Retiring Trustees are Recognized

Partners for Health Board Chair Doug Bauer recognized three retiring Trustees at the Foundation’s December 2022 Board meeting.

Robert L. Erickson, MD joined the Foundation Board in mid-2014. “Doctor Bob” originally engaged with Partners for Health as a volunteer who was interested in researching local health data and trends. During his eight years as a Trustee, Bob was an active member of the Grants and Golf Committees. He’s also a wine connoisseur with an expansive collected of vintage port wines, two of which he donated to 2022 Golf Silent Auction. Bob retired from his practice as a Montclair-based gastroenterologist in 2001.He once shared that Dr. Anthony Fauci was a first-year resident when Bob was an intern New York Hospital. He said Dr. Fauci was, “Supportive and good to work with!”

Joel Jeffrey, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations at Stifel Financial Corp, served as a Trustee from 2015 through 2022. Joel was a leading voice on the Finance Committee, providing oversight on the investment returns and ensuring the portfolio doesn’t have outsized risk. He served as Board Treasurer for three years (2020-2022), and was on the Task Force that studied the sale of the Medical Office Building property.

Calvin O. Trevenen was elected to the Foundation Board in mid-2015. He is currently Of Counsel to Montclair Real Estate Law, and to Spiro, Harrison & Nelson. Prior to this, he was the Managing Partner of Ashenfelter, Trembulak, McDonough, Golia & Trevenen for more than 30 years. Cal served on the Foundation’s Grants and Nominating Committees, and he was Board Secretary in 2019 and 2020. He also chaired the Task Force that worked for two years to consider the sale of the Medical Office Building property.

Doug Bauer, Board Chair (center) recognizes retiring Trustees (from left): Cal Trevenen, Bob Erickson and Joel Jeffrey. Pam Scott, Executive Director, is also pictured.

MILLy wins Nonprofit Scarecrow Contest

The Montclair Foundation and Van Vleck House & Gardens recently sponsored their third annual community exhibition, Scarecrow Exhibit in the Gardens. The exhibit featured handcrafted scarecrows created by scout troops, nonprofit organizations, local businesses, families, classes, and individuals.

Scarecrow designs ranged from the traditional to dark-and-scary tributes to Halloween, from repurposed and upcycled creatures to sewn-and-stuffed homages to characters inspired by history, mythology, film, or literature.

Visitors to the Van Vleck House & Gardens from October 17 – 26, 2022 cast votes for the best scarecrow in each category. Winners then designated a nonprofit organization to receive a $500 donation. The entry from students of the Montclair Institute for Lifelong Learning (MILL) won in the nonprofit category for “MILLy” and designated their $500 donation for Partners for Health Foundation.

Pictured with MILLy are the MILL students who helped to create her (left to right): Beth Pugh, Candy Bruno, Christine Singer, Joanne Kornoelje and Sharon Allen.

Foundation Co-Led Exponent Philanthropy Session on Funder Collaborations

Jackie Gifuni-Koutsouris, PfH Program and Evaluation Officer, was one of the session leads for a workshop, Move Beyond Misconceptions to Create Effective Place-Based Funder Collaborations, which was presented at the Exponent Philanthropy Conference in Minneapolis, MN on October 12. Kathy Smith, PfH Program Director, also served as a panelist. More than 50 conference attendees registered for this 2.5-hour session, with the session reaching full capacity.

The session focused on what’s worked, lessons learned, and how collaboration has strengthened the work and extended the reach of the Montclair Funders, and the Frederick County, Maryland Funders group. Session attendees reimagined when, why, and how lean funders might collaborate. They also learned ways to harness different kinds of expertise around a collaborative table to share data, better coordinate funding, identify gaps and unmet needs in the community, and tackle issues at the systems level. This collaborative session was extremely well received, with several attendees thanking session speakers for this work.

Learn more about the Session and Panelists below:

Move Beyond Misconceptions to Create Effective Place-Based Funder Collaborations

Session Leads: Leigh Adams, MBA, Executive Director, Ausherman Family Foundation; Jacqueline Gifuni-Koutsouris, MPH, MCHES, Program and Evaluation Officer, PFH

Panelists/Speakers:Lori Heninger, Ph.D., Executive Director, Montclair Fund for Women; Kathleen Smith, MA, Program Director, PFH; Lucy Vandenberg, MSW, Executive Director, Schumann Fund for New Jersey

Learning Objectives:
• Engage in ways to scan the landscape to identify potential collaboration partners and discover tactics to begin or deepen collaboration with other funders to catalyze change and advance equity
• Recognize how the cornerstone of collaboration is taking time to build relationships and trust among partners and learn ways to nurture these bonds
• Come away with a deeper understanding how funder collaboration has the power to elevate grantmaking activity in a community through a commitment to shared learning, investing in collective data, and looking at prevention and root causes instead of symptoms

Essex-Hudson Greenway Closer!

A highly anticipated “greenway” that will thread through eight towns and cities in North Jersey is getting closer to fruition. But officials say it could take “years” before the massive project reaches the finish line.

On Thursday, September 15th Gov. Phil Murphy gave a status update on the Essex-Hudson Greenway, a new state park that will connect Jersey City, Secaucus, Kearny, Newark, Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge and Montclair. Murphy and other advocates of the greenway officially announced the acquisition of the property during a news conference in Essex County.

Partners for Health Foundation has made a two-year grant to the Open Space Institute (OSI) to inform the development and design of a long-sought nine-mile, multi-use greenway following the path of the Old Boonton train line.

Learn more at:

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony marks the completion of bollard project in Essex County, New Jersey

On Monday June 20, 2022, the Trail Conference celebrated the installation of new Lenape Trail bollards in Cedar Grove Park. In partnership with the Essex County Park System, 33 new bollards were installed along New Jersey’s 36-mile Lenape Trail that connects 18 parks and 11 municipalities.

In 2017/18, an award from Partners for Health supported efforts for increased trail planning, public workshops, and volunteer support for the trail – resulting in the first formal Trail Conference maps of the Lenape Trail and interactive digital guide. Organized by former Lenape Trail Field Manager, Debra Kagan, The Official Guide to the Lenape Trail acts as a key to exploring the Lenape Trail and the parks through which it traverses. The Guide includes detailed maps and expert input from local museums, historical societies, and nature centers to enrich the trail experience of county residents and attract new hikers, walkers, and volunteers.

Learn more at:

Nursing Student Scholarships Support Healthier Communities

The Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) has posted a scholarship opportunity funded by Partners for Health.

Based on the demand for nurses and the high cost to attend nursing school, Partners for Health is expanding its Nursing Scholarship awards program to 14 scholarships of $7,500 each in 2022 and 2023. To be consistent with our focus on health equity, scholarship recipients must be students with a demonstrated financial need, and students vulnerable to disruption or discontinuation of pursuing a college degree because of discrimination or exclusion due to the social, economic, educational, and/or cultural dimensions of their lives.

Junior and senior nursing students attending Bloomfield College, Caldwell University, Montclair State University and Seton Hall University can apply for this competitive scholarship through ICFNJ at

Applications will be accepted through September 31, 2022.

“Partners for Health is proud to support nursing students with these scholarships. Nurses who work in schools, health departments and in many other settings are vital partners in our efforts to make the communities we serve healthier, better places to live,” said Pam Scott, Executive Director of the Foundation.


ICFNJ was founded in 1953 as a cooperative involving business and academic leaders to broaden support for private higher education in New Jersey. Today, ICFNJ continues the tradition of empowering students to realize their goals by strengthening New Jersey’s independent colleges and universities with support for strategic investments in innovative programs, student scholarships and educational advancement. Through these efforts, ICFNJ has raised and contributed close to $72 million providing opportunities for its member institutions to continuously enhance program quality, to increase accessibility and affordability; and thus fulfill their respective missions. Learn more at

Spring Grants Announced

Partners for Health has announced Spring 2022 grants totaling $200,000 for the following initiatives:

Funding to Zufall Health Center will support efforts to achieve Joint Commission Ambulatory Care Accreditation for their network of seven New Jersey-based Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). This grant will be used for consultants to assist in the preparation and submission of the accreditation application, and the subsequent site visit. The accreditation process will enhance the operations for each of Zufall’s FQHCs, including the West Orange site which provides care to 5,000 patients and had a total of 16,000 visits in 2021.

Based on the demand for nurses and the high cost to attend nursing school, Partners for Health is expanding its Nursing Scholarship awards program to 14 scholarships of $7,500 each in 2022 and 2023. To be consistent with our focus on health equity, scholarship recipients must be students with a demonstrated financial need, and students vulnerable to disruption or discontinuation of pursuing a college degree because of discrimination or exclusion due to the social, economic, educational, and/or cultural dimensions of their lives. The Independent College Fund of New Jersey administers this scholarship program.

The Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services received a grant to subsidize the cost of Farmers’ Market food items for low-income or qualifying residents. These funds will be used to stretch SNAP/WIC/FMNP dollars and improve access to healthy, locally sourced produce.

West Orange has emerged as a leading Age-Friendly Community in Northern New Jersey due to the progressive initiatives implemented to date. To continue this work, a portion of the salary for the Senior Livability Coordinator (SLC) will be funded by a grant to the West Orange Department of Senior Services. The SLC focuses on seniors’ physical and mental health, and enhancing their connectivity and ability to age well.

Northeast Earth Coalition received funding to pay incentives to volunteer coordinators of 16 Free Little Pantries that provide 24/7 access to food in our local communities. The coordinators manage efforts of the 267 volunteers who keep these pantries stocked. NEEC works in collaboration with pantry hosts located at houses of worship, the Bloomfield Public Library, two private homes, and one business. All of the pantries are in easily accessible, public spaces.

New Jersey does not have the infrastructure and policies in place to ensure that all residents have access to dental care. The State’s water is not fluoridated, and it does not have a school sealant program. A grant to the Kindersmile Foundation will support a documentary film that will advocate for oral health for all New Jerseyans. Kindersmile’s current advocacy efforts include a pilot program for perinatal oral health that is being considered for funding by the N.J. legislature. 

Nancy’s Place, Covenant House’s Program for Specialized Behavioral Health Care, received a grant for Montclair YMCA memberships and swimming lessons for the youth they serve, ages 18-24. The goal is to provide access to exercise that will improve participants’ mental health and reduce anxiety and depression. Located in Montclair, Nancy’s Place provides single bedrooms for 8 young people, 24-hour support and supervision, and individualized mental health treatment.

NFSB Begins Accreditation Process to Bring Highest Standard of Care to the Nutley Community

Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) is excited to announce that we are going through an accreditation process that will ensure all areas of the organization are functioning according to best practices. We’re partnering with Social Current (formerly Council on Accreditation), which has been accrediting human service organizations for decades, to navigate this process.

The accreditation is being funded by a grant from the Partners for Health Foundation, a Montclair-based organization committed to funding local organizations like NFSB to ensure communities in our area receive the highest quality care.

Learn more here:

Toni’s Kitchen Expansion Project Underway

Toni’s Kitchen, a food ministry of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Montclair, broke ground on a significant expansion of its space on Saturday, June 18. 

The expansion project will open up over 5,000 square feet of space below the sanctuary building but currently inaccessible. 

The new space will house pallets of food, shelving units, work spaces and a large walk-in fridge/freezer and be easily accessible by Toni’s Kitchen workers. 

Read more:

Partners for Health Team Updates!

Congratulations Jackie!

Jackie Gifuni-Koutsouris has recently been promoted from Program Associate to Program and Evaluation Officer. Jackie joined the Foundation more than six years ago and has advanced through progressively more responsible positions in our grantmaking process, where she has played a key role during our strategic planning process.

In this new role, Jackie will manage Foundation data collection and analysis, conduct systematic and ongoing research about policy areas to inform Foundation learning, and integrate grantee feedback into grant-making strategy and processes.

Jackie brings a wealth of evaluation experience to the Foundation, and we are excited about her new role at the company. Please join us in congratulating her on her promotion!

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Welcome Kayla!

Kayla Blake will be joining Partners for Health this summer and fall as a graduate intern. She is pursuing her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education at Montclair State University. Her major study interests are food insecurity and food systems, but she also has a strong interest in equal access to healthcare and pediatric health. She is originally from Wanaque, NJ, but became a Montclair resident this past fall and loves living in the community.

During the day, Kayla works full time as a Lead Applicant Scheduler for Elite Healthcare Consultants where she works directly under the Lead Acquisitions manager and helps lead the team on a daily basis. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and is very passionate about music.

She is excited to join Partners for Health and assist with their learning and advocacy efforts, as well as help in supporting local communities.

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Josh S. Weston honored at Golf Outing and Tribute Dinner

Partners for Health honored Josh S. Weston at its Golf Outing and Tribute Dinner on Thursday, September 22, 2022.

Josh was an original member of the Partners for Health Foundation Board when it was incorporated as the Mountainside Hospital Foundation in 1990. At that time, he was also the Chair of the Mountainside Hospital Board. The Foundation became an independent public charity in 2007.

He served on the Partners for Health Board through 2015 and was instrumental in shaping many initiatives, including efforts to address local hunger and support seniors. He is currently a member of the Foundation’s Leadership Advisory Council.

Josh is the retired CEO and honorary chairman of Automatic Data Processing (ADP), an international computer services company which provides payroll, human resource and other services to more than 920,000 clients worldwide.

Throughout his life, and especially since his retirement, Mr. Weston has been a prolific and hands-on philanthropist and advisor.  He is active on numerous Boards, including the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, KIPP NJ, NJTV (PBS), WNET/Channel 13, the International Rescue Committee, and Liberty Science Center.

Josh holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from the City College of New York and a MA in Economics from the University of New Zealand, completed as a Fulbright Scholar. He holds Honorary Doctorate Degrees from the City College of New York (Humane Letters), Fairleigh Dickinson University (Law), Montclair State University (Humane Letters), the Stevens Institute of Technology (Engineering), and Yeshiva University (Humane Letters). 

He resides in Montclair, New Jersey and, with his late wife Judy Weston, has four children.

Partners for Health awards grants totaling $473,500 in the first quarter of 2022

In the first quarter of 2022, Partners for Health awarded grants totaling $473,500 to support the following organizations and initiatives:

Matching grants were disbursed to 10 soup kitchens, food pantries and organizations working toward affordable housing and healthy food. Grantees included City Green, Family Promise of Essex County, HOMECorp, Human Needs Food Pantry, MESH (Montclair Emergency Services for Hope), MNDC (Montclair Community Farms, Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, Nutley Family Service Bureau, Saint Peter’s Haven Healthy Food Pantry & Family Shelter in Clifton, The Salvation Army and Toni’s Kitchen.

Aging in Montclair (AIM) will convene facilitated meetings of leaders from the agencies in Montclair whose focus is on delivering services to seniors. The goal is to identify gaps in services, especially for the most vulnerable seniors, and opportunities to address these needs.

Support for the Montclair Art Museum will help them respond to community needs, reduce financial barriers for those who seek to take advantage of the museum, and advance the museum’s efforts to build an organization that is focused on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion.

Montclair Gateway to Aging in Place will utilize grant funds to enhance the digital competence of local seniors, so they can use consumer devices and apps competently, and access the Internet without anxiety.

The Montclair YMCA will provide Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to their staff and the community to meet the growing need for widespread awareness and resources for mental health support. Grant funds will be used to train three staff members to provide MHFA training to youth and adults, as well as to train other trainers.

New Jersey Citizens Action will raise awareness of state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits and expanded Child Tax Credits, promote the availability of free tax preparation services, and provide free tax preparation to at least 140 low-income Clifton, Montclair, Nutley and Bloomfield residents. These efforts help to lift low-income families out of poverty.

Nutley Family Service Bureau will conduct its first organization-wide accreditation through the Council on Accreditation. This accreditation will provide the framework to deliver best practices for services, manage resources, retain qualified staff, and conduct continuous quality improvement.

Montclair Gateway To Aging in Place Awarded $10,000 Grant To Help Seniors Get Connected

The work of Montclair Gateway to Aging in Place – the recently established nonprofit Senior Center for our digital world – has been recognized for its efforts with a $10,000 grant from Partners for Health. The funding will be utilized in the organization’s Campaign for Digital Connectivity; specifically, the SmartSeniors/SmartPhones© (SS/SP) pilot project.

“Digital competency and connectivity are paramount to our mission because seniors who are ‘unreachable’ are at risk in this society,” says Montclair Gateway president Ann Lippel. “Our immediate focus is on closing this access and competence gap.”

The SS/SP pilot project is launching now to provide the tools to enable older residents to fully access digital resources that have become the mainstay for telehealth, social interaction, civic participation and digital commerce in our society.

This program is partially funded by Partners for Health: Partnering to advance health equity through learning, grantmaking, and advocating.

