• Sen. Jim Whelan joins volunteers who showed up last year to clean the beach in Atlantic City. Volunteers will turn out en masse Saturday to be part of the solution to ocean pollution. Beach sweeps will be held in shore communities up and down the New Jersey coastline on Saturday, April 26.

    Volunteers in Downbeach communities will canvass the beaches to pick up trash and debris to get them ready for summer visitors.

    Organizations and families are encouraged to participate in the statewide event to keep beaches clean and safe and protect New Jersey’s coastal environment.

  • The Ventnor Fishing Pier opens on Monday, April 28 with new membership fees for the 2014 season.

    Memberships are now available on a seasonal, weekly and daily basis with new fees and fines for violating the Ventnor City Recreation Board’s rules and regulations.

    The Board of Commissioners approved the amended ordinance at its April 17 meeting. The commission added a new weekly fee schedule in addition to last year’s seasonal and daily rate schedule.

  • VENTNOR – The city’s municipal budget was introduced last month and adopted April 17 without comment from neither the governing body nor the public. City Commissioner Theresa Kelly voted against its adoption.

    The $30,934,239 budget raised municipal tax rate 4.9 cents to $.896 per $100 of assessed valuation, up from $.847 last year. The average homeowner with a house assessed at $250,000 will pay $124 more this year for a total municipal tax of $2,240, up from $2116 last year. In Ventnor, a penny on the tax rate is equal to $250,000 in spending.

    “Money is tight all over and a lot of our residents are still suffering from Sandy,” Kelly said. “Some are unable to pay their taxes now, and there are so many houses for sale.”

  •  Members of the Mental Health Association were available to help homeowners still struggling more than 18 months after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Pictured are caseworkers Jordan Brunette of Absecon, Jaime Angelini of Smithville and Meghan Cusack of Linwood. EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – More than 50 people showed up to find out how they can get help repairing their Sandy damaged homes at a special meeting held at the township’s Community Center Wednesday, April 16.

  • VENTNOR – The Planning Board will need more time to decide what type of commercial uses and ancillary uses, including live music, are allowed in the Dorset Avenue Commercial Zone.

    At a lengthy board meeting April 10 about zoning concerns in the city, planners heard complaints from area residents about the noise coming from Ventnor Coffee, which recently held daylong band competitions. Officials said Ventnor Coffee will need a use variance to continue to provide live music at the shop.

  • VENTNOR – The Board of Commissioners took no action following a lengthy executive session on Thursday, April 10.

    Mayor Michael Bagnell and city attorney Amy R. Weintraub were excused from the meeting, which was called to hear a report from an independent attorney who investigated the city’s involvement in a Latin music festival that was cancelled at the 11th hour at the end of last summer.

    “Amy and I recused ourselves from the discussion because it involves us,” Bagnell said as he left the auditorium at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex where public meetings are being held while the municipal building undergoes extensive HVAC renovations.

  • LONGPORT – Following a 30-minute executive session Tuesday, April 8, the Board of Commissioners agreed to revise commissioner appointments and duties.

    Mayor Nicholas Russo gave a brief statement following three unanimous votes to approve the new assignments and realigned duties.

  • Cookie Till plants primroses in the flower garden. PLEASANTVILLE – More than 15 volunteers showed up Friday, April 11 to ensure several local residents eat well, get fresh air and socialize with neighbors.

    Volunteers from Jewish Family Service of Atlantic and Cape May counties and representatives of Growing Green AtlantiCare, built raised garden beds and helped JFS consumers plant early spring vegetables they can harvest by June.

    The JFS garden program is in its second three-year cycle, which includes building the gardens, planting, growing, weeding and harvesting over a three-year period.

    The first garden project was completed in Hammonton, but this project was completed at a house owned by the Pleasantville Housing Authority and occupied by three tenants who need the ongoing assistance that JFS offers.

