Jeff Stirrat Helps Others As CONTACT Volunteer
Like so many people today, Westfield resident Jeff Stirrat’s days are very full. Along with his demanding job leading new product development efforts for Ethicon in Bridgewater, he also is working towards his doctoral degree, runs more than 20 miles a week, works out at the gym, and spends time with his wife and daughter.
No matter how busy he gets, however, Mr. Stirrat continues to find the time to volunteer for CONTACT We Care, the 24-hour telephone hot line and crisis intervention service.
For more than five years, Mr. Stirrat has offered the gift of listening to callers from throughout Union, Somerset, Middlesex and Essex Counties.
After volunteering more than 500 hours on the telephone lines, he said he continues to stay motivated because he knows he’s making a difference in people’s lives.
“You can tell when a lonely or stressed caller really appreciates having someone listen to them,” said the 41-year-old volunteer. “You can tell it’s made a difference that you were there for them.”
A specialist in new product development with a Master in Business Administration Degree, Mr. Stirrat explained that he became interested in psychology while working at Ethicon.
He returned to school for a second master’s degree in industrial psychology. “Through my studies, I developed a respect for the skill of listening. In work, doing supervision, conflict resolution, or team work, it’s a very powerful skill.”
Mr. Stirrat said he signed up for CONTACT’s volunteer training program in order to enhance his listening skills. The non-profit agency, established in 1975, provides a 50hour training program for its volunteers.
Some of the many topic areas covered include active listening, values clarification, problem identification and solving, and the human being from the Judeo-Christian perspective.
“Volunteering for CONTACT is a unique challenge. You don’t know who will be calling next. It makes it very interesting. You have to stay on your toes and actively listen,” Mr. Stirrat observed.
“Some callers will say, ‘I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t there.’ It’s then that you realize you are their last connection with society,” he continued. “Other callers have problems they feel they can’t share with anyone else. They are so appreciative that you are allowing them to talk,” he stated.
Mr. Stirrat, who is currently working towards a doctorate in human and organizational systems, said he is very aware of being a positive role model for his 11-year-old daughter, Christine.
“My mother always volunteered in the community. She taught me to make a contribution. I’m proud to be teaching the same to my daughter,” he noted.
Mr. Stirrat also volunteers for The Jaycees, participates in fund-raising events for cystic fibrosis, and helps out with a program for the homeless run through The Presbyterian Church in Westfield, of which he is a member.
Individuals interested in becoming a volunteer for CONTACT We Care may call (908) 889-4140. The next volunteer training program begins on Monday, September 28, and runs weekly through Monday, December 14.
Jeff Stirrat Westfield Foundation Donates Funds to Local Rescue Squad GIFT TO THE SQUAD…Frank A. MacPherson, President of the Westfield
Foundation, left, and Dr. Gerald J. Glasser, a member of the Westfield Foundation’s Board of Trustees, right, present Reid Edles, President of the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad, with a check for $10,000 towards the purchase of a new ambulance.
The Westfield Foundation recently made a donation to the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad. Frank A. MacPherson, President, and Dr. Gerald J. Glasser, a member of the Westfield Foundation’s Board of Trustees, presented a check for $10,000 to Rescue Squad President Reid Edles.
The donation will be used by the rescue squad to purchase a new ambulance, according to Richard Jackson, Training Sergeant for the squad.
The squad was contacted by the Westfield Foundation and, in time, both organizations agreed that a new ambulance would significantly help the residents of Westfield, Mr. Jackson said.
Mr. Edles stated that a new ambulance would help the rescue squad to be equipped with the latest in vehicle technology and safety. The squad currently has three ambulances and is considering replacing the oldest of the three, which was built in 1988 and was remounted to a 1991 chassis.
Although the vehicle has served the rescue squad well, the mounting cost of maintenance and the improvements to newer ambulances make this a prudent purchase at this time, according to the squad President.
Ultimately, the decision was made on behalf of the residents and visitors to Westfield, so that they will continue to receive effective emergency medical care which the squad has provided for more than 48 years.
The Westfield Foundation has also established a fund to benefit the rescue squad, through the anonymous donation of a Westfield resident. This fund will continue to benefit the volunteer organization throughout the years.
The Westfield Rescue Squad is an all-volunteer organization serving the community of Westfield, and one of the few resident squads in the state of New Jersey.
The squad recently completed its 1998 fund drive, but will con
tinue to accept donations throughout the year. Tax deductible contributions may be made to: The Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 356, Westfield 070910356. In the event of an emergency, please dial 9-1-1.
Toastmasters of Westfield To Hold Meeting Tonight
Toastmasters of Westfield will maintain its regular Thursday night schedule through the month of August, with meetings scheduled for tonight, August 6, and on August 13 and 27.
The meetings are held from 8 to 10 p.m. in the air-conditioned community meeting room of the First Savings Bank, 206 South Avenue in Fanwood, across from the train station. Dress is casual for the summer meetings.
The club teaches people from all backgrounds to effectively speak, conduct a meeting, lead, delegate and motivate.
The Toastmaster for this week’s meeting will be Bill Hund of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Noel Crawford of Mountainside will give the opening address; Darrick Sampson of Westfield will be the Table Topics
moderator. Speakers for the evening will be Karen Sciaraffa of Plainfield, Steve Dunn of Garwood and Phil Munkacsy of South Bound Brook. Evaluators will be Debbie Krajcik of Cranford and Michelle Tropper and Todd Schwartz of Scotch Plains. Master Evaluator will be Sandy Aptecker of Mountainside.
