Meet Becky Stanwood: 3 Days, 60 Miles, 1 Cure

In September of 2014, Becky Stanwood and her mother walked 60 miles over three days. During those 72 hours this mother and daughter ‘dynamic duo’ celebrated life, family, and the dream of a cure for everyone.

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Getting To Know Becky Stanwood

Becky grew up in Conneticut and was an avid field hockey player, playing through college. After graduating from college in Rhode Island with a B.A. in Nursing, Becky decided to get experience at the world renowned Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia. She worked as a nurse in the NICU and Hemotology department for the next seven years. Though she never planned to permanently stay in this area, love changed those plans. Becky ended up meeting a South Jersey man, fell in love and got married.

She and her husband Eric moved from Glassboro to Mullica Hill approximately two years ago. They have two children; Claire (3 1/2 years old) and Nolan (4 months old). She continues to play on a women’s field hockey league once a week and she and Eric are avid runners. They support many charitable organizations through their participation in cause-related races. Eric is active in the community as the founder of the online running community, Mean Guy Running, and as the Board President of the TOP Sports program.

Becky has since earned her Masters degree in Nursing and currently works part-time as a Nurse Practitioner at West Deptford Pediatrics. In order to cut down her nursing hours to spend more time at home with her kids, she found flexible ways to supplement her income. She started out as a Scentsy consultant and recently added a rewarding and flexible job as a consultant for a skin care line. “Being a consultant for Rodan + Fields is one of the reasons I can stay at home,” she says. “I’m making a really good living with it.”

Cancer Close To Home

Nearly two years ago, Becky’s mother was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer. DCIS accounts for approximately 1 in 5 new breast cancer cases. “It was the best case scenario and they caught it early,” Becky says. Even so, it was a still a very scary and emotional time for everyone. After a lumpectomy and weeks of radiation, Becky’s mom is now thankfully cancer-free.

To celebrate her Mom’s recovery and support everyone going through breast cancer, Becky decided to do something really big and meaningful. The Susan G. Komen 3-day Walk fit the bill.  “It was a birthday present for my mom who loved to walk and was a breast cancer survivor,” Becky says.

They assembled a team of six, which included her Mom (a breast cancer survivor), Becky’s close friend (who is positive with the BRCA gene), and her friend’s mother (a three time breast cancer survivor). Since Becky’s mother lived in Florida, they had to train miles apart. Becky had just had a baby, so she did her training pushing an infant in a jogging stroller. Her mother was equally committed. “She did a 24-week training for it and never missed a day,” Becky says.

But, the first major challenge of the walk came long before the event even started. Each team member was required to raise $2,300.00 a piece! She was very nervous about their ability to raise this large sum of money at first. Then she and Eric decided to put together a few fundraisers. Their number one fundraiser was The Brew Run, organized by Mean Guy Running and Good Day For A Run. This fun race (complete with a beer stop at Clancey’s en route) sold out in three days with about 120 racers. It was so successful that they held a second Brew Run which also sold out in record time. In addition, so many people gave extra donations to the cause. “I was completely floored by the generosity of people,” Becky says. “This effects so many people first hand.” She also organized a Rodan + Fields fundraiser to assist her mother toward her fundraising goal, which was another huge success.

In the end, every team member reached, or exceeded, their fundraising goals! The team’s minimum goal was  $13,800.00 but they collectively raised over $16,000.00 through creative fundraising and the generosity of so many. This allowed them to donate $700.00 to some people they met on the walk who had fallen short on their team goal.

 

Three Days Of Inspiration

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The 3-Day Philadelphia Walk began on Friday, September 12th in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. On their first day, Becky and her Mom arrived a little before 6:00 am and joined approximately 1,300 walkers. They completed a total of 22 miles that day before returning to the tents set up in the Convention Center to sleep. Though they had trained, they weren’t entirely prepared for all of the hills so they were feeling pretty sore the next day.

On Day 2 they walked up City Line and out through Upper Merion. It started to pour rain after lunch. “So, we did 12 miles in the rain,” Becky said “but it didn’t damper the day.”

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Rain, hills and miles of walking might sound stressful, but Becky describes the experience as fun and full of positive energy. “Cars were beeping and people were shouting words of encouragement,” she says. “There were tons of cheer sections set up … some which were about 1/4 mile long filled with people cheering and handing out food. Kids at school were outside high-fiving us…[there was] so much motivation along the route.” Stations were also set up every three miles for sustenance. “Training was way harder than doing it,” she laughs.

After another night sleeping in “tent city,” they completed the final day with a total of about 14 miles through the city. They did all but the final 2 miles prior to lunch. After lunch, everyone completed the 2 final miles which ended in the Navy Yard for the emotional and inspirational closing ceremonies. Eric came with the kids (he had come each day to collect the milk she was pumping to feed the baby) and Becky’s brother (who lives in California) surprised his mom by showing up right before the closing ceremony.

