Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR!









It's that time again, when people say goodbye to the old year and ring in the new. For the members of New Jersey Senior America, it was no different. The year 2008 was marked by growth transition and change. It was a time to say goodbye and thank you to outgoing State Director Louise Ferla, and to welcome Johanne Santori to the position. Together with the help of Pinky Kravitz, affectionately known as "Mr. Atlantic City", they found a new home for the 2008 State Pageant at Harrah's Hotel and Casino.
The national pageant also needed to relocate from Las Vegas, so Johanne and Pinky persuaded the management of Harrah's to hold it there as well.
Johanne enlisted a force of devoted volunteers, and together, they worked tirelessly to produce a magnificent 2008 New Jersey Senior America Pageant.
The New Jersey Cameo Club, which is the service wing of New Jersey Senior America, also had a record year of performance showcases around the the Garden State. The Class of 2008 produced more ladies than ever who gave so unselfishly of their time and talents. Much of the credit is due to Marge Wanamaker, Showcase Director. She too, has decided to retire, not from performing, but from the position. Thank you, Marge, for a job well done! Doris Criscione and Cathy Clark, will co-chair the position, and are currently busy setting up the 2009 schedule.
Several people received proclamations from City and State this year. In September, Jo Ann Gordon, NJSA 2008, was honored by Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis and the Brick Town Council. In October, the New Jersey State Legislature sent written proclamations to Jo Ann Gordon, NJSA 2008, Josephine Araniti, NJSA 2007, Johanne Santori, NJ State Pageant Director, and Dr. Al Mott, founder New Jersey Senior America, and Senior America, Inc.
The last event of the year was the Christmas Parade in Atlantic City. The Saturday following Thanksgiving was a crystal clear and sunny day, with temperatures around 50 degrees. Atlantic Avenue was lined up with people of all ages and as the parade turned into the shopping outlets the crowd of shoppers cheered us to the end. Our float was headed by 2008 Queen Jo Ann Gordon and her court.


Friday, December 19, 2008

THE SPOTLIGHT IS ON: DR. SANDRA GRECO, M.D.






In the years that followed, many elegant and talented New Jersey Senior America Queens competed for the coveted national title, but no one won. Our founder, Dr. Al Mott explained that during those years, the growth and popularity of the Senior America Pageant was tremendous throughout the country and US territories. Each year, hundreds of beautiful and talented women aged 60 and over came out to compete, and the coveted title went to many other States.

Then, in 2003 the tide changed. When beautiful and talented Dr. Sandra Greco, M.D won the State Pageant, everyone connected with New Jersey Senior America hoped and that she would be the one to bring the title back to the Garden State. And she did!

Sandra was crowned the 23rd Ms Senior America at the Golden Phoenix Hotel Casino in Reno, Nevada on November 8, 2003. Dr. Greco sang "Misty" during the talent portion of the show.

Sandra, the eldest of three sisters, was born in Chicago. She attended the University of Illinois on a full scholarship and graduated cum laude. Sandra worked in advertising and modeling, and as a social worker and school teacher.

In 1976, Sandra decided to attend medical school, and completed an accelerated course, receiving her M.D. in 1979, where she earned honors in surgery, medicine, obstetrics-gynecology, and radiology. She completed a residency in emergency medicine at the University of Chicago, and worked in the emergency department of an Evanston Illinois hospital. In 1984, she moved to New Jersey, and took a position as director of emergency department at a Newark New Jersey hospital where she worked for 16 years. After her retirement, Dr. Greco continued to work part-time at an emergency department in Red Bank, NJ.

Sandra has two married children, and two grandchildren, and is remarried to Danny Drucker. She has been spokesperson for Holiday Retirement Company, and continues to perform and travel with the Cameo Club of New Jersey. Sandra enjoys travel, biking, physical fitness, as well as the theater and the opera. She and Danny have a secondary home in Florida, where they live several months of the year there. She serves currently as the vice-president of the National Cameo Club.

Friday, December 12, 2008

THE SPOTLIGHT IS ON: JAN DICKSENSON

In the photo above, Jan Dickenson on the left, has just been crowned Ms New Jersey Senior America 1986, by former State and National Queen, Laverne Stokes. No photo of her as Ms Senior America 1987 is available.

In the following year, the national crown and title went to yet another "lady of elegance" who hailed from the Garden State. Lovely Jan Dickenson, lived in Leisuretown, an adult community located in Southampton. A talented vocalist, she sang the popular song, "Young at Heart". The event was again held in Atlantic City at Resorts.

