Monthly Archives: June 2013

Our governor is famous! Reflections on Chris Christie’s keynote speech for Points of Light

I guess I don’t think about it much, but being governor of New Jersey is kind of a big deal.
At least, our current governor really IS a big deal…in more ways than one. He might run for president, he has made all kinds of changes during his time in office, and people all over the country, if they didn’t know him beforehand, really started to take notice after Sandy, when his face (and that infamous fleece he wore 24/7) was everywhere.


Actual thing Chris Christie said.

I read this article this week, and I wanted to use the governor’s comments as a jumping- off point to remind people that the recovery efforts in New Jersey are far from finished.
Like other tragedies and natural disasters, the further away we as a society become removed chronologically from the events, the less prominence they occupy in our minds…especially if we or our loved ones were not directly affected.
However, the weather is warming up, it is great beach weather, and rather than go back to “business as usual,” perhaps we (and other New Jersey communities) would be better served if we all took some time out of our lives to help others for whom Sandy is still a front-of-mind reality. To still be struggling after eight months…to be displaced from your home for so long…to be working with FEMA and contractors and insurance companies and municipal governments for eight months and still see so little change in the amount of destruction in your neighborhood, your livelihood…No one wants to be in that situation, but some still are.
While Christie is spot-on to laud the magnanimous volunteer response that the Garden State benefitted from in the initial response to the storm, we need to focus now on long-term recovery. Beaches and shorelines need helping hands to remove additional debris loads. Communities need helping hands to start, continue, or put finishing touches on repairs to community centers, in parks, schools, daycare centers, and other buildings. If homeowners are lucky enough to be back in their homes, many elderly or handicapped residents could use a hand reestablishing their gardens, seeding their lawns, painting their porches, or performing other finishing touches to help them settle in to the new “normal.”
So let’s think about how we can lend a hand to continue what 473 volunteer organizations and over 165,000 volunteers have already started. Pass It Along will be setting up relief opportunities in July and August, so if you want to get involved, keep an eye out.


Until then…I’m not particularly glad Sandy is still making headlines, since most of it appears to be negative news (I get about 42 “Sandy” Google Alerts a day, so I know!) but if we support one another, maybe everyone will be able to reach beyond the news stories to create some feature articles and some Op/Eds for good, too.
Maren Morsch, AmeriCorps Program Associate

Start of Summer

It’s officially here! No, I’m not talking about the latest issue of Spin magazine…I’m talking about summer!
Today is the official first day of summer…not that the air conditioning units haven’t been fired up before today, but today is when summer starts according to the calendar. Schools around the area are either wrapping up (Thank Superstorm Sandy for the late graduation dates, extra days of school in June, etc.), or have just finished for the year.
But, just because school is out doesn’t mean Pass It Along is taking a break (like everyone else out there seems to be doing now)…in fact, it seems like for the next twelve  weeks, we will be as busy as we were back in April!
Let’s start with the community gardens. There are two of them that Pass It Along works with. What is awesome about them? They feel local people at risk of hunger with produce grown locally and organically. Talk about awesome! Hands are always needed to water, weed, plant, harvest, till, mulch, and perform other totally “sweet” garden verbs.  (Get it? Sweet? Verbs…like herbs…ok. Just checking.) Check the website for dates and times, and get ready to get down and dirt-y!
Next, there is the ever-popular and uber -powerful Tilly’s Kids program. Kids from Newark come up to spend the day in the great outdoors, to get out of their concrete and asphalt environment, to open their eyes and hopefully their hearts to the idea that there is a world outside of the hardships and difficulties they face growing up in an inner-city. We need helping hands Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays to be “buddies” each week for the children in the program. Check it out- if you come once, we promise you’ll be hooked.
Up next on the agenda, and so equally awesome, is the equine therapy program that we are so excited to be offering from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays. The program helps children of military families adjust to the frequent moves often necessitated by a military career. Working with and riding the horses can help relieve anxiety, stress, and other negative feelings that can be triggered by the uncertainty that moving often brings. Help kids who need a little extra TLC and get to spend time working with majestic, beautiful, and smart animals in this Wednesday program.
Now, how about The Nature Conservancy? Have you ever heard of them? If you haven’t, their name pretty much says it all…but just in case: The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people, and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. That’s just what they’re doing in Warren County, and we want to help them by providing hands to help rebuild habitat for threatened and rare species, and to complete a reforestation project on land that was formerly farms. Sound like something you or someone you know is interested in? Sign up via the website. We’ll be out every Monday from 10am- 2pm helping out TNC.
Plus, let’s not forget all our regularly, year-long opportunities…yep, we’re still doing ConKerr Cancer, Pet Therapy, Manna House, Cooking for a Mission/Promise, SCARC softball, and all the rest. What are you waiting for? We need your help! Get over to, and sign up today. Better yet, sign up with a friend…better than that, sign up with a team…We could use all the hands we can get!
See you in the out-of-doors! We’ve got work to do.
Maren Morsch, AmeriCorps Program Associate
Click here to take a look at all of our summer programs in one convenient place!

