By Marie Pfeifer
A fifth birthday is a big deal for kids. And it’s a pretty big deal for youth organizations, too.
The Morristown nonprofit Our Youth Their Future celebrated its fifth anniversary this month with a picnic, music and dance. A plethora of information about area health and wellness programs also was presented to families who gathered at the Cauldwell Playground.
“Without the help and support of local businesses and organizations in our community this event would not be possible,” said Councilwoman Toshiba Foster, co-founder of Our Youth Their Future.
In 2010 she teamed with other local moms who were shocked by a spate of suicides and attempted suicides by area teens. They wanted to show youths that help is available.
That message was conveyed again at the June 14, 2014, celebration, which also featured synchronized dancing by Simone Baitey’s class from the Calvary Baptist Church chapter of the National Liturgical Dance Network, and by the Sophisticated Steppers from People Helping People and Me.
“Their dance stands for unity, sisterhood, peace, love and harmony,” according to the founders of that organization, Qadria Sakhu and Rasheeda Ziyad. Girls in their troupe range from 5 through college age.
Photos by Bill Lescohier. Please click icon below for captions.
Teen mentor Patrick Figaro of Teen Pride Inc. in Morristown works with students in grades 6 through 12.
“Our mission is to give the kids a place to go and guide them so that they continue on a path to stay in school and stay out of trouble,” he said.
Galino King, executive director of Freedom House, added: “Our program is for adults with ‘substance use disorder.’ We also have a program for women and children who are recovering and transitioning from ‘substance use disorder’ back into family life. We help them reconnect with their children.”
Mayoral advice for kids. Video by Berit Ollestad
Marisa Sweeney, a registered dietician and owner of BeWell in Morristown, takes a holistic approach to wellness, offering nutrition counseling, psychotherapy, massage therapy, yoga, prenatal wellness, energy medicine and Reiki. “Insurance pays for many of our services,” she noted.
Zufall Health, a non-profit community organization, takes patients whether they have insurance or not, said Robin Dickerson of AmeriCorps. Zufall boasts a full-time clinical pharmacist, counseling services and doctors who treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
The Colgate Bright Smiles Bright Futures Bus brought a dental hygienist who provided free dental screenings to children 12 and under.
The Morris County Loss Coalition and Atlantic Behavioral Health of Morristown Medical Center described their mental health services.
“When there is a traumatic loss at one of the schools such as the death of a student or teacher, we work through the tragedy with the teachers and staff,” explained Tammy Rosenthal, a clinical social worker at the nonprofit MC Loss Coalition.
Outpatient services at Atlantic Behavioral Health include behavioral treatments for chemical dependency, said program coordinator Kerri Bossardet-West.
JPMorganChase offers a financial literacy program to teach students principles of saving and investing. “We want them to learn how to plan for their future,” said Maria Rivera Jones.
Our Youth Their Future raises scholarship funds with two annual bus trips to Atlantic City. Two $500 scholarships will be awarded in 2015 to help students buy textbooks for college or technical schools, Toshiba Foster said. Students can apply at the organization’s website.
Toshiba Foster said picnic food was provided by:
- George & Martha’s
- The Iron Bar
- Longfellows Deli
- Long Johns
- Anthony’s Pizzeria
- Morristown Pizzeria
- Nonna’s Pizzeria in Florham Park
- The Interfaith Food Pantry