Learn more:

Matching Grants totaling $315,000 awarded to community health partners

Partners for Health has awarded grants totaling $315,000 to support local soup kitchens, food pantries and organizations working toward affordable housing and healthy food for all. 

Participating organizations include:  City Green, Family Promise of Essex County, HOMECorp, Human Needs Food Pantry, MESH (Montclair Emergency Services for Hope), MNDC (Montclair Community Farms, Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, Nutley Family Service Bureau, Saint Peter’s Haven Healthy Food Pantry & Family Shelter in Clifton, The Salvation Army and Toni’s Kitchen.

COVID-19 has challenged each of us, with a disproportionate impact on community members who were already struggling to cover essential expenses.  Pam Scott, Executive Director of Partners for Health, notes, “We are proud to support local safety net organizations that have been on the front lines of responding to community needs throughout this health and economic crisis.” 

Daytime Warming Centers Open In Montclair Until Spring

Daytime warming centers in three Montclair locations are now open for individuals without a permanent home at the Salvation Army, Toni’s Kitchen, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair (staffed by Montclair Emergency Services for Hope, Inc., or MESH). The sites will be available parts of each day, seven days a week, through April 3rd.

The four organizations involved in the program in 2021 met to discuss requirements for 2022 and approached the Mayor and Township Council for funding.

The Council approved a $10,000 grant, and four local funders contributed a combined total of $11,000 to provide additional program support. The Montclair Funders include: The Montclair Foundation, The Montclair Fund for Women, Partners for Health Foundation, and The Schumann Fund for New Jersey. The funds will be used to support the three warming center locations and the participating organizations will collaborate to cover the staffing schedule.

The Montclair Funders are part of an informal network of local philanthropic organizations that meet regularly to share information about community needs, resources and opportunities to work together. The Funders began meeting in the Spring of 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the community and to explore opportunities to provide emergency support to the local safety net of nonprofit organizations. Other funders that regularly attend the meetings are the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence, and Women for Progress.

Learn more at:

Doug Bauer Elected Foundation Board Chair; Dana Van Wie Joins The Board

Partners for Health Foundation is pleased to announce that Douglas B. Bauer has been elected to serve as Board Chair for 2022-2023, and Dana A. Van Wie has joined the Board for a three year-term (2022-2024).

Doug Bauer has been a Partners for Health Trustee since 2014, and most recently served as the Foundation’s Second Vice Chair and Nominating Committee Chair. “I look forward to working with the Partners for Health Board, staff and our grantee partners over the next two years as we further explore the social determinants of health in our communities and help them achieve equity in the delivery of health and social services,” said Bauer.

Doug is the Executive Director of The Clark Foundation, which focuses on helping people out of poverty and assisting individuals to lead independent and productive lives, and supports nonprofits and programs in New York City and Cooperstown, NY.

He is also Executive Director of The Scriven and Fernleigh Foundations and Senior Vice President with The Clark Estates, Inc. Prior to Clark, Doug was a Senior Vice President with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) from 2002 to 2009. Prior to joining RPA, Doug held management positions at Goldman, Sachs and Co., SmithKlineBeecham (now GlaxoSmithKline), and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Doug’s opinions and ideas on philanthropy have been featured in the Associated Press, Bloomberg, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, City and State, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Wall Street Journal and on CNBC, NPR and PBS. Doug co-authored, with Steven Godeke, Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission Related Investing, A Policy and Implementation Guide for Foundation Trustees.

Doug also serves on boards for The Leatherstocking Corporation, The Melalucca Foundation, The National Council on Nonprofits, and is a past chair of Philanthropy New York. He is a member of the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community, and is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia Business School where he teaches about philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.

Doug is a graduate of Michigan State University. He also has an M.J. from Temple University and a M.S. from Penn.

Dana A. Van Wie, CPA is a Director in the NY Metro Real Estate Assurance group for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in New York City. In this role she leads client engagement teams on two public REITs and one private equity infrastructure client. Dana completed a tour in PwC’s National Quality Organization in the SEC services practice.

For twelve years, Dana has led several large public REIT and private equity engagements including W.P. Carey, American Realty Capital, JP Morgan, PGIM Real Estate, New York Life real estate funds, AIG private equity funds, Garrison Realty Group, and Paladin Realty Funds. She has vast knowledge in the technical accounting of public REITs and private equity funds and auditing open end and close end vehicles, including complex business combinations and asset acquisitions, impairments, system implementations, investment company accounting evaluation, capital market transactions including initial public offerings and related SEC filings, error evaluations and implementation of new accounting standards among other things. Dana has hosted several large trainings and seminars on various technical accounting topics.

Dana has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Elon University, is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in New York, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She is extremely active in her alma mater, Elon University and is a Secretary board member of their Accounting and Advisory Board for the business school. She is also the board representative on their Strategic Planning Committee.

A Tribute to Retiring Trustees

Partners for Health recognized retiring Trustees, Deborah McLean Leow and Christopher D. Petermann, at the Foundation’s December 2021 Board meeting.

Deb Leow first partnered with the Foundation as the emcee at TEDxMontclair 2013, an event that Partners for Health helped to plan and sponsor. Following this she was elected to the Foundation Board in March 2014. During her tenure, Deb was a strong advocate for improving the mental health safety net in local schools, and for lifting up populations most vulnerable to health inequities.  She served as Grants Co-Chair from 2018-2021 and was also a leading voice of the Foundation’s Strategic Planning efforts.

Deb Leow (left) is recognized by fellow Trustee Gloria Essoka

Deb is currently a realtor and Principal of Leow Home Partners, a full-service real estate group based at the Keller Williams Metro Group in Montclair.  Prior to this, she led national public health initiatives for clients such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for more than two decades.

Chris Petermann (left) is recognized by fellow Trustee Doug Bauer

Chris Petermann was elected to the Foundation Board in July 2014. He chaired the Audit Committee from 2015-2017, before being elected to serve as the Foundation’s fourth Board Chair in 2018 and 2019.  Chris’ term as Chair coincided with the celebration of the Foundation’s Ten-Year Anniversary in November 2018. At that event, PFH presented Community Impact Awards totaling $100,000

The Foundation’s Strategic Planning effort was launched during Chris’ second year as Chair at a Board Retreat held in January 2019 and culminated with Board approval of the new Strategic Plan framework in 2020.

Chris is a Partner of PKF O’Connor Davis and co-leads the firm’s Private Foundation Practice. He has more than 30 years of specialized experience in accounting for exempt organizations and private foundations.  PKF O’Connor Davis has also been a generous sponsor of the Foundation’s Annual Golf Tournament.

City Green expands its New Jersey nutrition incentive program with $500,000 USDA NIFA GusNIP grant

On Wednesday, November 24, 2021, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced a $500,000 award to City Green supporting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) statewide nutrition incentive program, The Garden State Good Food Network. Over three years, the award from the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) will support the Garden State Good Food Network’s effort of advancing food equity through a fruit and vegetable affordability initiative while improving economic opportunities for local farmers. This funding is critical at a time when food insecurity, exacerbated by COVID-19, is at an all-time high. 

New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker, released the following statement celebrating the federal investment into the State of New Jersey: “This federal funding is an important step toward more residents of the Garden State having access to fresh and local produce. Nearly nine out of 10 SNAP recipients face significant challenges maintaining a healthy diet at home – the most common being the cost of healthy foods. Nutrition incentive programs like the Garden State Good Food Network make healthy, fresh produce more accessible to families in need and have a positive impact on food insecurity, health, and also economic development by encouraging SNAP shoppers to reinvest their benefit dollars into the local economy. City Green’s programs are a model of food system reform taking place at the local level, and this grant will help them continue to support New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents and local farmers.” 

The USDA GusNIP grant required a dollar-for-dollar match. Partners for Health Foundation joined these foundations in supporting this effort, allowing City Green to draw important federal dollars to support nutrition incentives in New Jersey: Russell Berrie Foundation, Victoria Foundation, Schumann Fund for New Jersey, Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, and a generous Anonymous Donor.

“We are excited that this funding will allow us to continue the expansion of our statewide Garden State Good Food Network into more farmer’s markets, and now into traditional retail outlets in rural, suburban, and urban communities of New Jersey,” said Jennifer Papa, Executive Director of City Green. “As a food access and urban farming organization, we are especially interested in growing the impact of the program which connects SNAP households to local farmers, their communities, and nutritious food.”

Today the Garden State Good Food Network program provides SNAP beneficiaries with a dollar-for-dollar match for fresh produce when they shop at any of the 20 participating NJ farmers markets and retailers in 10 counties, which together are home to approximately 195,000 New Jersey SNAP households. The GusNIP funding will allow City Green to double the number of Garden State Good Food Network farmers markets and grocery retailer partners (to 40 total), and expand into 3 new counties by the end of the three-year grant period, while also deepening City Green’s reach in existing Garden State Good Food Network communities. By 2024, City Green expects that more than 65% of SNAP-using neighbors will live in a county with a participating farmers’ market or retailer, a critical step in ensuring that all of our neighbors can enjoy the Garden State’s freshest produce. 

 “The Garden State Good Food Network incentive program benefits our farmers and our citizens, and it is vital to creating more equitable and sustainable local food systems in New Jersey. This funding ensures that City Green can continue to expand this program, while addressing the specific needs of our communities by strengthening our local economies and ensuring that healthy produce is available to all,” said Lisa Martin, City Green’s Director of Food Access. 

The projects supported through the GusNIP award will help New Jersey ultimately achieve two long-term goals: to improve public health through the reduction of chronic diet-related diseases, and to create a sustainable and thriving local food system. The lack of access to affordable, healthy food is a public health concern that results in high incidences of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Increasing the capacity of farmers markets and grocery stores to offer Good Food Bucks will help the 12% of New Jersey households that receive SNAP benefits more easily afford fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to improving the health of consumers by making fresh produce more accessible, the funding provided by the USDA will strengthen the local economy by providing increased revenue to local farmers and retailers. Incentive programs attract and retain thousands of customers at farmers markets each year, and expanding this program to retailers in counties all over New Jersey creates further opportunities to provide an important revenue stream and consistent customer base for our local farmers. 

This year’s GusNIP grantees represent the diversity and dynamism of the work being done across America to increase fruit and vegetable purchasing among SNAP consumers

by providing incentives that stretch their food dollar. This year’s GusNIP grants awarded a total of $34 million to 39 active GusNIP grantees. This statement comes on the heels of the August announcement that SNAP benefits will permanently increase by $376 million dollars beginning in October, signaling an investment in food access and nutrition security for 700,000 New Jerseyans.  

City Green is a 501(c)3 urban farming and gardening organization, based in Clifton, New Jersey working to revitalize urban areas through agriculture and educational programming. It offers practical, technical, and financial resources in support of environmental stewardship, equitable access to healthy food, and ecologically sustainable communities. 

For more information contact Jasmine Moreano, Director of Community Engagement and Advocacy or visit

Open Space Institute Secures Deal for Creation of Greenway in Northern New Jersey

Deal reached after Open Space Institute negotiated $65 million purchase rights for nearly nine miles of former rail line and galvanized private fundraising effort.

After years of direct negotiation that led to a $65 million purchase agreement between OSI and Norfolk Southern Railway, Governor Phil Murphy announced on November 12, 2021 that the state of New Jersey would acquire the 135-acre property to create a new Greenway. The deal marks the single largest state-funded land protection project in New Jersey history.

The newly announced Greenway project will span one of the world’s most populated regions – located just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It will create easy and equitable access to nature for millions of New Jersey residents; provide alternative transportation options; introduce green infrastructure to improve water quality; and spur economic activity.

Rendering of the proposed Essex Hudson Greenway. Courtesy of Essex Hudson Greenway

OSI assembled private funding to invest $3.9 million in the project to date. Major support for OSI’s efforts has been provided by the Thomas L. Kempner Jr. Foundation. Additional generous support came from the Helen & William Mazer Foundation, Partners for Health Foundation, and individual donors.

Click here to learn more here.

Thank you for supporting our Annual Golf Tournament!

Partners for Health Foundation raised more than $110,000 at its Annual Golf Tournament held on Thursday, October 7 at the Green Brook Country Club in North Caldwell.  “On behalf of our Board of Trustees, I want to thank everyone who supported this year’s outing. I also want to acknowledge the event honoree, Co Bertsche, for everything he has done to make our community a better place,” said Cliff Finkle, Partners for Health Foundation Board Chair.

Tournament proceeds will support program interventions on behalf of those who struggle to put food on the table, those who are one step away from financial misfortune that could leave them homeless, and those who lack permanent housing. Since 2008, the Foundation has made grants totaling nearly $5 million to address Hunger and Homelessness in the communities it serves.

CLICK HERE to view the event photo gallery.

CLICK HERE to view the event program.

Montclair Film Festival and Partners for Health co-present Community Resilience Shorts

Partners for Health Foundation and the Montclair Film Festival co-presented Community Resilience Shorts during the 2021 Festival.

This short-film program included screenings of Give and Take, an intimate look at the community fridge movement in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic; and Lead Me Home, which captures the experience of some of the 500,000 Americans who do not have a permanent home, from multiple perspectives.

Gareth Smit, the director of GIVE AND TAKE, participated in a Q+A after the film.  Mr. Smit was born in 1990 in Heidelberg, South Africa. He studied Philosophy and History at the University of Cape Town. In 2014 he moved to New York to attend the International Center of Photography. He is based in Brooklyn, New York.

He has documented issues relating to migration, race and identity with a particular interest in the role of land and history in shaping the present. In 2014 he documented the community and family of Eric Garner after he was killed by a NYPD police officer, resulting in the photo essay and short film In Tompkinsville. He continued working on Staten Island for two more years culminating in North Shore (Alice Austen House Museum, 2016). In 2018 he received a grant from the Magnum Foundation to collaborate with Tohono O’odham poet Dr. Ofelia Zepeda and historian Martín Zícari for The Place Where Clouds Are Formed (Tucson Museum of Art, 2020). 

In 2015 his interests began to shift toward cinematography. His work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Yorker. He camera operated on Crime + Punishment, Stephen Maing’s 2018 documentary that received a Jury’s Award at Sundance.

Click here to view the 2021 Film Festival Guide.

Still image from GIVE AND TAKE
Still image from LEAD ME HOME

New MCDC Van Played a Vital Role during COVID

The Montclair Child Development Center, Inc. (MCDC) provides early childhood education and related services to Head Start eligible students aged birth to five years old. Prior to COVID, MCDC staff prepared a healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack in their industrial kitchen in Montclair and then delivered meals to their other schools located in Glen Ridge and Orange. 

Partners for Health awarded a grant to MCDC to replace its 14-year-old delivery van and continue to prepare meals themselves, rather than outsourcing to a vendor that would provide highly processed foods with large amounts of sodium and fat. 

Tanya L. Poteat, Executive Director of MCDC, said, “For many of our children, MCDC is the main source of their daily nutrition. We want better for our brilliant early learners so each child can learn and grow to be their best self. We have the unique opportunity to provide our students with a variety of fresh food choices, which set the stage for a lifelong practice of healthy eating.” 

The culturally diverse meals prepared by the MCDC nutrition team are served in a family-style setting that allows students to learn portion sizes, improve fine motor skills, and encourage sampling of different food. The teachers engage the children in discussions about food sources, color and texture, and motivate them to try all components of each meal. The students share the joy of learning about new foods with their families. Through this experience, parents also learn about different meals and menu items. Parents credit MCDC with helping their family become healthier.  

Ms. Poteat added, “When we submitted the grant application for a new van to Partners for Health, we could not imagine the vital role it would play in meeting the needs of children and families due to the impact of COVID. We are so grateful to Partners for Health for providing us with the resources to continue service to the community during this unprecedented time. ”

In fact, the van purchased by MCDC was used during the COVID state-mandated shut down to deliver thousands of meals directly to the homes children served by this program. MCDC understood that ongoing health disparities, and hunger, had grown exponentially. They heard recurring themes in conversations with families: fear of contracting SARS-CoV-2, employment, food deserts, decreased public transportation, school closures, illness, and distress over their immigration status, which hindered access to feeding their children.

In the coming months, MCDC is confident that the van funded by the grant from Partners for Health will continue to serve the local community as a physical and symbolic vehicle that drives the race against childhood hunger. Through strong partnerships and grants, MCDC will continue to welcome any assistance that enables its children to thrive.

To learn more about MCDC, or to apply for Head Start, visit

MILL Classes Continue to Bring Seniors Together – Virtually!

By Michelle DeWitt
Senior Citizens Coordinator for the Township of Montclair-Lifelong Montclair

When we kicked off the Winter 2021 semester of the MILL (Montclair Institute for Lifelong Learning) after almost a full year of virtual programming, we thought that local seniors would be tired of experiencing the world virtually from their computers. Instead, they continued to embrace virtual programs, and to enjoy all of the classes from the safety and warmth of their own homes.

