Foundation Turns Artistic Dreams into Reality for Children in Ocean, Monmouth and Mercer Counties

Posted on October 19, 2018 By

What if you were a child who desperately wanted to take dance, acting, instrumental, or vocal lessons but your parent or guardian could not afford them for you? The Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, was created by Jodi and Melissa Grinwald to provide funding for children ages 7-18 in Ocean, Monmouth, and Mercer counties to take free vocal, dance, acting, and instrumental music lessons from September through June, making children’s dreams a reality.

The Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation works through local schools and community organizations to identify students with financial needs and then pairs scholarship students with local performing arts studios to take free weekly or bi-weekly lessons for an entire school year. If a student needs supplies, such as dance shoes or instruments, the foundation makes every effort to provide these items depending on available funding.

To help support the works of Applaud Our Kids Foundation, sponsors are needed for the Step into the Spotlight Soiree and Talent Competition, an inaugural gala fundraiser that will pay for current and future scholarships, on Saturday, December 1, 2018, from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. at the La Bove Grande Restaurant, 800 Route 70, Lakehurst, N.J. 08733.

The Step into the Spotlight Soirée features local adult talent, ages 21 and older, vying for the Zzak G. Spotlight Award, the Audience Choice Award, and the Lip Sync Battle Champion. (See contestants below.)

Local “celebrity” judges for the Soirée are Jeremy Grunin, Toms River, president, Jay & Linda Grunin Foundation; and Colleen Finnegan Kahl, Brick, president, Actors Connection, NYC; Anna Mastroianni, Westfield, a stunt woman in such movies as Independence Day, Bourne Ultimatum, and TV shows the Sopranos and Owner of Sole Shoes, among others; and Tony Nation, who has a recurring role on CBS’ series Bull, and is partnered with Actors Connections and Reproductions both in NYC; Felicia Finley, an award-winning Broadway performer, among others.

Sponsorship opportunities are available, ranging from $5,000 to $250. All sponsors will have their names listed in the digital program, along with many other amenities according to the sponsorship level. A Cocktail sponsor is $250; Dinner and Dessert sponsors are $500 each; the Talent Competition Contestant sponsor and Gift Auction Sponsor are each $1,000; Swag Bag and Spotlight Entertainment sponsors are each $2000; and the Mezzanine sponsor is $3000. The Jay & Linda Grunin Foundation donated $5000 to be the Orchestra sponsor.

Tickets are $100 each and include dinner, open bar, dancing, and competitions. For tickets and more information, email or call 732-773-8970. To purchase tickets online visit

For more information, email visit or call 848.333.2819. Donations can be mailed to Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation Inc., P.O. BOX 994, Barnegat, NJ 08005.

Contestants : Danielle Bagdzinski and Mike Henrich, Toms River, Ballroom Dancers; Ricky Stevens, Margate, Vocals and Guitar; EL, originally from Toms River , now from NYC,  Vocalist; Don Sweeney, Toms River, Vocals, Guitar and Harmonica; Darien “Staxx,” Howell, Vocalist; Carolyn Hester, Manchester, Vocalist; Kelly Servodio, Barnegat, Vocalist; Kayla Caffrey, Bayville, Vocalist

How Applaud Our Kids Began: Jodi and Melissa Grinwald’s dad loved to sing; but when he was a child, no one could pay for young Zzak Grinwald to take voice lessons. Finally, he took his first lesson when he was in his 30s. His teacher said he had the voice of an operatic tenor! He sang, he wrote music, and he composed songs, and was passionate about the performing arts until his death in 2015 from ALS.  To honor his legacy, his daughters created the Zzak G. Applaud Our Kids Foundation in 2017, which now has 15 creative performers in the program.

Grinwald’s passion in life was music, the performing arts and watching his grandchildren as they performed on stage. “We know that he is so proud of each child that comes through this Foundation,” said Jodi Grinwald. “He is yelling ‘Fantastic’ just like he did for his own grandkids at every performance. Some students receiving lessons are dealing with difficult situations, such as a loss of a parent among other problems. The only constant they have in their life is the lessons Applaud Our Kids funds.”

Jodi Grinwald said, “We are a kids-helping-kids organization. The Applaud Our Kids Performance Group performs at corporate and non-profit events to bring awareness about how important the performing arts are to kids. These talented kids help fundraise for their peers who want to take lessons just like them.”

