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Blue Tide gridders look to forget about past

Photo by Jim Hague/ Harrison looks to improve off a winless season with a solid offensive line. From left are Rickey DaSilveria, Mark Isaac, head coach Dave Nankivell, Rodolfo Dos Santos, John DaCosta and Rafael Diaz.


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Harrison High School head football coach Dave Nankivell knows that the 2011 season was a disaster. The Blue Tide suffered through injury and illness. Several underclassmen were thrown into the fire and asked to perform right away. The result was a 0-9 nightmare that everyone in Harrison wants to simply forget.

“We’ve definitely passed through it,” said Nankivell, who begins his fifth season as the head coach of the Blue Tide. “The numbers we have in practice show it. We didn’t scare anyone away because of last year’s record. Sure, it’s a constant reminder. But we want to look past it. That’s the best way to do it. We needed to make changes and they were approached the first day at practice. We’re starting anew. We’re really young, so we’re starting anew.”

Nankivell said that the Blue Tide started seven freshmen in the final game of the season last year against Palisades Park.

“We had to do that because we had no other choice,” Nankivell said. “I remember looking around that day and saying to the coaches, ‘Wow, we have seven freshmen out there.’ It was a good learning experience for them. We did the best we could with what we had.”

Nankivell is confident that the bad times are behind his team.

“We’ve worked very hard to change things around,” Nankivell said. “We know where we are and we can only go up from here. We’re not dwelling on what happened. We just have to get ready for our first game, play well against teams we can play with. That will make everything a lot easier.”

Another reason why Nankivell is so optimistic is the play of his sophomore quarterback Jason Sheppard (6-0, 165), who started every game last year as a freshman.

“We went with a freshman every day, because we felt it was a good chance for us to grow,” Nankivell said. “He did well for us. I’m just working with him to try to avoid the sophomore slump. We’re keeping him on his toes. We have to be on him all the time. He throws the ball very well and runs well, which is important in our offense. He’s a good athlete and has the right tools. It’s just a matter of him putting in the work that will make him successful.”

Nankivell has a host of backs he can count on. Junior Adam Huseinovic (5-9, 185) is one.

“He’s a hard-nosed kid and a tough kid,” Nankivell said. “He’s going to try to power the ball.”

A trio of juniors, namely Raul Acosta (6-2, 210), Mark Isaac (6-2, 200) and Alfredo Mendoza (5-8, 150), will also get their number called out of the backfield.

The tight end is junior Bryan Carr (6-2, 210). The wide receivers are senior Tijani Rezki (5-11, 170) and solid target Federico Olivera (6-4, 185). Mitchell needs to be able to get the ball to the receivers pretty often in order to open up the Blue Tide’s rushing attack.

The Blue Tide has some decent size in the offensive line, led by imposing and impressive junior tackle Rafael Diaz (6-4, 260), who has the potential to be a good one. Other tackles include junior Rickey DaSilveria (5-10, 200) and sophomore Brian Granados (6-0, 225).

Right now, fullback Isaac is doing double duty, seeing time on the offensive line as well at guard, showing his versatility. A freshman, John DaCosta (6-1, 170), is the other guard. Sophomore Rodolfo Dos Santos (6-2, 260) is the team’s center.

“I think by being 0-9, you can only say you’re young for so long,” Nankivell said. “There’s a lot of room for growth and that only can be a positive. It’s a fortunate situation for us that we have all these kids.”

Defensively, the Blue Tide will use a 4-3 defense. Carr and Acosta are solid bookend defensive ends, with Diaz and Dos Santos at defensive tackle.

Huseinovic is solid at linebacker, joined by Isaac and DaSilveria.

Junior Justin Thomas (5-8, 150 is one cornerback, joined by Rezki. The safeties are Sheppard and Olivera.

The Blue Tide opens the 2012 season with a home game Friday night against Wallington.

“We’re never going to look past anyone,” Nankivell said. “We can’t afford to. We need to play well right away. We have to get the win to get off the skein. We have to come out and be very aggressive.”

Accused car thieves grabbed in meadows

Two Newark men were collared in the Lyndhurst meadows after their car – reported stolen out of Elizabeth – was involved in an accident.

Police said they responded to a two-car accident on the Rt. 17 “Loop” northbound at 11:23 p.m. on Aug. 24 and when they arrived, the occupants of a stolen BMW had fled into the marshes near the conjunction of Rts. 3 and 17.