While in the past we had to deal with digging out from snowstorms, parking limitations, and the potential for slips and falls, this winter there were no cancelled programs due to weather. Our clients continued to enjoy programs safely, including exercise programs and an array of stimulating classes.

One such class was presented by Dr. Lillie Edwards, a professor at Drew University. Dr. Edwards taught a six-week class on “African American Studies” during Black History Month. Another was a two-part seminar on the |History of American Comedy” presented by Stephen Rosenfield, acclaimed author and founder of the American Comedy Institute in NYC.

We formed a new partnership with the Vanguard Theater Company, which allowed us to bring the arts to our clients through exclusive performances and talks.  One highlight of this collaboration was, “Your Chance to Dance: An Intro to Broadway Dance.”  Class participants enjoyed learning dance steps from the privacy of their own homes, and they even did a Chorus Line finale during the last class.

Another popular class this past Spring was “Tech Academy Boot Camp,” taught by a rising Junior at Yale University.  It included 6 weeks of classes on topics such as Browser Skills, Online Privacy and Social Media.

One perk of the MILL’s virtual classroom is unlimited space. In the past we had strict limits on the number of participants, but our virtual classes allow us to welcome everyone and avoid the need for waiting lists. “Yoga for Healthy Aging” classes formally had a cap of 14 participants, and can now welcome more than 40 students each week.

Lifelong Montclair has been testing a hybrid programming model this summer, offering in-person classes while simultaneously livestreaming classes to those at home.  This model has been well received.  We expect to continue this hybrid format throughout the Fall of 2021, as we monitor the emergence of the Delta variant and breakthrough Covid cases. We continue to have conversations with our partners about when we’ll able to resume indoor programming.

Welcome to Montclair Community Farm’s New Cohort of Farmpreneurs!

Written and Submitted by Marissa Staffen, Montclair Community Farms

This past week we welcomed a group of 9 energetic and ambitious high school students from across Essex County onto the farm! Our farmpreneurs will be busy this season gaining hands-on experience in agriculture, culinary arts, and entrepreneurship as participants in our “Empowering Youth Entrepreneurs From Seed to Sale” project. Each week they’ll be learning about topics in farming, visiting farms and businesses across NJ, and creating wheat-based value-added products! Value-added products are defined by USDA as those that undergo a change in the physical state or form of the product in order to enhance their market value.

In their first week, they visited our friends at MEVO, the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization, learned about the importance of small grain farming, and began brainstorming their dream value-added products! They also worked hard on-site harvesting, planting, weeding, trellising, and preparing for our Montclair Community Farms Mobile Farm Stand! Please be sure to visit this season (June-November) at one of our farm stand sites.


As published in Montclair Local

The Blue Scrub Club at Montclair High School has donated $500 to Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center’s Pastoral Care department through the Partners for Health Foundation.

The Blue Scrub Club’s purpose is to inspire and educate students who are interested in
exploring careers in the medical field. The club hosts weekly meetings with medical professionals from a variety of fields who share their education and career journeys , along with what they do on a daily basis. Students also contribute to the community by providing
healthcare organizations with assistance through financial or material donations, and
volunteering, an announcement of the donation said.

“It is important that we engage with the younger generation who have an interest in healthcare and assist them in finding their career path,” chief executive officer at
Mountainside Medical Center Tim O’Brien wrote in the announcement. “Healthcare organizations have many moving parts and we want to show students the various pathways in which they can have a successful career in healthcare.”

The hospital will collaborate with the club on future events to continue to educate students about the various careers in healthcare. Students will also have the opportunity to volunteer at the hospital and shadow professionals at all levels.

Copeland G. Bertsche honored at Partners for Health Foundation Annual Golf Tournament

Partners for Health was delighted to recognize Copeland G. Bertsche for his service to the community and the Foundation at the Foundation’s Annual Golf Tournament held at the Green Brook Country Club in North Caldwell on Thursday, October 7, 2021. The event raised more than $110,000 to support local organizations working toward access to affordable housing and healthy food for all.

As president of the Mountainside Hospital Advisory Board and a director of Atlantic Health System, Co was instrumental in identifying and negotiating the sale of Mountainside Hospital to Merit Health System in 2007. In 2012, as a Trustee of Partners for Health, the successor to the Mountainside Hospital Foundation, Co led the team that negotiated the lease of the Foundation’s interest in the land underlying the hospital’s new Medical Office Building. These transactions helped ensure that Mountainside Hospital would remain open and available to serve the community.

Co is a member of the Partners for Health Leadership Advisory Council. He has also served as President of Montclair Golf Club, member of the Montclair Board of Education, trustee of Bloomfield College, as well as director of a number of Montclair-based non-profit organizations, and he been honored for his community service by the American Red Cross. Co currently serves on the Finance Committee of Montclair Film and is an active volunteer at Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair.

A graduate of Colgate University, Co served as legal counsel to the Colgate Alumni Corporation and is a recipient of its Wm. Brian Little Award for distinguished service to the university, the highest award bestowed for alumni service. He received his JD from Seton Hall and his MBA from NYU. Following a career as a lawyer with AT&T and Lucent Technologies, Co currently maintains a commercial mediation practice.

Co’s wife, Andree (Andie), is a longtime Montclair volunteer and broker associate with Stanton Company Realtors. They are extremely proud of their four daughters, sons-in-law and nine wonderful grandchildren and even one granddaughter-in-law!

Click here to learn more and to register!

Access to Oral Health Care and a Link to a Dental Home

Written and submitted by:

Michal Herman, Dental Home Director, KinderSmile Bloomfield

Esther’s first visit with KinderSmile Oral Health Program was at her school in 2019, where she received her very first oral exam and dental cleaning. She was immediately linked to our Dental Home, KinderSmile Community Oral Health Center Bloomfield, where she returned for her recall appointments and restorative visits. Always a mature and cooperative patient, Esther only had a simple request— she needed her comforting Dental Assistant Lissa to be by her side, holding her hand throughout each procedure.

Esther is one of nearly 2,000 children who benefitted from this program in the past year despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and our three-month closure. KinderSmile Oral Health Program, the flagship program of our organization, brings preventive dental services to partnering schools and community centers. We provide offsite oral health education, dental exams, caries risk assessments, dental prophylaxis, fluoride applications, sealants when appropriate, and a crucial link to a permanent Dental Home. The mission of KinderSmile Foundation is to provide underserved children with access to comprehensive dental care and educate children and their families about the importance of dental hygiene. We envision a future where every child has access to a dentist, and preventable dental diseases are eradicated.

The coronavirus pandemic has further underlined racial and economic disparities in our society. The high unemployment rates and a lack of full-time schooling have increased the number of uninsured and underserved families who turn to KinderSmile Community Oral Health Center Bloomfield for timely access to oral health care, regardless of insurance status. In the past year, 94% of the children we served came from at-risk families: 76% were insured by Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare, 18% were uninsured, and only 6% were privately insured. Our sustainable Dental Home model combats the inequality of oral health care access in underserved communities by establishing a permanent link to a brick-and-mortar Dental Home while focusing on the three key goals of education, prevention, and intervention.

We are very grateful to Partners for Health Foundation for their continued support, and for sponsoring this important mission for the past year. Together, we provided access to oral health care and education to Esther and nearly 2,000 children.

Thank you!

Good Food Bucks: Putting Families First

Written and submitted by: Lisa Martin, Director of Food Access, City Green

City Green’s Garden State Good Food Network (GSGFN) is a statewide farmers’ market incentive program for New Jersey’s SNAP, WIC, and Senior FMNP shoppers. Through this program, anytime a SNAP, WIC, or Senior FMNP customer uses their Families First EBT card at a participating market, they receive a dollar-for-dollar match in “Good Food Buck” incentive dollars for more fruits and vegetables. Five dollars becomes ten, and ten dollars becomes twenty. This not only doubles the purchasing power of SNAP customers, allowing them to put more food on their tables, but provides additional income support for our local farmers and producers. The GSGFN builds direct connections between the state’s nearly 750,000 SNAP recipients and over 50 local New Jersey farmers.

In 2020, our longstanding partners at the Montclair Farmers Market (MFM) offered this nutrition incentive program alongside City Green’s own Veggie Mobile Farm Stand and CSA’s programs to make healthy, local food available and affordable to everyone in 2020. Nearly 1,800 people who use SNAP, WIC, and Senior FMNP nutrition assistance benefits redeemed $25,500 of Good Food Buck incentives at City Green Veggie Mobile Farm Stands and CSA, and at the Montclair Farmers Market. The Veggie Mobile helped to bring food to a variety of partner sites throughout Passaic and Essex counties, including the Bloomfield Public Library, Caldwell Community Center, Evergreen Manor Senior Residences, Hazel St. Senior Housing, and the City Green Farm Eco-Center in Clifton.

Operating in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented burdens were placed on businesses, families, and nearly every industry, with a record number of people applying for unemployment benefits. Through this economic hardship, a safe and reliable food supply was paramount. As more people became reliant on federal nutrition assistance programs like SNAP and WIC, incentive programs like Good Food Bucks were more essential than ever. Adrian Diaz, Montclair Farmers Market’s Double Value Coupon Coordinator, shared during the season that “The market might feel a little different in 2020 with new security measures in place, but our community can still count on Good Food Bucks every week, and this has been a breath of fresh air. During these uncertain times, the market and program have provided customers with a sense of normalcy. Every week I see customers delighted to find our tent, excited to tell me about the produce they plan on buying or their favorite recipe. Many of these customers were afraid that the program would not be available this year because of the pandemic. Others were worried that they wouldn’t be able to afford shopping at the market without Good Food Bucks. It’s comforting to know that they can still rely on our program, even in a year as difficult as this one.”

The Good Food Buck program works to give individuals and families a hand up when it can be difficult to make ends meet, while also putting money back into the local economy. A Good Food Buck shopper shared, “This program means a lot to me and my family. I want my kids to grow up eating healthy. It isn’t easy for us to buy fresh foods all the time. We never shopped at a farmers market before this year. At first it was very different for us but we really love coming here now. We’re thankful for the program and all the fresh foods we can have at home now.”

The program is a win-win-win for NJ residents, local farmers, and communities, and this funding opportunity from Partners for Health Foundation, with additional support from other private foundations, helps to make healthy, local food accessible for all of our neighbors!

Montclair Community Partners Collaborate To Provide Daytime Shelter From Cold For Those In Need

News story courtesy of the nonprofit subcommittee of the Township of Montclair’s COVID-19 Task Force.

The nonprofit subcommittee of the Township of Montclair’s COVID-19 Task Force convened emergency meetings last week (January 27 and 28) to address yet another crisis triggered by the pandemic: daytime respite from the cold for community members who are homeless.

With extreme temperatures and a significant snowstorm in the forecast, the Subcommittee recognized the need to act quickly. In past winters, public spaces such as the library and coffee shops would have been open to provide a place for homeless individuals to warm up during the day. Going to these locations is not an option this year because of COVID.

Due to the determination of all involved, a plan came together quickly. Through March 31, the Salvation Army and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair (UUCM) will open their doors for daytime respite from the cold for parts of each day, seven days a week.

Strict COVID protocols have been implemented at both locations. Lunch and dinner are being providing through the collaborative efforts of Toni’s Kitchen, the Salvation Army and MESH. The Subcommittee is also working to arrange for onsite COVID vaccinations for the homeless individuals who are visiting the daytime respite sites. Small grants from Partners for Health Foundation, The Schumann Fund for New Jersey, and The Montclair Foundation will cover the start-up costs of the program.

“I commend the great work of the Mayor’s Covid-19 Task Force which shepherded the overwhelming good will and energy of these community partners to provide much-needed relief for our homeless population,” said Sean M. Spiller, Mayor, Township of Montclair.

Former Montclair Mayor Ed Remsen is the Chair of Non-Profit Subcommittee of the Township’s COVID-19 Task Force. He led the discussions and was joined by Montclair Councilor David Cummings; Anne Mernin of Toni’s Kitchen; Michele Kroeze of the Salvation Army; Peter Arian of the UUCM; Gwen Ames of Montclair Emergency Services for Hope (MESH); Kathy Smith of Partners for Health Foundation; Al Pelham of Montclair Neighborhood Development Corp; and Rev. Ann Ralosky of First Congregational Church.

Rev. Dr. Campbell B. Singleton, III and Trustee Floyd J. Slaten, Jr. of the Union Baptist Church of Montclair also participated. Union Baptist welcomes overnight guests when nighttime temperatures go below 32-degrees.

Local residents who want to support the safety net organizations that have been working tirelessly to address critical needs throughout the pandemic are encouraged to donate directly to these organizations.

PFH Grant to Inform the Development of the Essex-Hudson Greenway

Partners for Health Foundation has made a two-year grant to the Open Space Institute (OSI) to inform the development and design of a long-sought nine-mile, multi-use greenway following the path of the Old Boonton train line through Montclair, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield on through Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus and Jersey City.

The Essex-Hudson Greenway would provide new healthy outdoor recreation opportunities for walkers, bikers, birders, and other nature lovers, while improving transportation options and providing off-road safety for area residents. 

The grant from Partners for Health will be used by OSI and their advocacy partner, the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, for community outreach in Montclair, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield. The goal is to ensure that residents who live near the trail are encouraged to participate in the trail design, as they have the most to benefit from it.

The transformative conversion of the old train line into a shared community greenway has been a long-term regional goal. In early 2020, OSI secured a time-limited purchase agreement for the line from Norfolk Southern Railway Company. In July 2020, Norfolk Southern made public its intent to formally abandon the line. In October 2020, both Hudson and Essex County passed resolutions expressing support – the first official sign of support for the Essex-Hudson Greenway project by the counties. 

A long-held vision of all the communities along the route, the resolutions solidify the intent of both Essex and Hudson Counties to work with OSI to seek financing and ownership for their portions of the Essex-Hudson Greenway. OSI is also working to provide initial guidance for development of the property as a multi-use trail and provide detailed information regarding current site conditions.

With abandonment in hand, Norfolk Southern will look to sell this asset quickly. OSI’s agreement represents the best chance that the corridor remains completely intact for the public’s use.

In addition to its health and transportation benefits, the creation of a new Essex-Hudson Greenway offers a range of other environmental and economic benefits. The project stands out as especially vital as the public turns more and more toward local access to green space. The project also offers the potential to reduce traffic and allow for improved infrastructure connectivity for things like broadband and emergency response.

An aerial view of the proposed Essex Hudson Greenway in Bloomfield.

About Open Space Institute

Founded more than four decades ago, the Open Space Institute (OSI) has partnered in the protection of 2.3 million acres across eastern North America from Quebec to Florida. Over the past 16 years, OSI has worked to protect more than 21,000 acres of New Jersey farms, forests, and local parkland within the Highlands, the Pinelands, the Bayshore, and the heavily developed northeastern suburbs. In addition to the Essex Hudson Greenway, OSI’s current projects include efforts to help protect land and improve water quality in the Delaware River Basin and provide public access to the 1,200-acre Jersey City Reservoir in Boonton and Parsippany.

About New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition

The New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition (NJBWC) is the only statewide advocacy organization for bicyclists and pedestrians and provides a collective voice for everyone who believes that a more rideable and walkable New Jersey means a more livable, equitable, and sustainable New Jersey. NJBWC officially adopted the Essex Hudson Greenway Project in 2014 and has been a leader in building the advocacy campaign to make it a reality.

About the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance The September 11th National Memorial Trail is a 1,300-mile system of trails and roadways that links the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The route serves as a symbol of national resiliency and character and as a tribute

A Year Defined by Silver Linings

Submitted by the KinderSmile Foundation

The year 2020 has proven to be a difficult year, but for KinderSmile Foundation, it was defined by silver linings.

Thanks to a technology capital improvement grant from Partners for Health Foundation, which was received immediately prior to the Dental Home closures necessitated by COVID-19, we were able to continue to serve the community remotely. The new laptop computers included all necessary software, including our HIPAA compliant patient management system. This enabled us to create a virtual slideshow to present oral health education to students and staff at partnering schools, hold Zoom staff meetings, and continue to track and report data to our grantors. Most importantly, through the COVID-19 pandemic hiatus, when our Dental Homes were closed for three months, our KinderSmile Community Oral Health Center Bloomfield dentists attended to more than 36 teledentistry calls for various dental emergencies of infections and swellings.

The ability to provide virtual services during the pandemic has been a valuable culture of health change, especially for our uninsured and underinsured patients, and recalls the original story that led Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes to found KinderSmile Foundation. In 2007, a 12 year-old Black boy from Baltimore died from an untreated dental infection that traveled to his brain. His story was the sign that Dr. Nicole had been waiting for, compelling her to establish KinderSmile Foundation with a mission of providing underserved children with access to comprehensive dental care and to educate children and their families about the importance of dental hygiene, envisioning a future where every child has access to a dentist and preventable dental diseases are eradicated.