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day  raised a total of about 3.8 million dollars – for the Philadelphia walk alone. For Becky and her Mom, it was an experience of a lifetime and only deepened the bond they shared. “I did see a side of my mom doing those 60 miles… she’s a survivor in my life.”

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1 in 8 women are diagnosed breast cancer.

Have you scheduled your mammogram yet?

 

by: Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Meet Jen McCarthy: Catch Her If You Can

Chances are, if you live in Mullica Hill you have heard the name Jen McCarthy. For those who don’t know her, she is usually referred to as: “That woman who wins all the races,” or “You know, the one who is really fast.” But, there is more to Jen McCarthy than her exceptional speed and endurance in running, swimming and cycling. To know Jen McCarthy is to know a devoted, busy mother of four, a practicing nurse, and an active member of the community. And yes, she also wins a lot of races.

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In between the laundry, chauffering four kids around to various activities, working, volunteering, and running a household, Jen McCarthy somehow manages to find the time for something she truly loves — running.  This four time marathon finisher, winner of countless road races, and two-time champion of the Mullica Hill’s own sprint triathlon, Jen does not just love running; she is pretty darn exceptional at it. (And, obviously, at cycling and swimming too.) With all of her fitness acumen and achievements, her humility and ‘down to earth’ personality prevent her from getting anywhere close to bragging. It’s everyone else who brags for her because, quite frankly, we are in awe.

Going The Distance

Jen has been living in Mullica Hill with her husband and four children for the past eight years. She grew up in Bucks County and received her BSN degree (Bachelors in Nursing) from Indiana University in Pennsylvania. It was in college where she developed her love for running… though it was by default.

Jen started off as a distance swimmer, not a runner. She swam all through highschool and during her freshman year at college.  Mid-way through her sophomore year, the rigors of her nursing program and some coaching differences lead her to step down from the team. To stay active, she took up running with a friend. They would go out for jogs together and continued to add more  mileage to their runs. Immediately, she loved it. “I remember we had run two miles and we were so excited!” Jen says. They continued running together until her friend, who was a year older, graduated. Even then, they continued to stay in touch and run.

After they heard that Oprah ran a marathon, they were inspired. “We thought – if Oprah did a marathon, we can do it too!” They trained separately, then ran the Philadelphia marathon together in November of 1995. Since then, Jen has competed in about a dozen half-marathons and three additional marathons: The Harrisburg Marathon (where she qualified for Boston) in 2012, the Boston Marathon in 2013 and the New York Marathon in 2014.

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Running just seems to be in her soul.  Though she wouldn’t say it because she is modest, Jenn is fast. “I don’t really look at the stats of the races,” she says. “For me, I love the sport and I never want to get too wrapped up in my times.” She will only say, quite humbly, “I am faster now than I was [in the past], for sure. I’ve always been more of that distance person.”

Reigning Queen

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A strong triathlete who has stood on the podium many times in many races, she only really stumbled upon triathlons four years ago when the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club formed. “I had only done one triathlon prior to joining the tri club… probably in 2000 or 2001,” Jen says. She and her husband had decided to do one together at the encouragement of a neighbor. They were both strong swimmers and Jen loved to run, so it seemed like a fun challenge. “As far as the bike went, I had a mountain bike and I put road tires on it. I liked it,” she says. Then laughs “We had no idea what we were doing!”

It wasn’t until the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club started up here in town that Jen thought about doing a triathlon again. She attended the kick-off meeting, trained, and did the Parvin Triathlon her first year and SheROX in Philadelphia the second year. She’s placed in her age group in several triathlons including the Athleta Girl Tri last summer. She won first place overall female in the North East Olympic Triathlon in Maryland, won the Queen of the Hill Sprint Triathlon in 2012 and 2014 and came in second in 2013.

“I don’t really do a lot of races,” Jenn says, remarking that her race calendar is not nearly as full as other women she knows. “There are some races I really enjoy doing like Broad Street and the Philly Rock and Roll Half and the Pitman Fourth of July 4-miler,” she says. Jen also rides with Team Amanda’s Angels on the ‘MS City To Shore’ charity bike ride every year she can. “It’s hard to do too many [races] because the kids are so busy.” Her children, two girls ages 12 and 9, and two boys ages 7 and 5, are involved in a number of sports and extra-curricular activities and this certainly keeps the entire family busy!

Community Contributions

Jen marries her love of fitness with her passion for helping better her community. Together with community members Dina Stratchen and Jayne Gandy, Jen helped co-create a program specific for young girls that blends character development and fitness. They called it “Girls On The GLOW” and approached the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club to see if they would include it as an off-shoot of the club. They happily agreed and backed it 100%.

