August 21, 2013
HONING LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Participants in Corner House’s 2013 Student Leadership Institute last week took part in three days of team-building on the campus of Princeton University. The annual retreat included lectures, communication exercises, and evening activities.

HONING LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Participants in Corner House’s 2013 Student Leadership Institute last week took part in three days of team-building on the campus of Princeton University. The annual retreat included lectures, communication exercises, and evening activities.

In its mission to foster the emotional well-being of area youth, the local social service agency Corner House has long enlisted the help of young members of the community. Divided into four teams, these students from Princeton High School, The Hun School, Princeton Day School and Stuart Country Day School focus on issues like bullying, family strife, and drug and alcohol abuse, learning techniques to cope and how to pass them on to others.

Last week, 75 participants converged on the Princeton University campus for Corner House’s annual Student Leadership Institute. The students took part in three days of team-building exercises, heard talks by guest speakers, and unwound in the evenings with a hypnotist, karaoke, and a dance party.

In early years of the program, the teams had taken part in individual retreats. But Corner House Executive Director Gary Di Blasio realized a few years ago that being a part of something bigger made the program an even more powerful tool. “You put some 70 students out in the community and they can set the standard of how things can be,” he said this week. “The Leadership Institute has become really important.”

Corner House student leaders from all four schools serve on the Student Board and the Teen Advisory Group, which is concerned with preventing abuse of drugs and alcohol. Those chosen for Project GAIA [Growing Up Accepted in America] and GAIA2, which focus on bullying and acceptance, are students at Princeton High School. The growing popularity of the programs has made admission competitive.

“The leadership programs began with the Teen Advisory Group 22 years ago. When I got here 13 years ago, I realized that the number of students applying were about four times more than we had spots for,” Mr. Di Blasio said. “So we began looking at how to expand that program for teens in the community. It seemed like leadership was something that students and parents and schools were interested in.”

The Teen Advisory Group was expanded, and the first Project GAIA was begun about 12 years ago. It became so popular that GAIA2 was added to the mix. The first Student Board had four participants; currently there are 15.

Princeton High School rising senior Harry Kioko applied to be in the GAIA program as a sophomore. “I didn’t know that much about it, but I decided to give it a try,” he recalled. “I did it sort of on a whim, as a resume-stuffer. But it quickly became a lot more than that.”

As part of GAIA and GAIA2, Harry and his colleagues went into elementary and middle schools to do workshops about acceptance, overcoming differences, and seeing the good in different backgrounds. Then he graduated to the Teen Advisory Group, which talked to middle school students about prevention, moderation, and pressures to drink and take drugs that they might encounter in high school.

As part of the Student Board this coming school year, “We act as an intermediary, I like to think, between students and adults,” he said. “We have seats on the recreation and human services boards, the Corner House board, and as a Princeton Council liaison. We raise the issues we see in school or with our friends. We also plan a lot of events for the community, like the All-City Dodge Ball tournament and Friday Live at the Library, which is geared toward creating a substance-free environment where kids can go on weekends. We really make sure they are as cheap as possible, or free.”

Taking part in these programs throughout the years has allowed him to talk to students he might not otherwise know, Harry said. “It’s really become a very close-knit family and community. It’s sort of cool, because in the past couple of years I’ve really seen Corner House gain more scope and more respect in the community,” he said. “I’ve seen myself change a lot, too. A lot of the stuff we talk about, it shapes you. It really is rewarding. You learn a lot from it. This year, I’m hoping to take it to new heights. It is a phenomenal experience.”

All of the students who take part in the Corner House leadership teams take a pledge, part of which says they will make every effort to abstain from using alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. That is especially meaningful to Princeton High School rising senior Brittany Van Name, who was on the Teen Advisory Group last year and is a member of this year’s Student Board.

“This program, for me, is an opportunity to meet other kids in the Princeton area who share my same beliefs about abstaining from drugs and alcohol while in high school,” she said. “At school, a lot of people don’t understand why I’m not at the weekend parties. When I’m at Corner House I feel more understood.”

Another PHS senior on the Student Board this year is Viraj Khanna, who learned about GAIA from his sister. She had started in her junior year and urged Viraj to apply in his sophomore year. He especially enjoyed taking part in a workshop designed to help eighth grade students transition to high school.

“Placing yourself in that role of being a role model really helps you view how you are viewed by the community,” he said. “Just knowing that more is expected of you by the surrounding community really changes you.”

Last week’s retreat was especially helpful because participants were together for three days and two nights, isolated from other distractions. “Everyone’s there. It really brings the group closer together,” Viraj said. “And you an see the transition in the group from before to after. Productivity really increases. People are communicating, suggesting ideas. Having completely candid conversations with your team members is really what brings it together.”

Chaperones for the retreat are all former student leaders. “Their commitment to passing it on, and to staying connected and wanting to stay part of it, is important,” Mr. Di Blasio said. “What I hear from students is that it gives them a sense that they’re having an impact on their community. They actually have the ability to impact their school and the town they live in. And it’s an impact that’s real.”


The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) and the NAACP Trenton Branch are providing an opportunity to travel by bus to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, August 24 for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, the historic march in which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech.

Buses will depart from the Princeton Shopping Center and Hamilton AMC Theater at approximately 5 a.m. The Coalition for Peace Action and the NAACP will arrive at the Lincoln Memorial in time for the major rally with Martin Luther King III, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and others.

Attendees will then march approximately half a mile together to the Martin Luther King Memorial to close the day. Buses will arrive back in New Jersey at approximately 8 p.m.

To reserve a bus seat or obtain further information, contact the Coalition for Peace Action at (609) 924-5022,, or visit www.peaceco

Princeton Adult School is celebrating its 75th birthday with a year-long festival beginning in September and featuring an array of special activities throughout the community.

There will be conversations with renowned individuals linked to Princeton, a special lecture series within the Princeton Adult School curriculum, a gala, and a shopping spree, all commemorating the Adult School’s past 75 years of classes and lectures attended by an estimated 200,000 individuals. In addition, the celebration will toast the Adult School’s future in which the organization will grow stronger and even more committed to inspiring a lifetime of learning and personal enrichment.

Several other local non-profit organizations will be hosting events in honor of the Adult School’s 75th birthday. These include the Princeton Public Library; Princeton Arts Council; McCarter Theatre; Princeton Art Museum; Pro-Musica; Rider University/Westminster Choir College; Princeton Festival; Princeton University Concerts; Historical Society of Princeton; Morven; Institute for Advanced Study; Princeton Symphony Orchestra; Dorothea’s House; and Princeton HealthCare System.

The first Princeton Adult School Anniversary celebration event will be a conversation with former ABC Good Morning America news anchor and Princeton University Alumnus and Board member Charlie Gibson, September 27, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Princeton University’s Friend Center.

The topic is “Higher Education: Changes over the past 75 years — looking back and looking ahead.”

Mr. Gibson, an ABC Network news anchor and commentator, will lead a conversation with former Princeton University Presidents Shirley Tilghman and Harold Shapiro. Conversations, which will continue throughout 2014, are an informal exchange among people in leadership roles who will share their insights and experiences. Patron tickets for the entire Conversations Series will be $150; A single ticket is $25. All proceeds benefit the Princeton Adult School 75th Anniversary Fund.

The next event with a confirmed date is the Champagne Gala and Live
Auction, Sunday, May 4, 2014, at Jasna Polana. This birthday party is being underwritten by William and Judy Scheide, who are honorary co-chairs along with Betty Wold Johnson and Vivian and Harold Shapiro. Among the items to be auctioned are a trip to the Today Show with NBC’s Chief Medical Editor and Princeton resident Dr. Nancy Snyderman, a day with award-winning Chef Scott Anderson of Elements, and a cocktail party for 20 with two mystery servers.