Our Dental Homes fill a large gap in New Jersey’s available resources, allowing underserved at-risk children to receive high-quality comprehensive oral health care in a barrier-free, clean, welcoming, educational, and accessible setting.

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the health inequities that continue to plague the inner cities, underscoring socioeconomic and racial disparities in access to care. Black and Hispanic Americans have been affected at four times the rate of white Americans by COVID-19. The rise in unemployment has further disparaged these communities. Despite the increase in need and cost of PPE and infection control supplies due to this pandemic, we continue our mission of providing care to at-risk patients in a safe environment to for our staff, volunteers, and community, without seeking any additional fees from our patients. We also continue to work with community partners to educate and stress the importance of linking patients to our Dental Home, thereby helping the state of NJ reduce burdens on hospital emergency departments.

We thank Partners for Health for helping us serve the community and achieve these silver linings, enabling us to give more children and families a fighting chance to live. One smile at a time!

Partners for Health Welcomes Three New Trustees

The Partners for Health Foundation Board of Trustees elected three new members who joined the Board on January 1, 2021. 

Diana Candelejo, MPA is the Corporate Director of Anchor Strategy for the Social Impact and Community Investment (SICI) practice at RWJBarnabas Health. With an emphasis on ensuring health equity, the SICI practice is rooted in strategic policy change, combined with evidence based and innovative programs that address the social, economic, and environmental conditions that have a significant impact on health outcomes.

Diana leads the system’s anchor mission to Hire, Buy, Invest Local. She has spearheaded the formalization of anchor initiatives at RWJBH’s pilot facility, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and the South Ward community in Newark. She oversees the Corporate Anchor Roundtable, which is the system’s internal accountability mechanism for asset leaders to promote anchor initiatives across departments. Diana has also been working with the City of Newark to promote local hiring of qualified and educated young professionals as part of the city’s Newark 2020 initiative.

She previously worked with the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation to research and create data visualizations for their local procurement strategies that supported local, minority, and women-owned businesses.  She is also the former Curator of the Newark Global Shapers Community Hub, and has provided pro-bono consulting in the education sector.

Diana is a native Newarker and local Newark artist who splits her time between painting and promoting economic development in her community. She received a Master’s of Public Administration Degree from the London School of Economics, focusing her studies on Economic Development, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Studio Art from Drew University.

Felicia Fdyfil-Horne, LCSW is a Clinical Social Work/Therapist who is dedicated to creating a safe space for healing.  In 2015, she founded HOPE Therapeutic Services, LLC., and in 2017 she founded its non-profit branch, HOPE Lives Here Inc.  She serves as Executive Director of both organizations which are located in West Orange.             

HOPE is based on the passion and commitment to helping individuals and families find hope through the power of building their own internal and external resources. Felicia and her team of 65 clinicians help clients work toward achieving goals through the collaborative effort of utilizing therapeutic interventions. Her treatment specialties include trauma-informed care, crisis intervention, family work, abuse/neglect, peer issues, self-esteem, and self-care routine building.  

Felicia was previously an Outreach Clinician for Family Connections, Inc.  She has also worked as an independent contractor providing therapeutic services, and as a Social Worker for the Department of Veterans Affairs – HUD VASH Program.

Felicia is currently the Chair of the NASW – NJ Essex County Unit, and a Trustee of Family Connections, Inc.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts-History and American Studies Degree from the College of St. Elizabeth, and an MS in Social Work Degree from Columbia University.

Paula A. Gutierrez, MHA is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion and the Babs Siperstein PROUD Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, part of the RWJBarnabas Health System.

Paula has over 10 years of experience in healthcare administration as well as knowledge in developing and managing internal and external diversity relations, managing employee network groups and diversity councils. She has designed and implemented programs and strategies that foster diversity, equity and inclusion such as addressing health inequities and social determinants of health in marginalized communities as well as mitigating unconscious bias in hiring and promotion, mentoring, employee resource groups, diversity target setting and other inclusion practices. 

Paula also currently serves as a Civil Rights Commissioner for Bloomfield Township; an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Health and Medical Sciences; and sits on NJ Governor Phil Murphy’s LGBTQ+ Taskforce. In 2017, she received the Early Careerist Award from the American College of Healthcare Executives of NJ (ACHENJ).

Paula has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from New Jersey Institute of Technology, and a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from Seton Hall University. 

We Salute our Communities!

Partners for Health Foundation salutes our communities for their tremendous efforts during this difficult year!

Please enjoy this video featuring music from the Passing Notes, Montclair High School’s student-run a cappella group, and photos submitted from community partners.

Thank you!

MFF Panel Discussion Addresses Food Insecurity

A timely and important discussion about food insecurity in New Jersey and advocacy efforts to address hunger was produced as part of Partners for Health Foundation’s sponsorship of the 2020 Montclair Film Festival.  With the COVID-19 pandemic having an outsized economic impact on families and communities in need, support to end food insecurity is at record levels. 

Partners for Health also co-presented HUNGRY TO LEARN during the Festival, a documentary about hunger on college campuses. HUNGRY TO LEARN tells the story of four college students facing hunger and homelessness and how their dreams of success, college degrees, and food security at school remain just beyond their reach.

You can view the conversation below or at this link:

Panel Discussion: Food Insecurity in New Jersey


John Mooney,
Founding Editor and Executive Director of NJ Spotlight News

John Mooney is the founding editor of NJ Spotlight, starting the news site in 2009 after more than 30 years in print journalism. Before NJ Spotlight, John was an education reporter with the Newark Star-Ledger and the Bergen Record and a contributing writer for The New York Times.


Anne Mernin,
Executive Director of Toni’s Kitchen

Anne Mernin is the Executive Director of Toni’s Kitchen, a food ministry of St. Luke’s Church in Montclair.  Prior to joining Toni’s Kitchen, Anne worked as a management consultant in the private sector.

Adele LaTourette, Director of the NJ Anti-Hunger Coalition

Adele has led Hunger Free New Jersey since its inception in 1980. She is the leading voice in New Jersey’s anti-hunger and nutrition community and serves as a resource to emergency food coalitions throughout the state. Adele’s leadership has earned her state and national recognition. 

Elisa Neira,
Deputy Commissioner of the NJ Department of Human Services

Elisa Neira oversees the Division of Family Development, the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Division of Disability Services.

KinderSmile Foundation Provides Access to Oral Health Care to At-Risk Youth

Submitted by KinderSmile Foundation 

The mission of KinderSmile Foundation is to provide underserved children with access to comprehensive dental care and to educate children and their families about the importance of dental hygiene as related to total health. We envision a future where every child has access to a dentist, and preventable dental diseases are eradicated. We provide access to care and a link to a barrier-free brick-and-mortar Dental Home, while focusing on Education, Intervention, and Prevention in order to empower patients and their families with methods to combat dental disease.

The dental field poses a unique high risk of transmission of COVID-19, due to close proximity to unmasked patients and unavoidable aerosol droplets produced during dental procedures. Notwithstanding the risks, the increase in need, and the escalating costs of PPE and infection control supplies due to this pandemic, KinderSmile Foundation continues its mission of providing comprehensive dental care to at-risk patients while providing a safe environment to staff, volunteers, and the community. Unlike many private dentists who implemented additional fees per visit to offset the extra costs, consistent with KSF’s mission, we are not seeking any additional fees from our patients.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted economic and racial disparities in access to care. The high unemployment rates and lack of full time schooling are undoubtedly increasing the number of uninsured and underserved families. KSF’s Founder & CEO, Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes, tirelessly works to raise awareness of inequities in oral health access, and was selected to receive the 2020 Benco Lucy Hobbs Humanitarian Award, by the National Council of Negro Women Montclair Branch, and was one of the four finalists for the 2020 NJ Biz Public Health Heroes. In October 2020 she will be acknowledged for her service and dedication to dentistry by the New Jersey Dental Association, at their 150th Anniversary Event.

We are grateful to Partners for Health Foundation, whose continued support has provided preventive and comprehensive care to at-risk uninsured and underinsured children throughout our programs and in our Dental Home KinderSmile Community Oral Health Center Bloomfield.

West Orange Designated as an Age-Friendly Community

West Orange recently received formal acceptance into the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities and the World Health Organization Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.   This prestigious award reaffirms the Township’s commitment to an age-friendly community, which benefits residents of all ages.

The age-friendly movement, launched by the World Health Organization in 2005, continues to spread across the globe. The guiding principle is creating local solutions to help meet the global challenges of our aging population. Age-friendly communities are inclusive and benefit from diverse citizen engagement to identify and address the needs of the community.

West Orange is only the 13th New Jersey community to receive this honor and the 466th in the United States to be awarded Age-Friendly certification.

To recognize West Orange’s age-friendly initiatives and commitment to senior livability, the Township created the distinctive age-friendly logo, pictured below. The tree, symbolic of growth, strength, and beauty is encased in an incandescent light bulb, an homage to Thomas Edison, the West Orange genius inventor.

“This is exciting news for West Orange and it underscores the Township’s commitment to meet the challenges of an aging population”, stated Dorothy Sanders, Senior Livability Coordinator.  “Age-friendly initiatives benefit an entire community, not just older adults. We remain grateful to the Partners for Health Foundation for their incredible support of our age-friendly initiatives”, added Theresa M. De Nova, Health Officer .

By the year 2030, New Jersey’s over-60 population is projected to represent 25% of the state’s population.

Montclair Community Farms: Engaging the Community through Farming and Food

Written by Beth Pulawski, Director of Montclair Community Farms

This year has been challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic and #BlackLivesMatter movement have exposed the deep inequities and inequalities that have existed and persisted in our country and community for too long. They have required that we not only think differently, but do differently, to continue to learn, and be better and do better. They have also showed us the power in community and the things that bring us together.

At Montclair Community Farms, we have really taken this to heart and thought hard about how we work to address all of the factors that lead to healthy living – access to food, education, job opportunities, and community, among others. We don’t have all of the answers but we do have a renewed sense of purpose about what we can do as an organization, and as individuals, to best serve our community. We can continue to provide space to engage and educate the community through farm, food, health and a little bit of fun, and do so regardless of a person’s time, finances, child care, or the many other barriers that they may face.  We can also continue to listen to our community.

Thanks to the generous funding of Partners for Health Foundation and Van Vleck House & Gardens and Montclair Foundation we grew more than 3,000 seedlings including 1,000 for our farms’, and 2,000 that were donated to the community. We also engaged more than 50 new gardeners (at free, reduced and full pricing) in our first-ever virtual Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden series. We are proud that our students are now growing and maintaining thriving vegetable gardens. Perhaps more important than growing their own homegrown fruits and vegetables, these gardeners – who would not have met otherwise – have a new community around a shared experience, purpose and passion. Going forward we seek to provide more such opportunities and reach more deeply into our community.

One area we are keen to explore and that was brought on in part by COVID-19 is engaging more young people – who hold the greatest opportunity to make a positive impact for generations to come – in strengthening local food systems.  We want to support youth in developing 21st century skills – innovation, creativity, and leadership –  through small scale grain milling with community partners like Ruthie’s Farm (of the infamous Ruthie’s BBQ in Montclair), and the development of value-added products such as flour, pizza dough, tomato sauce and salsa. Interestingly enough, this same topic appeared in a NYT Op-Ed last month. Our goal is to provide alternative career pathways through paid positions, as we recognize that a lack of income is the number one barrier to food security and many other social determinants of health.  We hope you will join us.

Community Health Worker Improves Outcomes for those who are Homeless

Zufall Health Center’s Community Health Worker has been reaching out to those who are homeless and reducing barriers to seeking primary care services, made possible in part by a two-year grant from Partners for Health Foundation.

Lakshmi Silva, Zufall’s Community Health Worker, provides consistent outreach to homeless individuals in West Orange and surrounding areas, linking them with medical, human services and benefits programs to improve their health overall. She was a consistent presence at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, early childhood agencies and government offices.

Research by the National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Alliance to End Homelessness and others has shown that poor health is inextricably linked with homelessness. Among individuals struggling to pay rent or to feed their families, an illness or disability can start a downward spiral into homelessness. Those who are homeless tend to disregard their need for care until their health conditions are dire.  They are disproportionately subject to higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, teen pregnancy, late entry into prenatal care, childhood obesity, substance abuse, and significant disparities in cancer outcomes. 

Ms. Silva says, “My focus is to develop a plan of action that helps each homeless person, recognizing that the lack of basic needs such as food and shelter is a barrier that prevents these individuals from moving forward to stability and health.  During the past two years trusting relationships have been formed with approximately 200 homeless individuals, helping them navigate a myriad of physical and mental health issues, often accompanied by the challenges of addiction.  Building confidence and trust is the key to the program’s success; it serves as a doorway to their engagement in primary care and other services.”

Milbank Park Community Garden Expands Access to Fresh Produce in Bloomfield

Neighbor to Neighbor Network (NTNN), in collaboration with the Township of Bloomfield and the Bloomfield Garden Committee, established the Community Garden at Milbank Park in 2019 and is enjoying it first full growing season this year. This volunteer-led project is a grassroots effort designed to create gardening space for residents, as well as a community gathering space that encourages healthy living, positive eating habits, and environmental stewardship.  The garden was funded, in part, with a grant from Partners for Health Foundation.

In addition to the 28 raised bed garden at Milbank Park, the Township of Bloomfield has community gardens at the Oakside Cultural Center and Pulaski Park. 

The Bloomfield Garden Committee maintains strict social distancing and sanitizing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic; only 10 people are allowed in the garden at a time.  The gardens have yielded 41.5 pounds of vegetables that have been donated to the Park Methodist Food Pantry thus far in 2020; they anticipate surpassing their goal of 200 pounds of donated produce by the end of the season.

Virtual programs are offered in collaboration with the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, on topics such as Canning & Preservation, Bolstering Immune Systems, Meal Plan Ideas for CKD & Diabetes, and Diet & Our DNA.

Future plans include building lending libraries at each garden to be stocked with gardening books, and expanding the number of raised beds at Milbank, some of which will be customized for wheelchair access and to accommodate individuals who have back injuries.

MFEE America to Me Real Talk on Race Takes on Greater Urgency

MFEE America to Me Real Talk on Race Takes on Greater Urgency

Since 2018, the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE) has engaged over 600 Montclairians in a town-wide process for understanding issues of race and equity more deeply using the America to Me documentary series. The series examines racial inequities through the eyes of teens in a Chicago suburban high school that looks and feels a lot like Montclair High. Given the uptick in racial violence against Black men and women, this process for understanding the perniciousness of racism is more critical now than ever.

Working with Montclair State University professors, Drs. Tanya Maloney and Bree Picower, MFEE has shaped a customized learning experience that guides participants through their personal journey of deepening their racial literacy while preparing them for individual and collective action. The process focuses on learning key frameworks and language for understanding issues of race and equity. Participants use these frameworks to debrief the documentaries in Watch Groups and to guide self-reflection on their own racial literacy and personal accountability. They end the experience by identifying individual and/or collective action items to tackle.

“We have been overwhelmed by the response to this initiative,” says Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, MFEE Executive Director. “From the standing-room only crowd at the March 1st launch to the over thirty people who committed to continue their Watch Groups online after the pandemic hit, to the three hundred people who attended the June 14th closing event, it is inspiring to see so many Montclair folks wanting to do this work. We believe this experience is especially valuable now, as it can help people identify how they can put their privilege on the line for Black and Brown folks.”

Current participants are already finding that the process is changing their thinking and inspiring them to act. “One of the big take-aways from this group is that I, as a white person, have to figure out ways to actively stick my neck out on issues about race,” wrote one participant. Another shared, “the sessions have given vocabulary to what I, as a woman of color, have always known.”

The America to Me process has been generously supported by MFEE, The Schumann Fund for New Jersey and Partners for Health. MFEE is grateful to its funding partners for investing in this critical work. To fuel action to further address issues of race and equity in Montclair schools, MFEE has allocated $150,000 to support Excellence in Equity grants. Parents, administrators, teachers and students are encouraged to work collaboratively to submit proposals in fall 2020. A second round of the America to Me Watch Group process will kick off in September. To participate, visit

Registration is Now Open for “All Remote” MILL Summer MILL Classes

The Montclair Institute for Lifelong Learning (MILL) will once again offer “all remote” programming for its summer sessions, with virtual classes in program areas that include the Arts, History and Current Events, and Health and Wellness. 

When the Division of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair closed Edgemont Park House for programs in early March due to the COVID pandemic, staff began investigating ways that programs could continue remotely. Senior Services Coordinator Michelle DeWitt tested platform options with various program groups who regularly met at Edgemont Park. Zoom emerged as the most practical platform.

The spring semester was a big success, with 750 registrations for 16 classes. An advantage of using Zoom technology is that many classes could accommodate up to 300 students, far surpassing the capacity of in-person learning.