One of the several juveniles in the other car suffered a minor injury, police said.

Police set up a perimeter around the marsh area and began searching for the two suspects, one of whom was described as wearing dreadlocks and an orange safety vest and carrying a bag.

Helped by a Bergen County Police canine unit, officers found both men hiding in the weeds. Police said they found black ski masks and gloves in one suspect’s pocket and burglar tools in a backpack.

Police said one of the suspects, Christopher Harris, 37, struggled with police, grabbing the crotch of one officer in the process of trying to get away.

Both were charged with possession of stolen property, possession of burglar tools and leaving the scene of an accident. Harris was additionally charged with aggravated assault on a police officer.

After being booked and placed in a holding cell, police also charged Harris with criminal mischief after he allegedly clogged a cellblock toilet.

After he was released from Bergen County Jail on bail, Harris returned to Lyndhurst Police headquarters to retrieve his personal property, which, police said, including a key to another BMW reported stolen out of Paramus.

Harris was then re-arrested and charged with an additional count of possession of stolen property (the key) and transported back to the county jail pending court action.

Jones was previously released on bail, police said.

In other incidents logged by Lyndhurst P.D. during the past week:

Aug. 30

Shortly after 6 a.m. a 60-year-old Lyndhurst woman was crossing Ridge Road near Fifth Avenue as a 2008 Suzuki was turning onto Ridge from Fifth struck her. Police said the driver, a Metuchen resident, told them he didn’t see the pedestrian. Police said the woman, who was knocked to the ground and bumped her head, was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center for treatment. No charges were filed against the driver.

Aug. 29

After receiving reports about a man peering into car windows in the 200 block of Newark Avenue. at around 2:30 a.m., police searched the area and, a block away, on Van Buren Street, found Nicholas Zappulla, 24, of Nutley, on the ground under a vehicle. Zappulla, wanted on an outstanding warrant for $500, was charged with hindering an investigation and held at Bergen County Jail on $2,500 bail.

Aug. 26

After getting reports about vehicles seen parking near Kingsland Shops at the foot of Page Avenue and people wandering around, police began regular checks of the site and, at 9:56 p.m., found a Dodge Ram pickup parked at that location with tape covering the license plate. After the truck’s operator, Michael DaVita, 52, of Rutherford, walked out of the Kingsland Shops, he was charged with criminal trespass. Police said the truck was registered to someone identified as Michael Edgerton, 26, of Park Ridge, who was arrested two days later, also on a trespass charge.

Aug. 23

Someone removed two iPods valued at $500 from the glove box of a 1995 Suburu while it was parked in the 200 block of Sanford Avenue. The vehicle’s owner reported the incident at 10:06 p.m. Police said they found no sign of forced entry.

– Ron Leir


Roger Cunningham

Roger W. Cunningham, 71, died on Tuesday, Aug. 14 in the Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny, with visitation continuing at the Giffin Funeral Home, Inc. 2807 North West Pike Capon Bridge, W.V., followed by interment at Green Lane Cemetery, Delray, WV. Please visit www.giffinfuneralhome. com to view the complete obituary.

Roger was born in Romney, W.V. and lived in Kearny for 25 years before moving to North Arlington, one year ago.

Mr. Cunningham worked at Schiffenhause Packaging Corp in Newark for many years. Later he drove for Harrison Cab Co. for 25 years.

He is survived by his daughters Cheri Yates (William), Tara Cunningham, Tammy Cunningham and Crystal Lariva (Elliot); sisters Geraldine Dawson, Janet Ludwig, Lois Smith and six grandchildren. He also leaves behind his companion Lois Mills and many nieces, nephews and dear friends.

Samuel W. Gavwrachinsky

Samuel W. Gavwrachinsky, 55, of Kearny died on Aug. 6 in Clara Maass Hospital.

Brother of Michael and Joseph Gavwrachinsky, Mary Ann Eager and the late Stephen.

Private arrangements are by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home.

Mary Ann Nugent

Mary Ann Nugent (nee Roman), 75, died on Aug. 24, at the Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville.

Born in Harrison, she moved to North Arlington in 1963.

She is the beloved wife of the late Walter J.; the cherished mother of Cheryl Anderson, Walter Nugent III, and Christine Sanchez; the adored grandmother of Nicolas, Christopher, Grace, Julia, Brooke, Max and Emily and the loving aunt of many nieces and nephews.