Also: a day behind the scenes at McCarter Theatre with Artistic Director Emily Mann, an after-hours children’s birthday party at JaZams toy store, a day with Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward going behind the scenes at the Frick Collection and other art galleries on the Upper East Side in New York City, and a walk-on role at the Princeton Festival production Diamonds are Forever.

Eight lectures will be held from October 8 through December 12 to celebrate the Adult School’s 75th Anniversary, also known as its Diamond Anniversary. Participating scholars are selecting someone or something from the last 75 years that has transformed their respective area of research or expertise.

Lecturers from Princeton University, include Cecilia E. Rouse, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School and Professor of Economics; Simon Morrison, Professor of Music; Michael W Cadden, Chair, Lewis Center for the Arts and Senior Lecturer in Theater; Angela Creager, Professor of History; Virgina A. Zakian, Professor of Molecular Biology; Alexander Nehamas, Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature; and Paul B. Muldoon, Professor of Creative Writing at the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Local shops and restaurants are donating a portion of all the proceeds and sales generated on November 7. More than 60 businesses already have made the commitment to participate in this Shop and Eat Event to benefit the Adult School, and it is anticipated that more will join.

Even though the Princeton Adult School held its first classes in January, 1939, the Adult School concept was born a year earlier during a discussion among Ruth Schleiffler, Laura Peskin, whose husbands owned Princeton News Delivery Service, and Mrs. W.R. Brearley, principal of the Nassau Street Elementary School. Mrs. Schleiffler visited the Trenton Adult School and returned from her adventure with one question and one statement:

“Why don’t we have such a school here? If Mrs. Brearley will do the curriculum, I’ll do the registration.”

Out of those words emerged what was then called Princeton’s Leisure Hour School, with a system of registration that involved spreading out index cards on tables in the Schleiffler living room.

The new adult school opened its doors literally to nearly 500 people during that first term, and figuratively to a new era in race relations. The adult school classes welcomed individuals of all races and religions, and its classes were being held at the Nassau Street Elementary School, a segregated school that remained segregated for public education classes for several more years.

After ceasing its operations during World War II, Princeton’s Leisure Hour School was reborn as the Princeton Adult School in 1948. When the Adult School turned 50 in 1989, student enrollment had grown six times during the course of the five decades. At the age of 75, the Princeton Adult School, during the 2012-13 fall/spring term, had enrolled more than 3,500 students in approximately 320 courses which is seven times the student enrollment and 11 times the course offerings that were available at the Leisure Hour School in 1939.

The variety of the course offerings are the result of the dedication of the Adult School staff and Board members and the resources of the Princeton community. Students can explore America and the world by learning languages, understanding the workings of governments, art and music, history and architecture. They can learn to cook exotic foods while remaining physically and mentally fit with exercise, computers, photography, and arts and crafts classes, and courses about the universe.

For information on the celebrations and course offerings, visit, or email For online courses, visit


Close to the corner of Nassau and Vandeventer, by the Garden Theater, Patrol Officer Chris Craven looks on as repairs to existing sewer lines get underway on Monday. The road will be closed for about three weeks during weekdays from Monday through Friday, as the sanitary sewer line is replaced in two stages, first from Nassau to Spring and then from Spring to Wiggins streets. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)


August 14, 2013
AT THE WELL: Counselors and teachers from the At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Summer Academy, which took place from July 28 to August 9, at Princeton University’s Friend Center gather Friday before the graduation ceremony. From left: Tina Haskell, Kekelly Ketemepi, ­Veronica Farrar, Alexandria V. duBoulay, SAT teacher Naomi Leapheart; in front, Residential Dorm Director LeRhonda Greats, Nicole Glass, Seana’ Dark, and Martice Sutton.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

AT THE WELL: Counselors and teachers from the At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Summer Academy, which took place from July 28 to August 9, at Princeton University’s Friend Center gather Friday before the graduation ceremony. From left: Tina Haskell, Kekelly Ketemepi, ­Veronica Farrar, Alexandria V. duBoulay, SAT teacher Naomi Leapheart; in front, Residential Dorm Director LeRhonda Greats, Nicole Glass, Seana’ Dark, and Martice Sutton. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Actress Jasmine Guy took center stage at the closing ceremony of the At the Well (ATW) Young Women’s Leadership Summer Academy in Princeton University’s Friend Center last Friday.

Ms. Guy spoke about her life experiences as a young woman who left home at 17 to dance for the Alvin Ailey company in New York City and, more recently, of her personal achievement as author of a biography of Afeni Shakur, the mother of Tupac Shakur, titled, Evolution of a Revolutionary.

Ms. Guy was just one of a stellar line-of inspirational mentors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and accomplished business leaders in the African American community invited by At the Well’s founder Jacqueline Glass to share their skills and experiences with a select group of 80 high school girls entering grades 10 through 12 from across the country, including Hawaii.

The ceremony was the culmination of two weeks in which high schoolers had followed a rigorous schedule of leadership training activities with workshops in mathematics, critical reading and writing, SAT preparation, independent study, and rehearsals for a play about deterring violence against women and girls created by the young scholars themselves. They participated in team building activities and heard from motivational speakers the likes of Brandi and Karli Harvey, entertainer Steve Harvey’s daughters; inventor Lisa Ascolese of QVC Television and The Home Shopping Network; author A’Lelia Bundles, whose biography of her great great grandmother Madame C. J. Walker, On Her Own Ground, is a New York Times bestselling biography and who is now working on a biography of her great-grandmother, A’Lelia Walker; Huffington Post blogger and money expert Tiffany Aliche; beauty journalist and editor Tai Beauchamp (Oprah Magazine, Seventeen); Delta Airlines professional and Atlanta Daily World’s 2013 Woman of Excellence Karmetria Burton; Deborah Owens, author of A Purse of Your Own; among others.

“I connected with speakers who had a passion for making a difference in the lives of girls. All of our faculty and our guest speakers like Jasmine Guy were excited to be coming here. These are individuals who can command large honoraria far beyond what we are able to give, but more than that they have heart,” said At the Well Founder and CEO Jacqueline Glass.

Now in it’s third year, ATW is the only summer leadership institute at an Ivy League campus for minority teen girls from under-served communities. From July 28 until August 9, they boarded at Princeton University and experienced a taste of college life. They were taught by Princeton University professors and coached by Goldman Sachs professionals.

It wasn’t all study, however, there was time for fun and a trip to New York City to attend a Broadway show, Motown. To their delight, comedian Chris Rock, the uncle of one student, stopped by to visit his niece.

Personal Perspective

Perhaps best known for her role as the iconic southern belle Whitley Gilbert from the Cosby Show spinoff television series A Different World, Jasmine Guy has a recurring role as Grams on the popular series Vampire Diaries. Her theater work includes Broadway productions of The Wiz, Grease and Chicago and among her awards are six consecutive NAACP Image Awards.

Commenting on her participation in a pre-event interview, Ms Guy said: “It is very important for us to reach out to these young girls, especially since all of the issues that we had growing up are compounded today with the revolution in communications. I wasted a lot of time comparing myself to others and tearing myself down. All we have is our own perspective so it needs to be balanced and healthy. It’s taken me many years to learn to do that, and I still fall prey to negative thinking from time to time. I hope to convey some of the ways that you can switch from negative to positive thinking and be a friend to yourself.” Her keynote address was peppered with wit and wisdom,

Achievement Gap

Motivated by the academic achievement gap between minority teen students and their white counterparts Jacqueline Glass, a 2003 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, founded At the Well, which has its roots in a series of one-day conferences she set up beginning in 2009 to empower women, particularly women of color, who were struggling as she had.

