • Bradley Gardens Fire Volunteer Fire Company
  • Brick Township Technical Rescue Team
  • Budd Lake Fire Department
  • Finderne Fire Department
  • Finderne First Aid and Rescue Squad
  • Good Will Fire Company #1
  • Green Knoll Fire Company
  • Haddon Fire Company #1
  • Highlands First Aid Squad
  • Little Silver Volunteer Fire Company #1
  • Logan Volunteer Fire Company of Pedricktown
  • Mansfield Township Fire Department
  • Martinsville Rescue Squad
  • Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad
  • New Providence Volunteer Fire Department
  • North Caldwell Fire Department
  • Oceanport Fire Company
  • Riverside Fire Company #1 Inc.
  • Somerdale Fire Department
  • Somerset County Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team
  • Union Gardens Fire Company
  • Upper Township Fire District #1
  • Washington Borough Fire Department

More information about New Jersey American Water’s First Responder Grant Program can be found online at

About New Jersey American Water
New Jersey American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.8 million people. For more information, visit and follow New Jersey American Water on Twitter and Facebook

About American Water 
With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to 15 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Bright Side Covid-19 Recent News

Bellmawr Native & Rutgers-Camden 2020 Grad, Joe Lutz, Works on the Front Line of COVID-19 Pandemic

Editor’s note: This article was written by Jeanne Long for Rutgers-Camden News Now

As a paramedic, Joseph Lutz plays a vital role in treating the sick and injured in emergencies, but during the coronavirus pandemic, his job has evolved into handling patient care in a hospital and performing an administrative role in setting up a field hospital in Secaucus.

When coronavirus cases began rising in New Jersey, the Rutgers University‒Camden biology student was mainly performing his usual paramedic duties at University Hospital in Newark, where he is employed.

By early April, the hospital’s emergency department was overwhelmed with patients with COVID-19, so the hospital re-assigned Lutz and other paramedics to assist nurses.

“I was working in our emergency dispatch center, when we received a call from hospital administration stating that the situation in the emergency department was dire,” says Lutz, of Bellmawr. “There were many extremely sick patients, and not enough nurses.”

That day, he spent eight hours attending to patients on ventilators.

Joe Lutz and his wife, Michelle, who is also a paramedic. (Photo credit: Rutgers-Camden News Now)

During the coronavirus pandemic, as the need skyrocketed for hospital beds for extremely sick patients, New Jersey received federal assistance to create the Federal Medical Shelter (FMS) located in Secaucus. Since early April, Lutz has been intimately involved in the operations of FMS and the North Region Medical Coordination Center, a space created after Sept. 11, 2001, to coordinate medical response to major medical situations. Lutz and his colleagues facilitated moving more than 250 patients from northern New Jersey hospitals to the shelter to make space for more seriously ill patients who required treatment in a hospital.

“There is no doubt that this process of opening up hospital beds for sicker patients saved lives,” says Lutz.

A Bellmawr native, Lutz lived in South Jersey until his first year of high school, when he and his mother moved to North Brunswick.

As a teenager, Lutz became interested in helping others. With his sharp technical skills, he became a website designer in high school, earning enough money to help his mom pay their living expenses. While he continued designing websites, he decided to drop out of school. In 2002, he earned his GED. 

After working as an emergency medical technician at Bellmawr EMS for several years, Lutz attended Camden County College to complete a paramedic training certificate program. His success in class inspired him to further his education, earning an associate’s degree in applied sciences as he continued working full-time as a paramedic at Bellmawr EMS. 

He returned to Camden County College in 2012 to study biology, but working full-time at night and attending classes full-time during the day, left him little time for sleep, so he dropped out for several years, got married, and then returned to school full-time. He completed his associate’s degree in biology in 2018, six years after he started.

He credits his Rutgers‒Camden education in giving him experience in research and data analysis.

Lutz was among the MCC health care professionals who appeared at Gov. Phil Murphy’s daily televised coronavirus briefing on May 9 to present information about the center’s operations and plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients at University Hospital. Lutz created two of the charts that the president/CEO of University Hospital, Shereef Elnahal, presented at Gov. Murphy’s briefing.

Joe Lutz (far left) at Gov. Murphy’s televised daily briefing on May 9, 2020 (Photo credit: Rutgers-Camden News Now)

“A few years ago, I would have been of little more use than providing patient care – which is also very important,” says Lutz. “Today, I am able to take on an administrative role and influence the care and outcomes of many more patients because of what I have learned from Rutgers‒Camden professors.

As Lutz receives his bachelor of science degree in biology and health science from Rutgers‒Camden, it is not the end of his formal education. He plans to attend medical school to become a physician.

Bright Side Feature Stories

Jewish Family Service is Ready to Help with Services

Jewish Family Service staff member Christopher Barone helped sort and bag groceries for residents picking up the non-perishable items from the agency. The JFS Food Pantry, located in the Margate office, is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 2pm for individuals and families in need of food and basic essentials. (Photo provided by Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties)

Margate, NJ — As most of us continue to wade through the unknown waters during this unprecedented time, Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties continues to be a resource in the community to help residents. Whether you need food for your family, counseling for an anxious relative or programs to keep older adults connected and engaged in these uncertain times, JFS is here for you.

The JFS Food Pantry is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 2pm and will provide individuals and families with hearty, non-perishable food including tuna, peanut butter, soup, canned vegetables and snacks for children.  In addition, we have diapers, wipes and select baby food. Since the shelter in place order, and businesses either shuttered or significantly reduced hours of operation, we understood that our neighbors may become unemployed or underemployed and therefore, need help feeding their families.