Triathlon Spotlight: Packet Pick-up

Newton Medical Center and Atlantic Sports Health are looking forward to the Lake Mohawk Triathlon on Saturday, July 27th. Atlantic Sports Health will be hosting packet pickup at our Atlantic Health Sports Facility in Sparta Thursday, July 25th and Friday, July 26th!  Come meet Atlantic Sports Health Physician Assistant, Adam Kahn during packet pick-up at 89 Sparta Ave. from 4-8pm on Thursday, July 25th. Triathletes please come prepared with questions you may have regarding improving personal Sports Performance or advice for nursing a sports related injury that Adam Kahn, PA can assist with.
Bio: Adam Kahn graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hofstra University in 2003 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Athletic Training.  Following his graduation he worked at Hofstra University as an Associate Athletic Trainer from 2003-2008 covering the sports of football, women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, softball, and baseball.  While employed at Hofstra, Adam completed his Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Pre-Med and also began his coursework for his Masters in Health Administration.  Mr. Kahn graduated from Yale University School of Medicine, Physicians Associate Program in December 2010 with a Masters in Medical Science.  While at Yale University Adam served as the President of the Class of 2010. Married June 2011 with two dogs, a black lab pit-bull mix and pomeranian beagle mix.  Adam Kahn is currently serving as a Sports Medicine Physician Assistant under the supervision of Damion Martins, MD and works very closely with Sparta Sports Health, Lead Physician, Dean Padavan.

Triathlon Spotlight: Tips to Stay Healthy – Hydration

As the temperature rises through the summer months and people continue to be active outdoors it becomes more important to stay hydrated and to be conscious of the temperature and humidity outside. Heat illnesses and dehydration are major concerns.  This is especially important for the runners of the many marathons and triathlons that are organized during this time of the year. Muscles and every organ of your body require water to function correctly and to remain healthy.

            The first step in preventing illness is to hydrate before exercise. If you have a dry mouth, you are already dehydrated. To determine the amount of fluids you need to take, do a run test. First weigh yourself wearing no clothing.  If you are a trained runner go for a 60 minute run, or for 30 minutes if you are not. Then weigh yourself again naked.  The reason for weighing yourself naked is to avoid having an inaccurate weight taken by the added weight of your clothing. After activity, your clothes may weigh more than they did before because of sweat being absorbed, especially if the clothing is still saturated with sweat. Each pound that is lost is equal to 16 ounces of water. So if you lost 3 pounds on a run, you should drink what equals up to 3  16 ounce glasses of water or sports drinks to replace the lost fluids. Different brands of sports drinks will help you replace the electrolytes lost from sweating. 

The second step is to ensure you do not get overheated. Make sure you have access to cold drinks during and after your run.

Finally, if you are just beginning to run in the heat, keep your runs shorter or allow yourself to take breaks for the initial first few days. This will allow your body to adapt to the changing climate.

As a reminder, if you are thirsty, YOU ARE ALREADY DEHYDRATED. After doing an initial run test, keep in mind how much water weight was lost and try to hydrate over the time before your next run or activity of that intensity. Another tip is to have a water bottle with you at all times so you can sip throughout the day. It is also important to drink at least a glass of water before going to bed at night. If you are sleeping 6-8 hours, that means you are not taking in fluids for those 6-8 hours. You can also have a glass or bottle of water on your nightstand that would be in reach if you wake up and need a drink. Equally important is being sure you drink plenty of water in the morning after waking up for the same reason you drank water before bed; you may not have had anything to drink for the period you were asleep and may be dehydrated or susceptible to dehydration.

