Angels of God charity exemplifies the Glassboro spirit

Angels of God is a non-profit charity that receives donated clothes and distributes them to those in need via their Pitman, NJ storefront, the Angels of God Clothing Closet . The organization also runs multiple events throughout the year to give goods to those less fortunate. This December, Angels of God hosted a Toy Drive on South Broadway Ave in Pitman for donation to those locally as well as those suffering from the effects of Sandy.182376_10151025825893278_824337452_n

Katelyn Darrow-Eystad founded Angels of God when she was just 12 years old. Darrow-Eystad, now 16, is a high school student at Pitman High and amazingly finds time between her studies and involvement with three sports, cheerleading in the fall, swimming in the winter and golfing in the spring,  to work at the organization’s clothing closet and its various drives. She decided to found Angels of God after a fire destroyed her family’s home. “I wanted to help other people because I knew what it was like to go through that,” she said.

Darrow-Eystad’s family was supportive from the get go and now have become as involved in the project as she has. Her mother, Elissa Darrow-Eystad, is instrumental to the operation.  She runs the day-to-day operations at the Closet and works tirelessly to ensure the smooth operation of the clothing closet and the drives.

When I asked if she was surprised by her already busy daughter’s decision to play golf she said, “Nothing she does anymore surprises me.” Between a job and the Closet, Elissa’s effort to help those in need is astounding and a shining example of the spirit of helping.

This year Sharpie presented Katelyn with a check for $10,000 for her charitable efforts. Stapes also donated $10,000 worth of school supplies for donation.

Photo credit: angelsofgod.org

On December 8th and 15th, Angels of God hosted a toy drive on Broadway Ave, in Pitman, NJ. I had the pleasure of joining Katelyn, her younger sister, Elissa and various volunteers for the drive. Donors came either via appointment or walk-in and their generosity was inspiring to say the least.

The donations were collected at the front of the rented storefront then brought to the back area to be sorted. The items were then divided by gender and age. The toys will be donated via sponsors or delivered to children directly. Items included bicycles, board games, iPods, stuffed animals, action figures and much more.

To assist the charity, volunteers from all over South Jersey come in to provide whatever help is needed. I encountered a number of volunteers who were eager to help the cause. Some volunteer regularly and for others it was their first time. Despite experience, the motivation was the same: to help those who are less fortunate and to recognize that many people are not able to enjoy the comforts of the lives we’ve grown so use to.

The Angels of God organization is a truly inspiring group of people and spending time with the Darrow-Eystad’s and their revolving cast of volunteers demonstrated the deep caring people have for one another. In a world full of tragedy, it is reassuring to see people pouring their time and efforts into helping others and expecting nothing in return. These are the people this world needs more of.

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Farewell, Readers

My Online Journalism I class has come to an end and I’d like to thank you for viewing and commenting. The likes and comments are truly appreciated and I am extremely glad to have entertained and interested you all. Exploring Glassboro and attending the events it has to offer has been wonderful and eye-opening. There is a strong sense of community here, even if many Rowan students don’t experience it.

So my advice: go out and interact with the wonderful people that comprise the non-student population, go to the many events Glassboro and Rowan host, search for those quirky little oddities that make a place unique.

Glassboro may not be on par in terms of size with some other college towns, but that doesn’t mean it is not special nor worth exploring. This town is teeming with awesome people and great establishments, with many more to come. Don’t consider Glassboro just a waypoint, truly make it your home away from home.

Here are some links to my favorite posts:

An Interview with Jeffrey Norcross

The Boro through the Eyes of a Student

Glassboro Hosts Craft Fair

For Autumn

Experiencing the Tunnel of Oppression

 

I hope to continue to make posts but on a less frequent basis, so check back!

Thanks,

Steve

A Grave Peculiarity

Several years ago a friend showed me something odd in Glassboro’s Manahath Cemetery, located at 730 N. Main Street. Just off the road that runs through the cemetery sits a gravestone with the inscribed words, “I told you I was sick.” Is it a joke? A spiteful vengeance from a sick women?

Photo by Steve Giangola

Photo by Steve Giangola

I guess only this person’s family knows, leaving us to wonder…

A Night of Poetry in Glassboro

On Thursday, November 29th, Rowan students gathered upstairs at the Barnes & Nobles on Rowan Boulevard for “Rhythm & Prose”, a poetry reading organized by Avant, Rowan’s student-run literary club, and Lyrical Alliance, a slam poetry club here on campus. The event featured readings from Avant’s self-titled literary magazine, even digging into the club’s vaults for poems written by students as far back as the early 1970’s. Lyrical Alliance provided their own flavor for the night, with poems that infused heavy rhythm with personal perspective.

Avant accepts submissions for its magazine throughout the year from matriculated students and according to their magazine, is “published biannually by the undergraduate students of Rowan University and exclusively features undergraduate work.” The club is overseen by Professor Ron Block, who at the event said, “I don’t do a lot. I don’t advice much. The students are highly organized and artistic.” It is encouraging to see students so deeply involved in producing something unique to our university. Issues of Avant can be found throughout campus and I highly recommend students to check out their fellow classmate’s work if they haven’t already.

