Amanda’s Easel to Create New Jersey’s 2011 Christmas Tree OrnamentTRENTON – First Lady Mary Pat Christie announced today that Amanda’s Easel Creative Arts Therapy Program will design this year’s official 2011 National Christmas Tree – State Tree Ornament for New Jersey’s State Christmas Tree in Washington D.C. Amanda’s Easel is a program of the Monmouth County non-profit 180 Turning Lives Around, Inc. which is dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault. It is named for Manalapan resident Amanda Wengert, who was killed by a neighbor in 1994 at the age of six. Formed in 1997, Amanda’s Easel Creative Arts Therapy is a comprehensive art therapy program for children ages 6-13, and their non-offending parent, who have been affected by domestic violence. Participants are placed in small age-appropriate groups and encouraged to express themselves through the use of art media, play, dance and group discussions. “All children deserve to live in a safe, secure environment that is free from violence and abuse,” said Mrs. Christie. “For those who have experienced the perils of child abuse or other forms of domestic violence, Amanda’s Easel provides participants a means to creatively express their feelings in a nurturing, healing atmosphere. I am inspired by the creative arts therapies being used to help these children and even prouder to have Amanda’s Easel create New Jersey’s official Christmas ornament to be displayed in our nation’s capital this December.” “We are delighted and honored to have been chosen to create the New Jersey ornament for the National Christmas Tree, and the children and families are so excited to have this opportunity to showcase their creativity, healing and joy during the holiday season”, said Anna Diaz-White, Executive Director of the program.” Studies show that between 3.3 and 10 million children witness domestic violence annually. Children exposed to domestic violence often exhibit higher rates of emotional, psychological, and physical concerns and evidence-based programs such as Amanda’s Easel have been shown to help children heal from these effects.For information about Amanda’s Easel, visit http://www.180nj.org/children_arttherapy.htmlOctober is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For more information, visit http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/
By Emma WulfhorstAugust 13 – ON TUESDAY MORNING, August 4, at around 2:30am, the Port Authority Police Department responded to a call of a full-term pregnant woman in labor at the World Trade Center PATH station.“The woman stated she felt the baby coming and the officers prepared the area and aided for a possible birth,” said Port Authority spokesman Joe Pentangelo.One of the officers responding to the scene was Holmdel resident and former Jersey City EMT, Brian McGraw. After evaluating the patient, McGraw had determined the birth was about to occur. A few minutes later, the 6-pound, 14-ounce baby girl, later named Asenat Abdrabo, was born.After EMS arrived, the parents, along with their two-year-old son, were transported to Beekman Downtown Hospital.
By John BurtonRED BANK – Riverview Medical Center will gain another resource at its disposal in addressing the continuing addiction crisis, thanks to a recent generous donation.The Tigger House Foundation has provided a $120,000 gift to the medical center to support bringing on addiction counselors to work primarily in the medical center’s emergency department.“It’s really crucial,” to make counseling services immediately available to help patients and families struggling with addiction, observed Ramon Solhkhah, M.D., chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, and corporate medical director for Meridian Health Services.Both Jersey Shore and Riverview are members of the Hackensack Meridian Health network.“I do believe this will help save lives,” said Lisa Stavola, who, with her husband, Rick, founded the Tigger House Foundation, providing another layer of immediate treatment.The additional funds will allow Riverview to hire a full-time and a part-time licensed addiction counselor to be available at the medical center’s Alton A. Hovnanian Emergency Care Center, in Red Bank, providing seven-day-a-week coverage, likely for the late afternoon-evening shift, according to Solhkhah. All of the Hackensack-Meridian medical centers’ emergency rooms have access to mental health specialists, those skilled in psychiatric emergency services. And in the case of Riverview, they would do double duty providing counseling for those in the ER with substance abuse issues. “But we felt this is really a special skill set,” Solhkhah said, “to really work with patients, to know where they’re at, in terms of addressing their addiction in trying to work with them.” The counselors also can play an important role in helping families deal with these often terrible situations. “Often times when a patient is struggling with addiction, their family members, obviously, are in the middle of it as well,” he said.Riverview Medical Center’s Alton A. Hovnanian Emergency Care Center has received a donation that will help the center’s ability to treat patients for opioid addiction.Rosemary Daniels“Parents so often just don’t know how to deal with this,” Stavola said, recalling the experiencing of dealing with addiction in her family.Middletown residents Rick and Lisa Stavola lost their son Rick Jr., also known as “Tigger,” to a heroine overdose in 2013. The family founded the Tigger House Foundation following the family’s loss.Tigger House Foundation board member and friend of the Stavolas, Christian Peter, former NFL defensive tackle, is helping to bring attention to the important issue of opiate addiction.“Families often don’t know what to do in these situations,” when a family member is in crisis and in the hospital, Stavola acknowledged. “We’ve certainly seen over the past several years that our need to provide services in the emergency room has grown exponentially,” Solhkhah noted. “Our emergency rooms are really the frontlines for providing these services.”“I think we’ve been doing as good a service as we possibly could up to now,” Solhkhah added. “But I think this will be even better and really provide specialized services to take care of those patients and connect them to ongoing treatment.”The Tigger House Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, which according to Lisa Stavola, works to raise money to assist programs aimed at addressing the addiction epidemic.“Our partnership with the Tigger House Foundation is a wonderful example of what can happen when community organizations and health networks come together come together to address a significant need in the community,” said Joseph A. Miller, vice president neurosciences and behavioral health at Meridian Health in a released statement.