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Ocean County YMCA Needs Your Help

Toms River — What does 50 years of service to the community look like? At the Y, it has meant generations of families finding their way through health and wellness opportunities.

Countless friendships fostered. Individuals finding strength in numbers. Children learning and growing. Affordable childcare, nourishing meals and friendly check-ins.

Whatever the need, the Ocean County YMCA has been there through it all. And now the Toms River nonprofit needs your help.

Next month, the Ocean County YMCA will celebrate its 50th anniversary of service to the community. Although the nonprofit will not celebrate the milestone as planned, it has developed a Recovery Fund to ensure that it will come back stronger and better in 2021.

To that end, the Ocean County YMCA’s Board of Directors is committed to raising $250,000. With their personal donations and funds raised, we are nearing $100,000 towards this goal.

To aid in these efforts, the Grunin Foundation has started a $50,000 in Celebration of 50 Years of Service Matching Challenge Grant.

The foundation will match every new donation to the Ocean County YMCA dollar for dollar through the end of the year up to $50,000.

“The Ocean County YMCA is a hub for health in our community,” said Jeremy Grunin, President of the Grunin Foundation. “From empowering youth to providing a place for seniors to stay active, the Y works to improve mental, physical and social health for all. During the pandemic, they haven’t missed a beat, ensuring programs stayed running safely whether virtually or in-person. As the YMCA celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Grunin Foundation is proud to support the Ocean County YMCA while they continue to elevate our community and economy by keeping residents active and healthy.”

With the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the Y, Ocean County YMCA Board Member, Brian Tramontano, shared what he has valued most throughout the years enjoying all that the YMCA has to offer. Brian states, “My favorite time here at the Y is watching my daughter and son take swim lessons in the same pool where as a child I learned to swim. Passing this valuable life lesson from generation to generation is an amazing experience.”

This holds true for so many Y families in Ocean County. “This is why we are sending this appeal to you,” explained Michael P. Ritacco, Board Chair of the Ocean County YMCA.

When the Ocean County YMCA was forced to close its doors in March due to COVID-19, the nonprofit did whatever was necessary to help meet the needs of its neighbors. “Despite the devastating impact that this pandemic had on our programs, members and staff, the Ocean County YMCA has continued to step up to serve our community’s most compelling needs,” shared Peter T. Rosario, President & CEO of the Ocean County YMCA.

Throughout the shutdown, the Ocean County YMCA continued to honor its promise that social distancing would not become social isolation. “We served thousands of meals, created virtual content for people of all ages, including a weekly Zoom meeting that provided a personal connection. Telephone outreach initiatives were put into action to protect our most vulnerable members, we implemented online learning opportunities, and remained connected with our followers on social media,” added Rosario.

Over the summer, programming began to shift from online to outdoors, serving 131 summer campers and 62 swim team members (which has now grown to 194 during the fall). The Ocean County YMCA also provided a total of 80,505 meals to those in need throughout Toms River. Most recently, the Ocean County YMCA opened its facilities during school hours to provide children with supervised space to attend virtual classes as parents returned to work.

“At this most critical time, we need all past and present members of our Y family to come together and support the Ocean County YMCA,” said Ritacco. “With your help, our YMCA will provide the next generation with a welcoming, safe place where the front door is open to all.”

To learn more about the Ocean County YMCA or to make a donation, visit ocymca.org.

About the Ocean County YMCA

At the Y, we take immense pride in our work to strengthen communities and help all of us be our best selves. We provide a place to play, to learn, to be healthy, and to give back.

We believe that everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from, deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential. Everything the Y does is in service of making sure people and communities thrive.

The Ocean County YMCA in Toms River features the following onsite amenities: 6,800 sq. ft. functional wellness arena, cardiovascular center, 12 lane competitive size pool with access to adult and family locker rooms, and child watch room.

To learn more, visit ocymca.org

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Feature Stories News

Acenda Marks Start of Annual Spirit of the Holidays Toy Drive

GLASSBORO, NJ – Acenda is hosting its annual Spirit of the Holidays Toy Drive virtually this fall. The program, which benefits children and youth throughout New Jersey, will run through Friday, December 4.  

“We are proud to be able to continue our Spirit of the Holidays toy collection, as now more than ever, our children and families need our support during this challenging year,” said Mari Considine, Chief Development & Marketing Officer, Acenda. “Thanks to caring businesses, individuals, and community partners, we are able to host our empowering initiative year-after-year and ensure the children we serve can experience the awe and wonder of the holiday season.”