Besides being a licensed minister, Ms. Glass has worked as an adjunct professor, a publishing professional, freelance marketing consultant, and editor. She is currently a court reporter for the New York Supreme Civil Court proceedings.

“The women’s conferences were founded as an alternative to feeling frustrated by not being able to climb the corporate ladder in spite of being overqualified in jobs and being looked over for promotion,” said Ms. Glass.

At one such event, a program for teenage girls was added. “That’s when I found my calling. This is a form of ministry for me. These girls hunger and thirst for knowledge, guidance, and leadership,” said Ms. Glass whose own teenage daughter is now in her second year as an undergraduate at Rutgers University and was a counselor at this year’s Academy.

According to Ms. Glass, “The U.S. Department of Education statistics state African Americans account for about 13 percent of the entire college enrollment. The low performance of African-American students in math and on SAT scores is alarming. Our program addresses these issues head-on.”

The first two-week At the Well Summer Leadership Academy was held in 2011. In 2012, there were 43 girls. This year that number has doubled. Of hundreds of applicants, only one in three is accepted. “This has grown beyond my wildest expectations,” she said.

To participate, students had to meet criteria based upon recommendations, an interview, a written essay, extracurricular activities, and grade point average. A generous grant from the F.I.S.H. Foundation has supported the Academy for two years. Toby Sanders, ATW director of curriculum and critical reading teacher has plans to set up a similar program for boys as soon as funding can be found.

At the Well

The name of the program was inspired by the Biblical story in the Gospel of John in which Christ speaks at length to an unnamed Samaritan woman who has come to draw water from a well and is transformed by the experience. “It is my hope that the experience of participating in this program will be transformative with inspiration, education, and reflection leading to transformation, seeing things anew,” said Ms. Glass.

A highlight of the closing ceremony was student Brandi McLeod’s a cappella singing. “I’m not the average girl from the video/and I ain’t built like a supermodel/but I learnt to love myself unconditionally/… my worth is not determined by the price of my clothes/no matter what I’m wearing I will always be/the beautiful Brandi.” Members of the audience had goosebumps.

For more information, visit:


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has honored physicist Rich Hawryluk with a Secretary’s Appreciation Award for his service to ITER, a huge international fusion experiment under construction in France.

Mr. Hawryluk, a former deputy director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), returned to the Lab in April after completing a two-year assignment as deputy director-general for the Administration Department at ITER, whose mission is to show the feasibility of fusion energy.

The DOE award, signed by former Energy Secretary Steven Chu and presented by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, recognized Hawryluk for “applying his wealth of big-science project management experience to enable the ITER project to make the transition from design phase to construction, thus helping ensure that this important international project will successfully move toward demonstrating the feasibility of fusion as a future energy source.”

Mr Hawryluk brought years of proven know-how to the ITER assignment. He joined PPPL in 1974 with a Ph.D. in physics from MIT and went on to head the Laboratory’s Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR), which set world records for fusion power during the 1990s. He served from 1997 to 2009 as deputy director of PPPL, which Princeton University manages for DOE.

“Rich Hawryluk has an unparalleled track record in scientific and organizational leadership in the fusion energy sciences,” Edmund Synakowski, head of the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, said in commenting on the award. Such leadership included Hawryluk’s guidance of the TFTR project, which “culminated in the generation of nearly 11 megawatts of fusion power,” Mr. Synakowski said.

“The Department therefore heartily supported [Hawryluk’s] willingness to respond to the call from ITER’s Director General, Osamu Motojima, to join his leadership team in Cadarache, France,” Synakowski said. “Rich served with distinction by bringing to ITER the same industry and insight that the U.S. community has come to know and admire.”

“ITER was a very interesting experience for me,” said Mr. Hawryluk. “And I learned in much more detail about the issues associated with bridging the transition from design to construction. ITER’s unprecedented size and power mark “a huge step forward from TFTR. While experiments on TFTR produced important data, ITER will show whether such results can be extrapolated into a viable source of fusion energy.”


HomeFront’s food pantries are desperately low and so the local non-profit agency based in Lawrenceville is urging residents to help alleviate the food shortage through a Stop Summer Hunger Now food campaign.

For some local children summer is not a time they look forward to — especially when their mothers already have trouble making their food dollars cover meals during the rest of the year. These families find it especially difficult in the summer when their kids don’t have access to nutritious school breakfasts and lunches.

“Most people think that winter is the hardest time for these families,” says Connie Mercer, HomeFront’s executive director. “During the winter, the children get subsidized breakfasts and lunches at school. During the summer, they don’t. These are families that live on the edge, economically. They can’t afford additional food and the whole family suffers. And the line at our front desk, coming to us for bags of nutritious food, gets longer and longer — and our shelves get empty, one after another. August is an especially tough month.”

“There is a day I dread,” she adds. “That is the day we run out of supplies and we have to turn hungry families and hungry children away. I can only hope that our community members, our friends, and neighbors will help us help them by donating to our food drive and will make sure that this sad day never comes.”

“Hunger isn’t just about discomfort,” she says. “It makes it hard to focus. It results in lower grades and test scores for children. It makes it hard for adults to develop job skills and get employment. It endangers the future of every member of these families. Every donated box of food is an investment in a better future.”

For more information, visit

Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville celebrates autumn with a two-day Apple Festival, September 14 and 15. The 37th annual festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Terhune will continue the celebration with fall festival weekends through October.

Participants can pick fresh apples from dwarf trees, take a tractor-drawn wagon ride, hear live music Saturday and Sunday from the Daisy Jug Band (returning for the 32nd year), visit the adventure barn, walk the farm trail, and have farm fresh snacks and a homemade lunch. There are numerous activities for kids, including face painting, pumpkin painting, pony rides, make-your-own scarecrows and a cornstalk maze.

Apples can be picked at the Cold Soil Road farm and Van Kirk farm on Apple Day. Pumpkins can pick be picked at the Terhune home farm.

At owner Pam Mount’s down-home food tent, a pig will be roasted for pork sandwiches. Barbecued chicken, hot dogs, homemade salads, and soup will also be for sale. Apple dishes will include apple pies, apple muffins, apple bread, cider doughnuts and applesauce, as well as Terhune apple cider.

Adults 21 and over can stop in at the vineyard and winery tasting room in the 150-year-old barn and sample our award-winning red and white wines, plus apple wine. The farm store will offer fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, homemade pies, homemade cookies, and fresh-pressed apple cider.

Fall festivals continue Saturdays and Sundays beginning the weekend of September 21 and ending October 27, including Columbus Day, Monday October 14. There will be live music, pumpkins to pick and decorate, pony rides, face painting, wagon rides, the corn stalk maze to explore, the adventure barn to visit, and festival foods to eat.

Pictures taken at the farm can be entered in the Terhune Orchards photo contest. Entries are due October 1. For complete rules and entry information stop by the farm store or visit

There is no admission to the farm store, winery tasting room, and Van Kirk pick your own. Admission to the festival area is $5. Children three and under receive free admission. Parking on the farm is free. There is no admission to the farm on weekdays. Terhune Orchards is located at 330 Cold Soil Road in Lawrenceville. Visit or call the farm store at (609) 924-2310 for directions.



The morning rain made voting in Tuesday’s special primary election for U.S. Senate a challenge. The downpour was a memory, however, by the time this couple arrived at the polling place located at the Suzanne Patterson Center. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

August 7, 2013
YOUNG ERIC AT THE PIANO: He may be only nine but he’s a whiz at the piano. Eric has come from his home in Brooklyn to stay with the Alena family in Lawrenceville as part of the Fresh Air Fund program. He plays for William and Emily Alena as their mother Minda looks on. Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund has provided summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children who visit host families in rural, suburban and small town communities like Princeton and Lawrenceville. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

YOUNG ERIC AT THE PIANO: He may be only nine but he’s a whiz at the piano. Eric has come from his home in Brooklyn to stay with the Alena family in Lawrenceville as part of the Fresh Air Fund program. He plays for William and Emily Alena as their mother Minda looks on. Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund has provided summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children who visit host families in rural, suburban and small town communities like Princeton and Lawrenceville. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Opening one’s home to kids from the city, can have unexpected consequences. Hearts and minds are opened too. Take Minda Alena and her family.

