Social Worker now available at Montclair Public Library

As of April 11, 2024, members of the public can meet one-on-one with a social worker, Mia Boxer, LSW, at the main branch of the Montclair Public Library. This service is free and can be reserved in advance or on a walk-in, first-come first-served basis. 

“Having a social worker on staff enables us to grow deeper into our role as a trusted information center and to respond to the community’s ever-changing needs,” says Janet Torsney, Library Director. “We are grateful to Partners for Health for making this expansion of services possible.” 

The social worker is available: 

  • Tuesdays: 4-6 p.m. (walk-ins) 
  • Tuesdays: 6 p.m., 6:45 p.m. (walk-ins or appointments) 
  • Wednesdays: 12-2 p.m. (walk-ins) 
  • Thursdays: 11 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:15 p.m. (walk-ins or appointments) 
  • 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month: 11 a.m., 11:45 a.m. (walk-ins or appointments) 
  • 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month: 12:30-2 p.m. (walk-ins) 

Stop by to chat or ask about college information, resources for emotional development and coping skills, job assistance, and time management. Get help finding community resources, completing applications for Social Security, SNAP, Medicaid/Medicare, and other benefit programs, or getting an ID, Birth Certificate, and other vital documents. To make an appointment, visit https://montclairlibrary.libnet.info/v/assets/925 or call 973-744-0500 ext. 2286. 

The social worker is funded by a generous grant from the Partners for Health Foundation, whose vision is to make our communities healthier, better places to live. The grant was awarded to the Montclair Public Library Foundation at the end of 2023. 

  “Many of our Montclair neighbors visit the Library for information, shelter, and a sense of community. Partners for Health is pleased to support the social worker position and the Library’s efforts to welcome all who seek assistance and guidance within their building,” says Pam Scott, Executive Director of the Partners for Health Foundation. 

This service was first piloted from fall 2021 to spring 2023 with interns from Montclair State University’s Master of Social Work program. With funding secured for 2024 and 2025, the new social worker will enhance the Library’s existing efforts and will connect with local agencies in addressing the overall health and wellness needs of the community, including its most at-risk members. The social worker will also train Library staff, develop programs addressing equity and inclusion, and oversee the continuing partnership with Montclair State University. 

About the Montclair Public Library 

Founded in 1893, the Montclair Public Library serves the residents of Montclair, New Jersey. It has two facilities: the Main Library at 50 S. Fullerton Avenue and the Bellevue Avenue Branch at 185 Bellevue Avenue. The Library has been changing lives every day for over 125 years through words, ideas, and community building by providing unlimited opportunities for lifelong learning, discovery, and community engagement. Visit montclairlibrary.org for more information. 

Verona breaks ground for inclusive playground

On Monday, March 25, Verona Mayor Christopher Tamburro and members of the Verona Council kicked off construction on the Township’s new fully inclusive playground located at the Community Center. The new playground space was carefully designed to bring families of all abilities together for play and socialization. 

Funders for the project included the Essex County Community Development Grant Program, Partners for Health Foundation, Verona’s Community Services and Recreation Advisory Committee, and Greenfields Outdoor Fitness. NJ Assemblyman Al Barlas (third from right in the photo) was among the dignitaries who attended the groundbreaking event. 

The new playground will be slightly larger than the previous one, encompassing approximately 5,000 square feet. It will feature both a children’s play area and an adult fitness section. The playground’s design promotes inclusivity and cognitive learning, and all of its components, including the adult exercise equipment, will be wheelchair accessible.  

The Township anticipates that the playground will open to the public by the summer of 2024.  

Partners for Health Welcomes New Members to its Board!

Partners for Health is pleased to announce the following individuals have been elected to serve as Trustees of the Foundation: 

Casey Castañeda is a Senior Consultant at Ceiba Advisory, a boutique consulting practice that assists families and individuals on issues related to long term philanthropic legacy, governance, multi-generation engagement and grantmaking. Casey also serves as Operations & Program Director of a New England-based private family foundation, where she oversees day-to-day operations and grantmaking activities in partnership with the foundation’s Trustees. Prior to joining Ceiba Advisory, Casey was the COO of Farm Sanctuary, a national nonprofit organization working to address the negative effects of the food system on animals and communities. As COO, she was the strategic and operational lead for human resources/staff culture, technology, finance, and remote and on-site operations. Previously, Casey spent more than 15 years working closely with philanthropic families and decision-makers to support the strategic, grantmaking, administrative and operational needs of private foundations. Much of this time was spent as the team lead for the Private Foundation Services group at J.P. Morgan in New York, where she and her team served as outsourced grantmaking and foundation operations staff for the firm’s clients across the U.S. Casey also has experience working within a family office as a foundation program officer and philanthropy advisor. 