The funeral was from the Parow Funeral Home, 186 Ridge Road, North Arlington on Tuesday, Aug. 28, with a funeral Mass in Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington. The interment followed in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation, PO Box 824061, Philadelphia, PA 19182.

John L. Storzum

John L. Storzum died on Aug. 22 at Clara Maass Hospital. He was 74.

Born in Newark, he lived most of his life in Kearny.

He is a retired office assistant from Genis Electrical Associates in No. Arlington.

John leaves behind many good friends at Spruce Terrace in Kearny. Private burial arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home.

Now only one more hurdle to clear for new ShopRite

PHOTO BY RON LEIR/ Belleville Center landlord Charley Patrl displays copy of lease for new ShopRite. Inset: Page with lawyers’ signatures.


By Ron Leir


Now it’s official: lawyers for the Wakefern Corp. and the Belleville Center LLC have signed off on a lease for the operation of a new ShopRite supermarket at the north end of Belleville.

The lease agreement will be recorded with the Essex County Courthouse but terms of the deal will remain confi dential until ShopRite begins paying its rent to the landlord, according to Charley Patel, managing member of Belleville Center, LLC, of Flushing, N.Y.

Clutching a copy of the 123-page lease document he received Aug. 17, a relieved Patel said he was “very happy” about fi nally landing an anchor tenant for the Washington Ave. shopping plaza.

“It’s been almost two years since we started talking to ShopRite,” Patel said.

And it’s been nearly twice as long – 22 months – since the former supermarket tenant, Pathmark, moved out, Patel recalled.

While the lease negotiations have now been settled, tenant and landlord still have one fi nal hurdle to overcome – securing Belleville Planning Board approval of a site plan application filed by the landlord.

That hearing – for which no opposition is anticipated – is now scheduled for Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor chambers at the Municipal Building, 152 Washington St.

Documents filed with the Planning Board show that the proposed ShopRite at Belleville Center would occupy 61,058 square feet within the 72,119 square foot Belleville Center shopping center.

The remaining space will be filled with three of the existing tenants: Kelly’s Liquors will take up 4,872 square feet; Pizza Hut, 2,865 square feet; and United Check Cashing, 1,476 square feet.

Another tenant, KFC, has relocated.

Although no land use variances are required for the project, Township Construction Official/Zoning Officer Frank DeLorenzo has listed a number of conditions that the applicant must satisfy to secure site plan approval. To that end, the property owner must:

• Repave and restripe the shopping center parking lot.

• Repair the deteriorating curbing around the islands.

• Submit a landscaping plan.

• Replace perimeter fencing for the parking lot, preferably with “decorative” fencing.

• Submit a lighting plan for the lot.

• Clean up debris and vegetation overgrowth around the lot and screen in the dumpster area.

• Repave the north loading dock.

In the meantime, the landlord has obtained permits from the township building department for some interior demolition designed to separate some of the space that former tenants occupied to create a clear separation from the ShopRite and to move the liquor store to another part of the building, according to Dave Owens of Kan Management, the landlord’s managing agent.

“That work should take two to three weeks,” Owens said. By that time, he added, “we would hope to have building permits for the new liquor store.”

Patel said that Belleville Center would, in addition to meeting DeLorenzo’s conditions, erect a new pylon sign at the entrance to the parking lot and enhance security by installing new surveillance cameras around the building and in the basement level by the garage. Inside the building, Patel said, Belleville Center will install new flooring and energyefficient lighting. “We’ll be going green,” he said. Patel said that ShopRite plans to install a new elevator in the basement that, he said, will allow customers to take shopping carts from the main floor to the garage below.

The Belleville ShopRite will be operated by personnel from Nutley ShopRite, which, in turn, is part of the Wakefern ShopRite cooperative, headquartered in Paramus. Lawyers for the cooperative had to approve the lease terms.

Trackman killed in railyard



Photos courtesy Garg Consulting Services (top) and The Star Ledger (bottom)./ Different views of Meadows Maintanance Complex.


By Jeff Bahr



Railroad worker Alijandro Baroni, 44, of Bayonne lost his life last Wednesday, as a result of head injuries he sustained while working at the Meadows Maintenance Complex, a vast repair facility located in the Kearny meadows.