One of programs that successfully transitioned to virtual learning was a watercolor class called “Out the Window.”  Students sheltering in place were encouraged to paint what they saw outside the windows of their own homes, resulting in a range of lovely landscapes, skyscapes, flowers and depictions of vegetables.

Instructor Karen DeLuca describes her approach to teaching on Zoom by saying, “I would first introduce the lesson and then do live, on-camera demonstrations. Students appreciated the opportunity to observe various watercolor techniques up close, giving them a real feel for the painting process. They were able to submit questions through the chat box, as well as share their comments. One student observed that the experience was a bit like watching Julia Child cook!”

Karen adds, “The team at the MILL was way ahead of the curve in instituting this program. I am so thankful to be part of this new way of educating, reaching and informing all who are interested.”

To learn more about the MILL, visit To donate to the MILL matching grants campaign through Partners for Health Foundation, visit

View a gallery of MILL student paintings at

Cheryl Slutzky – Love Your Veggies
Sue Morrocco –
Close up of Green Peppers
Elizabeth Pugh- Close up of Cherry Blossoms
Sharron Allen – Birds in the Sky

T-shirt Sales Support Emergency Funding efforts

Proceeds from the sale of “Montclair Strong” T-shirts have been donated to Partners for Health and will be used for emergency grants to address increased demand at local soup kitchens and food pantries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Pam Scott, Executive Director of the Foundation, said, “We are grateful to the enterprising Montclair High School students who produced and sold these T-shirts. The $500 that was raised will help our neighbors in need when the need has never been greater.”

$80K in Contributions Reached for Toni’s Kitchen!

In late April, three local funders joined the Township of Montclair to address the escalating food need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Partners for Health Foundation, The Schumann Fund for New Jersey, the Montclair Fund for Women and the Township contributed a total of $80,000 to establish a pooled Matching Fund for Toni’s Kitchen. Donations made directly to Toni’s Kitchen by May 31, 2020 were to be matched dollar for dollar up to $80,000 and used to strengthen the availability of food in the local community.

Donations reached the $80,000 mark more than a week ahead of the May 31 deadline! Toni’s Kitchen will receive $160,000 to be used to help the food insecure, thanks to the generosity of the funders and the people of Montclair.

Toni’s Kitchen thanked supporters in its announcement about making the match:

“We are THRILLED to announce that YOU DID IT. We met the match and Toni’s will receive $160,000! Thank you to the funders and to our neighbors. We are so overwhelmed by your generosity!”

Since the closure of schools and businesses due to the pandemic, there have been major disruptions throughout the community. Seniors are isolating, restaurant workers are unemployed, and families are suddenly without income. Toni’s Kitchen has responded by redesigning its work to meet rapidly growing food needs. To put the increased demand for food into perspective, in 2019 Toni’s Kitchen provided an average of 4,300 meals a week. Since March 2020, the number has grown to 16,000 meals each week. And the growth has not slowed.

“This Matching Fund is a game-changer,” said Anne Mernin, Executive Director of Toni’s Kitchen. “Having resources to purchase food and cover our additional refrigeration needs is key. We know the year ahead will be challenging.”

Partners for Health Foundation contributed $30,000 to the Matching Fund. “We’re all stronger when we work together, and we hope the community responds generously to support our neighbors in need, when the need has never been greater,” said Pam Scott, Executive Director.

Learn More


The second MONTCLAIR Bounce Festival scheduled for this Spring has been postponed indefinitely but organizers are offering online experiences and resources reflecting the Festival’s goals of helping the community sustain itself through life’s ups and downs. These include creative collaborations with local partners, practical information and a virtual place for neighbors to come together.

Upcoming online events include:

Details, registration, viewing and participation information are available at  The website also features practical resources on crisis needs and mental health support, as well as on individual and family activities that are both playful and meaningful.

MONTCLAIR Bounce reflects mental health research on ways we can boost our moods and bolster our resilience. The Festival is a project of Toni’s Kitchen, which is playing a central role in addressing food insecurity resulting from COVID-19.


Original Article can be found at the Montclair Local

Jose German writes the “Gardening for Life” column for Montclair Local and is the founder of the Northeast Earth Coalition. Shared with permission from Jose German.

The Victory Garden movement, nowadays more commonly referred to as urban farming, is very strong in Montclair.

In the past weeks, Montclair residents, facing depleted supermarket shelves and ordered to stay at home, have turned back to a tried and proven response to uncertain times: home-grown food. The Victory Garden, which helped America through two world wars, is set to make a comeback.

Victory Gardens are a natural strategy for coping with this pandemic: growing vegetables on one’s own ground brings people outdoors, with no   chance of being infected.

The Victory Garden has a long history. People may remember it from World War II, but it actually began earlier.

The first Victory Garden movement was born during World War I, when farmers were called to battle and farms became battlefields of the Great War. With a severe food crisis affecting Europe, the United States assumed the role of feeding millions of starving Europeans. 

Charles Lathrop Pack, one of the wealthiest men in the country, began organizing the Victory Garden movement weeks before the United States joined the war in 1917. 

Pack encouraged Americans to plant all available land, including yards, schoolyards, parks, and vacant lots, to grow food to support the war effort. Pack’s efforts were very effective, with a total of 5.2 million new garden plots cultivated by 1918.

The movement lost popularity after the armistice, only to re-emerge stronger than ever with the United States’ entry into the Second World War in 1941. 

Interestingly, the Department of Agriculture was not initially happy with this initiative. However, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt helped to jump-start the movement by creating a Victory Garden on the White House lawn, and by 1944 around 20 million Victory Gardens produced more than 40 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the country. 

Victory Gardens were seen as a way for Americans on the home front to support the struggle against fascism, with the added benefit of supplementing diets in a time of food rationing. The war’s end in 1945, along with the postwar obsession with large-scale industrialized agriculture, brought about the second demise of this inspiring movement.

Bob McLean works in his garden.

Montclair is well-known for residents gardening at home to produce their own food. Bob McLean, who moved to Montclair with his parents in the 1920s, told this author he planted his first garden at age 6, “buying seeds with three cents my parents gave me.” McLean passed away in 2011.

McLean’s garden was impressive, as was the quality of his soil. His yard, he said, was eight inches higher than his neighbors’ yards as a result.  McLean was a pioneer, and his garden inspired neighbors for decades. 

Pat Kenschaft’s house is just across the street from McLean’s on Gordonhurst Avenue. 

“In this time of quarantine the garden is the thing that is keeping me sane,” Kenschaft said. She is known to many in Montclair as an activist for growing food at home, and has inspired many people with her organic garden, sharing her gardening journey through open garden tours and via email. 


“My garden is still thriving,” Kenschaft said. “Four decades ago I was sick and ready to go on disability, and my daughter suggested that I start a garden, which I did. In a phenomenal way, gardening transformed my life.”

One of the new Victory Gardens in Montclair was made by Lily Becker, 20, a sophomore at Cornell University. Becker returned to Montclair when her university closed due to coronavirus and made use of her free time to create a backyard vegetable garden with eight raised beds – and install a chicken coop. 

“I want to inspire people my age about being sustainable and growing your own food,” Becker said. The garden will provide all the veggies her family needs, not to mention those eggs. As a young woman, Becker feels the overwhelming pressure to take action against the climate crisis, and home food production is a start. 

The coronavirus pandemic was the trigger motivating her to be ready in case of a food shortage. “I need to send a message to my peers in college and in my community that this is the right thing to do,” she said.

In addition to backyard — or front yard — vegetable gardens at private homes, organizations in town have created community gardens to support families in need and food programs for those without space to grow their own. 

Lily Becker in her Victory Garden. COURTESY EMILY BECKER

In 2017, as part of an Eagle Scout project, Montclair High School students created a community garden at Rand Park that, like most such gardens in town, donates the produce to local food pantries. Becker helped create that garden. 

Leading organizations promoting community gardens in Montclair include A Lot to Grow, Montclair Community Farms, and the Northeast Earth Coalition (NEEC). Partners for Health Foundation, a local nonprofit organization promoting healthy diets, supports many of the community gardens in Montclair. 

Along with Cornucopia Network of New Jersey, a local organization supporting local food production, Partners for Health partially funded a new community garden developed by the NEEC’s Urban Growers Program on Pine Street at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. 

This garden is unique since it provides food for three refugee families from Central America who live on the premises. Each family has its own plot, and they have already planted the garden with peas, lettuce, cilantro, potatoes, carrots, onions, and radishes, among other veggies. 

Of the 12 raised beds in the garden, six are dedicated to the Toni’s Kitchen food program.  

In times of crisis, Americans have turned to Victory Gardens. This movement, born of war, continues to inspire people today in the face of the coronavirus struggle, helping families to grow their own organic food steps from their kitchens.


  1. Find a spot in your yard that receives at least six hours of direct sun.
  1. Make a raised bed of natural wood, since treated wood has arsenic, which contaminates the soil. Set up at least three raised beds 5-feet-by-4-feet each or the size of your preference.If you have a small space, containers will do.
  1. Get organic soil, available in your preferred nursery, and a bag of compost to be mixed with the soil. Each raised bed would need a minimum of four bags of soil. 
  1. Get seeds (preferably non-GMO). Heirloom seeds are best.
  1. Include seeds for vegetables that grow in both cool and warm seasons.  During cool season you can grow lettuce, arugula, parsley, kale, beans, radishes, carrots, potatoes, collard greens, broccoli and anything in the family of cabbage, among others. In warm weather (May to September) you can grow corn,  tomatoes, beans, summer lettuce, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, etc.  Remember that everything that you planted in the spring is good to be planted in the fall. 
  1. If you lack the patience to grow from seeds, you can buy seedlings from a local nursery.
  1. If critters are a problem, protect your garden with a fence or a net.

Registration Now Open For MILL “All-Remote” Spring Semester

Registration for the Montclair Institute for Lifelong Learning (MILL) launched on schedule on April 6, but participants will find that the timetable is practically the only aspect of the program to remain unchanged from prior semesters.

When the Division of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair closed Edgemont Park House for programs in early March, staff began investigating ways that programs could continue remotely. Senior Services Coordinator Michelle DeWitt tested platform options with various program groups who regularly met at Edgemont Park. Zoom emerged as the most practical platform.

“Once the platform was determined we reached out to all of our MILL instructors to develop a semester that stays true to the MILL vision, despite the unprecedented situation we are all facing,” said Director of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair Director Dr. Katie York.

The Montclair Public Library will provide virtual Zoom training for MILL students, and Manhattan Prep is donating a hands-on workshop for the MILL instructors to hone their online teaching skills.

“Our first priority has been making sure our residents are safe and fed,” said Dr. York, referencing the Township’s partnership with Toni’s Kitchen and other community partners to distribute food to older residents. “But we also want to do all we can to prevent social isolation as much as possible. Remote class instruction is a positive step that will help our older residents remain engaged while participating in some truly great learning opportunities.”

By moving to remote classes the MILL is now able to accommodate more students this semester with 14 courses, most of which now have an enrollment capacity of 300. Some classes require a student to view the instructor’s video and while others can be accessed with just a phone. Many classes will be re-aired on Montclair TV34.

Partners for Health Foundation committed additional funding to ensure a smooth transition to all-remote programming.

To learn more about the MILL, visit  To donate to the MILL matching grants campaign through Partners for Health Foundation, visit

Montclair and Bloomfield Join Forces to Ensure All Residents Counted

Montclair and Bloomfield are joining forces to form a Complete Count Committee to ensure that the 2020 Census brings appropriate funding and resources to our communities. The Committee will focus on those who are at risk for being significantly undercounted, including very young children, low income residents, people living in multigenerational housing, and others. Montclair and Bloomfield both have multiple census tracts that were undercounted in 2010. 

The 2020 Census, launching on March 12, is the key tool used by the federal government to determine Congressional representation and funding allocations of more than $675 billion in public services including roads, schools and transportation. Conducted once every 10 years, any population undercounts can impact a community for a full decade. 

The Montclair-Bloomfield Complete Count Committee is chaired by Anne Mernin of Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair. The Committee includes representatives from the schools, local government, libraries, local nonprofit organizations and others serving Hard To Count populations. The partnership was formed thanks to the support of Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson and Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia. Grant funding from Partners for Health Foundation is supporting the efforts of the Committee. 

Learn more about the Montclair-Bloomfield Complete Count Committee by visiting their Facebook pages:

About the 2020 Census

Responding to the 2020 Census will be easy, safe and convenient. Responses will be accepted online, by phone, or by mail. All residents should receive an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census by mail in mid-March. Reminders and a paper questionnaire will be sent by mail in April to those who do not respond online or by phone. In late April, the Census will mail a final reminder notice; following this, a Census taker will follow up in person. 

All responses are confidential and protected by federal law, and Census data is never shared with any law enforcement agency. To learn more, including how the US Census Bureau protects personal information, visit 

The Census Bureau is also hiring for a wide variety of temporary positions. Starting pay is $20/hr for most positions. For more information, visit

Double the Value

On a fall day at the Montclair Farmers’ Market, a customer walked up to the market managers’ tent with a $5 bill. But it wasn’t your average $5 bill – it was a Good Food Bucks coupon, part of the Double Bucks program that allows federal food benefit recipients to buy twice as much local produce with their federal food dollars at the Montclair Farmers’ Market, funded by the Partners for Health Foundation.

This customer had found the bill on the ground, and he knew exactly what it was. He had used his own Good Food Bucks earlier in the season to buy fresh produce, and wanting to make sure that the original owner had the same opportunity to buy fresh food as him, he asked the market staff to help him return it to its rightful owner. Before leaving, he remarked, “I know how important these are when you need them.”

In 2011, City Green, a food access and urban farming non-profit based in Clifton, launched the Good Food Bucks program. It allowed people with SNAP or WIC food benefits to buy fresh and organic fruits and vegetables grown right up the street at City Green Farms in Paterson and Clifton. Since its inception, the program has doubled the value of Good Food Buck coupons, so $5 at the local grocery store turns into $10 at a City Green farm stand. Since its founding, the program has expanded rapidly. In 2019 alone, City Green distributed 40,000 pounds of fresh produce to nearly 6,000 customers at 17 locations. To expand the program, City Green launched the Garden State Good Food Network, which brought the program to farmers’ markets across the state. Through City Green’s funding, training, and marketing support, dozens of farmers now sell their produce to federal food benefit recipients, including the Montclair Farmers’ Market, “Our goal is for all SNAP and WIC shoppers in New Jersey to be able to shop at a farmer’s market near their community, and access the same local, high quality produce that their neighbors do” said City Green Executive Director Jennifer Papa.

At the Montclair Farmers’ Market, less than twenty minutes after the man returned the lost Double Bucks coupon, an elderly woman approached the tent asking if anyone had found any bucks at the market. She had lost hers while shopping, and was worried about not being able to afford all the groceries on her list. When the farm stand attendants handed her the returned bucks, her face lit up in joy. “It was a simple moment,” said Adrian Diaz, the Double Bucks Coordinator at the Montclair Farmers’ Market, “but it was very moving.”

“Juicy peaches, glistening cherries, just-picked corn and rainbow-colored carrots are only some of the enticing, fresh fruits and vegetables on offer every Saturday at The Montclair Farmers’ Market. The market is enjoyed by thousands of residents and visitors each year, and thanks to the markets’ Double Bucks Program, shoppers of all ages and incomes are welcome to partake of the bounty. Hundreds of our neighbors who otherwise would not be able to shop at the market utilize this program each month. Many tell us how much they now look forward to their shopping experience at our market, thanks to City Green and the support of the Parnters for Health Foundation, The Montclair Farmers’ Market is thrilled to offer affordable access to nutritious, fresh, locally-grown food to seniors and low-income families across our area, while supporting our farmers and local economy.” – Adrian Diaz, Double Bucks Coordinator, Montclair Farmers Market”

Bloomfield College Joins JED Campus to Support Student Mental Health

Bloomfield College to Assess and Enhance Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicide Prevention Efforts in Partnership with The Jed Foundation (JED)

Bloomfield College announced that it has joined JED Campus in support of student well-being and mental health. The program is a nationwide initiative of The Jed Foundation (JED) designed to help schools evaluate and strengthen their mental health, substance misuse and suicide prevention programs and systems to ensure that schools have the strongest possible mental health safety nets.

“There is a critical need for mental health education, substance abuse programs and suicide prevention initiatives across all colleges and universities and Bloomfield College is no exception. Thanks to funding support from Partners for Health Foundation, , we are now connected to The Jed Foundation and participating in JED Campus. With a background in counseling, I know this partnership will enhance our existing efforts to help our students overcome their struggle with mental illness,” said Bloomfield College President, Marcheta P. Evans, Ph.D. 