Many years have passed at this writing, and not much is known is known about Jan through this reporter. Laverne Stokes however, remembered Jan as a sweet and humble lady, who gave a strong vocal performance at the 1986 State Pageant. She recalled that Jan served as Ms New Jersey Senior America 1986, and then, as Ms. Senior America 1987 with grace and charm. She remained an active performer with the New Jersey Cameo Club for many years.

After the death of her husband, Jan suffered a stroke, and had to move to Florida where she lived with her daughter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

THE SPOTLIGHT IS ON: LAVERNE STOKES








Three ladies from the State of New Jersey hold the national title of MS SENIOR AMERICA. Recently, this reporter had the pleasure of interviewing Mrs. Laverne Stokes, MS SENIOR AMERICA 1985, and the following is her story in question and answer format:

Q. How did you hear about Senior America?
A. In 1983, I joined an exercise group at the Dover Senior Center in Toms River. The director told me about SA and suggested that I enter the pageant. At that time, there was a local and a State pageant to compete in, and you had to win them both before competing in the national.

Q. How many titles do you hold then?
A. 3. I hold the title of: MS SR OCEAN COUNTY 1983, MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 1984, and MS SENIOR AMERICA 1985.

Q. That's very impressive. What was your talent?
A. Tap dancing then, and still is today.

Q. Where were those early pageants held?
A. The MS SENIOR OCEAN COUNTY pageant was held at Ocean County College, and the state and national pageants were held at Resorts in Atlantic City.

Q. How do you think the SA pageants of today differ from your time?
A. In 1985, besides winning a crown, banner, trophy, and flowers, I also was given a long, red velvet cape. Today, the red velvet cape has been eliminated. Also, the ladies who compete today seem more professional in the talent category, younger, and more attractive.

Q. What was special about your reign?
A. A reporter from the Associated Press interviewed me, and published my story in major newspapers nationwide. One day, I received a phone call from Mrs. Barnard who lived in Georgia. She and her husband read about me, and were very impressed over my accomplishment. They invited me and my husband to visit them in Savannah for a week long, all expenses paid vacation. When we arrived at the Shawnee Inn Hotel, my name and title were lit up in the hotel's marquee. My room was adorned with flowers, candy, fresh fruit, confections and champagne.
During the week, the Barnards took us on a tour of the southern plantations, doll factory, Jekyll and Catalina Islands, and to meet the mayor of Savannah. They were a kind and generous couple and I will never forget them. There was no Cameo Club then, but I received invitations from Toms River politicians to perform and speak on issues of interest to senior citizens. Of course, I enjoyed participating in the many parades. Lastly, I had the pleasure of crowning Jan Dickenson, MS NJSA 1986, who went on to winning the title of MS SENIOR AMERICA 1987!

Q. Today NJSA does have a Cameo Club. How do you feel about the "sisterhood"?
A. It's a great way for me to continue to make a contribution to society. The Cameo Showcases allow me to continue to share my God-given talents, and to be socially active.

Q. What did you think about this year's 2008 SA pageant?
A. It was wonderful...so professionally done. I am so excited and proud of our own Jo Ann Gordon who made the top 10. I thought the new queen, from Tennessee was very beautiful, and her talent presentation, "A Church Rap" was funny and entertaining.

Thank you, Laverne for sharing your story. Your warmth and enthusiasm for Senior America was so apparent. Your NJ Cameo Club sisters, and NJ Senior America are proud of you and both are grateful for such a loyal member.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

THE TOP TEN


Every pageant has a coveted "inner circle" that contestants vie for, which is called the top ten, and Ms New Jersey Senior America 2008, Jo Ann Gordon of Brick, made it. After many years in Las Vegas, the 28th Ms Senior America Pageant returned to the east coast, and was held at Harrah's in Atlantic City. The week long event offered many activities opened to the public which included: a parade on the boardwalk, live shows, a health expo, opportunities for shopping, and the Ms Senior America 2008 Pageant. Elegant and beautiful ladies from across the fruited plain and US territories graced the stage of the Concert Venue Theater, all hoping to win the crown, or if not, at least to be in the top ten.

Wearing a demeure and beautiful pale pink gown, Jo Ann excelled in physical beauty and poise. She appeared radiant, as she glided effortlessy across the stage in the Evening Gown catagory. Returning again to recite her Philosophy of Life, Jo Ann used sign language as she spoke. Lasting only 35 seconds, her philosphy was uplifting and optimistic, and relevant to today's issues. Her vocal rendition of "An Orange Colored Sky", was bright and powerful, and shouts of bravo and loud applause were heard throughout the theater.

