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The Pines at Whiting Residents Help College Bound Employees
On a beautiful summer evening in June, residents of The Pines at Whiting Scholarship Committee announced that they had received approximately $30,000 in donations from residents and awarded scholarships to nine hard-working employees in a wonderful ceremony. The students were surprised when they heard the amounts they would be receiving – either $3000 or $3500 based on their school year.
“This was by far our most successful year and we were so happy to be helping these great kids out,” said Mary Jane Ousley, resident head of the Scholarship Committee at The Pines at Whiting.
The Nine Candidates
Candidates were chosen based on their longevity and commitment to their job at The Pines. Many of these students come to work as often as they can during breaks and light schedules when they are away at school if they do not live locally and commute to their college.
Four of the recipients, Nathan Berry (graduate of Lacey Township High School), Emily Burdynski, Kyle Burdynski, and Cheyenne Thomas (all graduates of Manchester Township High School) are students at Ocean County College. Kyle will also be attending Kean University. Abigail Coleman (graduate of Manchester Township High School) will be attending Caldwell University. Zachary Doctor (graduate of Manchester Township High School) is a sophomore at Rutgers University. Megan Ginex (graduate of Monsignor Donovan High School) will be attending Georgian Court University this fall. Kyle Spano (graduate of Manchester Township High School) is a student of DeSales University. And finally, Aslyn Holland (graduate of Toms River High School South) is a junior at Stockton University. All of these students have worked for The Pines for at least a year, but in most cases it has been their job for much longer.
“Working with seniors at The Pines is such a rewarding experience. I am extremely grateful for their generosity. Our residents are compassionate and conscientious people and I have learned so much from them,” Cheyenne Thomas says. Cheyenne is been an employee of The Pines for four years.
History of the Committee
The Scholarship Committee began in 2004 when resident, John Taylor, became friendly with staff members that were serving he and his wife in the Dining Room at dinner. He recognized how dedicated they were to the job and yet also their schooling. He formed a small group of residents to see how much money they could raise to help the students out. Residents loved the idea and quickly donated. In the years since, The Scholarship Committee has collected over $200,000 in donations from residents toward the staff.
“I love doing the work with the scholarship committee because I think that it is so important that these young people have the opportunity to go to college,” says Ousley. “They are our leaders of tomorrow so we should honor them today.”
One of Ocean County's Own on Wheel of Fortune - Janauary 2019
Gina Maslen, of Bayville, is an avid Wheel of Fortune watcher and all her time studying for the game show paid off when she was picked to be a contestant on America’s favorite syndicated puzzle show when they came to Philadelphia to scout for local talent.
“I am in the Wheel Club and had sent an application to try out for the show,” said Maslen. “It has been on my bucket list to be on so when I saw they were coming to Philadelphia for try outs, I just had to apply!”
Gina, who is the friendly receptionist at The Pines at Whiting, was chosen to be one of the 70 applicants who tried out in October when the production company came to Philadelphia.
“When the residents at work found out that I was trying out, I had people constantly asking me about it! I had to wait two weeks to find out if I made and they were all so anxious – even more than me!”
Maslen found out exactly two weeks later that she was going to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. She flew to Los Angeles in November for a whirlwind weekend to tape the show. The weekend included a session with the show’s attorney to go over the rules of what could and could not be discussed before the show airs.
“The hard part is keeping it a secret from the residents at The Pines. My family and friends understand that I cannot discuss the outcome, but many of the residents will come up and ask me questions that I cannot answer due to legal reasons.”
One resident even asked Gina for an autograph now that she is going to be on the show.
Gina did great on the show! She won $5300 in cash and prizes and said that being on the program was one of the most exciting days of her life. She says Vanna White was lovely and personable. And now, Gina still gets people stopping at the Front Desk of The Pines telling her how they saw her on the show!
First The Pines' Got Talent Show - December 6, 2016
On the afternoon of Monday, November 21st, it was standing room only in Town Hall at The Pines at Whiting. Residents and staff alike came down to watch the first ever The Pines Got Talent show. There was nervous excitement from the participants as they prepared their props and adjusted their costumes. The audience filed in and found seats where they could best see the action on the stage. Finally, Diane Bruton, Director of Enrichment, took to the microphone and gave her introductions.
“We were a bit apprehensive as to how the whole thing would go when we first came up with the idea,” explains Diane. “We had no idea how many people would sign up!”
