Miranda Spetaccino

CCM joins stigma-free initiative


A resolution was passed April 27, 2016 by the Morris County Freeholders supporting the designation of Morris County as a Stigma-Free Community, focusing primarily on mental illness and substance abuse disorders. County College of Morris is one of the communities involved, joining the initiative about a month ago.

Stigma is “a mark of shame or discredit” as defined by Merriam-Webster, and according to the Morris County Stigma-Free Communities Initiative’s website, “stigma is the primary barrier to the achievement of wellness and recovery and full social integration.”

Laurie Becker, the Morris County mental health administrator, said that the focus of the Morris County Stigma-Free Communities Initiative is to cultivate an environment in which those struggling with mental illness and/or substance use disorders don’t feel they are being stigmatized. They are also focusing on educating the public on what those illnesses actually are.

“We want to make sure that everybody understands what those illness are and what they aren’t,” Becker said. “We’re hoping to provide a lot of good facts and information to dispel any myths.”

While the primary focus of the initiative is on the stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders, it hopes to spread to other areas that have experienced stigma as well.

“Whoever feels that this is something that is of importance to them, we welcome,” Becker said. “We always say we’re inclusive, not exclusive.”

There are currently 13 towns in Morris County that have proclaimed themselves stigma-free, and the goal of the initiative is to have all 39 towns in the county, as well as corporations, agencies, and schools to be involved, Becker said. CCM is one of the most recent to have joined the Morris County Stigma-Free Communities Initiative.

Lisa Volante, a counselor in CCM’s Counseling Services office, said that the campus’ stigma-free designation is young, and that everyone is still becoming educated on what it means, exactly.

“[The initiative] is community wide, going through all the clubs, the faculty and the staff,” Volante said. “It’s something that the whole school will have to contribute to and be on board [with]. It is a process.”

As for CCM students that may be trying to cope with mental illness and/or substance-use disorders, the counselors at the counseling office are all licensed professional counselors and are more than willing to help, stigma-free.

Volante assured that everything said to a counselor in the office is kept confidential, unless it becomes apparent that a person is a danger to themselves or others, as is standard across all therapeutic practices, which shouldn’t deter students from seeking help.

While the counseling office usually works with students in need for a semester or two, they can refer those that require more intensive help to many other resources in the community that are available.

Michelle Johnson, a liberal arts major at CCM, said that she has seen the green stigma-free logo in towns outside of Morris County, and is glad to hear about the Morris County Stigma-Free Communities Initiative as well as CCM’s involvement in it.

“I love the idea of living in an inclusive, non-discriminatory environment,” Johnson said. “Everyone should feel safe enough to ask for help, especially at school.”

The next Morris County Stigma-Free Communities Initiative meeting will take place Thursday, April 6 at 2:30 p.m. with the location to be announced. To stay updated, or for more information on the initiative, visit the Stigma-Free Communities Initiative’s website at: http://hs.morriscountynj.gov/stigma-free/.

‘Love Your Melon’ battles cancer at CCM


Students at County College of Morris can now support children battling cancer in America through a new club affiliated with Love Your Melon.

Love Your Melon is a popular apparel company known for its philanthropy. It was founded in 2012 with the initial mission of putting one of their signature beanies on every child battling cancer in America.

Love Your Melon started off selling beanies, with the goal of donating 45 thousand hats (equal to the number of children battling cancer in America), and has since surpassed that, donating over $2.5 million and over 90,000 hats, according to their website. They have since diversified the merchandise they offer to include shirts and pom-pom hats, to name a few. Fifty percent of all proceeds go directly to support pediatric cancer research.

Now, college students across the country can start clubs on their campuses called campus crews to advocate for pediatric cancer through Love Your Melon. There are currently 11,000 Crew Members nationwide at 740 different educational institutions, according to their website. And it now has a campus crew at CCM.

At the beginning of the spring semester, Nicole Sullivan, a nursing major at CCM and president of the CCM Love Your Melon Campus Crew, decided to start a campus crew because of her passion for the cause and future career goals.

“I really liked what the company stood for and what they were doing,” Sullivan said. “I figured as a nursing student, I also wanna work with kids when I do become a nurse, that it was just a good way to kinda do both at the same time.”

Sullivan added that the role of a campus crew is not to sell the merchandise directly, but rather to promote Love Your Melon through campus events and social media posts, and to encourage the CCM community to purchase merchandise on the Love Your Melon website, choosing CCM as their campus crew. In turn, the campus crew chosen at checkout receives a credit.