Modeled after a popular national program called ‘Girls on the Run,’ Girls on the GLOW has been described as “Girl Scouts with an athletic component.” When the program launched about three years ago, 100 girls between first and 6th grade registered! Along with their Saturday morning meetings, GLOW offers special events like workshops, fun events with Moms, parties and fun evening “GLOW runs” with glow-in-the-dark hairspray and face paint. Jen has been actively involved as a volunteer coach or helping with special events with the program ever since.

Jen also volunteers as one of the race organizers for the Brian Ballard Memorial Tri, Du and Splash and Dash held at the Brookside Swim Club in Glassboro. The money they raise goes toward a scholarship for a Brookside swimmer and another portion goes to a charity. This year, it was the NJ Special Olympics. “2013 was the first year it was a tri,” Jen says about the expansion of the race events offered that day. “The best part is the amount of kids we get. For them to be able to participate is my favorite part.”

To further involve her children in community service, Jen signed up her family to participate in a young philanthropy group called Our Children Making Change this summer. “I wanted to do that because I always did GLOW with the girls, but this way the boys could be involved too.” The group raised money by holding several fundraising events this summer in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the NJ Special Olympics.

Her experience with organizing community events influenced her career decisions as well. After working as a NICU nurse for many years at Children’s in Pittsburg, Children’s in Philadelphia (CHOP) and Virtua, Jen decided to try something different when she re-entered the workforce. “After doing GLOW and more community events, I decided to steer more toward public health,” she says. She began a new job working as a nurse for the Salem Couty Department of Health coordinating the NJ CEED Program. This program provides cancer screenings, blood pressure and glucose screenings for the uninsured.

 Jen McCarthy is more than a runner. More than a triathlete. She is a role model to both women and young girls. She brings a passion and positive energy to everything she does, giving back ten fold to our community.

Meet Lorri Zeiders – Working To End The Stigma Against Addiction and Mental Illness

  

As a community advocate, Lorri Zeiders works to change public policy and end the stigma against substance abuse, addiction and mental illness. 

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Making Mullica Hill Home

Lorri is a wife and mother of three children, ages 22, 20 and 18. She and her husband Rob moved from Merchantville to Mullica Hill five years ago to be closer to her sister, niece and nephew. She loves Mullica Hill for its wide open spaces, great school system, and fun community activities. She particularly loves shopping locally for unique gifts downtown, enjoying the paper and a cup of coffee at Crescent Moon and getting pampered at the Langmore Salon.

 

Catching the Tri Bug

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Shortly after Lorri moved to Mullica Hill, she joined the fledgling Mullica Hill Women’s Triathlon Club at the encouragement of her sister.  “I joined because it was a vehicle to the community, not really because of the exercise,” Lorri says. She was not a runner, biker or swimmer when she joined the club, and had no interest in actually doing a triathlon.  So, when she started training she followed a “No pain, no gain” theory. Unfortunately, her overtraining resulted in a stress fracture which left her out of commission for months. After recovering, she completed the Parvin Tri – her very first triathlon. “I was the second to last swimmer out of the water,” she laughs.  “People were asking me if I was alright… I didn’t even know what I was doing.”

Since then, Lorri has definitely figured out what she is doing. She has many triathlons and road races under her belt and has placed in her age group numerous times. In the Atlantic City Sprint Triathlon she placed third for her age group, in Escape the Cape (which involves jumping off of the Cape May Ferry to start the ocean swim) she placed third last year and fifth this year. She has also stood on the podium for the past three years in Mullica Hill’s own Queen of the Hill.  “I really like the challenge and the feeling I get afterward,” Lorri says. In addition to her many triathlons, Lorri has completed two marathons and is training for her third this fall. This one will be special because she is doing it with her husband.  “I’ll do one every year, as long as I can,” she says.

 

A Community Advocate

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Lorri’s greatest challenge has neither been marathons nor triathlons. When her family began facing the very serious issue of substance abuse and addiction, it hit her hard. But as a devoted mother, she kept fighting to understand, support and help  – not just her own family, but others as well. When the Gloucester Regional Addiction and Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (GRASP) was formed approximately three years ago, they contacted her to be a parent volunteer. She agreed wholeheartedly, and has been an active volunteer with the group ever since.

GRASP’s mission is to educate the community about addiction and substance abuse and put an end to the stigma surrounding them. In her role, Lorri attends meetings and events, has given a talk at Rowan, and testified at a parody hearing at Stockton College with former Senator Patrick Kennedy. She explains that while individuals with addiction are supposed to be treated the same as those with medical conditions, there are no details or standards to guide this so it often doesn’t happen. “Patrick Kennedy considers this the civil rights movement of our day,” Lorri explains.

“My reason for joining the coalition was to get the word out about the dangers of prescription medications,” she says. Devoted to this mission, Lorri spends countless hours educating the public, sharing her family’s story both formally and informally, and helping make changes in public policy and law.

As a member of the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club, Lorri has had the opportunity to volunteer with their annual Causes. Two years ago, Lorri was on the committee to help raise awareness and money for Melanoma, a cause with great significance to her after her sister’s diagnosis. This year, Lorri is serving on the committee for their current cause – to End the Stigma Against Mental Illness. She presented at the club’s 2014 Educational Workshop and is currently trying to get changes made to a bill in the Assembly.