New Jersey Senior America and her New Jersey Cameo Club were proud of JoAnn and how excellently she represented the Garden State at the national pageant. She will continue to reign as Ms New Jersey Senior America 2008, appear in Cameo Club Showcases along with the "sisterhood", and fullfill the many other duties assigned to her during the coming year.

Friday, October 17, 2008

GOOD LUCK! JO ANN GORDON, MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA2008





Since she was crowned Ms New Jersey Senior America 2008, Jo Ann Gordon has been one busy queen. In the first photo she is laughing at Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis of Brick, as he told a joke. Afterward, he read a proclamation of appreciation to Jo Ann on behalf of his Office and the Brick Town Council. Next, she and NJ State Pageant Director Johanne Santori stand in between the "Beatles", in the lobby of the Tropicana. She and Johanne were guests of radio show host Pinky Kravitz, which airs in the Atlantic City area. Below, Jo Ann smiles broadly as does host Mike Moran of WJRZ-FM Sunday morning show, "Down the Shore". Lovely Jo Ann at home standing in front of her piano. Lastly, Jo Ann, carrying a delicious culinary delight prepared by the head chef at "A Taste of Atlantic City".

Besides, these events, she has been in several parades around the State, and continues to sing with the New Jersey Cameo Club Showcases. Next week, she will compete with other State queens for the coveted title of Ms Senior America 2008, at Harrah's in Atlantic City. All of her NJ Cameo Club "sisters" are excited and proud of their queen and wish her the best. In their eyes, she is already a winner.

Pageant week is full of many exciting activites, and the public is cordially invited to attend any and all events beginning Sunday, October 19th through Friday, 24th. Of special interest is the parade on the boardwalk, which starts at 3:00pm. All the State delegates will ride in cars, and there will be music, floats and marching bands. On Monday, the National Cameo Club Showcase will be held in the Eden Lounge. On Tuesday, is the "Welcome to Atlantic City Show" in the Concert Venue Theater. The 2 preliminary pageants are on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Final Competition, on Friday, also in the theater. With the exception of the parade, all shows begin at 1:00 pm. For more information call Senior America, Inc., at: (732) 746-2598.









Saturday, October 11, 2008

THE SPOTLIGHT IS ON: MS. DELAWARE SENIOR AMERICA 2008






"Many seek, but few are chosen". This is the story of Delores Puzio, who was chosen to represent the State of Delaware in the upcoming Ms. Senior America 2008 Pageant. In an effort to have all 50 States and US territories represented in the annual pageants, Senior America, Inc. chooses only worthy and exceptional women to the position of At-Large State Delegate. This year, Dr. Al Mott bestowed that honor upon Delores in appreciation of her 10 year association with New Jersey Senior America. In his opinion, there was no finer lady who could represent the State of Delaware better than she.

Delores joins 45 other beautiful women from around the country, who will compete for the national title of Ms Senior America 2008. Many events are planned for the week of Sunday, October 19th through Friday, 24th at Harrah's in Atlantic City, which include: a Sunday Parade on the Boardwalk at 3:00pm, "Welcome To Atlantic City" show, Senior Health Expo with many opportunities for shopping, 2 Preliminary Shows, and the Final Competition. All shows are held in the Concert Venue Theater and will begin at 1:00pm. For information and tickets please log on to their website, www.senioramerica.org, or call: (732)746-2598.

Delores presently serves as President of the New Jersey Senior America Cameo Club, in which she manages and oversees its many meetings, activities and events during the year. She performs with NJSACC, and continually manages to impress her audiences with great jazz tap dance routines. Her Cameo Club sisters lovingly nicknamed her the "energizer bunny". She is also involved in her church in Toms River, as teacher in the religious education program.

A professionally trained dancer, Delores had her own studio for many years. During that time, she trained many aspiring dancers and encouraged them to realize their dreams. Her advice to them was, "work with what you've got, and never be envious of others".

Delores believes that her most important accomplishment was raising their 4 children, and that she and husband Bob of 58 years were the epitome of soulmates. Even though Bob succumbed to Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, she made sure to let him know that he was never a burden.