Diane did not have to worry long because when the sign up sheets went up, staff and residents eagerly put their names on the list. By the deadline, there were three employees and twenty residents all signed up with various talents.
“I really could not believe how many residents were eager to participate. The group that was putting this all together was so excited when we had our final list! This event was going to be so fun,” Diane said.
The event was judged and three were chosen to do this tough job. First, Dining Room Supervisor Lester Ward was appointed staff representative. Second, resident Mary Ellen Callahan was the resident representative – she is also relatively new to The Pines and was excited to be part of this fun event. Finally, Chaplain John Strain, who both lives and works at The Pines was the third judge. The judging was point based and included categories such as audience reaction and preparedness.
The day of the event, the first act was resident George Dick. George started off with an older classic and no display of nervousness at all. He received a round of applause and the audience knew that it was going to be a fun time.
Next up was resident Ed Hoefling. Ed, dressed in a fine suit, recited original poetry he has written throughout the years. After Ed received his applause, it was time for the group of residents who had signed up for a lane dance, led by Fitness Director Julie Thompson. Julie had about a dozen residents dancing to “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” They all wore cowboy hats and bandanas to complete their look.
Now it was time for some staff to show off some of their talents. Transportation Supervisor Linda Buffa did a stand-up comedy routine that had everyone laughing. Linda was followed by Assistant Housekeeping Supervisor Helen Pastrof who beat her nerves and sang a lovely torch song for the crowd.
Residents Penny Scott and Joan Munkel each did a hula dance. Penny is a native of Hawaii and has been doing it all her life, while Joan was an eager student and learned the dance for the talent show.
Mary Jane Ousley, resident, also performed a stand-up comedy act. Staff member Jen Ricany played her ukulele and had the whole audience singing along with her for her act. Judges were going to have a hard time scoring because everyone was so good!
With only a few acts to go, it was time for residents Elvera Duvall and Barbara Batchelder. They were dressed in 50’s outfits and sang in harmony to the Everly Brothers “Bye Bye Love” while Barbara strummed the guitar.
Married residents Harry & Diana Geiler did a comedy skit that had people chuckling. And then Diana finished up the show by singing a solo that ended the event.
Everyone received a trophy, but only one act could be given the title of “Most Talented at The Pines”. When the final scores were tabulated, the big winners were Barbara and Elvera!
“It was such a wonderful afternoon and one of the best parts is that we were ‘Live’ on Facebook so families and friends were able to watch either at the moment or at a later time. It was fun for them to still be able to see their loved ones showing off their talents, even though they couldn’t be here in person,” said Karen Sembello, Director of Community Relations. “And now that we have this first show under our belt, I look forward to see what next year brings!”
Women of Action - August 26, 2016
At The Pines at Whiting, we have many groups and clubs for people with a variety of interests. In 2015, resident Charity Roszel formed a Women of Action group with the purpose of refreshing knowlege and understanding of the world we live in. She felt it was very important to have a group where their motives to gather were to learn more about the world around them and empathize with women and families from other cultures and diverse backgrounds.
“Part of the objectives listed in The Pines at Whiting’s Mission Statement is to continually improve the quality of services to our residents, to empower them, and to foster independence, meaning, and dignity. We have organized a women’s club with a view to gaining better knowledge and understanding of the world we live in,” said Diane Bruton, Director of Enrichment at The Pines.
Speakers come from many different areas. Last year, speakers included the female police chief from Manchester Township, educators, and artists. This year, besides educational speakers, the group will also be going to Ocean County College for a trip to the planetarium for a presentation as well as lunch at a local ethnic restaurant to expand their palettes.
Charity explains how they choose their speakers and meeting topics, “We chose to demonstrate to our members that even though there are many differences and disparities, most women create, cultivate, and desire a sense of family, community, caring, and love – even when we have different ways of demonstrating these. We can then pass this understanding to future generations, creating a multi-faceted positive effect. It shows that no matter what your age, you are never to old to learn, to change and to grow, to lead by example, to celebrate our differences and similarities.”
The group has been very popular and more ladies join each month as new residents are moving in and the word spreads as to what fun they have while learning. This last month, approximately 25 women came in to hear the speaker and learn the history of Native Americans and view authentic artifacts.
“We really hope that this program leads to self-discovery of their own backgrounds and heritage,” says Charity.