Lorri Zeiders – Community Activist, Devoted Advocate, Amazing Triathlete … Mullica Hill Mom.

 

 by: Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. 

A Class Act: Meet Abigail Stanton, Class of 2014

 

“Tomorrow we will wake up with nearly limitless possibilities at our fingertips. For the first time in our lives, we have the chance to choose where we go and what we do.  We can form ourselves into the people we choose to be.”  These were the words of graduating senior and Clearview High School Valedictorian Abigail Stanton shortly before the Class of 2014 tossed their caps high into the air this past June.

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Abigail Stanton of Sewell had sat through a total of five graduations prior to her own — her two older brothers’ and several ceremonies where she played in the graduation band. This time, however, it was different. This time, it was her day.

“Having it be my own graduation definitely felt different,” Abby says. “I  remember graduation day going really fast for me…It was like I blinked and it was over.” Not only was Abby a graduating senior, she was also in the position to inspire her peers as the valedictorian — a huge honor which she embraced with sincerity while remaining quite humble.

In her speech, Abby talked about how the hard work and struggles in high school helped teach dedication, team work and the ability to deal with failure. She admitted high school was tough in many ways, yet it prepared them all for the future.”To succeed,” she reminded her peers “we will need to remember those universal lessons that we learned in high school. We must work incredibly hard, coexist peacefully with one another, confront challenges with tenacity, and manage to enjoy ourselves all the while.”

She credits a  lot of her academic and personal success to the wonderful teachers at Clearview High School.  Included in the list were Mr. Neiswender, Mr. Porter, Mr. Tomlin and Mr. Tweed. “More than simply teaching the material, they made learning an experience,” Abby says. “They really invested a lot of time and effort into teaching us and never lost their personal touch… I felt I really got to know them as genuinely interesting people.”

Abby’s future is certainly going to be bright. She will be attending Colgate University to study either Biology or Neuroscience and possibly minor in Spanish. She also plans to play in the Pep Band. But for now, Abby will take a well-deserved break from her four years of studying. She is looking forward to spending a lot of quality time with her family before heading off to college. She enjoys reading, playing video games, knitting, hanging out with friends and music.  Abby actually plays a variety of instruments from the trumpet, baritone and french horn to the ukulele and mellophone.

Her favorite thing to do in the Mullica Hill area is walk around the Amish Market with friends and grab a donut or soft pretzel. But leisure activities won’t be the only thing on Abby’s summer agenda. She will return to help with the choreography at a children’s theatre program called Junior Starlights. Abby has participated in this program for 10 years along with her Mom, who directs.

When asked about the most memorable part of her graduation day, Abby said it was the feeling of pure happiness when she tossed her cap up into the air and saw the shared look of joy on the faces of her classmates. “High school is a real challenge for a lot of reasons and the fact that we all got through it is where the pride comes from…We were just happy to have made it to that point.”

 

Written By Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Meet Kate Butler: Inspirational Children’s Book Author

Author, Life Coach, Speaker, Business Owner and mother of two — Kate Butler is a Mullica Hill Mom on a mission to help both children and adults dream big and find their life’s purpose. 

Meet Kate

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Kate and her husband moved from California to Mullica Hill about five years ago. They found it to be the perfect blend of both their needs.  It had a “small town feel” for her husband but was still “busy” enough for her. Since their move, they have welcomed two beautiful girls into the family, now ages 4 and 1. Their 4 year old, Bella, plays soccer with with Harrison Township, takes classes at the Mullica Hill Art Center and enjoys Mommy-and-Me tea time at Amelia’s Tea House.  “The number one thing we love [about Mullica Hill] are the families and the community,” Kate says.

Though Kate wears many hats and has enjoyed immense professional success, she identifies herself as a Stay-At-Home Mom first and foremost. “I’m trying to enjoy and embrace my time with them,” Kate explains “so, I built my business around them.”

Like most moms, shortly after her first child was born, Kate wanted to stay at home as much as possible without giving up her career interests and personal goals.  Using her degree in Mass Communication and her decade of experience in the recruiting industry, Kate started her own recruiting business called The Right Hire, LLC. “I started that company to let other moms work from home,” she says. Despite her business’s continued success, Kate did not feel like she had found her true passion. ” I wanted to find my life’s purpose,” she explains. “The pull became so strong, I couldn’t ignore it.” She started attending writer’s retreats and realized she loved writing and was good at it! She also studied under Jack Campfield, author of the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ books and eventually became a Professional Life Coach.

As a Certified Professional Life Coach, Kate applies lessons learned from her own personal journey and professional training to guide others toward self-discovery and career and personal fulfillment. “I created a program that’s authentic to me,” she says. Using techniques such as vision boards, dream boards, and goal-setting Kate helps her clients identify and achieve their dreams. “We are always continuously growing,” she says. “When you connect with your purpose and the path you should be on, everything is crystal clear.”