NJSA, NJSA Cameo Club, and Senior America, Inc. are grateful to Delores for adopting the neighboring State of Delaware, and all wish her well in next week's Ms Senior America Pageant 2008. She is the ideal woman to "light the torch of awareness" in Delaware, which will hopefully lead to future pageants by the residents of that State. To read Delores' full biography, please log onto: www.senioramerica.org/State Pageants/Map of New Jersey.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

MEET MARGE WANAMAKER




Organizations owe their success to the dedicated people who work for them, and New Jersey Senior America Cameo Club is no exception. Margaret "Marge" Wanamaker, an exceptional women of beauty and grace, is one such dedicated person. As the New Jersey Cameo Club Showcase Director, she is the lady who gives its members the opportunity to display their God-given talents.

Over the years Marge has worked hard to promote the Cameo Showcase productions. Today, thanks to her hard work, the Cameo Club is constantly in demand to perform all over the Garden State. Most recently, she arranged a Cameo Club performance for the veterans at the Lyons, New Jersey campus. A large audience of veterans from all branches of the military and their families were in attendance, and a good time was had by all.

Marge is also a very talented performer. As our resident "Marilyn Monroe", she does such an impeccable imitation, that audiences are amazed by the uncanny resemblance she has to the late movie star.

She is a life affirming and positive women, who rewards her ladies with encouragement and praise whenever they perform. All who know her adore her. Kudos to you, Marge Wanamaker, for a job well done!

Monday, September 29, 2008

NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA CAMEO CLUB



Pictured above are the current officers of New Jersey Senior America Cameo Club. In the center is: Delores Puzio, President. To her left is Cathy Clark, Secretary, and on the right is Lyn Gibson, Vice President. In the second row is Doris Criscione, Treasurer.

Since the New Jersey Senior America Cameo Club was founded by Dr. Al Mott, it remains today the first and oldest club in Senior America, Inc. Consequently its mission, purpose and goals are the same.
The NJSA Cameo Club boasts to having the oldest member, who, at age 94, still gives a stellar performance every time she appears in the Cameo Showcases.

The NJSA Cameo Club is designed to be a continuing contact between the pageant and former contestants, and State and national queens, and helps by assisting the State Pageant Director as much as possible. Its members give emotional and financial support to their State queen during the year of her reign.

Recently, one of our most valued and beloved members wrote a poem, that was published in the New Jersey Senior America 2008 Pageant booklet. Norma McGhie, Ms. New Jersey Senior America 1995, sums up most poignantly the purpose of NJSA Cameo Club and its national affiliates:

The Cameo Club

Kindness, love, respect and caring
Is what the Cameo Club is all about.
We're a sisterhood that believes in sharing
Our talent, our ideas, our wisdom, our clout.

To support Senior America in every way
To support each other in everything we do.
To cope with problems that may come our way
In doing so, goals will be achieved and dreams come true.

To have a positive attitude in our sisterhood
Spreading good will, motivating and doing good.
We're at an age when certain things are important to us
A fond embrace, a kind word, a sincere feeling of trust.

To be elegant in more ways than one.
To work together to get the job done.
To be what Sr. America wants us to be
And live up to their philosophy.

To improve our image and that of others too
To be involved and have purpose in what we do.
These are the principles that we must heed
Loyalty, integrity, and serving others is our creed.

Well said. Thank you Norma!
































Saturday, September 27, 2008

SENIOR AMERICA CAMEO CLUB


"The Age of Elegance"
Pictured above is the Senior America Cameo Club logo. The story of how it came to be is as follows: in his youth, Al Mott's singing teacher had a display of cameos in her studio. Years later, he remembered how elegant they looked. So, he chose the cameo for the logo, and then coined the phrase, "The Age of Elegance" to describe women 60 years and older.




Dr. Al Mott believed that women who participated in the State and National Senior America Pageants should have the opportunity to continue to display their God given talents, and, at the same time volunteer their talents for the betterment of society. So, in 1972, along with the first Pageant, he established the Senior America National Cameo Club.

Today, there are State Cameo Clubs wherever there are State pageants, and mature women showcase their performing talents, in nursing homes, adult and assisted living communities, veterans and childrens hospitals, and other community and charitable organizations. These smiling "Ambassadors of Love" don their crowns and banners, and give stellar performances wherever they go, thus enriching the lives of their recipients, and improving their quality of life as well.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

DR. AL MOTT, THE FOUNDER



The dictionary defines a "visionary" as a person with unusual powers of foresight. It is easy to see how Dr. Al Mott falls into this category. During the 1960's Al saw how bleakly older Americans, were percieved by the media as being fragile, non productive and a burden upon society. He set out to change that image, and in 1971, created Senior America, Inc., to promote instead, the positive aspects of aging.


