Mayor Sylvia Petillo with Ellen Buongiorno, and Marlene Colobella of the Hopatcong Woman's Club,Jamie Bernard of DASI, and Deborah Berry-Toon of Project Self-Sufficiency. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Mayor Sylvia Petillo presents the proclamation to Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Jamie Bernard, Executive Director of DASI, with Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Hopatcong Woman's Club Members, Marlene Colabella, and Ellen Buongiorno, receive the proclamation from Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Celebratory cake in appreciation of the work of the three honored non-profit groups: Project Self-Sufficiency, DASI, and, the Hopatcong Woman's Club. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Hopatcong Council Honors Three Non-Profit Groups
Thursday, October 18, 2012 • 9:00pm
HOPATCONG BOROUGH, NJ – Mayor Sylvia Petillo, and the members of the Hopatcong Borough Council honored three Sussex County not-for-profit groups at last night’s borough council meeting.
The groups honored were Project Self-Sufficiency, DASI (Domestic Abuse & Sexual Assualt Intervention Services), and the Hopatcong Woman’s Club.
“We’re going to have a great evening tonight,” Petillo told the crowd, which filled each and every seat in the meeting room. “Tonight, we would like to give tribute to three amazing organizations that reach beyond themselves into our community to make a difference in the lives of our residents.”
Petillo presented representatives from each group with a proclamation plaque, and, after the ceremonial portion of the meeting, permitted a short recess prior to the rest of the council’s agenda, to allow audience members to celebrate with cake for the honored organizations, while mingling with the group’s representatives to ask questions.
In conjunction with the celebration aspect, the council voted unanimously to support the “Enough Abuse Campaign,” which helps to provide training for adults, and communities to prevent child sexual abuse.
“It all started a few weeks ago when I spoke with a woman in need of assistance,” Petillo explained. “I mentioned Project Self-Sufficiency, and DASI. She had no idea of what services these programs offered in the community. I was very surprised.”
Petillo told the woman that both organizations had been in the area for approximately 25 years.
In light of the interaction with the woman in need, Petillo decided to invite the organizations to the council meeting to honor them, while raising awareness about the assistance the groups offer to families, single parents, and children.
She first presented Project Self-Sufficiency, a Newton-based group, which, when it started, had an office in the Hopatcong Administration Building. Petillo said the group has served over 18,000 families, and 30,000 children, since its inception.
“Their programs are designed to prevent welfare dependency, intergenerational poverty, unemployment, family instability, homelessness, school failure, involvement in the juvenile justice system, substance abuse, and other at-risk behaviors,” Petillo said, as she welcomed Project Self-Sufficiency’s Executive Director, Deborah Berry-Toon.
“We have a long history with Hopatcong,” Berry-Toon said.
In addition to having been housed in the Hopatcong Administration Building, Project Self-Sufficiency had what Berry-Toon described as “closet space,” in the Sussex County Technical School. The group later expanded to the former State Police Barracks on Route 206, next to Shop Rite (now Ena’s Emporium).
Today, Project Self-Sufficiency is located in a sprawling facility across from Sussex County Community College, which was built through fundraising efforts. At the campus, low-income men and women, with or without families, can begin to gain stability, and economic self-sufficiency.
Project Self-Sufficiency offers a range of programs, from career training, an employment center, legal assistance, parenting classes, substance abuse help, personal growth programs, health screening programs (including free mammograms for income-qualified individuals, including the next one on December 5), GED Classes, childcare (for those in employment training programs), a food pantry (for clients), and more.
The group has special programs as well to help those who are in job training to dress for success, with their “Working Women’s Wardrobe (new and gently used items business attire provided at no cost to the agency participants), Prom Shop (free prom dresses for young women in need), Back-to-School Fair (which gives out backpacks and school supplies, as well as haircuts for children in need), Thanksgiving baskets (for clients), Family Expo (groups and experts representing a variety of organizations, provide information to clients), and the Holiday Toy Drive for the Holiday Toy Shop (Berry-Toon especially expressed a need for items for pre-teens, and teens).
“We don’t have many families in Hopatcong, we’d like to outreach a little more here,” Berry-Toon added.
Project Self-Sufficiency is working on the current push to raise breast cancer awareness, and Berry-Toon said Sussex County has the highest mortality rate in terms of breast cancer.