Ms. Alena and her husband Bill had been thinking about ways to give back to the community when they saw a pull-out insert in The New York Times about the Fresh Air Fund and its Volunteer Host Family Program. After finding out more, the couple felt that it would fit well with their family. They have a son, William, now 8, and a daughter Emily, now 6. “We were entranced by the concept and have found it to be a wonderful experience for everyone,” says Minda. “We would like to get the word out about the Fresh Air Fund. I don’t know why more families aren’t doing this.

This is the second year that the family has been visited by Eric, who comes from Brooklyn. Now nine, and with memories of last year’s visit, especially a day trip with the family to Hershey Park, Eric is perfectly at home. He knows exactly where to hang up his tennis racket on his way into the house after returning from day camp with William and Emily. The three children rush indoors with chatter about their day’s activities to share. The hot craft at summer camp this year seems to be “Rainbow Looming” and Eric, Emily and William have lots of examples to display.

Eric and William have favorite configurations for the small colorful elastic bands that are twisted into bands and rings. There’s the “fishtale,” the “zigzag trail,” and the “box.”

While here, Eric goes with Emily and William to a summer camp at the Trenton Country Club where some favorite activities are swimming (he just passed the deep end test and is all set to tackle the diving board next) and golf. “I like learning new things and meeting new people,” he says.

Eric’s 11-year old sister Diamond and 13-year old brother Paul are also on vacation in the country as part of the Fresh Air Fund program. Last year, Eric learned to swim here in the family’s pool and he loves tennis.

“It’s amazing to see how Eric has grown in maturity since last year,” says Minda. “He is very musical and we enjoy listening to him play the piano, especially at breakfast time, when he plays for us all. He has a band with his brother and sister,” she says. “Having him here definitely enriches all our lives.”

Neither William nor Emily, who both attend Lawrenceville Elementary School, plays an instrument (as yet) and are clearly captivated by Eric’s skill. Currently William’s favorite activities are sports-related: football, wrestling and Lacrosse; Emily loves cheerleading, gymnastics and ballet.

The family is also planning a few day trips this year to Six Flags to the New Jersey Shore and locally to Terhune Orchards (always a big favorite).

Eric arrived at Princeton Junction along with a bus load of some two dozen inner New York City kids on July 30, to spend one or two weeks with volunteer host families in the area. Hosts are located in Cranbury, Chesterfield, Trenton, Furlong, Princeton, Princeton Junction, Clarksburg, Manalapan, Villanova, Fair Haven, Lawrenceville, Manahawkin, Middletown, West Windsor, and Allentown.

The children, aged from six to 18, were greeted by balloons and brightly colored posters with their names writ large. Some were meeting host families for the first time. About two thirds of the group were, like Eric, returning to families they had visited before.

The Fresh Air Fund has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Each year, over 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

For many volunteer families, participation becomes a regular part of summer and the visiting children become cherished family members. Not only do city kids experience suburban or country living, an experience that can have a profound impact, host families have a chance to interact across cultural and socioeconomic divides.

For Princeton residents Elizabeth and Jonathan Erickson, this will be their fifth year hosting Cieanna, now 12, who comes from the Bronx. They also have three children: Alexandra, 11, and twins Edward and William, 9. Their favorite activities are swimming, playing outside, and biking.

Ms. Erickson urges others to take part in the program which she describes as extremely rewarding for all.

Minda Alena couldn’t agree more. “The time will pass all to quickly,” she says. Eric will go home, August 9. But before that there is much to be enjoyed. Right now, he’s having so much fun that he says he doesn’t have time to count the days. Instead, he has to get ready for a pool party. Ah summer! That’s how it should be.


After more than a decade of debate, deliberation, design and redesign, Copperwood in Princeton, the luxury rental active adult community on Bunn Drive, is rising in its forest setting.

The 300,000 square feet of construction which designer and developer J. Robert Hillier (a Town Topics shareholder) refers to as a “modern European hilltop village” is made up of five buildings sitting atop a platform that provides underground parking for the residences with direct elevator service to the floor of their unit.

The platform is nearing completion and four of the five buildings have been framed out. The areas for amenities, which include a café-lounge, a community room and a fitness center surrounding a central piazza with trees and fountains, have all been roughly framed. Other amenities will include a full service concierge and a dog park.

The complex is surrounded by a preserved forest of trees over 100 feet tall that is part of the 200-acre Princeton Ridge Preservation. Sustainability features include sod roofs, low energy appliances, and recycled rainwater for irrigation.

“Copperwood will satisfy an unmet need for senior rental housing in Princeton and will provide luxury living and convenience to the active adults here,” said architect J. Robert Hillier. The Hillier organization has now begun processing lease applications for the 153 units which will open in early 2014. According to the organization, the 55+ community, in their planning to downsize, has shown a very strong interest in the apartments.

For more information, call (609) 688-9999, or visit:



The Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF) has announced that the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) has been awarded a $25,000 grant for operating support. This funding will go to support TASK’s mission: Providing meals to all those who are hungry; providing services to encourage self-sufficiency and improve quality of life; informing the wider community of the needs of the hungry; and advocating for resources to meet these needs.

TASK serves a hot, nutritious lunch Monday through Friday and an evening meal Monday through Thursday at its Escher Street location in Trenton as well as dinner Monday through Thursday at satellite locations in South Trenton, West Trenton, Hightstown and Princeton. TASK now serves over 4,000 meals per week. This past year, TASK has served over 209,000 meals to the Mercer County area.

In addition to meal service, TASK has programming to improve patron self sufficiency and quality of life. TASK’s Adult Education Program continues to have success with students who have not prospered in other programs. More than 80 students and 70 volunteer tutors are involved in the program. This year, 24 Students have earned their GED through its program, eight of whom are now taking college level courses.

TASK also offers an on-site social worker who provides referrals such as financial aid, housing assistance, veteran’s benefits, mental health treatment, addiction treatment, and health care.  It issues food and clothing vouchers that can be used at emergency facilities. Other services such as legal aid, blood pressure and cancer screenings, HIV and TB testings, voter registration, job counseling, and screening for Food Stamp eligibility are provided by agencies using its facility.

Those who come to TASK include the elderly, the addicted, the mentally ill, the physically challenged, veterans, recent immigrants, families with children, the working poor, and the newly unemployed.

For Volunteer opportunities and more information about TASK, visit:


With apologies to the invisible poets of Lake Carnegie and Theodore Roethke, whose heron actually walks “the shallows” in “The Heron,” which can be read in full on the Poetry Society of America website. (Photo by Charles L. Plohn)

July 31, 2013
VILLAGE PRIDE: Proud parents and residents of Princeton Community Village celebrate the outstanding scholars in their midst. Shown here are seven of 15 recipients of awards from the New Jersey and National Affordable Housing Management Associations. The seven award winners with their family members are: from left (front row): Henrietta Sackey and her daughter Courtney D. Sackey; Mary C. Ebong with her youngest sister Mercy and her father Emmanuel; Jurab Kazim; Cynthia C. Fuentes; Stephanie Nazario; and Vanessa Guzman; (back row): Anne Daniecki and her son Jonas I. Daniecki; Princeton Police Officer Shahid Abdul-Karim; Kumail S. Kazim; and Christian James Nazario.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

VILLAGE PRIDE: Proud parents and residents of Princeton Community Village celebrate the outstanding scholars in their midst. Shown here are seven of 15 recipients of awards from the New Jersey and National Affordable Housing Management Associations. The seven award winners with their family members are: from left (front row): Henrietta Sackey and her daughter Courtney D. Sackey; Mary C. Ebong with her youngest sister Mercy and her father Emmanuel; Jurab Kazim; Cynthia C. Fuentes; Stephanie Nazario; and Vanessa Guzman; (back row): Anne Daniecki and her son Jonas I. Daniecki; Princeton Police Officer Shahid Abdul-Karim; Kumail S. Kazim; and Christian James Nazario. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Fifteen high school students from Princeton Community Village (PCV) have won grants from the New Jersey and National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) and its New Jersey affiliate (JAHMA). The students are high achievers in both academic performance and community service. All but one are graduates of Princeton High School (PHS).