Spirit of the Holidays supports children and families throughout New Jersey receiving services from the health and social services organization. The toy collection is an annual event that has been hosted by Acenda, formerly Robins’ Nest, for over twenty years. Last year’s event provided nearly 1,700 children with gifts for the holidays. Gift ideas include riding toys, Leap Frog, musical instruments, dolls, trucks, Disney toys, sports equipment, arts & crafts, makeup, gift cards and more.

A full wish list can be found by clicking here.  

Keeping the health and safety of the Acenda community top of mind, the toy drive will take place in a virtual setting. In support of no-contact deliveries, donors can purchase gifts online and have them shipped to Acenda’s Glassboro headquarters. 

Shopping registries are available online at AmazonTarget, and Walmart to allow donors to safely contribute to the awe and wonder of the holiday season for Acenda’s families.

Donations of gift cards to are also welcomed and will be used to purchase gifts in various age groups. All monetary donations will service both the Spirit of the Holidays toy collection and Acenda programs. 

For more information email development@acendahealth.org or call 844-422-3632 x1021. 

About Acenda Integrated Health 

Acenda Integrated Health is a nonprofit organization dedicated to industry-leading prevention, treatment and wellness services compassionately delivered to ensure that every individual, family and community achieves their greatest potential. 

Acenda is at the forefront of community-based services, providing over 100 health and social service programs at 56 locations throughout a 10-county region in New Jersey.

For more information visit acendahealth.org

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Community Calendar News Recent News

Riverside Music Sessions Announced in Red Bank

Red Bank, NJ —Red Bank RiverCenter has announced a socially-distant concert series, the Riverside Music Sessions presented by the Asbury Park Press on Saturday, September 26 and Saturday, October 3 at Riverside Gardens Park. 

The Sept. 26 Riverside Music Sessions line-up is: Almost U2, at 11 a.m.; Decade “Neil Young Tribute” at 2 p.m.; and “Heat Wave” a Linda Ronstadt Tribute featuring Sharon Lasher at 5 p.m. Rain date is Sunday, Sept. 27. 

The Oct. 3 Riverside Music Sessions line-up is: The Haven w/Special Guest Carl Gentry at 11 a.m.; The Weeklings – Music of the Beatles & More at 2 p.m.; and The Nerds at 5 p.m. Rain date is Sunday, Oct. 4. 

Tickets to the six performances by musicians and vocalists known locally and internationally are available for purchase online at eventbite.org. A total of 396 tickets will be sold for each session. Tickets are $39.95 each and are being sold exclusively in blocks of four tickets. 

“In creating the Riverside Music Sessions, RiverCenter plans to reintroduce live music in the parks in a socially-distant and safe environment,” RiverCenter Executive Director Laura Kirkpatrick said. “We are working with the Borough of Red Bank and our event producer, Rue Events, to be in compliance with all current state and local guidelines now and on event day.” 

Concert goers will be required wear masks as they enter the park and are escorted to their assigned, physically distanced seats, and unless they are enjoying food and beverages. Chairs will be provided and cleaned between sessions; no outside chairs will be allowed. No outside food or beverages allowed. Additional safety precautions are listed with the ticket purchase. Other safeguards may be announced on or before the event day. 

“RiverCenter is also looking to recoup some of the revenue lost when we had to cancelled both of our 2020 music and food festivals as a result of COVID-19,” Kirkpatrick added. “The two festivals help defray the extremely popular and successful holiday lights display that lights up the Red Bank business district from the night after Thanksgiving until the new year.” 

Concert goers will receive a goodie bag with snacks, and a list of restaurants offering discounts the day of the performance. 

“RiverCenter is excited to have this opportunity to welcome more people back to Red Bank and to demonstrate our responsiveness to their desire to be entertained while still feeling safe,” Stephen 

Catania, RiverCenter Chairman and owner of the Cheese Cave said. “We are equally thrilled to be giving some great artists an opportunity to get back to playing in front of a live audience and earn some money.” 

The Riverside Music Sessions are being presented by the Asbury Park Press and produced by Rue Events (Really Unbelievable Events). The event is a project of Red Bank RiverCenter. 