“The college years are the age when many mental health issues first manifest, and it can be a time of significant stress and pressure,” said John MacPhee, Executive Director of JED. “JED Campus helps schools by working with them to survey everything their university is doing to support their students’ emotional health and find practical ways to augment these efforts in a comprehensive way. We believe that the implementation of a campus-wide approach to mental health will lead to safer, healthier communities, and likely greater student retention.”

Bloomfield College’s membership in JED Campus begins with establishing an interdisciplinary, campus-wide team to assess, support and implement program, policy, and system improvements and completing a confidential, self-assessment survey on its mental health promotion, substance abuse, and suicide prevention efforts. Upon completion of the assessment, JED Campus clinicians provide schools with a comprehensive feedback report identifying successes and opportunities for enhancements. Over the course of four years, Bloomfield College will collaborate with JED to help implement enhancements. All self-assessment responses and feedback reports are confidential.  

Rita Bettenbender Memorial Fund Honors Legacy of MILL Film Class Instructor

When the Montclair Institute for Lifelong Learning launched in March 2015, Rita Bettenbender’s Film Class was among its first offerings.  Rita passed away in January 2020 and to honor her legacy, the MILL has created the Rita Bettenbender Memorial Fund.  Donations to the fund will support future film classes in Rita’s memory, and will be eligible for a match from Partners for Health Foundation.

“Rita helped launch the MILL in a successful direction. Her classes were not only popular, but Rita’s teaching truly embodied the spirit of the MILL with her insights and ability to facilitate and moderate thoughtful discussion,” said Katie York, Director of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair, Department of Health & Human Services for the Township of Montclair.

According to one of her MILL students, Rita was, “A unique woman with incredible knowledge about her subject.  Not only did I look forward to movies I would otherwise never have seen but the interesting and sometimes heated discussions that followed were always informative and entertaining.” 

Click here to make a donation to the Rita Bettenbender Memorial Fund.

Checks, payable to Partners for Health, may also be mailed to:

Pam Scott, Executive Director        
Partners for Health Foundation
54 Plymouth Street
Montclair, NJ 07042

Click here for Rita Bettenbender’s obituary

Supporting working families through free tax preparation services and financial education

As New Jersey continues to struggle with an economy marked by low-wage jobs, unemployment, foreclosures, and an increasing cost of living, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) remains a crucial lifeline for low-income families. By lifting families out of poverty and giving a boost to local economies, the EITC is a vital tax credit for the more than 600,000 working New Jerseyans who rely on it ‘to make ends meet.’  Unfortunately, many families are unaware that the EITC even exists, or that they are eligible for these tax credits. In other instances, they spend hundreds of dollars paying high cost tax preparers for services that are available for free at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites.

To respond to this need, Partners for Health issued grants to  organizations for the 2020 tax season to provide EITC assistance through tax return preparation, financial literacy classes and targeted outreach to potential clients.

NJCAEF hosted free tax preparation days at the Bloomfield Public Library during the 2019 tax season. By the end of the grant term, NJCAEF provided free tax preparation services to 292 individuals and of those, 66 claimed the state and/or federal Earned Income Tax Credits). In total, $633,715 in refunds were made to the individuals served, with $167,000 in EITC!

Jackie Gifuni-Koutsouris, Partners for Health Foundation, and Naomi Anderson, Director of VITA at New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA), pictured at the 2020 NJCA Tax Season Press Conference & Reception in Newark on February 7th.

United Way of Northern NJ completed 654 tax returns in the PFH service area for the 2019 tax season. Of those, 97 clients received EITC. A total of $166,964 refunds were made in EITC dollars.

United Way of Northern New Jersey hired an outreach coordinator to provide information on free tax preparation services and available tax credits to a wide variety of organizations and the people they employ and serve.  For the 2019 tax season, United Way of Northern NJ provided financial education to 103 individuals in the PFH service area through workshops and one-on-one meetings.

Partners for Health Foundation is proud to partner with these organizations once again this tax season.

City Green’s Farm to Preschool Program Establishes Healthy Eating Habits

Early childhood is the ideal time to establish healthy behaviors, including healthy eating habits. According to the Food and Nutrition Service of the US Department of Agriculture, “Farm to Preschool works to connect early child care and education settings to local food producers with the objectives of serving locally-grown, healthy foods to young children, providing related nutrition education, and improving child nutrition.” The benefits of Farm to Preschool efforts parallel the goals and priorities of the early care and education community including an emphasis on experiential learning opportunities; parent and community engagement; and lifelong health and wellness for children, families and caregivers.

The City Green “Farm to Preschool Program” funded by Partners for Health Foundation was launched in the fall of 2017 at 19 local preschools.  Partner sites chose from a variety of program options that included teacher training, garden design/construction, planting lessons and Veggie Mobile Visits. 

Teacher trainings are a vital component of the program, providing them with the basics of gardening, time to practice seeding, and learning how to maintain and utilize their school’s garden as a valuable lesson tool. During the two-year pilot program, 162 Preschool teachers received training, 23 gardens were built, and more than 2,300 children between the ages of 3 and 5 were impacted.

The preschools City Green targets to work with are in low-income urban school districts with 80-100% free and reduced meal eligibility. While the ultimate goal is to increase procurement and serving of seasonal, local, and regional foods in school meals, this can only be accomplished by first developing student and administrative awareness of where our food comes from; how local foods contribute to healthy bodies and a healthy environment; and to cultivate an educational community that values and celebrates local healthy foods as part of the greater mission of improving our children’s nutrition and health.

Explore the Lenape Trail!

An Official Guide to the Lenape Trail developed by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, is now available to guide exploration of the trail and the parks that it traverses.

The 36-mile Lenape Trail brings visitors to Essex County’s great outdoor destinations by connecting 18 parks and 11 communities. This unique urban-suburban trail is a destination for residents to explore the wide range of healthy outdoor activities found right in our own backyards.  Since 2017, in partnership with the Essex County Park System and with funding support from Partners for Health Foundation, there have been trail reroutes, signage installation, and public workshops that resulted in improved trail visibility and enhanced volunteer recruitment.

The Official Guide to the Lenape Trail includes detailed maps and descriptions of points of interest along the trail, making it valuable for hikers and historians alike. The full guide (or just the sections that are of interest) can be viewed by clicking the “Lenape Trail Guide and Maps” button at  A hard copy of the guide is also available as a 42-page PDF (see below).  A digital Lenape Trail map can be downloaded through the Avenza Maps app on your mobile device. In addition, an interactive map, perfect for trip planning, is available online.  Information on the app and interactive map can be found through

Lenape Trail Field Manager Debra Kagan oversaw the creation of this digital guide with input from local museums, historical societies, and nature centers.  The goal is to enrich the trail experience of county residents and attract new hikers, walkers, and volunteers.

Cliff Finkle Elected PfH Board Chair!

Please join us in welcoming PFH’s new Board Chair, Clifford B. Finkle IV!

Cliff joined the PFH Board in 2014, and has served as Finance Chair since 2015 and First Vice Chair since 2016.  Additionally, Cliff sits on the Foundation’s Nominating and Strategic Planning Committees.

Cliff Finkle is a Senior Vice President with EVO Transportation and Energy Services.  Prior to joining EVO, Cliff was a Principal at Clifford B. Finkle Jr. Inc. and Finkle IV Freight and Logistics.  He joined Clifford B. Finkle Jr. Inc. in 2004 and founded Finkle IV Freight in 2006.  Cliff received his MBA from Georgetown University and a B.S. from Lehigh University. Between Lehigh and Georgetown, he worked for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.

Cliff and his wife Alexis moved to Montclair in 2004 after living in New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Alexis and Cliff have a son Pierce, who is 13 and a daughter, Skylar, who is 10. 

KinderSmile Foundation Hosts Inaugural SMILE! Awards Breakfast

KinderSmile Foundation recognized community partners – including Partners for Health Foundation – at the inaugural SMILE! Awards Breakfast, held in October at RWJ Barnabas Clara Maass Medical Center.

First Lady Tammy Murphy gave a keynote address, speaking passionately about her efforts to expose and eradicate the maternal and infant mortality crisis significantly impacting women of color in New JerseyThe event also included recognition of pregnant and newly postpartum mothers who have graduated from the KinderSmile Perinatal Health & Wellness Program. 

In the words of KinderSmile’s Founder and CEO, Nicole McGrath-Barnes, DDS FACD, “Our existing Perinatal Health & Wellness Program would not be successful without the initial support from Partners for Health.  So many mothers are smiling because they are healthier and empowered! This is because of your willingness to support our pilot program in 2016. Mothers leave the program educated on oral disease prevention, and after they deliver, their child has a place to call their Dental Home.”

Pictured above:
Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes, center, and First Lady Tammy Murphy (second from right) with Partners for Health Foundation staff (from left):  Jackie Gifuni-Koutsouris, Program Associate; Kathy Smith, Program Director; and Pam Scott, Executive Director.

Annual Turkey Ride to Benefit the Human Needs Food Pantry

Continuing a tradition that began six years ago, the Montclair Bikery 7th Annual Turkey Ride to collect turkeys for the Human Needs Food Pantry will take place on Sunday, November 24, 2019.  Cyclists will meet at the Montclair Bikery at 145 Valley Road at 9 AM and ride a flat, 15-mile circuitous route to the Brookdale Shoprite on Broad Street, Bloomfield where they will buy frozen turkeys, and deliver them (by bike and van) to the Human Needs Food Pantry in Montclair. The Human Needs Food Pantry distributes more than 1,000 turkeys and all the fixings for a Thanksgiving feast to their clients the week of November 19.

Those who are not able to ride on November 24, may still help the Human Needs Food Pantry by making a contribution for turkeys at the Montclair Bikery.  Partners for Health Foundation will match all monetary donations up to $10,000 made between now and November 24. 

Last year, more than 250 cyclists braved the cold, windy weather and bought and donated 350 turkeys to the Human Needs Food Pantry.  Over the last 6 years, the Turkey Ride has collected 1,300 turkeys and raised $125,000 for the Human Needs Food Pantry.  

More information is at

Benefits of Lifelong Learning

The Montclair Institute for Lifelong Learning (MILL) fosters opportunities to expand social connections and build knowledge and new skills for adults age 55+.  It is a core program of Lifelong Montclair, part of the Township’s commitment to becoming an age-friendly community. More than 250 classes have been offered since 2015, and there have been 1,500 registrations this year alone.  MILL classes are also free of charge and taught by high-level instructors.

Participating in MILL courses aren’t just for fun – there are tangible benefits to lifelong learning, as demonstrated by MILL student feedback and research.

Lifelong learning increases brain health

“I am 92 years old and always glad to learn something new.”

“The class has helped me realize that I can learn and enjoy something new.”

One study suggested that engaging your brain throughout your life may provide protection against Alzheimer’s disease.  Another suggested that engaging in lifelong learning may improve memory.  And further research demonstrated that ongoing cognitive activity may relate to improved cognitive performance

Lifelong learning expands social connections

“I’ve developed many new friendships with a diverse group of intelligent women!”

“The gathering of people with like-interests has gained me many new friendships!”

“The class is a community with lovely people who I look forward to joining with at every class.”

MILL classes are intentionally multiple weeks long, so new friendships can form and develop.

Lifelong learning improves mental health and reduces stress

“The MILL class has improved my life in many ways. I think I’m calmer, more focused, and certainly have better balance.”

“This class helped me in many ways: to reintroduce me to yoga, which I haven’t done in decades, to increase my physical and mental health and well-being, to ease my transition into semi-retirement and to introduce me to all the wonderful programming that happens through the MILL as well as the other senior programs at Edgemont.”

A study has suggested that lifelong learning may result in improved mental health and emotional resistance.

Lifelong learning builds knowledge and new skills!

“Classes like this help me to dust off and reacquaint with information that I breezed through in school. Now I get to understand and appreciate the importance of why and what occurred during this period of history.”

“In retirement I am exploring art. I learn a little more technique in each class.”

MILL courses offer a chance to discover and revisit topics that didn’t seem important during school and college.  Participation in the MILL is an opportunity to try out new skills for which you didn’t have the capacity at another time in your life.

A Legacy of Support for Nursing Education

Edward A. Smith appreciated the excellent nursing care he received at Mountainside Hospital, and starting in the 1970s he was an ardent supporter of both the hospital and the Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing.  Though he passed away in June of 2003, his legacy to helping students pursue careers in nursing has continued through the Edward A. Smith Memorial Nursing Scholarship. The scholarship is funded annually by contributions from his wife, Ellen Smith.

Mr. Smith was devoted to his family, his church and the community. He had two daughters, Janet and Nancy, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was born and raised in West Orange, lived in Bloomfield and then moved to Montclair after he married Ellen in 1962.  He spent his entire 40-year career at Prudential Insurance in Newark, starting in the mail room and working his way up to the Human Resources Department.  Mountainside Hospital was the beneficiary of annual matching gifts from Prudential during his tenure there.

Mr. Smith was also very active with the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Bloomfield, and later when the two churches merged, with the Bloomfield Presbyterian Church on the Green.  During the 1950s and 1960s, he served as a Church Deacon, Elder and Clerk of Session.

The Edward A. Smith Memorial Nursing Scholarship was established in 2005, and was awarded each year to a student attending the Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing until the school closed in 2016.  Since then, the scholarship has been awarded through a program established by Partners for Health Foundation through the Independent College Fund of New Jersey.  Scholarships are given to full-time nursing students attending programs at Bloomfield College, Caldwell University, Montclair State University, and the Seton Hall University School of Nursing. 

His daughter Janet recalls, “My father spent many days at Mountainside Hospital and he always did well there.  It was only natural that he wanted to support scholarships to help future nurses with their education.”

“Partners for Health Foundation appreciates the generosity of Edward and Ellen Smith, and the scholarships that have helped so many aspiring students to finish their nursing education.  We’re proud to have been part of assuring Ed’s legacy through this scholarship,” said Pam Scott, Executive Director.

Food Pantries in Need of Donations and Volunteers!

This back to school season, we ask you to remember your local food pantries and soup kitchens, who are always in need of help!

There are many ways you can help keep their shelves stocked and kitchens open:

    • Organize a community food drive to collect food

    • Volunteer at a summer feeding programs

    • Collect and donate food for backpacks programs distributed to children and families in need

    • Donate diapers, wipes and feminine products

    • Volunteer to deliver food to the home-bound

    • Donate fruits or vegetables from your own home garden

If you would like to learn more, reach out to any of these local pantries and kitchens.



To celebrate our 10th anniversary, Partners for Health Foundation awarded 10 Community Impact Awards, and grants totaling $100,000, to recognize nonprofit organizations and individuals making a significant difference in the health and well-being of local communities. A video produced that evening tells the story of several of the Awardees, what inspires them, what they’ve been able to accomplish, and what they aspire to achieve. Pam Scott, Partners for Health Foundation’s executive director, notes, “Their collective stories portray dedicated advocates, volunteers, caregivers, unsung heroes and leaders, along with the tens of thousands of lives they touch.”

The awards were presented at a celebratory event emceed by Jim Axelrod, Senior National Correspondent for CBS News.

Thank you for making our Annual Golf Tournament a success!

Partners for Health Foundation held its Annual Golf Tournament on Tuesday, July 16, 2019. The event raised more than $75,000 to support local organizations that address Hunger & Homelessness. We would like to extend a warm thank you to all who participated and helped to make it a memorable day!

Special congratulations to the event honoree – John Fromhold, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center.  John is pictured during the awards program (center) with, from left:  Chris Petermann, Partners for Health Board Chair; Co Bertsche, Partners for Health Leadership Advisory Council; John Kelly, Chair, Partners for Health Golf Committee; and Pam Scott, Executive Director, Partners for Health.

To learn more about the tournament, click here to view the Event Program.

Partners for Health Golf Outing 2019

Click on the photo above to access the Golf Tournament photo album!

Summer Learning and Lunch Program at Montclair Public Library

Montclair Public Library Foundation will continue its summer feeding program for Montclair’s youth. The Summer Learning and Lunch Program is the result of a collaboration among Montclair Public Library, Partners for Health Foundation and Toni’s Kitchen.

Going into its third year, this program is meeting a real need in the Montclair community as evidenced by the 2,867 lunches served last summer.  Six out of ten public schools in Montclair are designated as Title 1 schools, indicating a high percentage of children are from low-income families. For the 2018-19 school year, 1,064 students – 16% of the Montclair district – qualified for reduced-fee or free lunch. But during the summer when school is not in session, many of those children do not have access to lunch. This program meets a critical need to offer a nutritious lunch in a non-stigmatizing community-accepted environment.

Toni’s Kitchen will provide a healthy brown bag lunch which will include a sandwich, fruit, and a dessert. Lunches will be served Monday through Friday from July 1-August 30. No applications are necessary to drop in and all children and teens are welcome. Along with lunch, reading and educational enrichment activities will also be offered.