“It really does take a village to ensure success,“ said Susan O’Malley of Princeton Community Village. “We work closely with PHS guidance and with organizations such as Corner House, and parents are heavily involved. Many of these young students are the first of their families to attend college and many of their parents are immigrants.”

In order to be selected, the students had to demonstrate significant community involvement. They worked with organizations such as Big Brother Big Sister, End Child Hunger Organization, Latinos Unidos and Minority Achievement Network. This year’s recipients also worked on projects to reduce child hunger, promote racial justice, provide assistance to the elderly, and mentor youth. Their efforts were recognized at an awards ceremony, Monday at Princeton Community Village.

“This is a remarkable year with seven of our 15 award recipients receiving both state and national awards,” said Edith Juarez, PCV activities coordinator and one of several people encouraging their success. “Of the past 11 years, this is the highest number of award winners so far.”

Guest speakers at the ceremony were Charlene St. Clair, a three-time-award recipient and now a doctor in optometry, and Officer Shahid Abdul-Karim, of the Princeton Police Dept. who grew up at Princeton Community Village where he lived on Butternut Row.

In his speech, Mr. Abdul-Karim shared memories of growing up in the “ville,” as PCV is affectionately known, and described his own path to success as a police officer in his home town. “I applied three times before I got the job,” he said. Even though he likes to work out, he told the students, his first attempt failed when he completed only seven of the eight pull ups required by the admission test. Instead of giving up, he took the test again and then again. “Take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to you,” he told the students.

Dr. Bruce Johnson, Scholarship Program Administrator for the awards and a former school principal, introduced each of the recipients, eight of whom were present Monday. “The culture of PCV supports education and you should feel proud of that, these are terrific students with above 3.0 grade point averages making a commitment to education and to their community,” he said. “Education leads to opportunity and opportunity leads to success.”

Asked about PCV in relation to other affordable housing, Mr. Johnson described it as outstanding. “Susan [O’Malley], Mary [Maybury] and Edith [Juarez] do an excellent job of promoting JAHMA and NAHMA and the highest number of applicants each year comes from PCV,” he said. “Students here attend one of the best high schools in the country [PHS], which gives them a very good preparation; they go on to some of the best colleges and universities; and the retention rate is impressive.”

This year’s students will attend Fairleigh Dickinson University, Franklin Marshall College, Haverford College, Ithaca College, Mercer County Community College, Norwich University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, Seton Hall University, and Strayer University.

In contrast to JAHMA, which gives awards to 80 percent of those who apply, NAHMA awards only about 40 percent of applicants. Eight of the fifteen PCV scholars received the former, making this an outstanding selection of students. All in all the 15 were awarded some $40,000 from the two award programs; $22,000 from the state organization and $18,000 from the national organization. In general, NAHMA awards range from $1,500 to $2,500 and JAHMA from $500 to $3,500. Since 2002, students residing at PCV have been awarded scholarships from these sources totaling close to $200,000.

JAHMA is a nonprofit organization of property managers and owners who specialize in the development and operation of government assisted/affordable housing. NAHMA is dedicated to improving the skills and knowledge of affordable housing professionals, to industry representation, and to providing a better living environment for all residents of assisted/affordable housing.

Set for Success

The 2013 award winners are: Jackelynn L. Chmiel, Jonas I. Daniecki, Mary C. Ebong, Cynthia C. Fuentes, Cindy M. Guzman, Vanessa Guzman, Phoebe Hanna, Kumail S. Kazim, Tori N. Julious, Julio R. Lopez, Christian James Nazario, Juan Polanco, Syed H. Raza, Courtney D. Sackey, and Andres Felipe Velez.

At 21, Kumail Kazim has finished three years of a seven year combined biology and doctor of osteopathy degree at Rutgers University and will attend medical school at Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine in the fall. “The foundation has been everything to me, without it I’d be up to my ears in loans. I am so thankful to Mary [Maybury], Edith [Juarez] and Dr. Johnson for making sure that I keep on top of things. Because you are allowed to apply for support year after year, as long as you meet the academic and extracurricular requirements, there is a constant incentive to keep up your grades, and the end-of year celebration is something to look forward to. I really appreciate the supportive environment of PCV. I have two younger brothers one of whom, Murtaza Kazim, will be applying next year.”

Mary Ebong, 18, who moved from Nigeria to the United States with her father Emmanuel when she was just six, will be a freshman at Rutgers this fall, studying human resources management. Already planning ahead, she hopes to go on to a master’s program. She has been active as a tutor at the PCV after school learning center in reading and geography. “We don’t have a lot of money since we support our family back in Nigeria. I have taken out some loans, so these awards are very important to me,” she said. Mr. Ebong described his daughter as “hardworking” and doing all she can to take advantage of opportunities. “I am very proud of her,” he beamed. The oldest of three girls, Ms. Ebong is a model for her younger siblings.

Christian James Nazario will be attending Mercer County Community College and studying fashion management. Cynthia Fuentes will be there too, studying nursing. Jonas Daniecki will be going to Norwich University where he will study mechanical engineering and Vanessa Guzman will be at Fairleigh Dickinson. Courtney Sackey, who attended Princeton Day School, will be attending Haverford College in the fall to study political science with a view to going on to law school. Her mother Henrietta, originally from Liberia, spoke highly of the program and of her daughter’s accomplishments.

Ed Truscelli, executive director of Princeton Community Housing, commented on the atmosphere in the PCV club house. “We are like a family here, we all have the same sense of pride and you can feel that in this room,” he said.

Princeton Community Village (PCV) is an affiliate of Princeton Community Housing (PCH). Located on Karl Light Boulevard, across from Hilltop Park, it opened in 1975 to provide low and moderate income townhouses and apartments and provides homes to 238 households or about 630 residents. Of the approximately 1,400 students enrolled at Princeton High School, 31 are PCV residents.

The nonprofit PCH provides, manages, and advocates for affordable housing. Founded in 1967, it works to ensure a balance of housing opportunities that it deems essential to Princeton’s continued success and economic diversity. For more information on affordable housing available in Princeton, including locations, eligibility criteria and application forms visit,


When the Princeton Family YMCA opens its renovated athletic facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, September 14 at 10:30 a.m. in the Dodge Gymnasium, it will not only have new equipment it will have a new name.

The expanded open space with new cardio equipment, strength training, and free weights will officially be known as the Jim and Nancye Fitzpatrick Wellness Center.

The renovation, called “Project Jumpstart,” is designed to encourage healthy living and physical activity among people of all ages. “Our YMCA is dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community — and healthy living is one of our three areas of focus,” said Princeton Family YMCA CEO Kate Bech. “Offering an updated, modern Wellness Center with appropriate equipment is key to our ability to support Princeton residents and to promote a healthy, balanced lifestyle, particularly among families.”

