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Mid-Atlantic States
Career & Education Center

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Celebrating 2000 Job Placements!

DEPTFORD TWP., N.J., JUNE 6, 2013 – April 2013 will be a month that The Mid-Atlantic States Career & Education Center (MASC&EC) will never forget. The small nonprofit hit a colossal organizational milestone that has come faster than anyone has expected. MASC&EC has placed 2,000 clients into jobs throughout the six Southern Jersey counties they serve. The Salem site, headed by David Zeck and Aubrie Bonestell, established a monthly job placement record with 42 placements for the month of April. 

Through the combined efforts of MASC&EC’s Workplus™ Programs as well as the Parolee Employment Placement Program (PEPP) a feat that had originally taken nine years to achieve, achieving 1,000 placements in 2011, has been achieved again in just two years. 
MASC&EC opened its first program, Workplus™, in 2002 as a half day program as an educational training and job placement program through a grant from Cumberland/Salem County Workforce Investment Board. What started as a small program in Salem County, NJ, has grown and expanded to now encompass five fully operating sites throughout Southern New Jersey. These sights include: Burlington City, Paulsboro, Salem City, and Westampton.

Deputy Commissioner Fichtner shared congratulatory remarks at the Deptford celebration, noting the PEPP has equipped parolees with the tools to move forward and gain stable employment. The LWD has traditionally supported re-entry programs for ex-offenders through its One-Stop Career Centers including Career Beacon Workshops, which offer resume writing, interviewing skills, and job search assistance.

(Deputy Labor Commissioner Aaron Fichtner (left) celebrates with Mid-Atlantic States Career & Education Center's President and CEO Glen Donelson (middle) and VP and CFO Tom Brown (right) on achieving 2000 job placements through the combined efforts of their programs.

Fostering Community Garden Development

The Mid-Atlantic States Career and Education Center has since its inception focused on strengthening the Food System. “The Center” was formed as a result of a W.K, Kellogg Foundation Grant to the Land Grant College System.  As the Center worked with disadvantaged youth and adults in job training and placement programs it became apparent that the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables was a serious problem in disadvantaged communities and that it was not limited to just urban environments.

Accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables effects obesity rates, performance in the classroom, and in the workplace. It became clear that food production and the concept of people raising their own healthy food in a variety of environments is one way to address healthy food choices and America’s food crisis. In some environments their simply is no availability of fresh foods to any segments of the population. In these “food deserts” people have a high fat, high salt diet. Fresh foods, if available are more expensive and not easy to store.  They generally are not purchased.

The combination of growing food and families sharing in the activities to grow the food is very powerful. The “community garden” experience offers an opportunity to change diets, engage in exercise, and can provide an intergenerational activity that strengthens and builds families. 

Program Strategy: 

Our program strategy is to work with local partners to develop community garden organizers and organizations to strengthen garden plans and to assist them in overcoming problems in development and to leverage the expertise of the Land Grant College System to assist local efforts. We also work with new and innovative technology such as Earthboxes and hydroponics to adapt the effort to any environment and to utilize precious resources in the most efficient way. 

Program Goal:

The goal of the Mid-Atlantic Sates Career and Education Center is to work with a variety of partners to strengthen or develop community gardens in disadvantaged communities utilizing a variety of green technologies to adapt too many varied environments.

Program Objectives:

• To improve fresh food accessibility to disadvantaged communities by lowering the cost and providing “doorstep” availability;
• To assist local organizers in developing a community garden plan and assist in funding the effort.
• To engage local populations in engaging in community gardening
• To promote intergenerational gardening
• To lower obesity rates among disadvantaged populations; 
• To bring green technology and new methods of gardening to a variety of environments: and
• Bring technical expertise to garden organizers and participants through the Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener Program.

Program Activities:

• Workplus™ Program Garden in Salem County, NJ utilizes Earthboxes in a urban center to produce food to its disadvantaged participants and people in need of food;
• Bridgeton, NJ Gardens- the Center was instrumental in partnering with the Community Action Program of Bridgeton to develop its community garden on a large site in the City of Bridgeton.
• Several schools have developed community gardens and students work to produce food during the school year in Salem County, NJ
• The Center is working closely with the Camden, NJ Childrens Gardens of Camden to improve the community garden in the Vietnamese Community.