“If you go on the website to buy [merchandise] you can select a campus crew to support [at checkout],” Sullivan said. “So you would select County College of Morris, and then we get a credit. The more credits we get, the more opportunities we get to go to the hospitals and see the kids and do stuff with them.”

The CCM Love Your Melon campus crew currently has between 12 and 13 members and meets in the Student Community Center every other Monday at 2 p.m., though Sullivan said the time may change.

Meetings serve as a way to touch base with the members on sales and as communication strategy sessions.

“Any sales that happen during the week, I have access to see the stuff we’ve done to see where we rank with like other schools in the region with how many beanies sales [we’ve been credited],” Sullivan said. “I think last time I checked we were at 17 which is pretty good considering we only started a couple months ago. We discuss any upcoming events and just if anyone knows a good way to get the word out about love your melon.”

Jaida Schettino, a communication major at CCM, jumped at the chance to contribute to a good cause by joining the Love Your Melon campus crew at CCM.

“I joined as soon as I heard Love Your Melon was getting a campus crew at CCM,” Schettino said. “I’m a communication major and being a part of this group involves reaching out to others and promoting the cause … my responsibilities within [the campus crew] are good experience for my future.”

Schettino added that the club meetings have a casual atmosphere, and encourages others to join as well.

“Once you join the club it kind of opens up your eyes to how many people are actually affected by pediatric cancer and how many lives you can make a difference in by doing something as simple as selling or promoting apparel,” Schettino said. “The whole thing is incredible and you just hope that others will help out as well.”

Love Your Melon is a widely known company, but because CCM’s campus crew is so new, many students are not aware of it, such as Michelle Caravaglia, liberal arts major at CCM.

“I know what Love Your Melon is, I actually have a few beanies,” Caravaglia said.  “But I had no idea we had a club on campus for it. That’s awesome.”

The CCM Love Your Melon campus crew is currently looking for new members and/or support from the CCM community. Students who would like to join can send an email to Nicole Sullivan at sullivan.nicole@student.ccm.edu with their full name, phone number, email address, graduation year, and t-shirt size.

More information can also be found on Facebook at County College of Morris Campus Crew and Instagram @ccmlymcampuscrew.

Bone marrow drive looks to diversify

By Miranda Spetaccino

County College of Morris Health Services, along with the Icla da Silva Foundation, are hosting a “Be The Match” Bone Marrow Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 in the Student Center Lobby and Tuesday Feb. 28 in the B Café Alcove area, located across from Cohen Café.

The drive will consist of a registration and a cheek swab, and is open to CCM students, faculty and staff ages 18 to 40.

The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match Registry in the United States, with offices throughout the east coast and Puerto Rico, according to their website. Their focus is on deversifying the registry.

“Right now in the registry there are 13 million people and 70 percent is Caucasian,” said Lauren Wollny, a community engagement representative at the foundation. “So that leaves patients that are of any diverse tissue type a very hard time of finding a match. You’re more likely of matching within your same ancestry.”

Joining the Be The Match Registry only takes about five minutes out of the day, and the results could possibly save someone’s life, said Wollny.

“We’re asking people to sign up, fill out a form, and do a cheek swab to potentially donate in the future. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to absolutely donate,” Wollny said. “You only donate when you match someone, which is very rare.”

Once a person joins the national registry, they remain eligible to match with a patient in need right up until the day they turn 61 years old. If matched, they would have a basic health screening over the phone and from there go through a series of tests and exams to determine if they are a patient’s best match.

According to Be The Match’s website, 1 in 40 registry members will be called for additional testing, 1 in 300 will be selected as the best possible donor for a patient, and only about 1 in 430 will actually donate.

Wollny went on to say that a substantial challenge when it comes to drumming up donors is spreading the word about what the bone marrow registry actually is.

To her point, Jeremy Tsonton , a communication major at CCM, said that he is not sure whether he will attend the drive.

“ I don’t know enough about the drive,” Tsonton said.

Tsonton said that maybe if he knew more about the registry, he would attend the drive. He said he would donate if matched with anyone.

“I mean I’m an organ donor so I’m kind of all for that stuff,” Tsonton said.

Maggie Pierce, a humanities and social sciences major at CCM, said that although she was not aware of the drive, she, like Tsonton, would consider joining the registry and subsequently donating bone marrow.

“I always to try help people and make their lives more positive,” Pierce said. “I’ve never really been freaked out about doctors or needles or blood or anything like that, so actually donating wouldn’t be an issue.”

For more information about the drive or about volunteering for the drive, contact Health Services at 973-328-5160, or Lauren Wollny at 973-647-5845 or by email at Lauren@icla.org.