•  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.

  • WASHINGTON – A group of New Jersey members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Michael Boots, acting chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality requesting that they attend a New Jersey congressional delegation meeting to hear out questions and concerns about why the process for helping homeowners recovering from Hurricane Sandy is taking so long.

    The lawmakers want to discuss what can be done to assist 4,000 homeowners who still are not in their homes nearly a year and half after the October 2012 storm, and what might be done to properly modify any other procedures that may be delaying reconstruction.

  • VENTNOR – The Board of Commissioners is considering naming the city an area in need of rehabilitation, which would provide homeowners with tax incentives to improve their homes.

    “This is a way to stimulate growth in the city,” Mayor Michael Bagnell said.

  • MAYS LANDING – A Ventnor woman was indicted Tuesday, April 8 on a charge of murdering her husband, whose remains were found in her closet after a six-year missing person investigation, acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said.

    Loretta Doyle Burroughs, 62, was indicted for murder and hindering her own apprehension in connection with stabbing death of her husband, Daniel Burroughs, 66, when both lived on Leipzig Avenue in Hamilton Township.

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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