Light clothing is also important during activity. Heavier shirts cause the body to retain heat and produce more sweat, resulting in more fluid loss. Many athletic companies have their own versions of “performance” or “athletic” shirts and clothing lines specifically made for wearing in the heat to help keep you cool. 

Knight in Shining Chainmail

Caution: Long weeks ahead! When my to-do list looks overwhelming, I like to back off from it for a minute and do a little visualization. I like to think about facing the tasks at hand head-on, as a knight in chainmail armor would, leaning into the wind, wearing a firm, determined facial expression, and wielding the right tools for whatever comes my way.
…I may have already done this several times this week…and its only Wednesday.
But, my game face is on, and I’m ready. Here’s what’s good at Pass It Along for the next few week!

Visual approximation

Visual approximation

Monday, I wielded a pen and pencil at a great meeting with The Nature Conservancy about upcoming projects for the summer break season. It will be so rad when we can change out our pen, paper and notes for a pair of boots and outdoor gear to help them restore a habitat at one of their properties, and complete reforesting of former farmland in a few short weeks! Stay tuned to the opportunity calendar for specific dates and times.
Today, my “weapon” of choice is the computer. Lots of loose ends were tied up this morning for the upcoming Pass It Along memorial Ultimate Frisbee tournament, and some materials for school outreach were updated, too…now, I’m getting the blog ready…so, you get the point. It feels good to make progress in this arena. The more time I devote now to desk jockeying, the more time I’ll have later to do field work! Glorious.
Later on, I will wield gardening tools and the soaker hose to introduce the Hardyston Middle School PIA Chapter to the charity garden there, right in the school’s backyard! We’ll be planting, harvesting, weeding and watering—hopefully time will allow for all four.
This weekend we will be wielding whatever Eleanor asks to for the setup, support, and cleanup of Pass It Along’s first ever Bike Rodeo! What a great way to get geared up for summer, by arming oneself or one’s children with better bike skills and a safety inspection before summer starts in earnest when school gets out? Check out more info on that event here:
Then, next week gets a little crazy. People are needed every afternoon, armed with charm and charisma, to help out at the Stop and Shop of Sparta so we can wrap up this year’s FoodStock collection with a strong showing. The collection runs Monday through Thursday afternoons from 3pm-7pm. Check out the calendar and sign up to collect here:
There’s also a need for good people to wage war on the weeds and other disruptions currently plaguing the SCARC softball field! That skirmish is scheduled for Tuesday the 11th from 3:30-6:30 pm. I’d bring gloves, boots and long pants to that one if I were you. The weeds that live on the diamond have a reputation for fighting dirt-y!
Right in the middle of next week, there is a need for volunteers to brandish kindness, compassion, and a knife (plus forks, spoons, spatulas, etc.) during Cooking for a Mission next Wednesday, June 12th, while preparing a meal and eating with families and individuals currently facing homelessness. Gather your comrades, and sign up here:
On Thursday the 13th, it’s time to grow good and fight evil (weeds) at the Andover Charity Garden from 5pm-7pm. All produce will be donated to The Bodhi Monastery Food Pantry. Please remember gardening can be messy work, dress appropriately for the weather and conditions. You may also want to bring along water and sunscreen, to shield you from the harmful rays of the burning sphere of gases that sustains life on our planet.
Friday the 14th, ‘tis time for the annual endurance competition known as FoodStock to come to an end. This final day of the drive, many able-bodied souls are needed to sort, box and load food collected during the drive so food pantries can pick up their share of the goods. Are you up to the challenge? Summon your strength and sign up here:
Then on Saturday, June 15th, a noble battle for glory and honor will take up an entire day on Station Park Fields 1&2 in Sparta. Yes, it is the long-awaited “Only The Good Sky Young” Frisbee tournament, in memory of Jeff Syberg and Max Briganti, and in support of Pass It Along, is back for a second year. Want to through your hat in the ring for a chance to claim glory in this epic event? Sign on the virtual dotted line here:
Sweating on a hot field chasing a small disk for 8 hours not really your thing? No matter. There are many opportunities to help throughout the day.
Game face? Check. Game on! See you out there.
Maren Morsch, AmeriCorps Program Associate