Casey earned an M.P.A. from Baruch College, City University of New York, and a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She serves on the Leadership Council of the Support Center for Nonprofit Management.  

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Casey currently resides in Bloomfield with her husband, César, and their eight-year-old twins.

Shanti Krishnan is a Vice President of Sales at Cedar, a consumer technology company focused on making it easier for patients to navigate their financial obligations in healthcare. In this role, Shanti is responsible for sales of Cedar’s patient financial engagement platform to enterprise healthcare providers, including large health systems and staffing groups. Prior to Cedar, Shanti served in various sales, implementation, and account management leadership roles at Zocdoc, a New York City based healthcare technology company. Shanti has also worked as a consultant for Dalberg, an advisory firm focused on international development; and as a business development analyst at Audax Group, a middle market private equity firm. She holds a BA with honors in political science from Tulane University and a master’s in international relations and economics from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  

She lives in Montclair with her husband and three-year-old daughter.

Lori Ann Palmieri graduated from Seton Hall University with a BSN. She’s been a registered nurse for more than 32 years, spending all of her bedside nursing time at Clara Maass Medical Center in the medical/surgical/telemetry unit, the Wound Care Center, and radiology. She transitioned to education in 2003 by taking a nurse educator position at Genesis HealthCare Waterview Center, and was promoted to Assistant Director of Nursing. After receiving an MSN from William Paterson University, Lori Ann began teaching in the nursing program at Bloomfield College in 2007. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Seton Hall University and hopes to defend her dissertation this year. She is exploring the relationship between cultural competence, ethnocentrism, and perspective-taking in nurses. 

Lori Ann has devoted much time volunteering abroad with the Foundation for Peace which serves materially impoverished and medically underserved communities.  She spent many months with this organization in Kenya and Haiti either leading a medical team, or as a participant. While the team’s focus is medical and nursing care, they also work closely with local leaders to provide health education based on the needs of the community. She has also served as a nurse volunteer with Inter-Cultural Nursing Inc. in the Dominican Republic. 

She has been a lifelong resident of Bloomfield, and has four children, five grandchildren, and three pets. 

Gara M. Sommers M.D. FACOG is board certified in Obstetrics/Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology practicing at JFK Medical Center, Hackensack Meridian Health, in Edison and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark. 

She graduated from New York University School of Medicine as well as doing her internship and residency program there. She went on to fellowship training at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She has a strong dedication to health care equity and is currently involved in a Gardisil research program with Partnership for Maternal and Child Health out of Newark.  In her free time, she is an avid golfer and equestrian.   

She lives in Montclair with her daughter and two dogs. 

Joy B. Tolliver, Esq. was recently honored by the New Jersey Law Journal as a Diverse Attorney of the Year. She is a seasoned litigator who focuses her practice on Labor & Employment Law and School Law, which she has practiced for more than 15 years. Joy represented public and private K-12 schools and municipalities at the law firm of Weiner Lesniak, where she counseled and represented school districts and Boards of Education in all education and labor/employment matters. Additionally, Joy has spent the last eight years representing colleges and universities in New York and New Jersey as their General Counsel and Vice President. For more than a decade, Joy has taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels at several institutions of higher education and is currently an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers Law School. Keenly understanding the need for higher education institutions to increase access, equity, and inclusion in their policies and practices, Joy founded, and is the CEO, of Solutions for Antiracism, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (SADIE), LLC, a DEI consulting firm specializing in helping organizations achieve a sustainable culture of equity, inclusivity, and belonging. Joy is also a sought-after public speaker, lecturer, and panelist at professional, academic, social, and faith-based events.

Joy is a graduate of Dwight-Englewood School and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, cum laude, at Fordham University, with a minor in Spanish. Joy then earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Rutgers Law School. Committed to increasing access to higher education for all students, Joy is a member of the Executive Board of Trustees at Houghton University, where she is Chair of the Enrollment Committee and Assistant Board Secretary. Joy is also a member of the Alumni Advisory Council at Fordham University and Co-Chair of the Alumnae Advisory Board at Rutgers Law School.

She resides in Bloomfield.