”Montclair’s Library is going far beyond its historic role as merely a place to house books,” stated Library Director Peter Coyl. “We embrace our responsibility to meet a broad array of community needs, especially for those most vulnerable.”

Libraries are abuzz with children all year round, but especially as they fill the gap for schools to provide summertime learning through popular reading programs. The lunch, along with positive enrichment activities, will help ensure kids return to school healthy and ready to learn.

This program is funded by a grant from Partners for Health Foundation.

Videos featuring the 2018 Community Impact Awardees

To celebrate our 10th anniversary in 2018, Partners for Health Foundation awarded 10 Community Impact Awards, and grants totaling $100,000, to recognize nonprofit organizations and individuals making a significant difference in the health and well-being of local communities. 

Watch the videos below to hear how Community Impact Awardees are making a difference in their communities.

Mario Szuchman, MD, Zufall Health

KinderSmile Foundation

Wally Weikert, Family Service League

Mary Rossettini, Clifton Homeless Task Force

Connections at Home

Carolyn Lack, Aging in Montclair

Ann Lippel, Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee

Katie York, Lifelong Montclair

YMCA of Montclair

Human Needs Food Pantry

Anne Mernin, Toni’s Kitchen

City Green

Adele Katz, Sister to Sister

Montclair Art Museum – Art Party Luncheon

Montclair Art Museum hosted its annual spring fundraising events last week with the Art Party Luncheon and the Art Party Evening. These events support the Museum’s exhibitions, the Vance Wall Art Education Center, and engaging diverse audiences from across the region. Beth Hart, Director of Development, says about the event, “This annual fundraiser serves as a big thank you to our supporters and funds our many community programs.”

Montclair Art Museum holds a renowned collection of American and Native American art from the last 300 years. It’s also home to The Vance Wall Art Education Center which is responsible for the Museum’s educational efforts including classes, lectures and talks, family events, tours, and the MAM Art Truck.

Margo Walter and Patti Elliott served as the overall Event Co-Chairs.

 “These events are a critical lifeline of support that enables MAM to present the ambitious scope of exhibitions and programs each year,” says Ms. Walter. “The Art Party will present a festive series of events all in the spirit of celebrating the impact of the Museum in our community and honoring this community space as a welcoming, accessible, and inspiring place for people of all ages,” adds Ms. Elliott

Partners for Health Foundation is humbled to have been chosen as this year’s honoree at the Art Party Luncheon on May 16, 2019.  Partners for Health Foundation’s vision to help make the 15 communities weserve in Essex and Passaic counties healthier, better places to live. The luncheon was co-chaired by Susann Connors and Janice Linaugh.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Foundation’s mission and vision for our community!

S.O.F.I.A.’s Teen Healthy Relationship Workshop Leaves a Lasting Impression

Teens and young people experience abuse in intimate relationships at disproportionately high levels. Continuing the work reflected in the Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (S.O.F.I.A.) tag-line, “With Awareness There is Hope,” the non-profit’s Teen Safe Dating and Healthy Relationship Workshops ensure that young people learn about the warning signs, negative effects, and strategies to help themselves and their peers develop healthy intimate relationships in an interactive and relatable environment.

Presenters, who are trained as Domestic Violence Response Team members, use examples from social media, celebrity news, real life, and even their own experiences to share recognizable situations that delve deeper than cut and dry lists and consequences. Materials are used to supplement and encourage the interactive style of each workshop. With an emphasis on a non-judgmental and inclusive focus, participants take a “quiz” that includes surprising statistics and read aloud from Tweets that emphasize the range included in abusive relationships as well as the reasons some victims may choose to stay in an unhealthy situation.

“After every workshop, we have a few participants approach us with concerns for a friend or family member,” shares Kristin Wald, a regular workshop leader. “It’s clear that helping young people recognize and name abusive behaviors is incredibly important.”

An often moving moment in the Teen Safe Dating workshops is the final activity, when every participant stands and recites a pledge to value a partner’s boundaries, as well as their own, whether they are physical, emotional, sexual, financial or digital. “Even teens who don’t take it seriously can understand the impact of the words,” said Cynthia Walker, S.O.F.I.A.’s founder, “Our goal is to build awareness, and by reciting and reading the Pledge, we know each teen has experienced its meaning. As have their peers.”

The S.O.F.I.A. Teen Safe Dating Workshop has been presented to small groups, classes, and even in auditorium presentations. The values shared and awareness that Love is Respect resonate with both the young people and the adults in their lives. It is not unusual for S.O.F.I.A. to receive requests for repeat workshops and presentations that continue the themes discussed. The Teen Safe Dating and Healthy Relationship workshops help S.O.F.I.A. promote that truly, “With Awareness There is Hope.” By Kristin Wall, S.O.F.I.A. Teen Dating/Outreach Presenter

Learn more about S.O.F.I.A. at

“Beyond the Silence” Film Screening and Q & A with Filmmaker Michael Barbee

Toni’s Kitchen and the YMCA of Montclair have partnered to launch Montclair Bounce (, a week-long festival that will explore opportunities and resources to strengthen emotional health and connections within the community.  Partners for Health will co-present a screening of Beyond the Silence during the BOUNCE festival on:

Thursday, June 6th @ 7:00 PM
505 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair

Beyond the Silence is a feature-length, suspense movie that is loosely based on the novel Clipped Wings They Do Fly by William Michael Barbee. The movie highlights the life of Billy Ray Michaels, who suffers from multiple personality disorder, compounded with schizophrenia.  He finds himself on trial for murder for a crime he does not remember committing. Billy Ray is entangled in a world of confusion which, unbeknownst to him, he created. 

More details are at:

Ticket information is forthcoming.

Partners for Health receives award at Senior Citizen Prom

The Township of Bloomfield hosted a Hollywood-themed prom for Bloomfield and Glen Ridge Senior citizens on Friday, May 3.  The event was sponsored by the Neighbor to Neighbor Network, the Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services, and Bloomfield College Nursing Students.

Pam Scott, Executive Director of Partners for Health Foundation, was presented with an award in recognition of the Foundation’s continued support.  She is pictured (center) with (from left):  Councilwoman Sarah B. Cruz, Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia, United States Senator Bob Menendez, and Councilman Nicholas Joanow.

Neil Greenstein, owner of Brookdale ShopRite, was also recognized at the event.

Take the KINDNESS Challenge!

Partners for Health is proud to be a sponsor of Montclair Film’s KINDNESS Challenge, taking place throughout the Film Festival (May 3 – 12, 2019). 

Research shows that even the smallest acts of kindness can lift a person’s spirits.  Kindness, together with empathy, forges a path forward even when we disagree with another’s behavior or beliefs. This is the thinking behind the KINDNESS Campaign, which will engage school-age children throughout Montclair via assemblies and free screenings. Following the screenings, students will participate in extended conversation around the issues raised in the films.

Students will also be encouraged to “Take the KINDNESS Challenge” and share random acts of kindness on social media.

Images that exemplify kindness will be displayed around Montclair during the festival to engage the entire community in this intergenerational project.

Click here to explore the Kindness Kit.

Verona Brownie Troop Visits Toni’s Kitchen

On April 3, 2019 the Brookdale Avenue School (Verona, NJ) 3rd grade Brownie Troop had the opportunity to learn more about the work of Toni’s Kitchen in Montclair. 

Anne Mernin, Executive Director of Toni’s Kitchen, and Jessica from her staff spoke to the girls about the work of Toni’s, answered their many questions and shared with them information about how to volunteer with Toni’s in the future.  The troop donated oatmeal and raisins for Toni’s healthy backpack program along with 15 boxes of girl scout cookies that were donated through their cookie booth sale.

Thank you for your support of Toni’s Kitchen!

Seniors in Taxis Program Revived

Through a Community Impact Awards from the Partners for Health Foundation grant the township will revive its Seniors in Taxis program that ended the first of the year.

With the $6,600 grant, the township will partner with the Ryde4Life program to offset Seniors in Taxis.

Effective immediately, Montclair residents, age 55 or older, will be able to access a credit for Uber/Lyft rides through EZ Ride’s Ryde4Life program. Ryde4Life facilitates Uber/Lyft rides. To participate one just needs a cell phone (doesn’t have to be a smartphone) and a credit or debit card.  Sign up for an account by calling 201-939-4242, ext. 4 or visit There is an annual fee of $15.

Once you have an account, you can call to get a ride right away. Evening and weekend hours are also available.  

And thanks to the Community Impact Awards funding, the first 100 Montclair seniors who sign up will get a $50 credit: $15 to cover the annual fee and $35 in ride credits.  

In November, Ann Lippel, chair of Montclair’s Senior Citizens Advisory Committee (SCAC), and Katie York, Montclair’s director of Senior Services/Lifelong Montclair, received the grant. They decided to pool their award money and use it to improve transportation options for Montclair’s older residents.   

EZ Ride is also the operator of the Montclair Senior Bus, a free transportation option for Montclair residents ages 55+ and residents of any age with disabilities.

Montclair BOUNCE, A Festival of Optimism and Resilience, Coming Spring 2019

Toni’s Kitchen will partner with The YMCA of Montclair to launch MONTCLAIR BOUNCE: A Festival of Optimism and Resilience, May 31 to June 7, 2019.

The first-annual BOUNCE Festival will explore everyday opportunities and oft-unnoticed resources to strengthen emotional health and connections to the community. This townwide, playful adventure will also do the serious work of offering essential practices and vital connections.

Sample events include: Blue Plate Bounce, an arts-infused outdoor community meal, Been There — And Back, a moveable feast of diverse and seasoned life experts and Here, There and Everywhere: Nature, Exercise & Spirituality, forays into Montclair’s mind/body/soul resources. In addition, readings and speaker panels; dance and theater performances and even a Happy Mapping Montclair project are planned for the week.

“This collaboration between Toni’s Kitchen and the Montclair YMCA is a natural fit,” said Anne Mernin, Executive Director of Toni’s Kitchen. “Both organizations recognize the connection between physical and emotional health and design programming to strengthen them.”

Montclair Bounce events will reflect research-based keys to promoting optimism and resilience including acting with empathy, confronting fears, fostering positive relationships, and community alliances. The Festival will bring together a range of organizations and groups to develop and curate the weeks’ activities.

“Opportunities for optimism and resilience can be found in everyday places and in people all around us,” says Buddy Evans, executive firector of the Montclair Y. “Montclair Bounce will tap into those resources to enrich all our lives.”

Bounce events will be accessible to all. Funds raised will support ongoing programming at the YMCA of Montclair and Toni’s Kitchen designed to build emotional health and resilience.

For more information on MONTCLAIR BOUNCE, visit

John Fromhold honored at 2019 Golf Tournament

Partners for Health was proud to recognize John Fromhold, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center, as the honoree of the Foundation’s Annual Golf Tournament on July 16, 2019.

Since 2008, Partners for Health Foundation has made grants totaling $3.6 million to address Hunger & Homelessness in Montclair and surrounding communities.  Sponsorship support of the Golf outing by Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center – the event’s exclusive, PREMIER Sponsor – has helped us to make a difference in the lives of countless families who struggle to put food on the table and those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.   

In 2007, John Fromhold was instrumental in identifying the hospital (formerly known as Mountainside) as an acquisition candidate for Merit Health Systems, a private company based in Louisville, KY, where he was a partner and Senior Vice President. He subsequently relocated to New Jersey to assume the role of CEO and personally oversee the hospital’s transformation.  Since the acquisition of Merit, the hospital has undergone a successful and dramatic revitalization, without sacrificing the integrity of the 125+ year old hospital, or the special, distinctive spirit of community and cooperation that sets it apart from others. 

Recognizing that network affiliations were becoming increasingly essential to maintaining clinical excellence and financial viability, in 2012 he was instrumental in negotiating the sale of Mountainside to a not-for-profit/for-profit joint venture network between Hackensack University Medical Center and LHP Hospital Group, now Hackensack Meridian Health and Ardent Health Services.  Prior to joining Merit, John was a Group Vice President for Community Health Systems with direct responsibility for 13 hospitals in five states.  He also held senior management positions with Humana and HCA.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

John and his wife Cheryl live in Verona, New Jersey and have four sons and two granddaughters.

Clifton participates in point in time count, providing services to those most in need

On January 23, 2019 Clifton participated for the first time in its own annual statewide homeless point in time count, held every January. A task force was formed last fall, and among the goals it laid out was getting an estimate of the homeless population. On this day, free services were provided to those in need at the Catherine A. Rowe Transitional Housing Program.

From Left to Right: Kevin Donahue, St. Peter’s Haven; Jennifer Kidd, Clifton Health Department; Kate Kelly, Monarch Housing; Mary Rossettini, Clifton Homeless Task Force; and James Anzaldi, Clifton City Mayor.

Visitors to the center were provided breakfast or lunch, and had the opportunity to utilize many of the free services, including: clothing, haircuts, health screenings, as well as information on housing, social security, mental health services, veteran services and more. In total, 19 individuals were reached on this day.

“The event shows what can happen when a community comes together to end homelessness. St. Peter’s Haven is committed to inviting everyone in Clifton to join the movement against hunger and homelessness,” said Kevin Donahue.

We would like to extend a special thank you to all the organizations that were involved in this event:

• Adult Family Health Services
• Assurance Wireless
• Catholic Family and Community Services
• Clifton Department of Public Works
• Clifton Fire Department
• Clifton Health Department
• Clifton Homeless Task Force
• Clifton Police Department
• Collaborative Support Programs
• Eva’s Village Recovery Community Center
• Hackensack Meridian Health
• Hair Ambition
• Monarch Housing
• North Hudson Community Action FQHC
• Passaic County Board of Social Services
• Passaic County One-Stop
• Paterson Coalition for Housing
• St. Peter’s Haven

Partners for Health Welcomes Sara Elnakib to the Board

The Partners for Health Foundation Board of Trustees elected Sara Elnakib to the Board for a three-year term, effective January 2019. 

Sara has worked in community nutrition for more than 10 years. She joined the Rutgers Cooperative Extension in the Department of Family and Community Health Sciences as an Assistant Professor in January 2015. As part of her role as a member of the Passaic County Food Policy Council, she focuses on food insecurity and improving food access within the County.  Sara is also interested in food waste in institutional settings and how behavioral economics can be leveraged to reduce food waste.

Prior to the faculty appointment at Rutgers University, Sara served as the Health and Nutrition Director for a Head Start Program in Montclair, and as an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Rutgers University, School of Public Health. She earned her Bachelors of Science from Rutgers University in Nutritional Science and a Masters of Public Health in Health Education and Behavioral Science from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

A Fond Farewell to Trustees Leaving our Board!








At the December Board meeting, Chris Petermann, Chair, praised the tremendous contributions of three members who are leaving the Partners for Health Board on December 31, 2018.


Fred Guterl who served as a Trustee from mid-2016 through 2018, was an active and thoughtful member of the Nominating and Grants Committees.  He was instrumental in planning the 10 Year Anniversary Celebration, serving as Chair of the Communications Committee and as a member of the Awards Selection Committee.  In addition to his unique perspective and flair with words, Fred contributed his musical talents, performing with the “Fred Guterl Jazz Quartet” at a Board social gathering in the spring of 2018.

John Kelly holds the unique distinction of being the last Trustee who previously served on the Mountainside Hospital Foundation Board.  He was re-elected to the Foundation Board in 2012 following a one-year hiatus.  John was honored for his immeasurable contributions at the Foundation’s 2018 Golf Tournament, which he’s chaired since 2013 and will continue to chair in 2019.  John served as a Board Officer, most recently as Treasurer, and was an active member of the Development and Finance Committees.  Through his lovely wife, Patrice, the Foundation has supported the A Lot to Grow gardens, which grow and donate fresh produce to local food pantries and soup kitchens.

Kevin Rendino has been a true leader during his time as a Trustee (2011-2018), including the years when he served as only the third Board Chair of the Foundation from 2013 through 2017.  In April 2016, Kevin was honored with an EPIC Award as one of the “Exceptional People Impacting our Communities” by the New Jersey Institute for Nursing, in recognition of his leadership in making our communities healthier.   During his tenure, the Foundation awarded nearly $6 million in grants!

We thank all of you for your service!

Farm Camp paintings inspire holiday greetings!


In August 2018, Karen DeLuca, a local artist, art instructor and graphic designer, spent two mornings at the Montclair Community Farms “Farm Camp.”  She invited the campers, ages 7-11, to paint images informed by their one-week camp experience. 

Fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers that were picked on the farm – along with eggs, honey and honeycombs – were arranged in the center of their work space.  Karen gave a basic art lesson on the placement and size of a subject on the page, and working with colors and their values. She also explained how to mix basic colors to get others.  The campers did a light sketch and then the painting began with real enthusiasm!


The Montclair Community Farm’s “Farm Camp” is a summer program that focuses on food access, farm work and challenges and opportunities in our food system. Campers also prepare food for local pantries.