Some facts: Students who take four years of arts and music classes average almost 100 points higher on their SAT scores than students who take only one-half year or less. Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education. Arts students are percent more likely to attend secondary schools than those who do not participate in the arts. Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education.

Visit for more information about the Foundation. Visit Facebook at

About Applaud Our Kids: The Zzak G. Applaud our Kids Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides performing arts scholarships in vocal instruction, dance, acting, and instrumental music to children age 7-18 with a financial need. Scholarship recipients take lessons at local performing arts studios from September through June. In many cases these lessons are the only constant that the children have in their lives.

Performing arts education contributes to the proactive development of an individual on many different levels. It provides children with the opportunity to find their own voice, increases self-esteem, gives them a sense of belonging, and provides an outlet for them to openly express themselves.


N.J. Health Care Network to Meet November 13

Posted on October 18, 2018 By

The monthly meeting of NJ Health Care Network, a free organization for anyone in the health care industry, including those who provide ancillary products and services, is Tuesday, November 13, 2018, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Somerset Woods Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, 780 Old New Brunswick Road, Somerset, NJ 08873.

The NJ Health Care Network provides an opportunity to build relationships among health care professionals, market events, and promote business. Meetings take place in a different New Jersey county each month.

For more information about NJ Health Care Network, email Lisa Gallicchio, director of community relations for Preferred Home Health Care & Nursing Services, Eatontown, at, call 732-547-9886, or visit for the monthly location and member events.

Membership is free; however, register to take advantage of member benefits, such as posting to Health Care Network’s website all health care and marketing events, news, training information, employment listings, and access to a member directory.


Lakewood Chamber of Commerce Announces 2018 Citizen of the Year Award Honorees

Posted on October 18, 2018 By

The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of the 2018 Citizen of the Year Awards. Lakewood’s most outstanding citizens and business honorees will be recognized at the 46th annual Citizen of the Year Awards reception, Thursday, November 8, 2018, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Eagle Ridge Golf Club, 2 Augusta Boulevard, Lakewood, N.J.

The 2018 Citizen of the Year honorees, who have made significant contributions to the growth and well-being of Lakewood and its surrounding region, are Patrick Donnelly, Lakewood Municipal Manager; Patty Ostaszewski, CEO, HealthSouth of Toms River; Violeta Peters, Lakewood Resource and Referral Center (LRRC); Stephen Reed, CPA and Partner of Cowan, Gunteski & Co, PA; and the Robert Sickel, Owner, Pine Belt Chevrolet.

Tickets cost $115.00 per person and include an hour and a half premium open bar, dinner buffet, dessert and coffee. Sponsorship opportunities range from $750 to $1,500; journal ads range from $200.00 to $400.00. For tickets or more information, contact the Chamber Office at 732-363-0012 or Also visit


Semple Named Winner of Business Excellence Award

Posted on October 17, 2018 By

Theresa Semple, president of Semple Solutions LLC, Sayreville, N.J., was named a winner of the Business Award of Excellence by Odyssey International Productions, a 501(c)(3) organization that recognizes the efforts and accomplishments small-business owners, individuals, and organizations who have contributed significantly to the development of their communities.

The 19th annual award ceremony will take place November 16, 2018, at 6:00 p.m., in the Robert Treat Hotel, 50 Park Place, Newark, N.J.

Semple has received awards for being an industry leader, and for her community involvement and volunteer efforts, including starting Families Helping in Sayreville, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and serving as chairwoman for Sayreville Day for five years. She is passionate about sponsoring charities that stress the need to find a cure for pancreatic cancer and breast cancer.

Semple Solutions offers clients, ranging from two to 300 employees, benefits packages and education about their benefits. In 1995, Semple worked as a customer service associate at Oxford Health Plans and then worked in the Enrollment and Auditing Department. In 2012, Semple established Semple Benefits.  In 2014, she launched Semple Solutions as an independent broker, specializing in Health Care Reform.

Semple is a graduate of Sayreville War Memorial High School. She attended Monmouth University, Long Branch, and Kean University, Union, N.J. Semple is a member of NJ Association of Health Underwriters, National Association of Health Underwriters, NJ Monmouth Ocean Association of Health Underwriters, NJBIA (NJ Business and Industry Association), the Hillside Chamber of Commerce, BNI (Business Networking International) and CRA (Corporate Resource Alliance).