The naming of the new center came as a delightful surprise to Jim and Nancye Fitzpatrick. For more than a year, YMCA volunteers secretly raised money for the new facility which they had decided to name in honor of the longtime Princeton residents who have deep ties to the YMCA Movement.

Mr. Fitzpatrick has often said that the YMCA was one of his greatest influences. His father was a chaplain with the Y. The couple’s children participated in a variety of Y activities and programs and their son Hugh currently serves on the Board of Directors of the national YMCA of the U.S.A. Several of the Fitzpatrick’s grandchildren have attended and worked at YMCA resident camps.

Now almost 90 years old, Mr. Fitzpatrick was a bomber pilot in World War II. After his plane was shot down over Germany, he became a prisoner-of-war and recalls the supplies that he and his fellow soldiers received courtesy of the YMCA.

As part of the war effort, the YMCA provided books, athletic equipment, musical instruments, and art supplies to prisoners in the hopes of keeping up their spirits in the face of uncertainty. Mr. Fitzpatrick credits the books he received about economics for capturing his interest and sparking a passion that ultimately put him on his career path in finance.

Following the war, Mr. Fitzpatrick went on to get an education and eventually became the chief investment officer for the national YMCA Retirement Fund. During his tenure, the fund experienced unprecedented growth, which helped thousands of YMCA employees maximize their savings for a secure retirement.

The Fitzpatricks share a deep commitment to youth development and education.

Nancye Fitzpatrick, a former teacher at John Witherspoon Middle School where she taught English to generations of seventh- and eighth-graders from 1966 to 1982, has served the community through her work as a volunteer. She was a director and president of New Grange School. In the late 1980s, she was a mentor with the Trenton Afterschool Program. Even today, she meets monthly with one of her young charges from that period, now a 33-year-old woman.

So far, more than 40 donors have contributed $300,000 for Project Jump Start and they aim to raise a further $200,000. “The enhanced space will help us advance our mission of healthy living, and encourage more people of all backgrounds and abilities to become members and a part of the YMCA family,” said Ms. Bech.

It is hoped that the updated facility, the first major construction project at the YMCA in 40 years, will draw new members to the Princeton Family YMCA. Increased membership would benefit existing programs such as Princeton Young Achievers, an afterschool program for economically-disadvantaged children, and Y Scholars, a group mentoring program for young people that fosters education, aspirations, and goal-setting.

The construction, which is expected to take 12 weeks, is being led by the Yedlin Company, a Princeton-based commercial contractor. The YMCA will remain operational on a modified basis while the renovation is carried out.

For more on the YMCA’s membership opportunities or to make a contribution in honor of Jim and Nancye Fitzpatrick, call Denise Soto at (609) 497-9622 x209 or send an email to



A two-alarm fire in the first block of George Drive in Fieldwood Manors, off Cherry Valley Road, was answered by firefighters from Princeton and Montgomery and as far away as Plainsboro, West Windsor, Lawrence, and South Brunswick early Saturday afternoon, July 27. According to the Princeton Police Department, Princeton building inspectors deemed the home uninhabitable. The fire caused non-structural damage to the house next door. There were no injuries. The cause is under investigation. (Photo by Emily Reeves)


July 24, 2013
ARCHITECTURAL ANNIVERSARY: Princeton University’s Nassau Hall is among the historic buildings to be discussed during “Mercer by Architecture,” a symposium August 9 at The Lawrenceville School. The event, which will be followed by a weekend of open houses at local architectural landmarks, is part of Mercer County’s 175th birthday celebration.(Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

ARCHITECTURAL ANNIVERSARY: Princeton University’s Nassau Hall is among the historic buildings to be discussed during “Mercer by Architecture,” a symposium August 9 at The Lawrenceville School. The event, which will be followed by a weekend of open houses at local architectural landmarks, is part of Mercer County’s 175th birthday celebration. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

When Mercer County officials began thinking about the best way to celebrate its 175th birthday, the idea of architecture emerged at the top of the list. The county has a rich store of buildings and sites from the 17th century to the present, making it what some regard as an architectural microcosm of the nation.

“A group from many divisions and departments got together to talk about how we wanted to commemorate the anniversary,” said Tricia Fagan, the county’s Historic Outreach Specialist. “A number of departments had their wish lists. In the meantime, I’ve been collecting files on the history of various things in the county. I pulled them out, and the history of architecture just seemed like a winner to everybody.”

So planning began for “Mercer by Architecture,” a day-long symposium that will bring prominent historians and architects including Michael Graves. Michael Mills, Philip Hayden, and Robert Hillier [a Town Topics shareholder] to the campus of The Lawrenceville School — an architectural landmark itself — for programs on varied topics. The August 9 event will be followed by a “Mercer County Open House Weekend” August 10 and 11.

“We have such an astonishing infrastructure in Mercer County,” said Ms. Fagan. “And yet, we’re sort of casual about it. We say, ‘Oh yes, Morven’ or ‘Oh, the Trent House.’ I love that casualness, but it’s also time to celebrate what we have here and not take it for granted.”

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes will introduce the symposium, which begins with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. The keynote speaker is W. Barksdale Maynard, whose topic is “Princeton: America’s Campus — Architecture in History and Context.” Mr. Maynard is the author of five books on American history, architecture, and landscape and has taught art, architecture, and landscape courses at Princeton and Johns Hopkins universities.

“He’s probably if not the best, then one of the top three speakers they’ve ever had at the New Jersey Historical Commission,” Ms. Fagan said. “He wrote the book Princeton: America’s Campus, which looks at the long and invaluable history of the University. He makes the argument that the architecture of Princeton University tells the story of architecture in the United States.”

Two panel discussions will be held, both moderated by Meredith Arms Bzdak, an architectural historian and partner with the Princeton firm Mills + Schnoering Architects. Taking part in the morning session, “Architecture of Place: History of Housing in Mercer” are Mr. Hayden, senior historian and architectural historian at Richard Grubb & Associates; Mr. Hillier, founder of the Princeton firm RMJM and a visiting lecturer in History and Theory of the Architecture Profession at Princeton University; and Janet W. Foster, an architectural historian, teacher, and advocate for the historic built environment.

The afternoon session, “Architecture of Space: Public Architecture and Mercer,” will feature Kate Nearpass Ogden; a professor of Art History at Stockton College; Mr. Mills, partner at Mills + Schnoering specializing in the preservation, restoration, and adaptive use of historic structures; and Princeton architect Michael Graves, whose two firms provide architecture, interior design, master planning, product and graphic design, and branding. Mr. Graves was appointed last March to the U.S. Access Board by President Barack Obama.

“We’ve reached out to these terrifically gifted people, some of whom are internationally known, and they’ve been immediately saying yes,” Ms. Fagan said. “That’s heartwarming. They love the idea of being part of this, and we’re very lucky to have them.”

Among the buildings that will be open to the public over the weekend are the faculty dining room at Nassau Hall on the Princeton campus, and a portion of The Lawrenceville School. Jacqueline Haun, the school’s archives librarian, will lead a tour of its older, historic buildings. A portion of the campus is a National Historic Landmark and was designed in collaboration with the landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted and architects Peabody & Stearns.

Admission to the symposium is $20.50, including breakfast, lunch, and parking. Visit for more information.

“From quaint farmhouses to stately public buildings, Mercer County’s architecture is rich in history, covering every period of our Nation’s past,” said Mr. Hughes. “This symposium will be an excellent way to share the stories behind some of Mercer’s many architectural treasures.”

—Anne Levin


The 2013 Trenton African American Pride Festival will boast a full schedule of cultural entertainment, including music by gospel house giant Kenny Bobien who will perform hits like “You Are My Friend” and “Grateful.” The festival will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at Cadwalader Park, and will be hosted by legendary radio DJ Patty Jackson of 105.3 WDAS FM.