Along with DASI and other organizations, Project Self-Sufficiency has also spearheaded the countywide “Enough Abuse Campaign,” to raise awareness, and, teach adults within the community on how to reduce the risks of sexual assault on children, as well as increase the protective factors for children to prevent sexual assault.
“Project Self-Sufficiency, and DASI work closely together; I’m glad to see them here, as well as members of the Hopatcong Woman’s Club. October 2012 is National Domestic Abuse Awareness Month,” Petillo said. “You will notice the purple ribbons tied on trees all over our parks.”
She introduced the next group, and said, “’DASI believes that all forms of violence and abuse are intolerable, and that social change is necessary to end interpersonal violence.’ Their mission is ‘to foster mutual respect, and healthy relationships by providing comprehensive services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families, community education, prevention programs, and advocacy. DASI offers safety, hope, and options for individuals and families affected by domestic and sexual violence and for the community at large.’”
As she introduced Jamie Bernard, DASI’s Executive Director, Petillo said the organization has been servicing 1,000 individuals annually within the county, for the last 28 years.
Bernard said the group has been helping domestic violence, and sexual violence victims since its inception. She shared some harrowing statistics, including how one in five high school girls, will be the victim of sexual assault.
“It’s a daunting problem for sure, and one of the most underreported crimes,” said Bernard.
She said DASI helps to educate and empower victims about their legal options, and provide safety planning. The group provides emergency shelter for victims who are fearful of returning to their residences.
“Victims leaving relationships are at the highest risk of being killed,” Bernard said.
DASI may also help victims define the components of a healthy relationship, said Bernard.
A few towns in the county have their own Domestic Violence Response Teams (Town of Newton, Andover Township, and, towns serviced by the New Jersey State Police), through DASI.
DASI also offers a Sexual Assault Response Team for victims, dispatched to help victims through all steps following their trauma.
Like Project Self-Sufficiency, DASI sustains itself through volunteers, grants, and fundraising efforts.
The Morning Glory Store in Andover Borough is run by DASI, and accepts items for donation, which the proceeds of the sales benefit the organization.
The Hopatcong Woman’s Club, Bernard said, has been donating to the shop.
“We have honored our Woman’s Club many times for all of the assistance they give to our community,” said Petillo, who especially wanted to recognize the group for their work with DASI.
The Hopatcong Woman’s Club hosts a “Spring Linen Shower,” which yields linens, and toiletries, which eventually end up in the hands of DASI clients. Marge Bradley, one of the club’s members who passed away on August 11, was especially dedicated to the cause, Petillo said.
Click here for Project Self-Sufficiency’s website.
Click here for DASI’s website.
Click here for the Hopatcong Woman’s Club’s website.
In other business:
· A few local residents questioned about the ordinance for introduction, amending the terms to the hot tub ordinance. Hot tubs are currently defined as an “accessory use or building,” however, under the new ordinance, unless a hot tub is placed in the middle of the yard, a variance would not be required for it. Councilmen John Young, and Howard Baker, had concerns about hot tubs placed on decks, that may not have adequate support. Borough attorney John Ursin said additional language should be in the ordinance to indicate a permit is required for hot tubs on decks. The final reading for this ordinance will be November 7.
· During council members committee reports, Baker discussed steps Sussex County Municipal Utility Authority’s (SCMUA) is taking to increase the depth of the landfill. SCMUA is expected to close around 2017.
· Councilman Rich Bunce lauded the DPW for some recent projects, including a new softball facility at Veterans Field, and the recycling center, which was paid for by a recycling grant.
· Councilman Michael Francis, and councilwoman Marie Galate both summarized how well the farmer’s market went on its final day, and how next season, a flea market is also in the works.
· Several Ithanell Road residents presented a petition to the council asking for speed bumps to be added in. Residents who approached the council said they were concerned about how quickly cars race along, and, are afraid someone will be hit. Petillo said the police department would do a traffic study.
· The borough’s annual Halloween Parade will take place on Sunday, October 21 (rain date, October 28), beginning at noon at Hudson Maxim School with the costume parade. From 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., there will be rides, games, hot dogs, and a costume contest. Click here for complete information.