For more information, contact Theresa Semple, Semple Solutions LLC, at 732-238-6734 or email           

About Odyssey International Productions: Odyssey International Productions, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by Melissa Persia Oliver, has been recognizing the efforts and accomplishments of phenomenal individuals and organizations for their outstanding business and community service contributions for 19 years. Among other ideals, the mission of Odyssey is to provide recipients with a sense of appreciation and provide a platform for small businesses to network with corporations to gain additional exposure.


Senate President Steve Sweeney to Speak at Ocean ELC Meeting Tuesday, October 23

Posted on October 15, 2018 By

Senate President Steve Sweeney, the featured speaker at the Ocean County ELC (Employer Legislative Committee) meeting and breakfast Tuesday, October 23, 2018, from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. at the at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, 815 Route 37 West, Toms River, N.J., will be updating attendees about business-related topics in the Trenton.

The registration fee, including a buffet breakfast, is $20.00. R.S.V.P. to mpangelini@ or call 908-309-5395. Pay at the door or mail checks, payable to Ocean ELC, to Mary Pat Angelini, P.O. Box 517, Oakhurst, N.J. 07755.

The Ocean County ELC is sponsored by Holman Frenia Allison, PC; New Jersey Natural Gas, and NorthStar Strategies in partnership with the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce.

About ELC: Employer Legislative Committees: The ELCs, established by NJBIA in 1959, are independent, local organizations representing all 21 counties. At each meeting, legislators, cabinet members or local officials will discuss important issues pertinent to business. Attendees also receive a briefing from one of NJBIA’s government affairs experts on legislative and regulatory issues affecting employers.   About NJBIA: The New Jersey Business & Industry Association, Trenton, N.J., provides information, services and advocacy to its member companies in order to build a more prosperous New Jersey. NJBIA is the nation’s largest statewide employer association. Its members, as a group, employ more than one million people and represents every industry in the state, including contractors, manufacturers, retail and wholesale businesses, and service providers of every kind. Visit for more information.

About Steve Sweeney (from Website): Senator Sweeney decided to enter public life after his daughter Lauren was born with Down’s Syndrome. As a Freeholder Director, he helped build schools and established parks that catered to children with disabilities. And as Senator, he sponsored laws that removed references to “retardation” in state statutes and created a statewide registry of offenders who abused individuals with developmental disabilities.

A union ironworker by trade, Senator Sweeney has sponsored and supported measures to protect the rights of workers and support organized labor. Seeing firsthand the challenge of caring for a loved one without losing your job, Steve sponsored the state’s Paid Family Medical Leave Act. A fighter for hard-working New Jerseyans, Senator Sweeney led the effort to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage and continues to champion fair and equitable wages.

Sweeney was born in Camden in 1959. He currently serves as General Vice President of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union. Senator Sweeney and his wife, Patti, were married in 1986 and have two children, Stephen and Lauren.


PTA Sponsors Halloween Dance for Special Needs Students

Posted on October 10, 2018 By

The P.T.A. of the Harbor School, Eatontown, is holding a Halloween Dance, open to all Harbor, Alpha and Gateway students, staff, and their families on Saturday, October 20 from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. in the Harbor School Gym, 240 Broad Street, Eatontown, N.J. 07724.  The Harbor School is one of three private special education schools approved by the N.J. Department of Education for students with special needs and disabilities.

As is the tradition, students will be decorating the gym with assistance from their teachers. The Halloween Dance will feature DJ Elite Entertainment, Tinton Falls, for music and dancing, and light refreshments. Halloween costumes are optional.

Besides the Halloween Dance, the PTA has donated gym equipment, sold flowers for Mother’s Day, held a Field Day, and provided 8th grade and high school graduation gifts, among other projects that benefit the students and the schools.

Tickets cost $10 per person and $30 per family. The majority of the PTA’s fundraising efforts will fund bussing this year for CBI (Community Based Instruction) that give students real-life experiences, such as how to order food, how to create a shopping list and follow it, and how take the bus, among other skills.