According to NJ Transit spokesperson Nancy Snyder, the accident occurred around 1:30 p.m. while Baroni was working with track equipment on a section of track that links Newark to Hoboken. He was transported to Clara Maass Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.

No further details have been released.

The accident is under investigation by the NJ Transit Police and the Federal Railroad Administration, said Snyder.

Baroni had worked with NJ Transit as a trackman for 11 years, said the spokesperson.

Service on the lines that use the track – the Montclair- Boonton and Morris-Essex lines – weren’t affected by the tragedy, according to NJ Transit spokesperson John Durso.

Transit workers were offered access to grief counselors through NJT’s employee assistance program.

NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein and all of NJ Transit offer condolences to the Baroni family, said Snyder.

Borough school gets new administrator

Photo courtesy William Shlala/ William Shlala


By Ron Leir


The borough’s lone school has a new temporary leader.

William Shlala, 65, of Plainfi eld, was appointed interim Superintendent/Principal of the East Newark Public School (k to grade 8) by the borough Board of Education at its Aug. 20 meeting.

Shlala received a one-year appointment, at a stipend of $480 per day, with an option for renewal for another one-year term, as per the resolution approved by the school board.

Interim school administrators are generally limited to no more than two years in their posts under state school regulations.

Mayor Joseph Smith said that the new interim’s contract terms were sanctioned by the Hudson County Superintendent of Schools before the board moved forward with its vote.

Shlala will assume his new duties Sept. 1 in place of the outgoing Superintendent/Principal Richard Corbett, who is leaving to become chief school administrator of the Hardyston public school district in rural Sussex County.

Smith said that Shlala’s area of expertise is in the fi eld of special education and that, based on what he’s read and heard about the educator’s background, “it sounds like he knows what he’s doing.”

His resume indicates that Shlala earned a B.A. in history from Seton Hall University in 1969, an M.A. in educational psychology from Montclair State University in 1973, and an M.S. in Community/School Psychology from the College of New Rochelle in 1976.

In a phone interview, Shlala said he’s been involved in edueducation since 1974 but “in the intervening five years, I was working in social services, starting with a child care agency in New York City, then as a welfare worker in Newark.”

His first entry into the education ranks came with Catholic schools, according to Shlala.

“My first public setting was in 1977 in Hunterdon County,” he said. “From there, I spent the major portion of my career in East Hanover, spending just under 11 years in administration. I retired from Bernards Township (school district) in 2001-2002. Since then, I’ve been doing mostly interim work in a variety of districts in Bergen, Essex and Passaic counties, most recently in Belleville (in 2011).”

Shlala said he came to the Belleville district “because they had some problems with state monitoring in special education and we were very successful. We had a great child study team, teachers, superintendent – who is still there – and school board.”

From there, Shlala said, he went to the Middletown district in Monmouth County where “they’d had a series of administrators and problems through the district in special education.” He felt he was helpful.

Then, Shlala said, “this (East Newark) opportunity arose and I just thought the district had some challenges – concerns about test scores and how to bring them up.”

After several visits to the borough, Shlala said he came away with the impression that, “they have a supportive community.”

“I met with a number of staff members and they all seem enthusiastic,” Shlala said. “Rich Corbett has laid a fantastic foundation in a school building that is sensitive to the community.”

Shlala said his educational credo “has been ‘We do this together.’ This isn’t a case of administration and the school board dictating to kids and the community. … We’re either successful together or we fail together. I want to mold a sense of unity and identify the areas where we are strong and which we need to address. … Hopefully, I’ll get to see the folks I’m working with here become partners in the process.”

Additionally, Shlala said, in a district like East Newark where enrollment is listed as 61% Hispanic, one of his quests will be “how do we help these Latino children celebrate their heritage while, at the same time, become successful in American culture?”

Shlala’s career as an educator hasn’t been devoid of controversy. In April 2004 he was let go as school administrator by Catholic Community Services of Essex County based on complaints about his management style, falling enrollment, a rising deficit and ignoring purchasing protocol. Shlala appealed but lost in the courts. He contends it was a case of retaliation for his having exposed an accounting discrepancy.

In 2009, the Midland Park Board of Education balked at paying Shlala unemployment benefits after he completed a year of service in the district while collecting retirement benefits from the state teachers’ pension fund. The board took its case to a state labor mediation board but lost.

On the other hand, Shlala won plaudits from the New Jersey School Boards Association for sponsoring special education innovations in the Sussex-Wantage Regional School District and in the Midland Park district.