Josh Howard, president of the Lyrical Alliance, said the event was “long overdue,” and recited his poetry with powerful confidence and passion, evoking a positive response from the crowd. Other highlights included readings from student Scott Seigel, who revved up the audience of about 40 people with a fictional performance piece about the town’s water supply being tainted with LSD and a reading of a poem from the 1972 issue of Avant by student Gabrielle Ostapovich about the grim realities of veterans returning from Vietnam.

Rhythm and Prose was a truly entertaining experience and a great chance to see what Rowan students have to offer in terms of artistic expression. The vibrant diversity of student experience here in Glassboro reflected wonderfully in the readings and I hope to enjoy more events of this type.

Avant meetings are held every Thursday at 5 p.m. in The Publication Suite, room 220, of the Student Center. Submissions can be sent to avantzine@gmail.com. 

 

The revitalization of Glassboro brings new dining options

The ongoing development of downtown Glassboro is bringing a new crop of exciting businesses to the town. Some of these include Prime Burger, Green Zebra and a new location of Ry’s Bagels, currently located in a shopping center off of Delsea. The news is exciting for both residents of Glassboro and students, who are often left unhappy with the dining options on and off campus.

These new businesses provide an opportunities for more variety in student’s diets and places to go during their free time. For example, Corey Gardner-Meeks, owner of Green Zebra, said in an interview with the Gloucester County Times that, “Our focus is on having healthy, flavorful ingredients that are local, when available.” One complaint I personally here a lot from students is the lack of vegetarian options on campus so the opening of Green Zebra should cover many bases.

With the growing revitalization of downtown Glassboro, we will surely see more and more new and interesting businesses begin to pop up. It will be fun to finally see the dining options in Glassboro shaken up. Check back to this blog for more updates and reviews of these exciting new businesses!

Experiencing the Tunnel of Oppression

On November 20th, 2012 a conglomerate of student diversity groups put on the Tunnel of Oppression in Rowan University’s Student Center Ballroom. The Tunnel of Oppression is a highly interactive experience that places individuals in intense situations of hate, prejudice and self-doubt. The goal of the Tunnel is to raise awareness about  various oppressions and hopefully to inspire people to get involved in eradicating these problems that continue to plague society. The Tunnel operated from 5:00pm-7:00pm and tours lasted about 6-8 minutes.

Warning: this video contains explicit language.

The Tunnel of Oppression from Steve Giangola on Vimeo.

An Interview with archaeologist and curator Jeffrey Norcross

Jeffrey Norcross is founder and curator of The South Jersey Museum of American History, located right here in Glassboro. Norcross is an archaeologist with a brimming passion for the artifacts that make up his museum. Many of the antique farming tools on display come directly from Norcross’s family, which have called South Jersey home for many generations. The Museum also sports collections of Native artifacts, antique firearms, political memorabilia, century-old glass bottles that recall Glassboro’s manufacturing history and much more. The Museum’s fascinating items are surely not its only draw. A personal tour from Norcross is filled with in-depth knowledge, humor and genuine pleasure in revealing his life-long passion through the items he has collected.

 

 

The South Jersey Museum of American History is located at 123 East High Street, Glassboro, NJ 08028. The Museum is open from 1-5pm Thursday-Sunday. You can reach them at 856-442-0688.

For Autumn

Autumn’s memorial in Clayton, NJ. Photo by Steve Giangola

This week I visited Autumn Pasquale’s memorial in Clayton, NJ. Autumn, 12, was reported missing last Saturday and then found dead 2 days later, murdered by two Clayton teenagers for her BMX bicycle. The memorial is located where her body was found, not far from her home. Autumn would have been 13 this past monday.

A birthday balloon left at Autumn’s memorial. Photo by Steve Giangola

Clayton neighbors Glassboro and is a small rural community of about 8,000 that has been utterly shocked by the crime. The spirit of Glassboro means embracing our neighbors in times like this and therefore I’d like to dedicate this post to Autumn and offer my deepest condolences to her friends and family.

Clayton residents have pulled together in mourning for Autumn. Photo by Steve Giangola

R.I.P. Autumn Pasquale, 1999-2012

The Boro through the Eyes of a Student

With Rowan University playing such a large role in  the town of Glassboro, this week I’d like to focus on student perspective via a Q&A with Fadi Elsmaily, a senior Chemistry major here at Rowan. Elsmaily is originally from Bergen County, New Jersey and has called Glassboro home for the past few years as he makes his way toward a degree. He lives off campus and is familiar with the suburban side of Glassboro that many students do not experience in their time here. He is considering doing graduate work at Rowan or another New Jersey institution.

Fadi Elsmaily, Rowan student. Photo by Steve Giangola

How important was location when choosing to attend Rowan University?