Make checks payable to Harbor School PTA. For more information, contact Erika Casablanca at 732-541-4400 or                          

RKS Associates Schools: Gateway School: 60 High Street Carteret, NJ 07008 (732.541.4400); Alpha School: 2210 West County Line Road, Suite #1, Jackson, NJ 08527 (732.370.1150) ; Harbor School: 240 Broad Street, Eatontown, NJ 07724 (732.544.9394)


Don’t Miss 3 Egg Creams, The Urban Love Story for the Ages at the Strand Theater on November 30

Posted on October 9, 2018 By

Take a front row seat at the Strand Center for the Arts, 400 Clifton Avenue, Lakewood, on November 30 at either 4:00 or 7:30 p.m. for 3 Egg Creams, The Urban Love Story for the Ages. This is a unique, heart-warming, and moving play, starring Vince Bandille as Vin Morrone, a lonely man. While sipping one of his beloved egg creams, Vin take us back to the Bronx, recreating vivid memories of his first and only true love. Will he ever get a chance for another?

For 3 Egg Creams, written and directed by award-winning playwright George Cameron Grant with Script Advisor Debbie Saccomanno, and inspired by and featuring the timeless music of the legendary Lou Christie, the audience will be seated on stage of the historic Strand Theater with Vince Bandille, who takes the audience on his journey through a lifetime of love, loss and eternal devotion.

Theatre critic Angela Hatch wrote, “3 EGG CREAMS is an imaginative and deeply moving love story that immediately grabs the audience, from the kookiness of teenage love, to the deep connection of love everlasting. It finds urban love too strong a love to break, but too delicate to hold on to – until it isn’t. Occasionally, a story comes along that reminds us to love each other. 3 EGG CREAMS is one of those stories.”

3 Egg Creams opened four months ago to sold-out audiences in Manhattan at the Manhattan Repertory Theater, and has continued with sold out shows in Ocean Grove and in Hammonton at the Jersey Fringe. This September, the Strand board of directors enjoyed a private showcase of the play and unanimously decided to host two performances.

A Q&A session with Vince Bandille and George Cameron Grant will follow each performance. Regular admission is $45 per ticket; tickets for senior citizens are $35 each. A cash bar after the performance will feature Egg creams. For tickets, visit For more information visit or


LRRC Holds Open House to Showcase Its Expansion

Posted on October 8, 2018 By

State and local officials, friends and staff gathered on October 4 to mark the expansion of The Lakewood Resource and Referral Center (LRRC), 212 Second Street, Suite 204, Lakewood, and to honor Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders Deputy Director John Bartlett and Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles who have made significant contributions to the growth and development of the LRRC.

The LRRC, a federally designated 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization, provides free comprehensive social services, information, referrals, counseling, community education, and assistance in navigating government and private sector programs in such areas as housing purchasing, rental counseling, health care insurance plans, nutritional supplementation programs, and home utilities payment assistance programs to Ocean County residents.

The LRRC opened its doors in 2005. The new addition of 1,400 square feet and a reorganization of existing space will better accommodate clients, with four new offices, a larger waiting area, and a more private area where case managers can address questions and concerns.

In one month, 11 LRRC employees answer more than 1500 phone inquiries, conduct an average of 270 counseling sessions, assist more than 700 walk-ins, and teach classes for first-time home buyers, among other community, health care, and educational services and assistance.

Sarah Sternbach, executive director of the LRRC, said, “Ocean County is growing by leaps and bounds, and we are proud to be growing along with it. We worked very hard to build according to the needs of the community, helping to create a pleasant environment and an enjoyable experience for anyone who needs our help.”                                            x

About the Lakewood Resource and Referral Center (LRRC): Specialty LRRC services include affordable and fair housing; American Recovery & Reinvestment Act; budgeting; CDC immunization compliance; credit counseling; credit repair; disability insurance; employment counseling; health care plans; lead abatement/poisoning prevention; nutrition; supplementation programs; SNAP (food stamps) application, Parts 1 & 2; presumptive eligibility screening; utilities bill and equipment assistance.

LRRC Case Managers help our clients identify the assistance programs for which they may qualify. They help clients complete the paperwork as needed. To schedule an appointment with a case manager, call 732-942-9292. For more information, visit for more information.