At any rate, when Shlala, staff and students report for the beginning of the fall term on Wednesday, Sept. 5, they expect to be reaping the benefits of a newly installed air-conditioning/ central heating system.

According to the mayor, the job was slated to have been completed by Aug. 22 but the contractor, Sunnyfield Corp., of Ocean Township, was still working as of last week.

“It’s close,” the mayor said.

“There was a ventilating system put in 15 or 20 years ago,” Smith said, “but it didn’t work for years. Fortunately, we were able to use the duct system that had been installed at that time for this new system which will constantly circulate air and take it out and which can be activated by someone operating a laptop computer. Temperature in the classrooms can be adjusted by thermostat. This will give our children fresh air to breathe.”

Smith said the $500,000- plus job is being paid for out of a $1 million school surplus account that has accumulated in recent years.

“There will be no effect on the tax rate as a result of this contract,” he added.

These improvements are a special ‘cut’ above the rest

Photos by Ron Leir/ Rev. Pawel Molewski stands on front steps of Our Lady of Czestochowa.


By Ron Leir


Above normal snowfalls are predicted by weather experts for the Northeast this winter which typically means a lot of snow shoveling but that’s not worrying one local cleric at all. That’s because he’s been blessed in a very particular way. Through the miracle of modern technology, whenever the temperature falls below freezing and there’s plenty of white stuff covering his church’s front steps, an electric pulse will be activated to melt the snow.

For the Rev. Pawel Molewski, pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, South Third and Jersey Streets, this a comforting feature, indeed, since it’s sure to eliminate a potential safety hazard, especially for female congregants in heels, he points out.

And it’s also the latest in a series of impressive, almost-completed renovations to a church with a 102-year legacy in Harrison.

Our Lady of Czestochowa, a Catholic house of worship founded by Polish immigrants to the United States, is enjoying a revitalization of spirit reflected, in part, by its congregants’ investment in improvements to their spiritual home.

Under the stewardship of Pastor Molewski and the parish’s president, Joseph Wnorowski, the church committed to a $60,000 capital campaign that got underway about two years ago with the installation of a central air-conditioning system in the worship space.

Initially, ventilation units were installed toward the church’s front entrance, above the organ/choir loft, but after discovering that the air wasn’t fully circulating, the church arranged for the contractor to mount two additional units on opposite walls of the worship hall and that did the trick, Rev. Molewski said.

Once inside the church’s main entrance, parishioners ascend an abbreviated series of steps now done over in marble and, from there, proceed down the sanctuary’s main aisle which has been transformed to a sparkling new marble and porcelain floor.

Under the wooden pews are new cloth-covered kneelers.

A balcony just past the lobby of the church hall was remodeled for the choir loft with wood paneling and clock in the center and the old organ, dating from 1929, was replaced with a brand new Italian-made Viscount.

In opposite corners, just outside the main sanctuary area, new rooms were created: One was dedicated as the Blessed John Paul Chapel, in memory of the Polish-born Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005. It seats up to 13 and is equipped with its own heating and air-conditioning system.

“We use it to conduct Masses for small groups when we don’t need to use the main sanctuary which would, otherwise, become very costly to heat or cool,” Rev. Molewski explained.

Inside the small chapel is a portrait of the late pope and a unique addition – three locks of the pontiff’s hair – sealed in a cross-shaped receptacle designed and fashioned by parishioner Thomas Kowalski.

Rev. Molewski recalled that two other parishioners, Dr. Slawomir Magier and his wife, Dr. Anna Magier, who – through a contact with a Vatican religious order – were able to secure a few of the treasured hairs.

It is an accepted custom for the Vatican barber to collect locks of the pope’s hair to be presented, from time to time, as gifts intended for devoted Catholics around the globe, according to Rev. Molewski.

In May 2011, the pastor said, the Magiers presented the locks to the parish as a gift and so they were installed in the chapel.

In the other corner, the parish installed a new lavatory, equipped with a baby changing station, for the convenience of worshipers, and a closet space to accommodate religious vestments.

Newly remodeled area of worship.





One of the new kneelers.

Still to come, as the final piece of the interior renovations, is a new set of church entrance doors which, to comply with the current fire codes, will be designed to open from the inside out, the pastor said.