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Feature Stories News

NJM Insurance Group Welcomes Joshua Kalafer to Board of Directors

WEST TRENTON, NJ – The Board of Directors of NJM Insurance Group, a leading property and casualty insurer in the Mid-Atlantic region, has elected Joshua Kalafer, co-owner of Flemington Car and Truck Country, Clinton Honda and Jaguar Land Rover Princeton, as its newest member.

Kalafer is a seasoned entrepreneur with interests spanning real estate investment and development, the automotive industry, minor league baseball, and investment in start-ups. Along with these interests, he brings a wealth of leadership experience and knowledge to NJM’s board.

“As a company with over a century of operating for the exclusive benefit of our policyholders, we welcome the long tradition of successful, customer-focused business knowledge and experience Josh brings to the Board,” said Mitch Livingston, NJM president and CEO. “His strong foundation in community support, engagement, and philanthropy will also help ensure that we remain true to our value of supporting the communities we’re privileged to serve, as NJM expands throughout the region.”

“We are thrilled that Joshua will bring his counsel and strategic guidance to NJM’s Board,” said Edward J. Graham, NJM’s board chairman. “He is an accomplished industry leader whose expertise will provide great value to NJM as we continue to grow and cultivate long standing relationships with our policyholders.” 

Kalafer earned his B.A. in Business Administration from American University in Washington, D.C. He also serves as co-owner and co-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Somerset Patriots Professional Baseball Team. Among his many community and philanthropic endeavors, he serves as Chairman of the Somerset Healthcare Foundation Golf Classic and volunteers on various committees for the Far Hills Country Day School. Kalafer has also served as Chairman of the Building Committee and Vice Chair for the Temple Har Shalom.

“NJM is a highly respected company known for outstanding customer service and a true commitment to serving communities,” said Kalafer. “I am honored to have the opportunity to join the company as it expands its products and geographic reach, with customers and community top of mind.”

About NJM Insurance Group

Founded in 1913, NJM is a leading property casualty insurer in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Company offers workers’ compensation, auto, homeowners, renters, and umbrella coverage in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Headquartered in West Trenton, NJ, NJM employs nearly 2,500 workers and operates in a mutual fashion for the exclusive benefit of its customers. For more information, visit njm.com.

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Camden County Board of Elections Announces Vote by Mail Drop Box Locations

(Gloucester Township, NJ) – The State of New Jersey has provided vote-by-mail (VBM) drop boxes for each county in advance of the general election on Nov. 3. Camden County will have 13 VBM drop box locations that will be available 24 hours each day through the close of polls on Election Day. Each location is well-lit, secured and monitored by video surveillance cameras.

SJO Photo

Camden County’s VBM drop boxes can be found at the following locations:

Audubon
Municipal Building
606 West Nicholson Road

Berlin Twp.
Berlin Township Municipal Building
135 Rt. 73 South

Camden
Administration Building
600 Market Street
(Former entrance for Surrogate’s Office on Market Street)

Cherry Hill
Camden County College / William G. Rohrer
1889 Marlton Pike East
(Corner of Springdale Road and Marlton Pike East/Route 70 E)

Cherry Hill
Cherry Hill Municipal Building
820 Mercer Street

Chesilhurst
Municipal Building
201 Grant Ave., Waterford Works

Gloucester Township
Municipal Building
1261 Chews Landing Road

Haddon Twp.
Haddon Township Municipal Building
135 Haddon Ave.

Lindenwold
Lindenwold Municipal Building
15 North White Horse Pike

Pennsauken
Pennsauken Municipal Building
5605 North Crescent Blvd.

Runnemede
Runnemede Municipal Building
24 North Black Horse Pike

Voorhees
Voorhees Municipal Building
2400 Voorhees Town Center

Winslow Township
Winslow Municipal Building
125 South Route 73

County residents can use any of the 13 drop boxes which have been placed throughout the county.

VBM ballots can also be dropped off at the Camden County Board of Elections located at 100 University Court in Gloucester Township.

“VBM drop boxes are conveniently located throughout Camden County to make voting easier and more convenient during this most unusual election year,” said County Clerk Joseph Ripa. “Voters can rest assured that these boxes are safe and secure, and that their vote will be counted as long as their ballot is completed properly and placed in any VBM drop box prior to the closing of polls on November 3. Voters can also return their ballot by mail or by bringing it to the Board of Elections in person.”

Residents with questions regarding VBM drop boxes and voting by mail should call (856) 401-VOTE. More information is available at https://www.camdencounty.com/service/voting-and-elections/.

Post has been updated.