But Kate’s inspirational message extends beyond adults.  Empowering the future generations is also a huge part of her life’s mission.

Maggie Mud Is Born

During Kate’s personal journey, she wrote a book about the experience and all she learned.  It originally was a memoir/prescriptive/self-help book written for adults. Then, something shifted. “The reason I was writing this book was for my daughters… That’s when it hit me – I will take the themes in my book and translate them into a children’s book,” she says. From that moment of clarity, Kate says the book  More Than Mud  basically wrote itself. Maggie Mud was born.

More Than Mud, by Kate Butler

 

More Than Mud is More Than A Hit!

More Than Mud follows little Maggie Mud from infancy through adulthood. As she goes through significant events in her life, the reader learns that no dream is ever too big or unattainable. Endorsed by New York Times #1 Best Selling Author Jack Canfield, More Than Mud was #1 on Amazon’s charts beating out ‘Pinkalicious!’

Written with the goal of building confidence, fostering imagination and inspiring a new perspective on life, More Than Mud is not just an entertaining and beautifully illustrated children’s story. It’s a tool and resource for parents to facilitate their child’s growth and development. In the back of the book are empowerment questions, almost like a work book, that a parent and child can do together. These questions are designed to help children tap into their biggest dreams, give them the courage to reach for the stars, believe in themselves, understand their greatest gifts and love themselves for who they are. Kate has even expanded her life coaching to include “Mommy-and-Me” Dream Board Session, knowing you can never start too young!

Kate has found her true life’s purpose and has devoted herself to helping others do the same. This book will inspire our youngest generation by guiding them toward their own life’s purpose and encouraging them to walk toward it with confidence!

“My main goal with this book is to reach as many children as possible,” Kate says.  So far, she seems to be on the right path.

by: Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Want to Contact Kate? Find her at Kate Butler Books

Meet Jennifer Cannon: Author and Social Media Expert

Local Mom and author of the new book @Sophie Takes a #Selfie: Rules and Etiquette for Taking Good Care Before You Share, Jennifer Cannon takes her years of expertise in Social Media Management and creates the perfect tool for educating kids about the rules and etiquette of social media. 

 Mullica Hill Mom Jennifer Cannon is a wife, mother of three, freelance writer, social media manager, and published author. Originally from sunny Southern California, Jennifer found herself in New Jersey the way many transplants do – she fell in love with and married her husband and then followed him to the East Coast. After living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, they ended up moving to Mullica Hill where they have resided for the past 9 years.

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Creating Her Niche

When Jennifer opted to leave her former career and stay at home to raise her young children, she was happy with her choice. Yet, her creative passion and innate drive needed an outlet. As the daughter of an inventor, Jennifer had a knack for inventions and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. As a Momprenuer, promoting a cleaning brush she had designed, Jennifer became active in blogging, Tweeting, and social networking. “That experience got me involved in social media,” Jennifer says. “It became a powerful tool.”

Jennifer now enjoys a career in the exciting and sometimes complicated world of social media. Capitalizing on her talents, Jennifer founded JennCann Productions, a company providing creative writing and social media managment services for individuals and businesses. As an independent contractor with a Marketing Company, Jennifer manages an array of social media accounts. Her clientele have ranged from chart topping AC Billboard artists to NY Times best selling authors to successful Mompreneurs.

Youth In Social Media – Addressing An Important Need

Though Jennifer is immersed in the world of social media, when her “tween” daughter entered that same world with her first smart phone, Jennifer realized this was a whole new ballgame. As with most parenting topics, there is no manual. Only, Jennifer thought that if no manual existed for helping our youth navigate social media responsibly, then maybe SHE should write one.

Inspiration To Reality – @Sophie Takes a #Selfie

This past summer, Jennifer was inspired to write a book that helped tweens and teens navigate the world of social media responsibly, respectfully and safely.

@Sophie Takes a SelfieA Teaching Tool For Parents

With her husband’s encouragement she wrote and published @Sophie Takes a #Selfie: Rules and Etiquette for Taking Good Care Before You ShareJennifer knew that eye catching, amazing illustrations would truly make this book come together so she partnered up with another Mullica Hill Mom – Illustrator, Bridget Doe.  She gives Bridget a lot of credit for bringing “Sophie” to life.

 “I see so many young people on social media,” Jennifer says. Instagram, Kik, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat are all arenas where kids as young as 8 are active. The problem is that they do not yet possess the emotional maturity to fully understand the ramifications of what they post. Jennifer wants parents to take a proactive role when it comes to educating their children about social media. “I want parents to talk to their kids early. I believe the sooner you address it the better,”  she says. “I just want people to think.  If we want to let our kids play on this playground, we need to watch them.”

