Judy’s Comments

An Unexpected Year

If you had asked Mendham resident, Marilyn Monasterio what the next couple of years had in store for her back in 2006, living a year in Guatemala City would not have been on the list.

In fact, the idea of moving to Guatemala was so far-fetched that when her husband returned from a week of building houses in the Guatemala City dump and said to her “I think we should sell the house and move to Guatemala and be missionaries”, all she could say was, “no, that doesn’t sound like a good idea.”

However, with such a passionate and persistent husband as Antonio, the conversation could not have been left there. A little bit of compromise brought them together on a plane to Guatemala City for a week in July 2007 alongside Mendham Hills Community Church (MHCC). Once they landed, the group met up with an organization that MHCC partners with called Potter’s House.

Potter’s House is a non-profit organization that aids in empowering the Guatemala City Dump community. They run five different programs (personal development, education, health, micro-enterprise and community support), but only have about 45 employees. With so much ambition and so little manpower, it is no wonder that during this visit Marilyn began to see the need Antonio saw a year earlier.

One particular lunch conversation continues to stick out in Marilyn’s mind as a turning point, “As we were sitting eating lunch one day Gladys (the founder of Potter’s House) turned to us and said, ‘you know, what we really need is a couple to come down and help us with the groups that come’”.

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My Place in This World…..a Memoir

Rebecca Huntley, one of New Jersey’s own, authored her Memoirs recently.

Statistically, my chances of succeeding were slim to none. Suffering through more than five years of sexual abuse as a child; having a father who neglected me; having a verbally and emotionally abusive mother and step mother; and growing up around financial turmoil; were the daily concerns of my childhood.

Today I am a successful Christian business woman, heading my own financial services firm, a dedicated wife and taking a parental role to a younger sister. My start in life would be unbelievable to most people who meet me.

Rebecca’s riveting story of overcoming several years of sexual abuse by her step father, who served less prison time than the number of years he forced himself on her, is chronicled in Rebecca’s recently published book: My Place in the World…..a Memoir. . It’s a must read for anyone dealing with their own personal demons. To learn more visit www.aftertheabuse.com.

It took Rebecca weeks, not months, to author her book. She thought it would lift a heavy burden off her, which it did but only to a limited extent. Today, Rebecca has her own firm after spending several years working with one of Wall Street’s previous industry leaders. Leaving to go off on her own provided Rebecca with the opportunity of taking with her only the kind of clients she really wants to serve, i.e. many single successful women and married couples planning for and living in their retirement years.

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Helping Out In Eagle Alaska

After 9/11, Christina Young, a resident of Blairstown, NJ, woke up to the fact that life is short and we should follow our dreams and our passions. That’s what triggered her to pursue her interest in learning to fly. Today she owns her own 1954 Piper Cub, once used for military service. She has logged over 1400 hours to date including flying by herself several times to Alaska, a state she just loves. Her plane travels at about 90 MPH meaning it takes Christina 6 to 7 days to reach Alaska from New Jersey with some days stretching as long as 8 or 9 hours of flying time with stops for gas.

Earlier this year, and after almost 14 years, Christina was downsized by Intel from her high level project management role. While thinking through her next career steps (something she is continuing to explore) Christina heard about a disaster that had hit the small town and Native American village of Eagle, Alaska. Ice breaking up with the spring thaw flowed down river and eventually formed an ice dam above Eagle, a town not accessible during the winter (other than by plane) where the temperature drops to 60 below, and accessible the rest of the year only over a rugged unpaved road.

When the ice dam broke, the devastation in Eagle was massive, with cabins and homes literally flattened. Chucks of ice, weighing over 50,000 pounds had crushed much of the town and nearby village. Fortunately there were no deaths but the damage was massive. Wearing a face mask to help guard against infection and the ugly stench, Christina volunteered to help the locals dig out, repair and rebuild. The first few days there she slept in a tent pitched under the wing of her Piper Cub. Later, one of the locals offered her a bed in an adjoining cabin she owned. Meals for the volunteers, many of whom showed up after Christina started her volunteering, were fed as a group by the locals in a school in the town. Obviously Christina made great friendships while helping in Eagle, an area of Alaska she plans to visit again on one of her next flying trips to the state.

Christina has awesome stories and photos to share about her many experiences in Alaska where, among other things, she learned bush flying. During the summer she explored all over the state, from long abandoned ghost towns, to impressive volcanoes, to the arctic and more.

The other side of Christina's adventurous soul is her passion for deep sea diving, something she has done for years. Her deep sea diving experiences have taken her down as deep as more than 350 feet and to some of the important wrecks off the U.S. coast including the treacherous Andrea Doria wreck. Christina, in her conversation with Garden State Woman, emphasized how the New Jersey coast is rich in wreck diving opportunities at depths that are “manageable” with a recommended dry suit. Check out www.christinayoung.com to see some of Christina’s deep sea experiences.