Bobien, a singer, songwriter, and producer who has sang background vocals for the likes of Celine Dion and Teddy Pendergrass, has a distinct falsetto voice that has been synonymous with house and club music anthems for the past 20 years, and an electrifying stage presence that promises to bring the house down.

Also gracing the stage at the festival: funk, dance, and R&B band Valerie Adams and the Dimensions performing Motown, soul, and jazz hits; Cimarrones, an Afro-Cuban percussion and dance ensemble performing authentic bomba and plena, and R&B group The Main Event Band. Presenting the Caribbean aspect of the African heritage will be reggae artists Larry White, Richie Lane, and Jah Pops.

“We are very excited to feature the talent of Trentonians, as well as entertainers from across the region, this year. It was very important for us that the entertainment reflect the diversity of the African Diaspora, since that is the whole purpose of this festival, to celebrate our African ancestry,” said Nina Dawkins, chair of the
festival’s entertainment committee. “We have some great performances lined up, plenty of fun for the kids, great food and vendors. It will be a fun day at the park for the whole family. Who doesn’t love that?”

The festival will also feature performances by Egun Omode (Children of the Ancestors), Trenton’s own West African dance/drum troupe. The Yoruba Folklore Performing Arts Company will kick things off with a traditional African dance presentation. There will also be African drumming; Capoeira demonstrations, Brooklyn Jumbies stilt walkers, and more. The festival will also have a Children’s Village that will feature story telling, African drum lessons, arts and crafts, inflatable jumps, face painting, and more. There will be a variety of vendors spread throughout the park selling their wares and food of all varieties.

The festival will also feature a Healthy Living Pavilion to raise awareness of the health issues affecting the African American community. Internationally renowned best-selling author, holistic wellness entrepreneur, and highly sought after natural health practitioner, Queen Afua will be the keynote speaker. Queen Afua guides men and women on a holistic transformation journey to the Global City of Wellness. There will also be free health screenings, health care and holistic wellness speakers, natural product vendors, as well as fitness and wellness activities.

The African American Pride Festival is an annual celebration of the history, culture, heritage, and arts that represent the rich traditions and zestful spirit of the African American community in the City of Trenton.

Following the legacy of the African American culture’s Juneteenth celebration, the goal of the festival is to inspire an appreciation for the diversity, influence, and contributions of the African Diaspora.

The festival is produced by a group of local organizations with the full support of the City of Trenton, as well as support from Mercer County. For more information about the festival, visit


Princeton Senior Resource Center in Princeton and Young Audiences New Jersey are among 25 non-profits throughout New Jersey that have received grants from The Horizon Foundation, it was announced this month. The Foundation supports charitable organizations that promote health and arts in New Jersey.

PSRC received a grant of $15,000 to support the Living Healthy for Older Adults Program. The program offers seniors, both at the center and in local senior housing, services that include workshops on diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and stroke; referrals and linkages to services; discussions with health care providers; health screenings; flu and pneumonia immunization clinics and fitness classes.

Young Audiences New Jersey received a grant of $15,000 to support the Trenton Adopt-A-School Initiative: Family Arts & Creativity Program. The program will serve up to five Trenton schools, bringing together students, parents, and professional teaching artists in hands-on art workshops that engage families to explore and learn together.

“The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey is proud to support non-profit organizations that are making a positive difference in the lives of New Jersey residents every day,” said Robert A. Marino, Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and Chairman and CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. “These grants fund a broad range of initiatives that improve personal health and enhance the cultural and arts experience in New Jersey’s communities.”

The $512,250 in grants is the second round of awards made by the Foundation this year.

Mercer County is celebrating its 175th Anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion, events showcasing Mercer County’s rich cultural history will be presented throughout 2013. As part of the celebration, the County of Mercer and Preservation NJ will present a day-long symposium, Mercer by Architecture, to explore a portion of its long history through its architecture, at The Lawrenceville School on August 9.

Speakers will be covering subjects ranging from historical overviews of the architecture of the historic NJ State House Complex and Princeton University campus; to vernacular 18th and 19th century farmhouses in the county and the impact of pattern book housing on the region; to modern and post-modern highlights including the Louis I. Kahn Trenton Bathhouse.

Architects, historians, appreciators of history, and lovers of great buildings are all invited to attend. A Mercer County Historic Sites Open House Weekend will be held that Saturday and Sunday, August 10 and 11, as a complement to the symposium event.

Future events will take place at additional locations around the County. Watch the Mercer County 175th Anniversary website for future dates: www.mercer Anyone interested in scanning historical photographs for the Mercer County collection can find information on the website. Scanning may also be done at Mercer County’s McDade Administration Building, 640 South Broad St., Trenton, by appointment, (609) 989-6597.


A bandstand view showing Francis Mbappe and the FM Tribe in concert on a hot Saturday night at Pettoranello Gardens in Community Park North. A native of Cameroon, Mr. Mbappe was opening for Afropop legend Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

July 17, 2013
FIRST TAKES: A still from “Ben & Elaine” by Travis Maiuro, one of the 26 filmmakers whose works are being screened tonight and tomorrow at the Princeton Public Library as part of the tenth annual Princeton Student Film and Video Festival. Nearly 200 works, from all over the world, were submitted.

FIRST TAKES: A still from “Ben & Elaine” by Travis Maiuro, one of the 26 filmmakers whose works are being screened tonight and tomorrow at the Princeton Public Library as part of the tenth annual Princeton Student Film and Video Festival. Nearly 200 works, from all over the world, were submitted.

When she first organized a small festival for student filmmakers at Princeton Public Library, Youth Services librarian Susan Conlon wasn’t thinking about the future. Her idea, back in 2003, was to showcase some local talent in one night of screenings.

“I really didn’t have any preconceived notions,” Ms. Conlon recalled last week while preparing for the 10th annual Princeton Student Film and Video Festival, which opens tonight and continues through tomorrow. “I remember distinctly the first year, people came up to me and said they had really enjoyed it, and ‘when you do it next year, maybe try this.’ So I thought, ‘Oh. I guess we’ll do this again.’”

The festival has blossomed into a much-anticipated summer event that draws participants from as close as Princeton High School, The Hun School, and Pennington School, and as far as Australia, Germany, and Italy. The Library’s Community Room is packed with film enthusiasts eager to see the latest crop of short works by high school and college students. There are 13 films each night, created by new and returning filmmakers. Nearly 200 works were submitted.

“We could easily have added another 20 to the programming,” Ms. Conlon said. “But I don’t want to burn people out and get too big.”

A lot has changed in the past decade. While the first festival was relatively spontaneous, the current event is highly organized. -Technology has made a major difference in the way films are planned and produced. “Kids now have access to incredible technology, and they can make films more easily and inexpensively,” Ms. Conlon said. “And every few years, the world of communications becomes so much more visual and technological. So it’s part of their everyday existence.”

Filmmakers from Princeton University and Rutgers University are taking part this year. Rutgers, which has a new program in digital filmmaking, is represented with three entries. “The kids who come, get a chance to learn about programs like that, and think about what their own next steps might be,” Ms. Conlon said. “It’s a great resource for a budding filmmaker. It’s good for high school kids getting started, who want some inspiration. They can maybe figure out if they want to go to film school. The college-age kids who have been at this for a while can show them what the possibilities are a few years down the road.”

The festival is intended for teen and adult audiences. Among this year’s offerings are Drugs by Darcy Thompson, Flaws by Gabrielle Giacomo, Ben & Elaine by returning local filmmaker Travis Maiuro, and The Coming Wave by Will Henry, a Princeton High School alumnus who attends the School of Visual Arts in New York. This is Mr. Henry’s first directed film in the festival. He appeared as a lead actor in previous years.