@Sophie Takes A #Selfie is a fictionalized story about a girl named Sophie and all the things that happen to her when she naively sticks her toe in the waters of social media. It discusses many contemporary topics our youth face in a digital age. Jennifer offers easy, relatable “rules” and brings them to life with realistic and often humorous examples. Topics in this book cover everything from cyber etiquette and cyber bullyingposting and tagging without permissionover-sharinghate speech and the life-long consequences of putting something out there on the internet that follows you well into adulthood.

Jennifer’s passion and talent are all about helping others be the best they can be. Her career centers around promoting others, singing their praises and building them up to the heights of success. Interestingly, her new book does the same – it supports others in a relatable way without lecturing. It guides both children and parents through one of the trickiest aspects of this generation faces… and does so quite brilliantly.

Want to purchase a copy of @Sophie Takes A #Selfie (paperback or Kindle edition) and begin the conversation with your tween or teen daughter? Visit Amazon.com.

Check out Jennifer’s Blogs: Sophie Takes a Selfie and Well Adjusted So They Say 

or Follow her on Twitter: @SophieSelfie or @JenCannPro

Written By: Alicia DiFabio

We Love Our Mullica Hill Dads

February is the month of love, and we Mullica Hill Moms love and value our Mullica Hill DADS.

In honor of Valentines Day, we want to shine the spotlight onto a few of our town’s most amazing Dads! These loving fathers and devoted husbands work hard, volunteer their time and talent to the community, and can be found pushing swings at the park and cheering on the sidelines of every game. 

JOE AMADOROJoe Amadoro

Go to any soccer field, playground or school event and you will be sure to see Joe Amadoro, along with his wife Melanie, supporting their four children. He seems to have boundless energy and a smile that never leaves his face.  “I love being a part of everything that my kids are doing, which requires a lot of coffee since I have four kids,” Joe says.  And not just four kids, but four very active kids. Of course, it helps that Joe and Melanie are self-proclaimed “sports nuts” themselves.

Joe has a full-time career as an engineer working for the Department of Defense for the U.S. Navy in South Philly. In his ‘spare time,’ he competes in triathlons. Despite this busy schedule, Joe is highly involved in every aspect of his children’s lives. His eldest daughter, Naomi, is a competitive gymnast and Joe spends many hours with her at practices each week. Daughter Brielle and son Caleb both compete on a travel soccer team, and all three are on the dive team for Brookside Swim Club. His youngest daughter, Kindergartener Sydney, is active with dance and swimming. Joe has volunteered as his son’s baseball coach and as the diving representative at Brookside where he is responsible for hosting the South Jersey Diving Association 1M Championships.

The Amadoro family takes full advantage of the town’s many family-friendly local spots. Visiting the Amish market, walking to the library, apple and pumpkin picking at Heritages Vineyards, and dinners at Mandarin Oriental or Naples Pizza are family favorites. Joe can be found at all the PVS and HTS events including parades, classroom observations days, holiday shopping, track and field days, and concerts. He also loves cooking up new dishes with his kids. Instilling charity in his children, Joe’s family delivered Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Joe also volunteers in the children’s ministry at his church with Naomi and Caleb as his assistants.

Best thing about being a Dad: “I especially enjoy the silly little things that get us all laughing during a car ride or watching someone’s sporting event or at dinner which seems to really bring out the sillies… It’s those small moments that really bind us together.”

Kyle GandyKYLE GANDY

Kyle has lived in Mullica Hill for the past nine years with his wife Jayne and two children, Mason (9) and Ella (6). “Kyle is a father and husband who lives each day to its fullest,” says Jayne. “He is the father who plays board games and flashlight tag and gives his children his attention and love.” From field trips and parades to helping with ‘Math games’ and being the ‘Mystery Reader’ at school, Kyle is an ever-present Dad in the lives of his children. His favorite thing to do with the family around town? “Breakfast at the Blue Plate!”

When not working as the Director of Energy Management at Rowan University, Kyle can typically be found doing something recreational with the family or building a zip line in his backyard for the kids (and perhaps for the kids at heart, too!) The entire Gandy family enjoys a very active lifestyle which is clear when you see Kyle’s long history of volunteering as a coach for virtually every youth sport!  His personal passion is basketball, but he has been a coach/assistant coach for T-Ball, Baseball, Soccer, Lacrosse and Basketball. He gives back to his community by serving on the Board of Trustees with the Trinity Methodist Church and he has cycled with Team ‘Amanda’s Angels’ for the past three years, tackling the ‘Bike M.S.: City To Shore Ride ‘to support the National M.S. Society. He also does an annual triathlon to benefit the Bridgeton Exchange Club.  Apparently, he also does laundry.

Best thing about being a Dad: “[T]he opportunity to live like a kid again.”