Preferred Home Health Care Nurse Named Finalist for March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award

Posted on October 3, 2018 By

The March of Dimes has announced that Pam Miller, RN, Chatsworth, N.J., is a finalist for the 2018 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award in the Non-hospital and Home Health Care category. Miller, the director of nursing at the Mount Laurel, N.J., branch of Preferred Home Health Care & Nursing Services (PHHC), with headquarters in Eatontown, transitions medically fragile children from hospitals to homes and trains other nurses to provide all phases of support to ensure quality home health care for those children.

The 13th annual state-wide Nurse of the Year event recognizes extraordinary nurses, including all nominees, finalists, and recipients. More than 250 nurses were nominated for the 2018 Nurse of the Year Award, which recognizes and honors those who make a significant difference in the lives of many people. Sixty-nine nurses became finalists in 12 categories. One award recipient from each category will be announced at the Nurse of the Year Gala on November 14.

Although it was her dream to become a nurse, Miller deferred her dream to support her military spouse and raise her children. In 2006, however, Miller fulfilled her goal and joined PHHC, Mount Laurel, as a director of nursing. She is now responsible for overseeing 180 skilled/unskilled clients.

Miller is known as a natural caregiver and innate humanitarian. In 2009, she volunteered in Haiti as a member of a medical team where she performed assessments on adults and children in orphanages and remote villages. In 2012, Miller founded “Penny Miller’s Sewing Academy” to help young Haitian women learn skills as seamstresses.  That academy still operates today.

Miller’s other charitable endeavors include working with the Appalachian Service Project to make homes sturdier and safer; Coastal Volunteers In Medicine, which provides free medical assistance; the Philabundance Food Bank; Seaman’s Church Institute, a faith-based ministry that offers warm accessories to those working on commerce ships; and support for disaster clean-up crews in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Jersey.

Miller said, “Being recognized as a Finalist by the March of Dimes is the epitome of home care nursing; the reward is priceless.”

The award ceremony includes a cocktail hour, dinner, and reception on November 14, 2018, beginning at 6:00 p.m., at the Grand Marquis, 1550 U.S. 9, Old Bridge Township, New Jersey. For more information, contact Lisa Gallicchio, director of community relations, at 732-547-9886 or

About Preferred Home Health Care & Nursing Services: Since 1993, Preferred Home Health Care & Nursing Services (PHHC), 45 Main Street, Eatontown, N.J., has provided a wide range of medical and non-medical home health care services from pediatric to geriatric care throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. PHHC is accredited by CHAP (Community Health Accreditation Partner), an accrediting organization for the home health care industry.

Preferred works collaboratively with physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, and facilities to ensure a smooth transition to one’s home. In-house services include skilled nursing care for infants, children, adults, and seniors; personal care services, including bathing, grooming, dressing, feeding, etc.; private duty nursing services; and at-home physical therapy, among others. All of the care can be provided in-house and is coordinated by registered nurses, with clinical supervision available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

New Jersey locations include corporate headquarters, Main Street, Eatontown; South Orange; Robbinsville; Toms River; Galloway; Elmwood Park; North Brunswick; Wyckoff Road, Eatontown; and Mount Laurel. Pennsylvania locations include Bala Cynwyd, Allentown, and Bensalem. Visit Preferred at for more information.


Halloween Fun Festival and Parade in Lakewood, Oct. 31

Posted on October 3, 2018 By

The Lakewood Township Committee in conjunction with the Lakewood Police Department, the Lakewood Fire Department, the Lakewood EMTs, and the Lakewood Recreation Department are inviting Lakewood residents only, ages 1 to 12, to enjoy Halloween with them on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at the Lakewood Town Square, Clifton Avenue and Third Street, Lakewood, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Festivities include candy and treats, face and pumpkin painting, music, and a costume parade. Everything is free.

A costume parade for children age 12 years and under begins at 5:00 p.m. As kids walk across the stage, parents and friends can take pictures. All children will receive a Trick or Treat bag with candy donated by members of the Lakewood Police Department, the Lakewood Fire Department, and the Lakewood EMS.

According to Jeff Shapiro, supervisor of recreation for Lakewood Township, said, “The Lakewood Halloween event is a safe place for children so they do not have to go door to door or walk dark streets.”

The rain site is the Lakewood Municipal Building, 231 Third Street, Lakewood, N.J. For more information, call Lakewood Recreation at 732-905-3405.