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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Food Assistance Available in time for the Holidays

Fresh, refrigerated and frozen foods are available to northwestern New Jersey residents at reduced prices through the Jolin Food Box program.  The food assistance program offers a variety of ordering options, from breakfast-lunch-dinner combination packs to boxes of dinner entrees to special packages just for children.  Each month features a variety of high-quality menu items from seafood and poultry to baked goods and prepared meals.  The price of a single box ranges from $20 - $40.  There is no limit to the number of boxes an individual or family can purchase, and the menu changes each month.  Interested residents can order online with a credit card at or by calling Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500.  Payment is made when the order is placed.  The next deadline for placing an order is Tuesday, December 8th; delivery will be made to Project Self-Sufficiency on Saturday, December 19th.  To find out more about the monthly food deliveries by the Jolin Food Box Program at Project Self-Sufficiency, or any of the other programs and services available at the agency, call 973-940-3500, or visit

Monday, November 16, 2015

Marine Corps Sergeant Visits Preschool

First Sergeant Christopher A Piazza, of the United States Marine Corps, recently visited the Little Sprouts Early Learning Center to read several children’s books as part of the center’s Celebrity Reader program. “The Celebrity Reader program was a great way for me to meet and interact with the children of Sussex County,” said Piazza. “As Marines we often find ourselves on bases and stations away from our home, and it is always good to build a sense of community wherever we are.  Piazza is currently stationed at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County, New Jersey.

The Little Sprouts Early Learning Center is operated by Project Self-Sufficiency, a local non-profit agency which offers a wide variety of services to families in northwestern New Jersey.  The daycare and preschool facility features separate classrooms for each age group, from infants through those entering preschool.  Fully-qualified teachers are available in each classroom and the child-teacher ratio adheres to or exceeds state standards.  In addition to the sparkling classrooms, there is an all-purpose room for active indoor play and parent presentations, as well as a sick room for those children who may fall ill during the day.  The center is equipped with two separate playgrounds, one for younger tots and one for older children.  Each room has new equipment, as well as learning centers for dramatic play, computers, science, housekeeping, sand and water play, reading, and music. 

The Little Sprouts Early Learning Center is located at 127 Mill Street in Newton.  The center offers space for 83 youngsters, ages 6 weeks to 6 years.  For more information visit the center’s website, or call 973-940-3540.

Free Legal Advice available in December

Private meetings with an attorney are available at Project Self-Sufficiency to those who may need advice about divorce, bankruptcy, landlord-tenant issues, or other topics.  Individual consultations will be offered at 45-minute intervals on Thursdays, December 3rd – 17th, between the hours of 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.  The sessions are free and open to Sussex County residents who meet income eligibility requirements; consultations are by appointment only.  To make an appointment for a legal consultation or to find out more about the other services available at Project Self-Sufficiency, call 973-940-3500.  Information about Project Self-Sufficiency is also available at

Friday, November 13, 2015

New Program Eases Access to Resources for Sussex and Warren County Residents

Individuals and families in Sussex and Warren Counties now have easier access to health care and other services through Sussex Warren Project Family Connect, a service provided by Project Self-Sufficiency as a result of a grant from the New Jersey Department of Health.  The one-stop source for information links individuals to medical, educational and social services which can enhance their overall health and quality of life.  Since the program’s inception in July, 2015, the agency has handled hundreds of calls requesting assistance.  Local residents in need are invited to call the toll free number, 844-807-3500, for help with questions regarding health care, education, housing, utilities and other needs.

The new initiative is a natural fit for Project Self-Sufficiency explains Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “Project Self-Sufficiency has referred local families to area resources for many years as part of our case management and home visitation services.  Unlike more generalized resources services, Project Family Connect ensures that specially trained workers follow up with each caller to make sure that their needs have been met and to determine whether or not they are in need of other services.  Project Family Connect promotes better overall health and well-being for the entire community, by connecting individuals and families to the resources they need.”

Specific functions of the Sussex Warren Project Family Connect program include connecting individuals and families to community resources for health care, maternal infant and early childhood home visitation programs, domestic violence shelters and support services; educational alternatives; family support programs; financial assistance; employment training; infant and child care; early intervention; referral to emergency housing and utility assistance services; as well as programs for senior citizens, veterans, and other community services and programs.

A comprehensive community resource guide is also in development.  The guide will be available online as well as in local social service agencies, healthcare providers, government offices, educational institutions and other venues.  For more information about the services available through Sussex Warren Family Connect at Project Self-Sufficiency, call 844-807-3500.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Brush Up on Your Computer Skills in December!

Classes in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, computer courses designed specifically for men, as well as seminars designed for goal exploration, skills assessment and interpersonal growth will be offered at Project Self-Sufficiency during December.  All courses will take place in the agency’s Career Center, which is located at 127 Mill Street in Newton.   The fee for each computer course is $10; the class for seniors is $25.    Students must be registered Family Success Center or Project Self-Sufficiency participants. 