The entrance to the downstairs meeting room is through the ATM lobby.
A WAY WITH WORDS…Members and newly-elected officers of Toastmasters of Westfield look forward to another successful year of “polysyllabic profundity” at a cookout given by past President Jane Boyer of Westfield, front left. Joining her, pictured left to right, are: front row, Sandy Aptecker of Mountainside, President; Noel Crawford of Mountainside, Public Relations Vice President, and Steve Bacque of Linden, Membership Vice President and, second row, Jack Pfanne of Cranford, also Public Relations Vice President; Gino Merendino of Linden, Education Vice President; Max Florville of Metuchen, Sergeant at Arms, and Bill Hetfield of Plainfield, Financial Vice President. PNC Bank Makes Donation
To Benefit WHS Ice Hockey
A $1,000 donation from PNC Bank will contribute significantly to the efforts of the Westfield High School Ice Hockey Association, to reserve ice time and provide bus transportation for team members.
“The generous support of PNC Bank goes a long way toward enabling us to reserve more convenient ice time after school and bus team members to a new practice facility approximately one hour’s drive away,” said Doug Schwarz, one of the founders of the Westfield High School Ice Hockey Association.
“Our team members and their parents greatly appreciate the bank’s assistance. Without this support, we would have to schedule off-hours practices, and parents would worry about their children driving home late at night,” he added.
“PNC Bank is pleased to support the efforts of the Westfield High School Ice Hockey Association,” said Daria Placitella, Vice President and Manager of the PNC Private Bank
Westfield Office. “This worthwhile organization provides a positive outlet for young people in our community.”
The Westfield High School Ice Hockey Association was founded in 1994 by a group of parents who were interested in seeing ice hockey become a varsity sport at Westfield High School.
Through privately raised funds, the group has expanded from an initial roster of 17 players in its first season to 39 players who will be trying out this fall for both the varsity and the recently equipped junior varsity teams.
PNC Bank Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is one of the largest diversified financial services organizations in the United States.
Its major businesses include regional community banking, national consumer banking, mortgage banking, private banking, asset management, mutual fund servicing, corporate banking and secured lending.
HELPING HOCKEY…A $1,000 donation from PNC Bank will contribute significantly toward the efforts of the Westfield High School Ice Hockey Association to reserve ice time and provide bus transportation for team members. Daria Placitella, Vice President and Manager of the PNC Private Bank Westfield Office, right, presents the bank’s donation to ice hockey team members, pictured left to right, Erik Lund, Goalie; Ron Kashlak, Captain, and Mike Bird, Assistant Captain. The presentation was made during the Westfield Jazz Festival, an event which PNC Bank also sponsors.
Women for Women Elects Officers at Pot Luck Supper
Women for Women, a private, nonprofit organization located in Garwood, held its annual “Pot Luck Supper” on June 16 in the Westfield Community Room at the Municipal Building.
Founded in 1985 by Teresa McGeary, Women for Women provides self-help services and professional counseling for women in crisis and transition.
During the Pot Luck Supper, Executive Committee Officers and 14 board members were inducted. The evening also featured guest speaker Loann Mayer, who held a discussion on “Healing Your Life,” and the raffle of a hand-made quilt.
Marilyn Spera, Executive Director and an active volunteer since 1986, said that the supper gives volunteers, workshop participants and the local community an opportunity to share in a discussion of all of the services Women for Women has to offer.
“The supper is a great way to say thanks to all of our volunteers who work so hard to make our organization a success, and we are honored to inaugurate some very talented and dedicated individuals to our board,” said Ms. Spera.
Women for Women also announced the recent approval of a state funded grant for $30,000. The one-year grant, proposed by Assemblyman Alan M. Augustine, will help Women for Women expand programming and increase counseling services, according to Ms. Spera.
“This is our third year as state grant recipients, and I speak on behalf of Women for Women when I express my gratitude to the state and Assemblyman Augustine for allowing us the opportunity to expand our services for the many women in need,” she remarked.
Susan Koslowsly of Westfield was elected to her third-year term as President. She previously served as a volunteer for six years, and dedicates much of her time to helping children cope with divorce and separation.
Maryann Higgins of Mountainside was elected First Vice President; Trudy Baird of Clark was inducted as Second Vice President; Joan Shatkin of Scotch Plains was elected Corresponding Secretary; Josephine Miller of Clark was appointed Treasurer, and Terry Evanglista, of Westfield was named Recording Secretary. All nominees were elected by the Board of Directors.
In her “Healing Your Life” presentation, Ms. Mayer, a certified Louise Hay teacher, discussed ways individuals can change their lives by letting go of the past.
“We chose Ms. Mayer because she represents the philosophies and goals of our organization,” explained Ms. Koslowsly. “Each year we invite guest speakers to the Pot Luck Supper who talk about everyday issues affecting women.”
Ms. Mayer covered a broad spectrum of issues which touched on many transmission possibilities in a woman’s life, according to Ms. Koslolwsky.
“I found that one of the most enlightening discussions focused on the healing process and how it is different for each woman depending on their age and stage in life,” the Women for Women President remarked.
For additional information on workshops and other Women for Women services, please call (908) 232-5787. Women for Women offers such services as shortterm, low cost, individual counseling, as well as support groups, monthly workshops and referral services.
When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.
— Erma Bombeck