Reassurance is just a phone call away

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  Contact Cape-Atlantic volunteers standing from left are Patti Smith of Marmora, Alice Cranston of Ocean City and Jackie Caplan of Northfield; sitting are event chairperson Diane Conover of Linwood and volunteer Sharon O'Neill of Margate. Contact Cape-Atlantic volunteers standing from left are Patti Smith of Marmora, Alice Cranston of Ocean City and Jackie Caplan of Northfield; sitting are event chairperson Diane Conover of Linwood and volunteer Sharon O'Neill of Margate.
Contact Cape-Atlantic to celebrate 40th anniversary Sept. 22

MARGATE – After 40 years of making personal connections over the telephone, Contact Cape-Atlantic will be celebrating a milestone anniversary with its volunteers and community that have benefited from the service.

Based in Margate, Contact Cape-Atlantic provides a telephone reassurance program and gatekeeper program to more than 200 elderly and disabled individuals between 32 and 100 years old in both counties.

To celebrate its 40 years of service to the community, Contact Cape-Atlantic will hold a celebration 4-8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22 at Sofia Restaurant, 9314 Amherst Ave., Margate.

Executive Director Ann Magee said the event will give volunteers and the community a rare chance to connect in person, rather than over the phone.

“We just want to celebrate with our volunteers and our board and hopefully get people from the community to come to the event. It’s an unusual volunteer situation because they are one-on-one on the phone; they don’t really get to see the other volunteers unless they’re changing shifts,” Magee said Thursday, Sept. 5. “They know the voices but they don’t always know the faces.”

The agency, which is part of Contact USA, began in 1973 as a crisis intervention hotline and in 2005 that aspect was discontinued and emphasis was placed on the Telephone Reassurance Program that began in 1987, Magee said. Contact also provides the Gatekeeper Program as a way to connect senior citizens with local services that can help them keep their independence.

“It’s just a phone call but it makes a big difference to someone who is home bound,” Magee said. “We talk to them and offer a friendly hello.”

She said if a person tells a volunteer about a need, Contact can refer or contact another agency on their behalf. The Gatekeeper Program provides a mechanism for public service employees and ordinary citizens to learn about and then report the signs that an elderly person may be in need of assistance.

“We’re trying to keep them independent and living at home,” Magee said.

It takes more than 150 volunteers to call all the clients enrolled in Contact’s reassurance program 365 days a year. Most of the calls are made from the Margate office but there is also an office in Cape May Courthouse, and some volunteers make calls from home.

“We’re a small, little agency and we’re doing a big job every day of the year; Christmas, Fourth of July, every day - and we’re free,” Magee said. “Just to let them know that someone cares about them; to make a call and speak to them once a day; we become a constant in their life. It’s something just that simple. We don’t visit, it’s just a phone call.”

If there is no answer at the primary number, Magee said volunteers will call the local hospital and the emergency contact provided by the client.

“We never just call and leave a message,” Magee said. “At the end of the day we have found all 200 clients.”

Magee said Contact receives funding from the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and the Older Americans Act through the Atlantic County Division of Intergenerational Services. She said various fundraisers and donations from individuals and businesses also help maintain the service. There is no fee or direct cost to the users of the service.

Like all of Absecon Island, Contact was affected by Hurricane Sandy but it didn’t let two-and-a-half feet of floodwater interrupt operations.

“We did 80,000 calls even with being displaced,” Magee said. “We were out of our office until March 21 but were still able to continue our service, mainly because we are over the phone.”

She said the volunteers care deeply about what they do.  

“We have volunteers that have been with us 25 years and some 10 and 15 years,” Magee said. “That’s a testimony to the service and that they like it so much.”

She said the agency is always open to accepting volunteers and clients.

“There’s always room for one more,” Magee said. “Even if you’re only available Sunday mornings, we can give you 10 calls. We understand that everybody is busy but we can always fit contact into your life and we can always use more clients.”

Tickets to the 40th anniversary celebration are $50 and include a dinner buffet, cash bar and photo booth. There will be a silent auction and a grand prize raffle drawing for a ruby and diamond necklace valued at $1,950. Raffle chances are $5. Sponsorships are also available. Call (609) 823-1850 or see www.contactcapeatlantic.org.

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