“We have a number of very good comedies this year,” said Ms. Conlon. “I think that’s the hardest genre. They have an element of drama to them, which makes them very intriguing. Our closing film, Parklife by Adam Volerich at Rutgers, has such a great balance between comedy and really human drama. One of the animation films that really blew us away is Reverie, by Valentin Gagarin from Italy. There are some really nice high school films, too, with great energy.”

Both evenings of screenings begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free. As always, filmmakers in attendance will receive a custom festival T-shirt featuring their names, title of their films, and festival logo. The other tradition is the after-party each night, with ice cream and sorbet courtesy of The Bent Spoon.

“When I communicate with the kids to let them know their film is being included, I get a sense of how much this matters to them,” Ms. Conlon said. “To be able to come and have well over 100 people watching your film and asking great questions, it’s just a great experience.”


Terhune Orchards will host the second annual Sustainable Fare for Sustainable Jersey fundraiser on Thursday, July 25 at Terhune Orchards, 330 Cold Soil Road in Lawrenceville.

Cocktails will be served starting at 5 p.m. and dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased at sustainable

Renowned local chefs will come together to celebrate the farm to table movement and promote awareness about sustainability efforts while raising money for Sustainable Jersey’s programs.

“Sustainable Jersey has played a critical role in the progress many towns across the Garden State have made in advancing environmental stewardship and healthy communities,” said Terhune Orchards owner Pam Mount. “The night will be a great celebration of local food and wonderful chefs who are known for their dedication to focusing on fresh local ingredients. Last year the event was a big hit and we are looking forward to an even bigger event this year.”

Guests will enjoy a five-course meal with wine pairings, cocktails, and music by the Riverside Band in Terhune’s Amish-built barn. Chefs who have generously volunteered their time for the event include: Christopher Albrecht of Eno Terra, Scott Anderson of Elements and Mistral, Aaron Philipson of the Blue Bottle Cafe, Jonathan Benno of the Lincoln Restaurant, Josh Thomsen of Agricola, Christine Merker of Meals For Reals, and Gabby Carbone from the Bent Spoon.

Sustainable Jersey, a non-profit, runs a certification program that empowers towns to build a better world for present and future generations. The program provides a roadmap towns can follow to initiate and promote sustainable actions that improve the quality of life. More than 400 towns have registered to become a part of the program that was founded by the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the College of New Jersey, the State of New Jersey and hundreds of volunteers around the state.


James Fitzgerald’s Fountain of Freedom on Scudder Plaza in front of the Woodrow Wilson School is a sight to savor as the heat wave continues. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

July 10, 2013
SPIRIT IN THE SKY: The Spirit of Princeton’s annual Independence Day fireworks display lit up the sky above the Princeton University sports fields last week.(Photo by Emily Reeves)

SPIRIT IN THE SKY: The Spirit of Princeton’s annual Independence Day fireworks display lit up the sky above the Princeton University sports fields last week. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Back about 20 years ago when she was president of the Junior League of Princeton, Kathy Russo happened to come across an article in a League newsletter about Court Appointed Special Advocates, better known as CASA. A longtime volunteer for various causes, she was touched by what she read about this organization dedicated to helping children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. She filed it away in her head.

Fast forward a decade or so to when Ms. Russo was working at a gift shop in Princeton Shopping Center. The shop closed, and she found herself with time on her hands. “I said to myself, ‘Okay. It’s time,’” she recalled this week. After some 30 hours of training at CASA, she began working as a volunteer advocate. She has never looked back.

For Ms. Russo’s work on behalf of her young clients over the past seven years, she was recognized last April by the Cherish the Children Foundation with its Program Award. The honor goes to a Mercer County volunteer “who has consistently shown tremendous character by taking an active interest in the well-being of the children in our community,” the proclamation reads. It goes on to describe Ms. Russo as “an exemplary role model for how dedicated advocates can change the lives of children in their care.”

All of these accolades are a bit embarrassing to Ms. Russo, who prefers to focus on getting the word out to others who may want to volunteer for the organization. She has spent many hours assisting children in Newark, Trenton, Camden, areas she knows some might be reluctant to visit. “You just have to be smart about it,” she said. “You can do this very safely. You can visit children in schools. They are put into safe homes. You don’t have to go into unsafe neighborhoods to be an advocate. And you can advocate while traveling, or working, because of technology.”

A longtime Princeton resident who is the mother of two boys and stepmother of two more, Ms. Russo is married to local orthodontist. Dr. Louis Russo. “He has been very supportive,” she said of her husband. “He encourages me to keep doing this. He knows how important it is.”

It was the hands-on approach of being a CASA advocate that appealed to Ms. Russo when she began her training. “I was tired of fundraising,” she said. “This was something different.” After a security check, she was assigned her first case. It was a challenge from the start that continued to grow.

“Usually, you get one or two kids and the case takes about 18 months,” she said. “I ended up with seven, and it took five years. But that’s really unusual.”

The children in Ms. Russo’s charge came from the same family, and ranged from ages four to 13. She started out with three of them, but kept adding to her caseload as she learned there were more members of the family who had been placed in different foster homes. Her efforts on their behalf included working with the biological parents, foster parents, teachers, a case worker, and the judge in charge of deciding their fates.

“You’re talking to everyone,” she said. “In a perfect world, you connect the dots and try to make a safety net. That’s the goal. But you are also considered the eyes and ears of the judge, and that’s very important.”

Ms. Russo tears up a bit when asked about the children themselves. “Visiting them was wonderful,” she said. “They feel like they have someone. They feel protected. We’re the only constant for them. I promise them that I’ll always find them in 48 hours [when they are moved around]. One little boy was worried about what was going to happen to him, and his brother said to him, “‘Don’t worry. Miss Kathy’ll find you. She always does.’”

Children are removed from their homes for reasons that include neglect, abuse, or problems their parents might be having. Some are reunited with their families after spending time in a foster home. If their families are unable to care for them, parental rights are terminated and sometimes they’re adopted. “However, all the kids love their biological parents and just want to go home,” Ms. Russo said.

CASA of Mercer and Burlington Counties is part of a national network established in 1977 by a Seattle Superior Court Judge concerned about trying to make decisions on behalf of neglected children without enough information. He came up with the idea of appointing community volunteers to investigate the cases, make recommendations, and speak up for the children in court. What began with 50 volunteers has grown to include programs all over the country that have helped more than two million children find safe homes, according to the CASA website.

As the children are repeatedly uprooted, it is their advocates who can keep them grounded. “I’m one of the few people they can talk to about where they’ve been,” Ms. Russo said. “I know their history. They enjoy sharing that history with me. There can be constant changes for the child, but you’re the historian for them.”

It is the small things that those in intact families take for granted that often make a child feel happy and safe, Ms. Russo said. “I asked one little boy what he wanted for his birthday. He said he wanted a cake with his name on it. It was such a little thing, but it was so important to him.”

Advocates are not permitted to give anything to the children. “You can get other agencies to do that. As an advocate, you’re just giving of yourself and your time,” Ms. Russo said. “You get a tremendous amount of support from the CASA staff and you get a tremendous amount of respect from the judge. There are people willing to help you. You just have to be a detective and find out who they are.”

Mr. Russo’s work currently focuses on a group of teenagers, helping them learn how to deal with life once they age out of foster care. “When kids turn 18, they have the option of staying with the Division [now called the Department of Children and Families ] or leaving,” she said. “Many leave because they’re so fed up.”

Her work as an advocate is as “a gatherer, not a sharer,” Ms. Russo said. “I’d like to adopt all of the kids I work with, but of course I know I can’t. I’d just love them to be in good adoptive homes. There are so few homes out there for them.”