Part of keeping people healthy is getting them healthy in the first place. In Toms River, that
means working together with community leaders on a plan for public health improvement.
Toms River Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher, working in conjunction with the Jay and Linda Grunin
Foundation, the applicant organization, has applied for a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation to build a culture of health in New Jersey as part of the RWJF New Jersey Health
Initiatives Program, established nearly 30 years ago.
Mayor Kelaher and the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, which is managing the project, have
put together The Toms River Family Support and Health Coalition in the hope of securing the
grant money to address the area’s priority health issues. If selected as grant recipients, the
Coalition will begin its task of tackling obesity, hunger, substance abuse, senior isolation and
other top heath concerns facing our town and county. The Coalition is made up of partners
ranging from prevention to intervention, encompassing leaders from the public health,
business, education, philanthropy, nonprofit, community development, healthcare and
government sectors of our community.
As part of the RWJF New Jersey Health Initiatives Program, if successful, six individuals from the
Coalition will participate in the Boundary Spanning Leadership Institute. This will provide
intense training to develop skills and knowledge to work with the Coalition and community to
address challenges, align resources, focus on health priorities and implement policies. The
Coalition chose Lynette Whiteman, Executive Director of Caregiver Volunteers of Central
Jersey; Peter Rosario, CEO of Ocean County YMCA; Daniel Regenye, Public Health
Coordinator/Health Officer of the Ocean County Department of Health; Debi Heptig, Executive
Director of Hope Sheds Light; and Tara Cunningham, Director of Strategic Planning of the Jay
and Linda Grunin Foundation to participate. In addition, Drs. Gemma MacCarrick and Timothy
Brennan were nominated as Coalition Coaches and will also participate in the leadership
Coalition members acknowledge the power in working together to tackle issues that will help
create a healthy and economically vibrant community.
Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher stated, “I am happy to support this project as I can see how this will
enhance the quality of life for all of our residents. One of the things that we’ve been able to do
here is bring together a coalition that doesn’t look at just one problem, but looks at the whole
plethora of problems – be it obesity, substance abuse or hunger.”
“We are very fortunate to be able to collaborate with those who impact each sector of our
community. We have created this coalition with confidence that we will be able to move
forward and start to tackle the major health care priorities in Toms River and Ocean County,”
said Jeremy Grunin, Executive Director of the Jay & Linda Grunin Foundation.
Lynette Whiteman, Executive Director of Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey says as a
caregiver for her own mother, she experiences firsthand the tremendous need to assist the
elderly population. “Working together with a strong coalition will strengthen our ability to
support our community and make it one in which people from all generations can lead healthy
and joyous lives.”