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From press materials by Family Promise of Monmouth County

While Monmouth County is considered one of the more affluent counties of the Garden State, the issue of family homelessness remains a very real problem here and throughout the area. Beginning on the evening of Friday, October 15, a local place of worship will serve as host location for an interactive “friend and fund raiser” event designed to raise awareness of this often little-discussed cause — by giving participants the opportunity to experience spending the night living inside a cardboard box.

Sponsored by the nonprofit Family Promise of Monmouth County, the area’s only emergency shelter for families — and presented “rain or shine” on the grounds of Monmouth Church of Christ (312 Hance Avenue in Tinton Falls) — the eighth annual fundraiser begins at 5 p.m., and offers participants an opportunity to raise a minimum of $100 in pledges and contributions, by sleeping overnight as a resident of “Cardboard Box City.”

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wed-walkPhyllis Merola and Dennis Evanchik, who plan to marry in May, took in Saturday’s Wedding Walk through Red Bank. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Though they were tucked at a table in a corner of a ballroom filled with young women teeming with excitement, Phyllis Merola and Dennis Evanchik were the standouts.

At 50 and 60 years old, respectively, they could have been the parents of just about any of the prospective brides sipping coffee and chatting at a soft roar in the Molly Pitcher Inn Saturday. And the story of how the two ended up at the Molly, to plan a May 7 wedding at the Shadowbrook in Shrewsbury, is one ripped from the pages of a Hollywood script.

They were friends for 30 years and had their own families. But within about a year of each other, the two went through divorces and, some time after, Evanchik made a proposition to Merola.

“He said, ‘if you can date a perfect stranger, why not date me?’ ” Merola said.

In November, another proposition: Will you marry me?

And so on Saturday, when 10 o’clock hit, the couple followed the procession out of the riverside hotel and headed for downtown Red Bank for the borough’s third Wedding Walk, ready to spend a full day tying up loose ends for their springtime nuptials — just like many of the 200 others who registered for the event.

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jen-beckState Senator Jen Beck talked with residents at the West Side Community Group Wednesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


For months, Patrick Hussey has looked out from his Catherine Street home and wished for pavement. The asphalt was torn up as part of the Cedar Crossing construction project, he said, and he’s been told by contractors that there’s no plan to repave the section of road until later this year.

“I’m ready to plant a garden right there in the street in front of my house,” Hussey said.

He hasn’t been able to get a straight answer from local officials about when his street will be repaved, he said, so he took his grievance a couple steps higher up the chain Wednesday night, when State Senator Jen Beck visited the Westside Community Group for her first time since serving on the borough council.

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