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Celebrate with Service

Celebrating big occasions like a bachelor party or milestone birthday with a debauched expensive weekend of excess at an adult amusement park like Vegas or Atlantic City, seems kind of wrong at the moment.

Jessica Goldsmith Barzilay had a better idea on how to usher in the big 4-0: she got together 18 of her best friends and did a Women Build with a local Habitat for Humanity chapter. The idea was inspired by her Hero-in-Chief, President Obama.

“Watching the inauguration in January, with my sister Joy, I applauded loudly with some ‘right ons’ as he spoke of a new era of responsibility. As I realized it is easy for me to agree from the comfort of my seat, I put aside my tub of popcorn and declared that I was going to have a 40th Birthday of Service. I started doing some research. To be honest, if Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity (RVHFH) had not been so enthusiastic I may not have followed through with the idea.”

She followed through and on July 18, she and her friends celebrated her birthday in Somerset, NJ, helping to build an affordable home for a hard working, low income family. “The women worked hard, learned quickly, and raised more than $1400 for Women Builds. They laid tile, painted, cut baseboard, and installed the back porch floor. These women win the prize for the most energetic and enthusiastic group of builders. There were loud cheers for the first woman to get a screw in or cut the first floorboard. It was definitely a party complete with food, birthday cake, balloons and party bags,” said Kathy Tanaka, Women Build Coordinator for RVHFH. Jessica put together party bags that included a manicure kit (much needed after a day of building) and a build themed CD with songs such as : If I Had a Hammer, I’d Like to Build the World a Home, and I am Woman

Habitat for Humanity's Women Build program, which is underwritten nationally by Lowe’s, seeks to bring women from all walks of life together to learn construction skills and then to use those skills to build simple, decent, affordable houses for hard working families. The homes are not only being built by women but the project is being funded by the women volunteers as well. Habitat offers families a hand up, not a hand out. Every partner family devotes at least 250 hours of “sweat equity” to help build their home or a neighbor’s home and secures a 0% mortgage provided by Habitat. Habitat supports partner families with training in budgeting, home and landscape maintenance, and how to be a good neighbor.

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Northwest N.J. Regional Women’s Center

The Northwest N.J. Regional Women’s Center was established in 1987 by proclamation of the New Jersey State Legislature. The mission was to provide educational and counseling services to women and their families in Northwest New Jersey, which includes Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex and Warren Counties. The Center is a private, non-profit organization. The main location is at Centenary College in Hackettstown with service locations throughout the four county area.

The Center has five clinics. The original clinic, the Legal Clinic, was established in 1988. We have at any given time between 15-20 volunteer attorneys, in private practices, who donate their services to provide information, advice, or a second opinion to all members of our community. There is a pre-registration fee of $20, which is a donation to the Center. There are four other clinics – counseling, financial, career and mediation that also all have professional volunteers.

The Women’s Center also offers monthly book discussions, specific programs of interest during the year, an annual 5K Breast Cancer Walk (this year on October 3rd) and many Women’s History Month (March) events. This year we are having a fall festival: New Jersey Women’s Home Business Showcase and Sale on November 7th and a book signing event in March.

We have a monthly Cable Show that is televised on four area cable stations in our catchment area, that focus on topics of interest to the community. The most recent shows are on Genealogy, Professional Etiquette and Finding a Job. The Women’s Center has also published a Legal Rights Booklet, the first edition was printed in 1990 and has been revised four times. The most recent revision is set to be released in September 2009. The information within has been written and revised by the Legal Clinic volunteer attorneys.

Dr. Deborah Diamond Fisch, a licensed psychologist in private practice has been the Director of the Center for the past 15 years and JoAnn Holland has been the Administrative Assistant for 20 years. The Women’s Center is always looking for volunteers to help with program design and implementation. Anyone interested in volunteering their time and getting involved should call (908) 852-9365.

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Let's Hear Your Story

Do you have an intense personal story about how YOU conquered an insurmountable obstacle encountered while traveling on the Road of Life? If you do, then…

Let’s Hear Your Story!

Tony Lombardo and his wife Vivian are friends of GardenState Woman. Along with their three children, they are well versed in facing adversity. Tony, a talented athlete in his youth, has been afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis for over twenty-eight years.

Rather than let the disorder overwhelm him, Tony has learned to successfully utilize his experience to help others. He has written a book with Craig Schwab entitled “On Both Sides of The Fence…How to Successfully Lead a Fulfilling Life Despite the Presence of Any Physical Challenge.”
As indicated in the subtitle, “On Both Sides of The Fence”  is a “how to” book which focuses on successfully leading a fulfilling life regardless of the type of physical challenge which has entered into your life.
With the help of Monmouth College students, Tony has created his web site: Let’s Hear Your Story (LHYS) at www.letshearyourstory.com. This inspirational site showcases stories written by others depicting how to fight and conquer adversity. The LHYS site also lists favorite music, poems, movies, books and links that have helped overcome their “hurdles.”
You must have a compelling story to share with the rest of us. Perhaps you know  someone who does. If so, please log onto Tony’s site to share it with him. Undoubtedly, this inspires countless individuals.
Thanks so much for sharing!

