SOMERS POINT — The Somers Point Business Association recognized one of the city’s most civic-minded couples last month, presenting Kathy Arleth and Nick Regine with the Lou DeScioli Award for Excellence.
DeScioli lived in Egg Harbor Township and died in 2014. He owned Bay Realty and the Custard Hut in Somers Point, and was active in the school and business community, helping to establish the Somers Point Education Foundation.
Both Arleth, 75, and Regine, 68, who were friends with DeScioli, have left their handprint in many corners of the city and continue to be involved.
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Business Association Secretary Lois Gregory said that so much of the couple's vision gets its start at their kitchen table, then each one uses their unique talents and gifts to turn those ideas into reality.
They lead by example, and are both generous with their time, talents and finances, she said.
“Nick and Kathy each have genuine passion and take consistent action, all in the name of making Somers Point better,” said Gregory.
Arleth, an artist, chairs the Somers Point Arts Commission and is the owner of the Great Bay Gallery on Bay Avenue, giving local artists and photographers an outlet to show their work. But she has worn many hats over the years, as a teacher in the Somers Point schools, and as a member of City Council, the Somers Point Historical Commission, the Environmental Commission and the Bayfest Committee.
Last summer she was part of the team that worked with the Green Thumb Garden Club to transform electrical boxes around town to canvases featuring indigenous flowers. Arleth runs programs for seniors and children in the Jordan Road School afterschool program. She started the city's Art in the Park program, the Foodie Film Festival, appointed a poet laureate for Somers Point, and put together an evening of spoken words and music.
Regine is on the board of directors of the South Jersey Jazz Society, where he helps bring world-famous musicians to the city. He was instrumental in making the city a jazz hub. Before that he spent 26 years at the helm of the community education and recreation office and helped launch the Somers Point Education Foundation with DeScioli and the SPBA.
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Gregory said Regine’s vision and leadership have brought some unique and remarkable events to Somers Point, such as the Jazz @ the Point weekend festival, the porch performances of Dickens' “A Christmas Carol” and April in Paris, and he was part of the committees that organized the beach concerts, the city’s youth and adult enrichment programs and the youth soccer program.
Gregory said Regine is a proven fundraiser, and the events are always fun.
He started the A Capella and Doo Wop fundraiser to benefit pancreatic cancer research as a tribute to DeScioli and Chuck Donovan, and with Michael Bray, he helped get the Right Notes fundraiser for multiple sclerosis off the ground.
Arleth said because she and Regine knew DeScioli so well it makes receiving the award very special.
“We all had the same outlook on what we were doing to make Somers Point a very special place,” she said.
AtlantiCare has awarded grants to 60 South Jersey schools to support school garden and wellness activi-ties.
Arleth, who taught special education, said she was "late" to the art scene, not taking her first art lesson until she was 24 years old, at Mainland Regional High School adult classes.
She discovered her passion and has since taken many more courses. She dabbles in many styles but loves watercolors, and said she finds beautiful scenes to paint, from fences in Somers Point backyards to places in New England, Florida and Italy.
She said that of the many things she does with art, what she really enjoys is working with the city’s youth and introducing them to art.
Regine said he was friends with DeScioli for decades, and they shared a general affection for the city.
“I am proud to receive this award with Lou’s name connected to it,” he said.
"We have done and still do things that are good for the city and are fun for Somers Point. Kathy and I take pride in helping to make Somers Point a quirky and fun place to be.”