This past Saturday, the parish marked the progress made in its capital campaign with a celebratory Feast Day, featuring a performance by Echo Sacrosongu, a group of university students from Poland, touring the United States.

So far, of the $60,000 required for the capital work, “we have raised $38,000,” Rev. Molewski said. “We expect, slowly, to the end of the year, we will pay for everything.”

An interesting historical parallel: An official church history mentions that when the Rev. Francis Stefanski – who was pastor when the first service was held Jan. 1, 1910 – resigned in June 1921, the parish was left with a debt of $63,275 which “was practically paid in full by 1927.”

The church originally stood at the southeast corner of North Second Street and Cleveland Avenue. In 1916 the parish acquired the old St. Pius School at Third and Jersey streets for $22,500, remodeled the building for use as a church and school and transferred the old site to the Polish Sokol (Falcons) Society – a move that caused a rift within the parish.


The papal locks.


The new lobby steps.

On the night after Christmas 1927, a fire destroyed the church and school which were subsequently rebuilt by May 1929. A rectory was added at South Third and Warren streets in January 1931.

In the mid-‘70s, the parish was dealt another hurdle when the state began building an extension of Rt. 280 that ran through the parish parking lot, causing “noise and vibrations of the church,” according to the official OLC history. But, turning a negative into a positive, then-pastor, the Rev. John Olszewski got the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to pay for “new noise-cancelling windows,” along with air-conditioning, for the parish school and central heating for the church.

In 1986 the parish school took a hit when the Sisters of the Order of Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception – who had taught there since 1931 – were reassigned back to their mother-house in Connecticut.

Some 10 years later, as the parish’s spiritual life gradually rebounded, the then-pastor, the Rev. Rudolf Zubik arranged for the replacement of three furnaces and windows in the church, convent and rectory.

Today, the restoration and rejuvenation of the parish continues under Rev. Molewski, who, in September 2011, presided over the opening of a Polish school on the fourth floor above the church for children in kindergarten through grade 8 operating during the regular school year on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and focusing on Polish language, culture and music. Nearly 50 youngsters enrolled for the first year and the parish is hoping to build on that number from among its 400 families.

Born in Poznan, a city of 700,000 in the western part of Poland, Rev. Molewski was ordained a priest at the University of Poznan in 1986 and was assigned as a missionary cleric to South America.

“I went from Poland by cargo ship with a fellow priest and it took 29 days to reach Brazil,” he recalled.

He served in Brazil, from 1989 to 1992, managing to learn enough Portuguese to get by, and then moved on to Argentina for the next seven years. In 1999 he came to the United States and studied at Seton Hall University through 2001 before taking on assignments in heavily Spanishspeaking parishes in Newark (Our Lady of Good Counsel) and Elizabeth (St. Mary and Blessed Sacrament) before being shifted to St. Cassien parish in Upper Montclair.

Two years ago, Rev. Molewski, 52, undertook his newest mission as pastor of OLC.

Family Service Bureau finds a new home in Kearny

The new office of Family Service Bureau on 379 Kearny Avenue, Kearny.



By Jennifer Vazquez

Kearny –

Family Service Bureau of Newark, a comprehensive mental and behavioral center, has found a new home in Kearny. The grand opening of their new Kearny office, which took place on Monday, Aug. 27, at 379 Kearny Ave., was attended by dozens who showed up to lend their support to this neighborhood staple.

Though FSB has had a presence in Kearny for the past couple of decades, the move to a bigger office (they were previously located at 391 Kearny Ave.) is only a sign of the promising new goals and expectations the organization has for its programs -with hopes of further addressing the needs of those individuals that seek their counsel and help.

“We’ve just moved to this new location because in the last two years our service numbers have gone up by 60 percent,” explained Arti Kakkar, the executive director for Family Service Bureau. “This is mainly because we have had more staff that we put out there to do youth services.”

The youth services are still in their initial stages, yet the response to these new programs has received a positive welcome.

“We have been working with the mentally and behaviorally ill for a number of years but we didn’t have a lot of youth services,” Kakkar said. “Now we are working with families and kids and getting a lot of programs out of this office –which is why we’ve moved to this new place.”

The new services include counseling for self-esteem related issues, and fire-setters evaluation and treatment (an arson prevention program), among other issues.

One of FSB’s most recent programs is that for young fathers – with a curriculum that focuses on how young fathers can be a positive and participating figure in their young children’s life.

