FOOD PANTRY LENDS A CARING HAND

img_109772A client signs in at the Project Loaves and Fishes food pantry at St. Anthony’s on a recent Tuesday night.

When Jeannette O’Bryant’s son and daughter-in-law lost their jobs recently, she ended up taking in some of their children — and needing a hand herself to feed them.

“I didn’t know which way to turn,” says the Red Bank resident.

Eventually, she discovered the Project Loaves and Fishes food pantry run out of St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Chruch on Bridge Avenue. There, once a week, she now stocks up on groceries, but can also avail herself of everything from used clothing to a personal computer.

But just as valuable to her as the material help, O’Bryant says, is that the volunteers at the church treat their clients, all of whom must register for the program, with dignity. She tells of seeing a man once being asked to leave because he was disruptive, but not before the pantry workers were sure he had the food his family would need.

“We’re uptight, we’re frustrated, we’ve been tormented by the economy,” she tells redbankgreen while waiting in line on a recent Tuesday night. “They’re wonderful. They help you out with food and clothing, and they do it with personality and understanding.”

obryant-3Jeannette O’Bryant says the people who run the pantry are “beautiful — I love them one-hundred percent.” (Click to enlarge)

Read More »

MORANA SEEDS PRESERVATION EFFORT

morana-lauraSuperintendent Laura Morana will give up half her pay raise this year to fund the effort at the Red Bank Primary School.

A push to transform the 17-acre Red Bank Primary School property alongside the upper Navesink River into a nature preserve and learning center is getting financial help from the borough schools superintendent.

Laura Morana has informed the board of education that she’ll to donate half of her scheduled raise in the coming year to the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation, a charitable organization created last fall to pursue the wetland project, according to a foundation press release issued Thursday.

Read More »

TEEN HOMELESSNESS, IN SHARP FOCUS

Vanhemmen,pimPim Van Hemmen at home in Fair Haven.

By JoANN PILEGGI

Just past the crack of dawn several days a week, Pim Van Hemmen can be seen running at a good clip through Fair Haven. But he's running a little faster than usual these days as he heads back to his third-floor home office.

Do1thing_screenshot

"I have a certain amount of anxiety about this," he says. "For about an hour each day, I freak out that I'm not making any money for the first time in my life."

He's not making any money because he recently took a buyout from his 25-year employer, the rapidly shrinking Star-Ledger, where he headed the newsroom photo and online efforts, and hasn't yet turned his full attention to a photography business he plans to launch. 

And what's keeping him from the startup is Do1Thing.org, a national non-profit he co-founded to call attention to teenage homelessness.

Tomorrow, Valentine's Day, dozens of Do1Thing professional photographers, videographers, writers and editors — including a passel of Pulitzer Prize winners — will fan out across America's large cities looking to document, in images and words, the plight of kids who've been kicked to the curb.

Read More »

TWO LOCALS TO LEAD COVENANT HOUSE

People in the news (large)
Today’s Star-Ledger‘s has a page-one story about the selections of Kevin Ryan and Virginia Bauer to top posts at Covenant House, the New York-based charity for homeless youth.

Ryan, a former head of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, is a resident of Fair Haven. He was named international president of Covenant House last week.

Bauer, a former Rumsonite who lives in Red Bank, has headed both the state lottery and commerce departments. She starts as senior vice president this week.

The Sledger’s Bob Braun tagged along as Bauers and Ryan toured the organization’s Newark facility. There, they learned a few things they didn’t know about what it takes to survive the streets, Braun writes.

Like the locations of all-night restaurants that will let you crash for
the night. How to score free food when the shift changes in an eatery.
How to sleep in abandoned buildings without attracting unwanted
attention. How to set a garbage fire to keep warm.

Read More »

HOT MEALS COMIN’ RIGHT UP

TurkeyA frozen turkey ready for pickup near boxes packed with soup, stuffing, canned fruit, vegetables and pies at the Salvation Army facility on Newman Springs Road yesterday.

The Red Bank Corps of the Salvation Army gave out frozen turkeys and the fixings for complete Thanksgiving suppers to 265 families Tuesday.

Read More »

BASIE GUT JOB BEGINS ON HIGH NOTE

Img_2293Eight-year-old Maddy Ward writes her name on the wall of the theater this morning as a four-month renovation got underway.

The scaffolding was up and an access hole had already been cut in the lobby wall as the Count Basie Theatre kicked off a fast-paced interior renovation this morning.

Following the Fab Faux Beatles tribute concert Saturday night and party on the stage for theater staffers yesterday, Basie officials held an informal kickoff ceremony this morning at which visitors were encouraged to write messages on the plaster walls.

They also noted that today is the final day of the theater’s fiscal year, which closes out a seven-year string of rising attendance and surpluses where once was lots of red ink.

Read More »

CUE GHOST LIGHT: BASIE TO GO DARK

Img_0491

By TOM CHESEK

Well, that was certainly the summer that was: the season of beach badges, clam shooters and Met meltdowns is barely a week old, but over at the Count Basie Theatre it’s a time to shut off the lights.

Rbo_3b

Or all but one light, that is. The Basie adheres to the grand theatrical tradition of leaving on a ‘ghost light’ — a lone, bare bulb set in the center of the stage to ward off ghosts. And despite the disruption of the next four months, the tradition will continue, a Basie spokeswoman tells redbankgreen.

The landmark Red Bank auditorium isn’t going anywhere, of course — simply having a little work done, a procedure to stay taut and competitive with other newer, spiffier entertainment venues on the regional circuit.

But even though the boards of the legendary stage may lack for famous names over the next four months, the circa-1926 house will be one of the busiest places in town, as an army of artisans and tradespeople endeavor to bring the former Carlton Theatre up to its full potential, both in terms of decor and tech capabilities.

Read More »

BASIE CAN HAVE A LOT, IF IT WANTS IT

Basie_facadeImg_0470The facade of the small building next door to the theater was the last piece to go; now there’s just a hole in the ground. (Facade photo courtesy of Wendy Spencer)

A small, ivy-swaddled office building that stood next door to the Count Basie Theatre was demolished last week. In its place will rise… well, nobody knows yet, apparently.

Near-term, the lot at 95 Monmouth Street will be used as a staging area for construction equipment and materials during a planned four-month interior renovation of the theater, scheduled to begin June 30. After that, the lot is likely to remain empty for at least the next three years.

Basie CEO Numa Saisselin tells redbankgreen that’s how long the theater has to decide if it wants, and can afford, to acquire the lot from a group of angels who bought it simply to keep anyone other than the Basie owning it.

According to Saisselin, “four or five” members of the board of the Count Basie Foundation got together and bought the site for $2.1 million.

Read More »