Fairly important. I liked that I wasn’t too far from home and being close to Philadelphia. I came down and took a look at the school and Glassboro. I liked that Glassboro wasn’t this bustling kind of town like New Brunswick and that it had some suburban elements in it. It provided a kind of hometown feel to a place with a decent sized college. I like the balance.

How much did you know about Glassboro itself before attending?

Honestly, not that much. I took a tour and they gave some information about it but I hadn’t heard much about it before. I was excited to learn that it does have an interesting past. And of course, I had heard about the rumors of it always smelling like chocolate because of some factory. I learned that’s only sometimes though. (laughs) But yeah, I like to find new stuff out.

Do you think Glassboro makes a good university town and if so, why?

I think it does. I know some of my friends that probably wouldn’t agree. There’s only like one bar and stuff so I guess I can see why they say that but I like Glassboro’s down tempo feel. Its nice to have a place that isn’t this crazy town with a million different things going on. I like the city but I rather live in an area like this. I can interact with a bunch of people but I don’t have to deal with the stress of a bunch of noise and a lot of cars and stuff.

With plans for major development, where do you see the future of Glassboro going?

It’s growing like crazy. Yeah, they’re putting in that hotel and all those other businesses so I think that’s good. It’s giving students a bunch more interesting options to go and eat and shop so I can appreciate there. I see Glassboro expanding even more and kind of losing that suburban element that I do appreciate. Even though that’s so, I don’t mind. It will be exciting for new students and it will draw more people to the school. Plus I’ll be graduated by the time that all happens. (laughs)

What do you like best about the town and what would you recommend to fellow students?

There a bunch of places to eat, that’s nice. The downtown area is pretty small but I like going there anyway. Little Beefs, there on High Street is a great place. Bomb Bomb is also on the same street and is a great place to get some food too. Both also take Boro Bucks so that’s nice. There’s also this little nature path down Delsea a bit that is nice to take a walk down. I actually like the Rowan campus a lot, specifically over back by Bunce, on that side of 322. There aren’t that many classes and stuff over there so I feel like people miss it but it’s actually really nice and people should definitely check it out. There’s some woods I like to take a walk in over by Campus Crossings too. Nice little escape for nature lovers. Glassboro is also cool because you can hop in the car and be in Philly in like 20 minutes and obviously there’s all sorts of stuff there. So yeah, to the people that feel bored, just look around! Or go to your blog. (laughs)

Glassboro hosts Craft and Crafts Festival

On Saturday, October 13th, 2012, the Glassbro Market Place hosted their final outdoor event of the year, the Craft and Crafts Festival. Throughout the summer season and into the Fall, Glassboro has hosted a number of outdoor events that draw local vendors, South Jersey residents and nearby students to the strip of land next the Rowan Barnes & Nobles for shopping, music, entertainment, food and much more.

Festival Goers check out the many crafts that were on display. Photo by Steve Giangola

The Craft and Crafts Festival opened the space to many local vendors to set up on a beautiful Fall day to show off and sell their artistry. Some of the items for sale included jewelry, beauty supplies, ceramics, clothes, purses, ornaments and wood carvings.

Also in attendance were many local restaurants providing some of their menu items for Festival goers. There were also local vineyards offering samples of their craft beverages.

The Craft and Crafts Festival featured a pumpkin painting station for kids of all ages and an inflatable moon jump.

Children paint pumpkins at the Festival. Photo by Steve Giangola

The Festival also featured a live performance by country music singer Sherry Lynn and square dancing sponsored by Busy Bees Square Dance Club and Dr. Dan’s Country Line Dancing.

Square dancing at the Festival. Photo by Steve Giangola

In attendance of the festival for the first time was vendor Blair Slavin. Slavin is part of Demi Ceramics which produces a number of ceramic creations all from a two-car garage in Haddon Township, New Jersey. The company is run by Slavin’s mother, Demi, who was not in attendance but who drives the family operation. Slavin explained his personal journey into the field of ceramics. “My mom got me into it, I’ve been doing this since I was 14,” he said. Slavin also explained the process behind making the creations, which can take up to 12 to 18 hours of baking in a kiln after clay is poured into a mold and then painted or glazed.

Blair Slavin stands with his homemade ceramic pumpkins. Photo by Steve Giangola

It was also independent beauty consultant Danielle Larson‘s first time as a vendor at the Craft and Crafts Festival. Larson had for sale a wide array of beauty products set up neatly on a folding table near the edge of the Festival. “I do some Fairs and events like this but I mostly do in home visits where I do 15 minute facials and let customers try the products out before they buy them,” said Larson. She also claimed that buying beauty products through an independent seller like herself could save a consumer up to 50% compared to in-store prices.

Ornaments for sale at the Craft and Crafts Festival. Photo by Steve Giangola

The Craft and Crafts Festival provided local residents and Rowan students a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon and is just one example of the way Glassboro is forging new bonds with its role as a suburban community and a university town.

 

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