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The Beez Foundation

The second semester of her freshman year of college, Jenn Beisswanger was thrilled to realize her dream of becoming of Nittany Lion as she transferred to one of Penn State University’s campuses. Unfortunately, after only one week in her new school, Jenn experienced a grand mal seizure and a few days later, in January of 1998, surgery was performed by the Cancer Institute of New Jersey to remove a lemon-sized tumor in her brain.

In April, a second surgery was performed, this time at Memorial Sloane Kettering, and 90% of the tumor was removed. After an MRI in August indicated that the tumor was still growing, Jen underwent 6 weeks of radiation, trekking into NYC for treatment at MSK.

In remission, Jenn returned to Penn State in 1999 and completed both her second semester of freshman year and the first semester of her sophomore year. In December 1999, a routine MRI showed that the tumor was again growing and was more aggressive than previous. After another year of treatment, in January of 2001, her team of doctors determined that Jenn had exhausted all traditional treatment options and suggested that she undergo a stem cell transplant. Despite her valiant struggle, at the age of 22, Jenn succumbed to an infection following the transplant.

 Because Jenn was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 18, she was treated as a pediatric patient and was moved by the younger children that she encountered. Her compassionate nature gave her the ability to focus on others, even during her own battle. In fact, she once left her hospital bed in the middle of the night to offer help to an elderly woman experiencing great pain. During the course of her treatments, Jenn volunteered at the hospital, reading to pediatric kidney dialysis patients, and worked as a camp counselor.
Determined to do something positive in her daughter’s memory, and to continue Jenn’s legacy of compassion to other pediatric cancer victims, Susan Giardina developed the Beez Foundation. Her first step was to put together an advisory board, comprised of Jennifer's friends, local business executives and doctors from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, to provide guidance and to review grant proposals for research funding.
With the help of her advisory board, a three-fold mission was created for the Beez Foundation:
  1. Educate people of the prevalence of brain cancer in children (it is the #2 cancer in kids behind leukemia and the number one pediatric cancer killer) and to make parents more diligent in recognizing the symptoms
  2. Provide seed money to support the first phase of research in brain cancer     
  3. Offer patient services for children and their families as they battle this disease
 The Foundation created a number of fund-raising activities to raise the capitol necessary to fulfill their mission. Keeping with Jennifer's philosophies, most are family-oriented, fun events within the local communities and designed to have a strong community bond with local businesses and organizations cooperating in the various events. The most popular of these activities is the annual Rubber Ducky Race, on the Delaware Raritan Canal. In their last run, they dropped 5000 ducks into the canal, each sponsored for $5 a piece. The “owner” of the winning ducky wins a donated cruise. In addition to the Duck Race, the foundation also has a strong sponsor in the Somerset Patriots baseball team. For seven years, the Beez Foundation has run the Diamond Derby, which allows kids to run the bases on the field following Sunday home games, and has passed out materials and information on The Beez Foundation and pediatric brain cancer to game attendees. The Foundation is also developing a program called “Art from the Heart” which collects decorated hats to be passed out to children who have lost their hair from cancer treatments. 
As a result of their fund-raising efforts, The Beez Foundation has donated $125,000. These funds seeded brain cancer research, which has resulted in a white paper presentation by one of the doctors they funded. Money has also been allocated to support patient/family services, including sponsorship of 400 nights at the Ronald McDonald House, annual sponsorship of a camper at Paul Newman’s Double H Hole In the Woods camp, and sponsorship of a woman authoring a children’s book about cancer.
To volunteer or to participate in the fund-raising activities, please go to www.beezfoundation.org.


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Giving Back

Jennifer at age 18 and a Penn State student was discovered to have a lemon sized brain tumor that within two years took her life. In her memory Susan named formed the Beeze Foundation the Mission of which is to educate parents about the prevalence of brain cancer in children, offer patient services to impacted families and fund research. Brain cancer is the second most common childhood cancer and the number 1 cancer killer

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A Venture to Support Health Clinics in Kenya

Margaret Kilibwa is looking to raise $100,000 to build a B&B and Conference Center in Kakamega, Kenya as a profitable venture that will support her plans to build a health clinic for women and children in Kakamega, a rural area with great health care needs.

Margaret is a research scientist working in the healthcare sector in this part of the U.S. Her degrees are from Cornell and Columbia Universities. In 2005 she founded TropicalClinics (a 501c3) as the vehicle she is using to provide improved health care for women and children in rural Kenya. Check out her web site at www.tropicalclinics.org.

Margaret’s plan is for the B&B to have 10 rooms as well as a conference center. She is looking to raise about $100,000 in equity to build and furnish the B&B and conference center. Additional funding for operating capital will be obtained from a bank in Kenya. She already invested her own capital in buying 10 acres for theTropicalClinics project. To learn more visit the web site or contact Margaret at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 732-331-6859.

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