BRANDON DUCKWORTHBrandon Duckworth

Utah born and bred, Brandon is new to Mullica Hill but no stranger to Southern Jersey. His wife Janeen grew up in Washington Township, his 2 older brothers were born in South Jersey and when he made his major league debut, it was as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. Having just retired mere months ago, Brandon is enjoying his new career as a scout for the New York Yankees. This allows him to settle in to his new Mullica Hill home and spend even more time with his young family  – first grader Sophia (6) and twins Easton and Aliyah (2).

Brandon has had a long, successful career as a professional baseball pitcher in the majors, minors and Triple-A. He pitched for the Phillies from 2001 through 2003. While in Philly, he was the representative for the Special Olympics. He was traded to the Houston Astros where he played for about two years. Brandon’s career also includes pitching for  the Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox. Brandon was the only player to ever receive the Paul Owens Minor League ‘Pitcher of the Year’ Award for two consecutive years. In 2012, his contract was purchased by a team in Japan called the Tohoku Rakuten “Golden Eagles” of Nippon Professional Baseball. He played two seasons in Japan and ended 2013 with a Championship win.

Life as a pro-athlete has been exciting but certainly not without sacrifice due to the heavy travel and high demands. But this family man always prioritized being a highly involved Dad, never wanting to miss a thing. First-born Sophia grew up around baseball, attending her first game in Fenway Park at 3 months of age. As she grew older, she would be sitting in the stands with her clipboard and stopwatch. “She knows more about baseball than most people,” Brandon laughs. Now that he is home more, Brandon confesses that he enjoys all the little things about being a Dad that others may take for granted.  “He likes the everyday things because he couldn’t do it for a long time,” explains Janeen.  He can always be found up at the bus stop, taking the kids out to the Crescent Moon or treating them to smoothies at the Amish Market.

Best thing about being a Dad:  “Waking up in the morning and seeing the smile and excitement on their faces.”

Steve HouptSTEVE HOUPT

Steve is a Commercial Insurance Broker and the President of Houpt Insurance Agency, LLC, a private insurance agency in Southern NJ that services over 200 businesses. He has been living in Mullica Hill with his family for the past five years. His two daughters, Keira (8) and Kaylee (6), attend the Harrison Township School where his wife Holly also works as a teacher.

Steve’s commitment to fatherhood is matched by his commitment to community service. He volunteers his time and talent to continue improving the local area so it can be an enriching environment for children and families.  His goal is to ensure that there are great playgrounds, parks, special events, and other activities that make Mullica Hill both fun and educational. As a highly involved community member, Steve attends the Freeholder meetings and is starting to get involved in local politics. Steve currently serves as the Vice President of the Mullica Hill Rotary  Board of Directors and in June of this year will assume the role of President.  He is also on the Board of Directors for the Fire District, is a member of the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce and plans to get his name on the ballot this year for the Township Committee’s open seat.

Building a career and serving his community does not stop Steve from being an actively engaged father. “I never miss a dance recital, parent teacher-conference or event at the school,” he says.  He most enjoys taking nature walks with his daughters during the warmer seasons. He also enjoys teaching them the game of golf, playing with them on the playground and helping them do science projects.

Best thing about being a Dad:  “Buying dresses and outfits for my daughters… I try to buy them new outfits so they can open them the day prior and wear on [special] occassions.”

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TROY MEMIS

Inspired by a love of sports and his 10 year old son J.T. who is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Troy started an adaptive sports program called TOPSoccer. His mission was to give children with a wide range of disabilities the opportunity to have a full and rich experience playing on a sports team. With encouragement from his family, Troy first approached the township for a concrete field to accommodate wheelchairs, a request that was speedily met! He spread the word in the community and before he knew it, the first TOPSoccer team was formed with six times as many kids enrolled than they anticipated.

Due to the overwhelming positive response from parents, and the support of the township and community, Troy recruited and organized even more volunteers and was able to add baseball, bowling and basketball programs. He eventually formed TOPSports, a non-profit that allows young athletes with disabilities the opportunity to develop their physical fitness and build socialization through the joy of playing sports. A unique aspect to the program is that they use teen volunteer “buddies” to assist the players. Currently, there are 73 active buddies and 63 buddies-in-training. “Our teen volunteers are amazing and always surprise us with their unselfish giving of their time, patience, and love,” says Troy. His daughter Kayla was awarded ‘Buddy of the Year’ for her active participation as a buddy and her never-ending recruitment and mentoring of new buddies. It’s quite obvious that Troy’s children are following in his footsteps too.

Best thing about being a Dad: “[F]ollowing my Dad’s lead and giving back.”

Written by: Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Meet Becky Lyons: Practicing The Art of Yoga and Volunteerism

Many things have changed in Mullica Hill over the past 33 years, but Becky Lyons has remained one of this town’s constants.  Now raising her own children in the place of her childhood, she gives back to the community she has always called home.