An advanced course in Microsoft Word will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, December 1st – 10th, from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.   A combination Microsoft Word I & II class will be offered on Tuesdays, and Thursdays, December 1st – 10th, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.  Students will learn word-processing techniques, including the creation of professional-looking letters, faxes, newsletters and other documents, as well as the use of mail merge features used to print mailing labels and address letters to multiple recipients. 

Introductory Microsoft Excel classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, December 1st – 10th, from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.   A combination Microsoft Excel I & II course will be offered on Mondays and Wednesdays, November 30th – December 9th, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.  Instruction will encompass the creation of spreadsheets, databases and workbooks for use in tracking inventory, sorting data and creating mailing lists.  Students will learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide rows and columns using formulas and become adept at storing, managing and interpreting data. 

A special Men’s Employment Lab will be offered on Wednesdays, December 2nd and 9th, from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. or from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.  Participants will receive assessment testing, discuss short and long-term employment goals, obtain basic computer instruction, and assistance with resume development and job search techniques.

The Career Center at Project Self-Sufficiency is now offering participants new courses designed to maximize personal and professional skills, while combining career assessments, training and access to employment opportunities.  The new “Career, Education & Employment Foundations” course bundles goal-setting exercises with introductory computer training and career seminars.  Upon completion, students are poised to move on to more advanced computer training or enter the workforce.  Separate sessions are available.  Daytime courses will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, November 30th – December 9th, from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  For those who prefer an evening schedule, the group will gather on Wednesday evenings, December 2nd – 23rd, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

The agency’s new “Foundations for Personal Success” series offers participants the opportunity to focus on interpersonal skills, such as anger management, effective communication, the establishment of healthy relationships, nutrition, social media and other topics.  Daytime courses will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, December 1st – 10th, from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  A separate evening session will meet on Tuesdays, December 1st – 22nd, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

The agency also offers a series of seminars on Fridays, from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m., covering topics such as “Resumes & Cover Letters”, “Interviewing Skills”, “Job Search”, “Financial Management”, and “Careering 101.”  Project Self-Sufficiency’s Career Center also offers help with obtaining a GED; job training for women, teens and young adults; career counseling and assessment; Job Start and Job Search services.   Interested participants are encouraged to contact the agency for a schedule.

The fee for each computer course is $10; the class for seniors is $25.  All computer classes at the agency are open to registered Family Success Center and Project Self-Sufficiency participants.  To inquire about eligibility, or to find out more about the computer courses, seminars or career fairs offered at Project Self-Sufficiency, call 973-940-3500, or visit

Breast Cancer Survivor Rallies to be there for her Family

Surviving a diagnosis of breast cancer is an on-going journey for local resident Soraya Maceyak, who found a lump in one of her breasts at the age of 47.  With a family history of cancer and a grandmother who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, Maceyak had been diligently receiving mammograms since the age of 32.  A flurry of diagnostic tests eventually revealed that she had Stage Two breast cancer.  Maceyak, a mother of one and step-mother of three children, whose son was only a toddler at the time, was distraught when she learned the news.  “I kept saying ‘Why?’  I didn’t bring my son into this world for him to have no mother.”

Breast cancer is often a silent disease, with virtually no symptoms, but it is often completely curable if diagnosed in its early stages.  In 1980, the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer was about 74%; today that number is 99%.  There are currently more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. 

Breaking the news to her step-daughters, who ranged in age from 9 to 15 at the time, was a painful process for Maceyak.  She even found herself having to define cancer for the youngest girl.  “We all huddled together crying,” she recalls.  “I told them that we’re going to pull through this together.  I want to see all of you grow up, succeed, graduate and get married.”

According to data compiled recently by the Komen for the Cure® North Jersey Affiliate, almost 33% of women over the age of 40 who reside in Sussex County have not had a mammogram in the past year, a percentage which is marginally better than some of the other counties in the agency’s 9-county service area in northern New Jersey.  However, Sussex County has the highest incidence of incurable breast cancer in the state, primarily because the cancer is not being detected at its earliest, most curable, stage.  The average 5-year mortality rate across all ethnic groups in Sussex County is 33.4%, almost 7 percentage points higher than the 9-county average of 26.5%. 

Making it through her treatments and recovery became a family affair for Maceyak.  Her husband accompanied her to every doctor’s appointment and chemotherapy treatment.  “A lot of the burden fell on my husband who pulled double duty.  Edward Maceyak Jr., my husband, my rock embodies the true meaning of love and sacrifice.”  Maceyak’s parents assisted her through bouts of nausea and pneumonia.  Her mother-in-law, a former stylist, gave her a haircut when Maceyak’s hair began to fall out as a side effect of the chemotherapy and accompanied Maceyak when she went shopping for a wig to match her new hairdo.  “Losing your hair physically hurts,” recalls Maceyak.  “It was the most traumatic thing I’ve ever experienced, besides getting the news that I had cancer.”

Throughout the relentless chemotherapy appointments and radiation treatments, Maceyak continued to work as the Accounts Receivable Credit and Chargeback Manager at a local manufacturing company.  “I worked because I needed to keep myself distracted from what was happening instead of staying home and crying about it,” she explains.   “It was important to me that I was active and didn't let this challenge knock me to the ground.  So there were times I was sitting in my chair during chemo on the phone with sales reps or working on my laptop.”