Not only was the staff of FSB present at the grand opening but Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos was also there.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Vazquez/ Mayor Alberto Santos addressing those in attendance at the Family Service Bureau grand opening ceremony.


“I certainly have so much respect for this organization and what they do on a daily basis,” Santos said. “It’s tremendous what (FSB does) for our community…we succeed through organizations like this.”

Those present witnessed the testimony of a client whose life is taking a positive turn through the hard work and dedication of the team of FSB workers.

“I’m a Vietnam Vet and worked in Wall Street –both very stressful jobs,” FSB client Alberto “Al” Monllor, 57, said. “My therapist, Denisha King, is one of the best people I ever met…I don’t think I would be alive if it weren’t for her.”

Monllor’s appreciation for FSB and King is sincere and heartfelt.

“She’s my life,” he continued. “She’s very personable. She really cares. Sometimes she calls me to make sure I’m ok if I leave (our session) sad or upset…she gives me the tools I need.”

Treating clients with respect is FSB’s forte, according to Mollner.

“They don’t make you feel strange,” Mollner said.

The services offered at Family Service Bureau of Newark range from behavioral health counseling to preventative behavior programs and workshops. FSB is staffed by a range of licensed clinicians, many who are bilingual –allowing the organization to provide services in various languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Mandarin and Cantonese, according to Kattar.

Even though their main offices are located in Newark, FSB is committed to offering the same workshops, assistance and guidance to clients at all of their locations. The future seems more than promising for this organization. FSB is consistently focusing on bettering themselves by providing an even wider range of services to better suit their clients’ needs.

“Our main goal is to do substance abuse services out of this office,” Kakkar said.

Aside from FSB being fully dedicated to fostering and advocating the well being of their clients (they prefer the term over “patients”) but, they also assist students by serving as a training institute where current post-graduate students interns train in a number of fields including “social work, counseling and family therapy programs,” according to Kakkar.

Upwards of forty interns form part of FSB, putting their theoretical knowledge to use while gaining valuable experience beyond the classroom. Kakkar is quick to point out that, whereas, initially most of the interns came from Rutgers or Seton Hall University, in recent times the interns come from a variety of colleges and universities, including some that originate online.

Family Service Bureau caters to all who live and work in the greater Essex and West Hudson counties, according to Kakkar.

FSB is affiliated with New Community Corporation –“the largest and most comprehensive community development organization” in the nation, founded in 1968 by Monsignor William Linder, according to the official NCC website. This allows FSB to have an extended network of services, permitting them to guide their clients to other services, programs and even schooling.

According to the official Family Service Bureau of Newark website, the mission of FSB is to “preserve, support, strengthen and enrich family life through prevention and community education programs that assist families, children and individuals to realize their full potential.”

FSB is currently licensed by the New Jersey’s Division of Mental Health. Kattar asserts that the organization is now aiming to get licensed by the Division of Addiction Services.

Kakkar started with FSB as an intern and eventually became a staff member. She was promoted to Director approximately two years ago. It is in this latest role that she oversees all aspects of the organization including counseling, designing workshops and programs to benefit the clients. Her specialty is child abuse, assessment and treatment and trauma work with young females (which includes rape and domestic violence). She is also an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University –where she received her Ed. S in Family Therapy.

If you would like more information on FSB, including the office hours for their locations, visit www.newcommunity.org or call (201) 246-8077 to reach the Kearny office or (973) 412- 2056 for their Newark office.

A champion on the mat, a champion in life

Photo courtesy Alexander Ferreira/ Ferreira after one of his many championship wins.


By Jennifer Vazquez 

Harrison –

Champions and championship- worthy attitudes comes in all sizes. That is just the case when it comes to 16-year-old Alexander Ferreira. At first glance, he looks like your typical, slim-built teenager –eagerly yearning for his license –yet, for most of his life he has faced quite a few tribulations. However, his story is not one of weakness but one of perseverance, determination and, ultimately, triumph.

Ferreira’s story starts when he was just two-months old and diagnosed as anemic. The future years brought with them other health complications, including the removal of his enlarged spleen, part of his lower intestine and his appendix –the latter causing a chain reaction of complications leading doctors to fear he would not make it.

With fragile health, Ferreira’s doctors urged his alwayspresent mother, Cecilia, to not let him participate in any sports.