Deep Roots In Mullica Hill

As a kid, Becky Lyons would ride her bike from her 10-acre home on Commissioners Road down Main Street and there was hardly any traffic or development along the way.  Becky has lived in Mullica Hill for approximately 33 years and has witnessed it evolve from quiet and rural to a (relatively speaking) more populated and developed area. “It has changed enormously,” she says. “There was no light at the Harrison House… there was no Harrison House… no Crescent Moon, no shopping centers.

Though Mullica Hill has indeed changed, she – along with her parents and both brothers – obviously still feel very connected to this town as they continue to call it home. Becky lives with her husband and three young children (9-year old twins Justin and Sophia  and 6 1/2-year old Travis) in the Ewan section of Mullica Hill.

1390310308_zps099950a3Her children attend the same elementary school that she did…only back then, it was much smaller.  “Harrison Township School was one building. It looked like a rectangle,” she remembers, describing how the main school house was the one box-like building where now the administrative offices are located. There were two classes per grade, and only about 300 children in total from K through sixth.

Though Becky attended The Friends School during her middle school years, she returned to the public school district for High School. “I loved Clearview,” she says.  Becky was a very active high school student, playing field hockey, basketball and softball as well serving as Class Secretary and member of the Honors Society.

Becky left home to attend Moravian College in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, majoring in psychology and participating in both field hockey and track. After graduation, she found her way back to Mullica Hill and is now a devoted mother, yoga instructor, and highly active community member.

When asked to reflect on the changes she has seen over the decades in Mullica Hill, Becky sees the positives along with the losses that come with development. “You want that small town, but at the same time you appreciate the conveniences.” She believes that the changes have supported a culture of yoga. Years ago, Becky believes that a place like Fitness Yoga Studio probably would have never succeeded.

Namaste: Finding Peace and A Passion With Yoga

Approximately five years ago Becky, always very involved in sports and fitness, started practicing more pilates and yoga.  She began teaching pilates and boot camp classes at a studio called Shape It Up Now. After about two years, she took her first yoga class at the (then new) Fitness Yoga Studio in Mullica Hill. They had just started a 200-hour course to become a registered yoga instructor, otherwise known as “a 200 RYT.” Becky jumped at the chance to do something she always wanted to do.  “It was great,” she said. “I loved it.”

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Yoga has not only enhanced her life, but she turns around and enhances the lives of others as a Yoga Instructor.  “This is my passion,” she says. For Becky, yoga is more than a way to stay healthy and fit; it’s even more than a career.  It is a lifestyle.  “Whatever you do on the mat will reflect off the mat…I’m not mentally the same person… I’m much more conscious, calm, in touch with my body.”

The Importance of Balance In A Busy Life

Becky encourages everyone to give yoga a try.  “The biggest thing is to be open to it.  Try to come to a few classes with a few different teachers or even try a few different studios.”  She emphasizes that there are classes at every level so no one should ever feel intimidated to start. Plus, there is something for everyone with any fitness goal. “It can be restorative and meditative or it can be a butt-kicking, sweating work-out.”

At Fitness Yoga Studio in Mullica Hill, Becky instructs in several different forms of yoga. One class is ‘Yin’ which is aimed at beginners. Here, gentler poses are held for longer periods of time. She also teaches ‘Iron Yoga’ which is more of a work-out using hand weights during the poses. Finally, she leads the very trendy ‘Hot Vinyasa’ where the high temperature in the room heats the muscles and helps people to get into poses more deeply.  Becky also teaches a ‘Core Yoga’ class at the Laughing Buddha studio.

Becky LyonsYoga is not the only way Becky stays fit and active. As a member of the Mullica Hill Women’s Triathlon Club, she has competed in their local sprint triathlon, Queen of the Hill. She also rode in the MS City To Shore Bike ride (90 miles) in support of Amanda’s Angels and in 2012 ran in the Philadelphia Marathon.

Community Involvement Always A Priority

Becky is highly involved with Harrison Township Schools.  She volunteers many hours on a parent-based initiative to implement an extracurricular reading extension program in the schools for grades 1 through 6. She is also an active PTA member and Room Mom and has offered yoga to the students in the Inclusion Class at Pleasant Valley School. Outside of the schools, Becky led her daughter’s Daisy troop for two years and volunteered as a Coach for ‘Girls On The Glow’ – a fitness and character development program for girls in grades 1 through high school offered through the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club.

Becky makes sure to instill the importance of charity and volunteering in her children as well. They are active with a Young Philanthropy Group called ‘Kids on a Quest’ through Angels of God – a non-profit located in Pitman. Her children also donate money to a cause on each birthday.  She explains that if they choose to have a birthday party, in leu of gifts they instead collect donations for a charity. Each child has raised and donated hundreds of dollars for organizations such as Catholic Services in Camden, Amanda’s Angels and the Sprout PJ Tuck In.

Becky Lyons – Yoga Queen, Mullica Hill “Lifer,” Selfless Volunteer, Marathon Runner … Mullica Hill Mom.

By: Alicia DiFabio