Unlike Macayek, the majority of those diagnosed with breast cancer each year have no family history of the disease.   The American Cancer Society recently revised its recommendations for screening mammograms, suggesting that women start receiving annual mammograms at age 45, rather than 40 as previously recommended.  At the age of 55, screening mammograms can be cut back to one every two years provided the patient is healthy and has a life expectancy of at least 10 more years.  Those women who want to start mammograms at an earlier age or continue annual screenings past the age of 55 should be allowed to do so, according to the non-profit group.  However, several organizations, such as the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging, still endorse the onset of annual mammograms at the age of 40.  The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® North Jersey, a member of the United States Preventative Services Task Force, recommends that women ages 40 – 49 discuss a start date for annual mammography with their health care provider.

A mammogram is 85% - 90% effective at detecting breast cancer.  Mammograms may detect breast cancer up to two years before they can be felt through clinical or self-examinations.  Recent studies have shown that mammography can reduce the chances of death from breast cancer by 15 - 40%.  Early diagnosis is the key to a cure; the vast majority of the approximately 230,000 breast cancers diagnosed each year in the United States are now found at early stages when the chance of survival exceeds 90%.

Like many women, Macayek has dense breasts which can make a diagnosis of breast cancer more challenging.  “I made my sister get checked as soon as she turned 40,” remarks Maceyak who fervently recommends mammograms.  “You have to take care of your own health first.  Get yourself checked.  If you feel wonky, don’t leave it for later.  Do it now!”

Free mammograms will be offered at Project Self-Sufficiency on Friday, November 13th, with funding from the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection (NJ CEED) Program.  The NJCEED Program, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the State of New Jersey, provides funding to all twenty-one counties in the State for comprehensive breast, cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancer education, outreach, and screening. Men and women whose income is under 250% of the Federal poverty level and have no insurance are eligible for the program.

Free mammograms and pap tests are also available through the NJ CEED program; follow-up diagnostics, including additional mammography views, breast ultrasounds, and biopsies can also be provided.  Interested participants are encouraged to call 973-579-0750, ext. 1246.  In addition, Newton Medical Center will provide a free mammogram for women who qualify through the Newton Medical Center Foundation’s “Mammograms Save Lives” program.  Those without health insurance are encouraged to contact Newton Medical Center’s Education/Outreach office at 973-579-8340 for more information.

Project Self-Sufficiency is currently searching for Sussex County breast cancer survivors who would be willing to be profiled as part of the Mammograms Save Lives campaign.  Their story would appear in the New Jersey Herald and on the Project Self-Sufficiency website.  Interested participants are urged to call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Chatterbox Drive In Hosts Monster Truck Event for Toy Drive

Car enthusiasts of all ages are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy or a $5 contribution to the Chatterbox Drive-In Restaurant and take a ride in a monster truck on Saturday, November 28th, between the hours of 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.  A rain date has been set for November 29th.  All proceeds benefit the Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive for Sussex and northern Warren County children.  The event is co-sponsored by Ideal Farms and New Jersey Monster Trucks.  Patrons can park at the Chatterbox Drive-In, which is located at 1 State Highway 15, at the intersection of Route 206.  After dropping off their toy or monetary contribution, visitors will be able to ride in one of the monster trucks through the unused fields at Ideal Farms, which is located directly across the street from the restaurant.  The vehicles will be provided by New Jersey Monster Trucks, a company which specializes in hosting monster truck events throughout the state. 

Hosting the event in support of local families was important to Don Hall, owner of the Chatterbox Restaurant and a partner in the Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive.  “Our goal is to help local families.  I am very familiar with Project Self-Sufficiency.  It is a county–based organization and they do a superb job getting all of these toys locally distributed to the ones that need them the most.”

The Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive involves a consortium of local social service agencies and businesses who have banded together to collect toys and other items for low-income families in the area.  Led by Project Self-Sufficiency, the group includes the Chatterbox Drive-In, Charm, iHeartMedia, Intercar Mercedes Benz, the New Jersey Herald, Pass it Along, the Printing Center, Selective Insurance Company of America, Service Electric Broadband Cable, Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, Sussex Honda, and the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots.  The group hopes to collect more than 20,000 items for distribution to low-income Sussex and northern Warren County families in mid-December. 

“We are extremely grateful to the owners of the Chatterbox Restaurant, Ideal Farms and New Jersey Monster Trucks for the creative way they have come together in support of the low-income families in our area,” noted Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.  “Neighbors like these truly will make this a season of hope for local children.”

Those who wish to contribute to the Season of Hope Holiday Toy Drive, but who are unable to attend the Monster Truck event on December 6th, are encouraged to drop off a new, unwrapped toy at Project Self-Sufficiency.  Gift items will be gratefully received at Project Self-Sufficiency, which is located at 127 Mill Street in Newton, Monday – Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. or Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Additional drop-off sites will be added in the coming weeks.  Donations are requested by December 16th in order to allow ample time for the items to be distributed to needy families.   For more information, call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500, or visit