In 1976, Curtis Colby befriended a boy named Joey, whose father had died. Curtis spent time mentoring him as a volunteer and discovered Joey's younger brother also was in need of a strong male role model. This connection was the original impetus for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties, which connects youth with responsible and positive adult mentors through community- and school-based programs to help change their lives for the better. Youth aged 6–14 who have one-on-one relationships with mentors have reported increased self-esteem, an improved ability to express their feelings, and better attitudes toward school.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Children of Monmouth County helps watch over children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect and advocates for their best interests in court. After 30 hours of intensive training, CASA volunteers ensure that each child’s voice is present in court proceedings, with the hope of securing safe, permanent homes where children can grow and thrive. Each advocate champions one child or group of siblings, researching the case, interviewing parties relevant to it, and providing valuable information to the court so judges can make the best decisions concerning the child’s future. Volunteers work with the child for as long as necessary—from a few months to a few years—until he or she is placed in a safe home.
Since its inception, all the plays that Two River Theater has produced have shared a common thread: capturing the human experience. Bridging the gap between players and audiences, their intimate performances have made them a New Jersey treasure, leading to three Theater of the Year awards from the New Jersey Theater Alliance and The Star Ledger, as well as designation as a Major Impact Organization by the New Jersey State Council of the Arts. Giving them space to play along the way are two theaters: the 350-seat Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater, where six-play subscription seasons and holiday shows unfold, and the 99-seat black box Marion Huber Theater.
During Enable’s day program, five days of structured activities engage individuals with disabilities, allowing them to volunteer in their local community, interact socially with their peers and other adults, and improve their physical and cognitive well-being. Participants volunteer with Meals on Wheels and visit veterans, or learn new skills such as art, pet therapy, and horticulture. The day program empowers people with disabilities to tackle their goals and personal interests while building a recreational community in a structured environment.
Thinking of the city rarely calls images of fog-ringed mountains and wolf-filled forests to mind, but Discover Outdoors—formerly known as Outdoor Bound—turns these scenes into reality. Owner, avid outdoorsman, and eight-time marathon runner Kirk Reynolds makes sure of it. He and a staff of experts—each a licensed trail guide and Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT—temper the stress of city living with day trips to nearby natural enclaves and weekend camping excursions. The getaways thrill with activities such as hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding.
International trips, meanwhile, quench a thirst for life-defining adventures beyond trips to the grocery store during peak Saturday hours. Among them: hikes up famed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, treks to Machu Picchu in Peru, and jaunts through the Canadian Rockies. Some of the journeys even grant travelers the opportunity to fundraise for a worthy cause as they explore.
Bryan “The Brooklyn Bad Ass” Ortiz of Brooklyn Bad Ass Fitness dons many hats—the headband of a certified personal trainer, the cushioned headgear of a boxing instructor, and the top hat of a fitness-book author. Dedicated to a no-nonsense approach to fitness, Bryan conducts morning and evening weekday boot camps that whip up to 20 students into shape with intense interval training, eschewing monotonous fitness routines such as treadmill running or elephant lifting. To complete lifestyle changes, Bryan outfits guests with meal plans, customizing diets to match energy requirements. Bryan’s Wedding Body boot camp, personal-training sessions, and weight-loss challenges can all be customized to suit guests’ specific fitness goals.