The Montclair Community Farm Coalition engages the community in sustainable agriculture and affordable food access. Members include HOMECorp, Montclair Department of Health and Human Services, Montclair History Center, Montclair State University, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Essex County: Essex 4-H and Master Gardeners, and Montclair Public Schools gardening program, DIGS.


The Coalition is funded in part by Partners for Health as part of the Foundation’s efforts to address local hunger by increasing access to affordable fresh, local produce. Funding is also provided by the USDA and community members. 

Learn more about Montclair Community Farms and “Farm Camp” at:


Foundation marks 10th anniversary by honoring community partnership and collaboration

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Partners for Health Foundation awarded 10 Community Impact Awards, and grants totaling $100,000, to recognize nonprofit organizations and individuals making a significant difference in the health and well-being of local communities. The awardees were selected from 65 nominations that cited contributions in areas such as hunger, homelessness, chronic disease prevention, oral health, and mental health. The awards were presented at a celebratory event emceed by Jim Axelrod, Senior National Correspondent for CBS News.

“Each of the awardees has an amazing story to tell about what inspired them, what they have been able to accomplish, and what they aspire to achieve. We are honored to partner with them to accomplish even more,” said Pam Scott, Partners for Health Foundation’s executive director. “Their collective stories portray dedicated advocates, volunteers, caregivers, unsung heroes and leaders, along with the tens of thousands of lives they touch.”

The Partners for Health Foundation 2018 Community Impact Awardees are:

  • Mario Szuchman, MD, Zufall Health, West Orange – Access to Health

  • KinderSmile Foundation, Bloomfield – Oral Health

  • Wally Weikert, Family Service League, Montclair – Mental Health

  • Mary Rossettini, Clifton Homeless Task Force – Homelessness Prevention

  • Connections at Home, Verona – Aging in Place

  • Carolyn Lack, Aging in Montclair; Ann Lippel, Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee;

    and Katie York, Lifelong Montclair – Aging in Place

  • YMCA of Montclair – Chronic Disease Prevention (Healthy Eating and Active Living)

  • Human Needs Food Pantry, Montclair; and Anne Mernin, Toni’s Kitchen, Montclair –

    Hunger Prevention

  • City Green – Chronic Disease Prevention (Healthy Eating and Active Living)

  • Adele Katz, Sister to Sister, Montclair – Youth Resiliency

The Board of Trustees of Partners for Health Foundation also presented its 10-Year Anniversary Founder’s Award to longtime Board member Paul A. Lisovicz of Glen Ridge, who served as a Trustee from 2005-2015 and Board Chair from 2009-2013. The Founder’s Award recognizes an individual whose efforts significantly shaped the Foundation through commitment, innovation, professional expertise, philanthropy and overall leadership.

Partners for Health Foundation fosters collaboration among nonprofits so that, together, they can increase positive health outcomes in the communities they serve. A key focus provides access to healthy food and physical activity as a way to prevent chronic disease. The Foundation also supports the issues of homelessness, aging, mental health, community safety and more. Since 2008, Partners for Health Foundation has awarded more than $12 million through 341 grants to 132 organizations.

Click here to view the event photo gallery

Learn more about each awardee here

Founder’s Award: Paul A. Lisovicz honored for leadership of the Foundation

Partners for Health Foundation’s Board of Trustees presented its 10-Year Anniversary Founder’s Award to longtime Board member Paul A. Lisovicz, who served as a Trustee from 2005-2015 and Board Chair from 2009-2013.

The Founder’s Award was established to recognize an individual whose efforts significantly shaped the Foundation through commitment, innovation, professional expertise, philanthropy and overall leadership. The award was presented on November 29, 2018, when the Foundation also recognized 10 Community Impact Awardees who are making extraordinary contributions to health and well-being.

Paul Lisovicz was elected the Foundation’s second Board Chair shortly after it had begun to operate as an independent public charity and had made its first community health grants in 2008. During his tenure as Chair, Paul guided Partners for Health through its formative years. He was also the first Chair of the Board’s Trusteeship Committee when it was established in 2014. He remains active as a former Trustee, serving on the Partners for Health Golf Committee that raises funds to support the Foundation’s mission, and its Leadership Advisory Council.

Chris Petermann, current Board Chair, and Kevin Rendino, who served as Chair from 2014-2017, noted that, “Paul was instrumental in transitioning Partners for Health to its new mission. We are delighted to recognize him for his past and continuing contributions.”

“I’ve known Paul on a personal and professional level for more than 25 years. He has a great understanding of what public service means and is deeply committed to positively impacting the community,” adds John Kelly, Board Treasurer and Chair of the Golf Committee. “Paul helped shape the Foundation into what it is today, collaborating seamlessly with Trustees and staff with a level of integrity that was universally appreciated and respected.”

Paul is a Partner at the law firm of Kinney Lisovicz Reilly & Wolff PC. His practice is concentrated in the areas of product liability and commercial litigation. He resides with his wife, Joan, in Glen Ridge, NJ, where they raised their three children, Jessica, Edan and Phillip, and where Paul has been a member of the Borough Council for the past 12 years.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to receive the Founder’s Award, especially during this milestone anniversary year,” says Paul Lisovicz. “I’m proud to have been part of the development of Partners for Health, proud of what we accomplished during my tenure, and most of all, proud that the Foundation has developed a reputation as an anchor institution addressing the health of our community.”

New floors at MCDC helping children to Breathe Easy

With a grant from Partners for Health Foundation, the Montclair Child Development Center has been able to remove carpet and install child-friendly, non-porous floors at their Montclair school. More than 10% of the children who attend MCDC have asthma and more than 25% have allergies, both of which cause labored breathing at times.  These children are absent from school twice as often as their peers who do not suffer from these chronic medical conditions.  Absence from school impacts the child’s learning, and children who are chronically absent do not learn as much or as well as their peers. 

The non-porous floors were installed in time for the beginning of the 2018 school year, and MCDC has already heard praise and appreciation from families and staff. Many returning parents have expressed how much healthier the environment is with the change in the flooring. “I am so grateful for the new floors because they make the room breathable and fresh,” said one parent. A returning student observed, “Everything is new in the classroom.”

Chanel, pictured above, said she likes the new floor. Her mom expressed how fresh and new it looked in the building.

“For our first month of school, the attendance rate for children with asthma and allergies was 91% which is a marked improvement from 89%. We are striving for 94% by December 2018”, said Susan Chaberski, Deputy Director of Finance at MCDC.

The Montclair Child Development Center, Inc (MCDC) is a private non-profit 501(c)3 corporation that has provided quality early childhood education for over 45 years.  Today, MCDC represents more than four decades of providing Head Start and Early Head Start services to low income families.  MCDC is dedicated to serving families living at or below the federal poverty level who live in Montclair, Bloomfield, Belleville, Orange, and West Orange.  Learn more at

ChangingAging Tour is coming to Montclair!

Renowned geriatrician and visionary Dr. Bill Thomas’s ChangingAging tour is coming to northern New Jersey! The tour kicks off in Ridgewood on November 7th and continues in Montclair for two live “nonfiction theater” stage productions on November 8th.

Featuring Dr. Bill Thomas, international recording artist Samité and reggae legend Nate Silas Richardson, the tour explores the second half of life by blending storytelling, live music, theater, mythology, breathtaking visual art with medical science.

Addressing local hunger through Breakfast After the Bell

More than 13 million kids in the country go to school hungry, and hunger detracts from their ability to focus on learning during the school day. That’s why Partners for Heath Foundation is taking action to make sure children in Northern New Jersey get a healthy breakfast this school year.

Our very own Kathy Smith was at CBS-TV New York, and Pam Scott at Jersey Matters (WJLP-TV) talking about Breakfast After the Bell in NJ. 

“If a child is hungry, they may present with headaches or stomach aches, more visits to the nurse, or they just act out and they don’t even know why. They’re hungry,” Program Director Kathy Smith told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes and Cindy Hsu.

Watch the videos below to learn about local efforts to ensure students have the healthy start they need to succeed in school!



Berkeley Elementary School in Bloomfield implements Breakfast After the Bell program

Many students who attend Bloomfield elementary schools qualify for a free breakfast. but many of those students aren’t able to get to school early to receive the meal. 

Berkeley Elementary School is now implementing a new pilot of “Breakfast after the Bell” through a partnership with Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services. The school hosted a kick-off and registration event on Wednesday, August 29th. 

Kudos to Bloomfield Township for making sure their students are free from hunger during the school day!

To learn more about the event click here or watch the videos below. 

New Jersey Healthy Communities Network Blog

The New Jersey Healthy Communities Network’s Community Grants Program brings together local, regional, and statewide funders, leaders and partners to support communities in implementing healthy eating and active living strategies to advance environment, policy and system changes.

Since 2011, the NJHCN Community Grants Program has provided $3.2 million in grants.

Partners for Health Foundation is proud to be supporting 7 organizations through this initiative. 

  • Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services
  • Boys & Girls Club of Clifton 
  • Caldwell Health and Human Services
  • Center for Family Resources
  • New JErsey Anti-Hunger Coalition
  • Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges
  • Township of Montclair

To learn about the great work our partners are doing through NJHCN, read their blogs at: 

New Walking Tour Booklets Highlights Montclair’s History

A new self-guided walking and biking tour booklet that highlights some of Montclair’s historic districts is now available through the Montclair History Center. The booklet includes six self-guided tours, five of which are less than 2 miles and can easily be accomplished on foot. A tour of the Montclair Art Colony’s studios and homes is a longer (8 miles) biking tour.  The booklet was made possible through a grant from Partners for Health Foundation.


“The guided walking tours we conduct are some of our more popular programs,” says Jane Eliasof, Executive Director of the Montclair History Center. “We’ll continue to lead guided tours throughout different communities in town, plus cemetery tours of Rosedale and Mount Hebron, and our food and history walking tour that takes you through downtown Montclair talking about our history and sampling some of the restaurants’ foods.” 


The booklet is an adaptation of those guided walking tours, but it allows people to go at their own pace at a time that is most convenient to them.  The six tours were designed as a result of a survey the Montclair History Center fielded earlier this year.  According to the survey, most people wanted tours that were between one and two miles long.  The tour locations — Montclair Town Center, Watchung Plaza Historic District, South Mountain Estate Section, Upper Montclair Historic District, the Pine Street Historic District, and the Montclair Art Colony – were based on the top six choices in the survey.  In the future, the Montclair History Center hopes to add more self-guided walking tours of other areas of Montclair.


In the survey, the Montclair Art Colony was the most requested tour.  As a result of the overwhelming interest in this tour, the Montclair History Center, in partnership with BikeWalk Montclair and the Montclair Art Museum, will lead a guided biking tour going past the artists’ studios and homes on November 3 at XX am. Interested bikers can register at


“Our guided tours are more in-depth than these self-guided tours,” explains Eliasof.  “However, these self-guided tours give people who can’t or won’t attend a guided tour a great overview of the history of Montclair through its people and its architecture.


The booklet is available in printed form and electronically on the Montclair History Center’s website



Toni’s Kitchen’s Summer Love Food Program

Toni’s Kitchen’s Summer Love Food Program, running from June 25 through August 31, works to ensure local children at summer camps, preschools, libraries and sports programs are well fed all summer long.

Summer can be a tough time for low-income families. As school closes, breakfast and lunch programs that children rely on disappear. Working families find themselves facing increased food costs as well as the expense of covering childcare or summer camps. It’s a hefty impact for families that are already stretched.

Toni’s Kitchen is working with dozens of community partner programs throughout the summer months to ensure healthy food is available where children gather. Brown bag lunches with healthy sandwiches and fresh fruit are available at the Montclair and Bloomfield public libraries as well as summer programs throughout our local area. Backpacks filled with healthy staples – oatmeal, tuna, raisins, etc. – are also going home with children enrolled in local preschool and tutoring programs. Keeping kids healthy and growing in safe affordable programs builds resilience for families.

These initiatives are supported by Partners for Health Foundation, as well as Nicolos Italian Bakery and Deli which provides of fresh bread for the sandwiches.

2018 Golf Tournament Honoree: John F. Kelly, President & CEO, Frenkel & Company

Partners for Health recognized John F. Kelly for his leadership of the 2018 Golf outing, an event he has chaired since 2013.  Through the generous sponsorship of Frenkel & Company – and so many others – the Tournament has raised more than $1.1 million since John joined the Foundation Board in 2005.

John has more than 35 years of experience in the insurance industry and founded the Frenkel National Accounts Department in 1985.  Over the past 35 years, John has worked extensively in both the domestic and London markets and has enhanced Frenkel’s reputation in the French market with both insurers and brokers.  In 2001, John led the management buyout of Frenkel’s ESOP and returned Frenkel & Company to private ownership.  As President and CEO, he remains actively involved in the more complex accounts within Frenkel.  He is a member and past president of the New York Chapter of the Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters. 

In addition to serving as a Trustee of Partners for Health, John is on the Insurance Executive Board of the Atlantic Health System, a Director of A Lot to Grow, a Council Member at the University of Notre Dame for the College of Arts and Letters, and a Board Member of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation.  

John and his wife, Dr. Patrice Kelly, Founder and Executive Director of A Lot to Grow, reside in Glen Ridge and New York City.

In Response to Suburban Hunger… More than $600,000 in Fresh Produce Grants!

As suburban poverty has risen, more and more local residents have struggled to put food on the table.  Soup kitchens and food pantries report sharp increases in demand for their services, while their usual sources of support cannot keep up with increased demand for food.  Partners for Health Foundation launched its fresh produce grants program in response to this growing crisis.  The grants emerged from a three-meeting “hunger” colloquium sponsored by the Foundation in 2009.

According to Pam Scott, Executive Director of Partners for Health, “Fresh produce grants are part of the Foundation’s strategy to fight local hunger, and we’re proud to have awarded $656,164 since the program was launched. She adds, “This effort is vital.  Inadequate intake of costly fruits and vegetables is prevalent among all Americans, but particularly so among low income populations, who also experience higher rates of chronic health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.”

Produce grants are currently awarded to these pantries and kitchens in Montclair:  Human Needs Food Pantry, Salvation Army, Toni’s Kitchen, and Seventh Day Adventist Pantry and Meal Program.  St. Peter’s Haven Family Shelter and Healthy Food Pantry in Clifton also receives funding.

Soup kitchens and food pantries report on the impact the grants are making:

At Toni’s Kitchen, funds ensure that fresh vegetables and fruits are served at every meal, and that guests can be given produce to take with them for later in the week.  Toni’s also sends 10 bags of produce into one of the local schools on a weekly basis.  The bags are then placed in the classrooms for children who have ‘forgotten’ to bring a snack.  Anne Mernin, Director of Outreach, adds, “Because the fruit is set out for all of the children, its availability is normalized and there is no stigma or shame in reaching for something.”

Michele Kroeze, Business Manager of The Salvation Army, says, “With this grant, we’re able to serve our guests better quality meals throughout the year.  On Thanksgiving Day, we provide more than 1,200 meals on site and through delivery to area shelters, senior housing facilities and to housebound individuals.  Side dishes for these meals are now made entirely with fresh vegetables

Rev. Peter DeFranco of St. Peter’s Haven Family Shelter and Healthy Food Pantry notes the produce grants led to a collaborative venture with NJ SNAP Ed, a nutritional program offered through Rutgers University to low-income SNAP participants.  The program has helped clients to identify and adopt changes leading to a healthier lifestyle.  “We’ve seen a shift in our clients’ perspective on how fresh produce can benefit them and their families.”

Many who visit the food pantry at the First Seventh Day Adventist Church of Montclair are now eating a more balanced diet.  “We’re encouraged to see that food recipients recognize the importance of eating vegetables and fruits and that they are gradually able to move away from preprocessed foods,” says Pastor Paula Olivier.

The Human Needs Food Pantry continues to see increases in the number of clients and currently serves an average of 1,700 people each week.  “The Partners for Health grants cover nearly half of our yearly produce expenses,” says Mike Bruno, Executive Director.  “We are more than grateful for this budget relief and simply would not be able to keep up if not for their generous support.”

A volunteer prepares bags of fresh produce for distribution to clients of the Human Needs Food Pantry.



Adding Advocacy to the Toolbox Event

On Wednesday, June 13th Partners for Health hosted a nonprofit advocacy learning session at the Van Vleck House and Gardens. About 50 individuals representing nonprofit organizations from the Foundation’s service area attended this event.

The panel discussion, led by John Mooney, Chief Executive Officer & Founding Editor of NJ Spotlight, touched on best practices and successful advocacy stories in the field. The panelists included:

  • Brandon McKoy, Director of Government and Public Affairs, New Jersey Policy Perspective
  • Kate Kelly, Associate, Monarch Housing Associates
  • Cecilia Zalkind, President & Chief Executive Officer, Advocates for Children of New Jersey

Thank you to all who attended and our panelists for making this such a successful event!