“I had him in karate when he was a little boy,” Cecilia said. “When (the doctors) found out, they said, ‘Get him out of there! Are you crazy?’ because they were afraid that his spleen would explode.”

Taking Ferreira out of karate and later soccer was thought as being the best possible option for the young boy in order to prevent any harm from happening that might trigger another health scare.

As time passed, however, and being restless –as most teenagers are –Ferreira looked for an outlet. He had a cousin that practiced martial arts and decided to tag along one day to see him practice. Intrigued by what he saw, he desperately tried to convince his mother to allow him to participate in the sport. After all, it had been a couple of years since his last surgery and he desperately wanted to prove that he was OK. “

After a month’s trial, I decided to let him join,” she said. “His (current) doctor says there’s no problem with him participating. It’s actually a good thing for him to exercise.”

Despite professional approval, Cecilia had and still has bouts of nerves when she sees her son practice his beloved Jiu-Jitsu.

“I still get nervous that he is going to get hurt,” Cecilia said. “He still has a lot to learn. He is not big or strong as other opponents.”

“But I have technique,” Ferreira quickly jumps in. “A lot of the guys I fight rely on strength or their size. I depend on my skills and technique. I have a signature move –the triangle.”

The “triangle”, as Ferreira enthusiastically explained, is a “choking” move designed to keep an opponent’s head and one of his arms pinned in between your legs.

Young Ferreira’s story is testament to the true power of discipline and passion –the latter trait being one that all can see when speaking to him about, not only his accomplishments, but the world of Jiu-Jitsu.

This remarkable story is far from over. After the initial trail run of a month and officially enrolling in Jiu-Jitzu at Cutting Edge, located on 210 Harrison Ave., Ferreira joined the competition team –six months after enrolling. Shortly, a couple of weeks after joining he was already on his way to take part in his first tournament. An incredible feat for someone who doctors thought –at a point in time during one of his many hospital stays –wouldn’t survive much longer

Ferreira is a current blue belt -accumulating one bronze, two silver and five gold medals throughout his championship participations. His latest gold medal-win came this year when he was crowned champion of Long Island Pride.

“Before, I was home all day playing video games,” Ferreira explained. “Now I come [to Cutting Edge]. I am stronger than ever. I have more muscle. I love it. I love to train and compete.”

Cecilia also sees the positive change that the world of martial arts has had on her teenage son.

“He was always positive,” she said. “With all the problems he’s had -my family says this too -he is a positive kid… But now the change is great… His attitude is different. He is more confident.”

She also credits Dr. Jean Maklhouf, her son’s pediatrician for always being “available -24/7.”

Though Ferreira’s passion for his discipline runs deep, due to financial constraints he and his younger brother were forced to withdraw from the competition team earlier this month. This setback is minor compared to what he endured in the past. And, just like all his other setbacks, his positive outlook is inspiring.

“Once I get my license, I can get a part-time job and pay for all the expenses and fees (that come with the completion team),” he explained with a smile.

Despite the fact that Ferreira is, for the time being, away from official competitions, he is still actively involved in training. Ferreira also takes part in teaching and helps run a few classes at Cutting Edge Brazilian Jiu-Jitzu -the same martial arts school where he trains -though, he anticipates cutting back a few hours in the upcoming future since he is, not only about to start his junior year, but also set to commence soccer practice for his high school team –another sport that was once deemed too dangerous for him!

Ferreira has learned many things from martial arts, but his mentor and sensei Josef Manuel, owner of Cutting Edge, was reminded of a valuable life lesson all thanks to knowing the young champion.

“You hear stories of people who can overcome any type of impediment -be it mental, physical or a life situation. It’s hard, but it can be done,” Manuel said.


School lunches: food for thought

Dear Editor,

With the new school year just around the corner, parents’ attention is turning to school clothes, supplies, and lunches. Yes, school lunches.

Traditionally, USDA had used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, its own surveys indicate that children consume excessive amounts of animal fat and sugary drinks, to the point where one-third have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Gradually, the tide is turning. The new USDA school lunch guidelines, mandated by President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. Still, food lobbyists have prevailed on Congress to count pizza and French fries as vegetables, and fatty mystery meats and sugary dairy drinks abound.

Parents and students should consider healthy school lunch as a work in progress and insist on healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items. Guidance is available at www.fns.usda.gov/ and at www.healthyschoollunches.org, and www.vrg.org/family.

Cory Baker