In the past two months, JFS has experienced a 35% increase in food requests and provided nearly 700 families with essentials throughout our county. Our shelves are stocked and we have developed a contactless process to receive food. The JFS Food Pantry is located at 607 North Jerome Avenue in Margate. For those unable to visit the pantry, call the Access Center at 609-822-1108 x1 to explore alternate pick-up locations or delivery possibilities.   

We understand that the COVID-19 crisis has affected people differently and everyone adapts to the changing landscape in not the same manner. For people who need assistance during a time of heightened anxiety, stress and uncertainty, JFS offers telephonic counseling. Our Counselors, Therapists and Case Managers are accepting new clients to assist whether you are experiencing feeling overwhelmed, having trouble coping with change or needing an outlet, JFS is here to help.

While the pandemic has altered the manner in which we meet with clients, our staff continues to see and speak with clients via video conferencing and telephone calls to deliver services.

At JFS, we have Village by the Shore, for adults over the age of 50. As part of this program, we offer groceries delivered right to your front door. In addition, ready-made meals are also delivered weekly. As of mid-April, Village by the Shore was providing more than 100 meals per week with a 67% increase in members using the program.

The Village is also offering virtual social events for its members including Memoir Workshop, crafting and home exercises to name a few. These events allow people to interact virtually with their friends and enjoy a fun time in the midst of our ever-changing environment.

Village by the Shore is a membership program that provides care coordination, transportation, intergenerational events, Kosher meals and more.

To learn more about receiving Village services or participating in virtual programming, call 609-822-1109. 

About Jewish Family Service

Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties (JFS) encourages strong families, thriving children, healthy adults, energized seniors and vital communities. With dozens of program areas, JFS specializes in counseling, mental health services, homeless programs, vocational services, adult and older adult services and also hosts an on-site food pantry. The agency impacts 8,000 lives throughout Atlantic and Cape May Counties each year.

JFS’ mission is to motivate and empower people to realize their potential and enhance their quality of life. In keeping with Jewish values and the spirit of tikkun olam (healing the world), JFS provides services with integrity, compassion, respect and professionalism regardless of their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age or background.

For more information or to keep up-to-date with events and programs, visit JFS at or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Bright Side Covid-19 Feature Stories Recent News

Capturing Unique Family Images with ‘Porchraits’

Abdullah Anderson, Sr., Octacia Anderson, Abdullah Anderson, Jr., and Amira Anderson of Galloway stocked up on supplies, curriculum and exercise during their quarantine. Abdullah, Jr. has a special reason to make sure he keeps in shape – he plays defensive end for the Chicago Bears football team. (Photo provided by Photography by Randee)

Margate, New Jersey (May 11, 2020) – With schools across the nation experiencing canceled classes, sporting events, proms and graduations, Atlantic City High School teacher Randee Rosenfeld decided to spend her spring break photographing South Jersey family ‘porchraits.’

As the owner of Photography by Randee, she knows the impact and memories a photograph brings to individuals and families. In her business, she usually photographs beach portraits, weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and more. So, when the pandemic struck, she shifted her business focus in a new photography direction with the Front Porch Project which was being done around the country.

Photographer Randee Rosenfeld, wearing her custom face mask, photographed 65 families throughout Atlantic County in their unique ‘porchraits.’ (Photo provided by Photography by Randee)

With the help of social media, she started a quest to capture the poignant porch moments of families throughout Atlantic County – Margate, Linwood, Northfield, Galloway, Absecon, Ventnor, Somers Point, Egg Harbor Township, Smithville, Brigantine and Mays Landing – and her campaign paid off. All total, Randee photographed 65 one-of-a-kind family porch portraits.

With many individuals and families sheltering at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to gather outside and express yourself in pictures was a fun and engaging way for people to come together for a keepsake image.

While no payment for the portrait was required, families could make a donation to Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties.

Pictured left to right: Ella Marie, Patrick John and Emma Grace Freehan of Brigantine celebrated their three Class of 2020 graduations together. Photo provided by Photography by Randee)

“There are many people offering acts of kindness in some fashion or another. I knew that by taking pictures, individuals and families would have a memento when they share their story with future generations about this time in their lives,” said Randee Rosenfeld. “I wanted to give people something tangible, and also support a wonderful organization like JFS, and this idea made the perfect project,” she added.

In total, Randee collected donations of nearly $2,000 which will help support JFS’ services and programs our community needs during this unprecedented time.

Pictured left to right: The rollerblading family of Russel, Danielle, Ella and Abby Bergeron of Galloway found a great way to use some essential household supplies while taking a break to play a friendly game of cards. Photo provided by Photography by Randee

For more information on how you can help JFS or make a secure on-line donation, visit

About Jewish Family Service

Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties (JFS) encourages strong families, thriving children, healthy adults, energized seniors and vital communities. With dozens of program areas, JFS specializes in counseling, mental health services, homeless programs, vocational services, adult and older adult services and also hosts an on-site food pantry.

The agency impacts 8,000 lives throughout Atlantic and Cape May Counties each year.

JFS’ mission is to motivate and empower people to realize their potential and enhance their quality of life. In keeping with Jewish values and the spirit of tikkun olam (healing the world), JFS provides services with integrity, compassion, respect and professionalism regardless of their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age or background.
For more information or to keep up-to-date with JFS events and programs, visit or follow on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.