To learn more contact:

Mr. Benjamin Wood at 315 -841-8855 e-mail: pincroft@aol.com or Mr. Glen Donelson- 856- 514-2200 ext 101,  e-mail: gdonelson@mascec.org

Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler Makes Her Way To Salem County

SALEM — Students were encouraged to never give up, be themselves, and dream big by Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler at the Salem Middle School Wednesday afternoon.

As part of her tour through Salem County, Kaeppeler, of Kenosha, Wis., took time to speak to young students about her platform: Circles of Support — Mentoring children of incarcerated parents and the importance of mentoring.

“Leading up to Miss America and getting through life I lived by these principles and I believe in dreaming big,” she said, encouraging students in grades 3 through 8 to keep pushing through life and reaching out to a mentor.

Sponsored by Mid-Atlantic States Career & Education Center with help from the Miss America Organization and students of the International Baccalaureate program, Kaeppeler arrived to the school and spoke about inspiring youth.

Six eleventh-grade students from Salem High School helped plan the assembly, and introduced Miss America to the student body. Additionally, the IB students initiated and judged an essay contest following in the theme of mentoring.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler talking, on Wednesday December 5, during the Benefits of Mentoring Luncheon hosted by Mid-Atlantic States Career & Education Center in Salem County.

“The best parts are when the kids come up to her, and say that they have the same experiences,” IB student Jasmin Porter, 15, said about Miss America visiting her school district.

“It’s a surreal and once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s great for something great to happen in Salem.”

The IB program is aimed at students ages 3 to 19 to help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills to live, learn and work in the world, according to the IB organization website.
Winners of the essay contest were presented with certificates by Kaeppeler and students in the bleachers screamed wild and enthusiastic cheers. Students were asked to write an essay about a person in their life who has played a heavy influential part of their lives and write about the qualities that make them such a great mentor.

“I know they were excited but I hope they saw past the crown. I want them to know that your past doesn’t have to define you,” Kaeppeler said. “If only one kid can remember this, who took this home, that’s enough.”

According to President of MASC&EC Glen Donelson, after the organization learned about Kaeppeler’s platform, they reached out to Miss America Organization in an attempt to bring a life-changing message to the students of Salem County.

“I think that it’s very important to emphasize mentoring because sometimes youngsters easily want to give up. It’s important for them to see images of success, that they can overcome any obstacles,” Donelson said.

He added that there is an extreme need for mentors and the difference they make to students, especially in the improvement of their GPAs, behavior and attendance.

Kaeppeler reflected over her earlier years and took time to remember some of her first mentors, Katie and Tony, who were her theater and dance teachers.

“They had a similar background and it was pivotal to understand who experiences things and that they are not alone in it. If you know you’re the one that knows you best, that’s what matters the most,” Kaeppeler said encouraging students during the assembly.

Vice President of MASC&EC Thomas Brown said that anyone can be a mentor. “You don’t know who you are mentoring. Some kids just need someone to talk to,” Brown said.

In the closing of her visit to the middle school, Kaeppeler sang a song for the student body to say farewell. “I performed this song for many, many years. It’s one I’ve done traveling through the entire country. It’s not only a song that I sing to students but I sing that song to myself,” she said.

Starting late Wednesday morning, Miss America attended a luncheon with local businesses, labor leaders, educators, law enforcement, potential business partners, and local elected officials at the PSEG Energy & Environmental Resource Center.

After speaking to youth in the county, Kaeppeler enjoyed a dinner at Pennsville Middle School with more than 150 attendees, a large majority of them were youth. Other attendees included mentors and protégés who participate in the mentoring program along with their families.
“It’s a great reward. The fact that she did not always want to be Miss America and then she realized she could change lives so it became more than just a pageant to her is inspiring. She was able to come and take a step back from her title and that makes it more real,” IB student Megan Sharp, 16, said.

By: Brittany M. Wehner ~ South Jersey Times

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