Dr. Mott's goal for the first Senior America Pageant in 1972, was to create a public awareness of the continuing social contributions of senior Americans, and by 1983, his idea spread to States from coast to coast.

Each year since then, women across the country, who have reached the "Age of Elegance", compete first in their State for the title, and then go on to nationals to see who will be Ms. Senior America. Dr. Mott calls the Pageant a "rite" of passage, in which women can achieve their individual dreams and aspirations. Over the years, he has witnessed how the Pageant has changed the lives of many people, and how America's seniors have moved ahead to become our greatest national treasure.

Dr. Al Mott joins the ranks of other visionaries who have broken still another "glass ceiling", which has resulted in closing the gap between generations, AARP, Elder Advocate, Silver Foxes, to name a few.

His quest continues.... Dr. Mott has gone global, by creating Senior International. He has reached out to countries worldwide, encouraging them to honor their senior women by having Pageants. Ms Senior America would then compete for the title of Ms Senior International.

To learn more about Dr. Al Mott, please visit: www.senioramerica.org.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

MEET OUR NEW STATE DIRECTOR!


Johanne with husband Adeo




Johanne as Ms New Jersey Senior America 2006


The popular English composer Elton John wrote a song called "The Circle of Life". The meaning of the song suggests that life is like a circle, whose continuity is preserved and replenished by the outgoing constantly preparing the way for the incoming. Thus the continuity of the Ms New Jersey Senior America Pageant has been preserved, with the appointment of Johanne Santori. This is Johanne's first year as Ms New Jersey Senior America State Pageant Director, who succeeds Louise Ferla, who after 13 years, had decided to retire.

Johanne, who is no stranger to the pageant industry, served as hostess for the Miss America Pageant for many years. During that time, she met several industry professionals, whose friendship she maintains to the present day. It was these ladies who guided her in the planning of the 2008 Ms New Jersey Senior America Pageant that was held on June 25th.

As well as being Ms New Jersey Senior America 2006, Johanne has been vice president and treasurer of the Atlantic City Women's Chamber of Commerce, member of the Metropolitan Business and Citizen's Association of Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Hotel Lodging Association, and on the committee for Atlantic City's 150th Birthday Celebration.

She devotes much of her time to her family, but still has time to play tennis, golf, down hill and cross country skiing, and she has won tournaments and awards in all.

Johanne was born, raised and educated in the Province of Quebec, Canada, and is a graduate of the University of Montreal with degrees in teaching Home Economics and Music. A talented singer, she performed major roles with a regional theater group, and also gave organ and piano recitals. As member of the Ms New Jersey Senior America Cameo Club, she continues to sing with the "sisterhood" all around the Garden State.

Senior America, Inc. needed to find a new home for the national and State pageants, and Johanne was instrumental in securing Harrah's in Atlantic City for both. Johanne ushered in a new era of management in which she organized people with various skills into committees, and trusted them to carry out their tasks. The end result was an original, elegant and glamorous Ms New Jersey Senior America Pageant 2008 that was enjoyed by all.




Sunday, September 14, 2008

A FOND FAREWELL



Louise Ferla, won the title of Ms New Jersey Senior America in 1993. Three years later, she was appointed New Jersey Senior America Executive Director, and Vice President of Ms Senior America, Inc. Here she is with husband Bob.

One of the highlights of the Ms New Jersey Senior America Pageant 2008 was when Louise Ferla came onto the stage at Harrah's in Atlantic City, to give her farewell address. A woman of grace and poise, her speech was eloquent as it was sentimental. It was a retrospective narrative, and one couldn't help but to be impressed by her humility and dedication to this organization that she served so well for 13 years.

Due to health concerns, she decided that it was best to retire at this time, and wished Johanne Santori, the new State Director much love and success. Louise will, however continue to work with the national organization, Senior America, Inc.

All of us who know Louise, can rest assured that she will never be far away to lend a helping hand. She will continue to perform with her Cameo Club Sisters in Showcases throughout the Garden State. We will always cherish her friendship and great talent!

Please visit our parent website, www.senioramerica.org. Once there, navigate to the section "About Us", and there you will find Louise Ferla's biography.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

THERE SHE IS!

Pictured directly below is Jo Ann with former
New Jersey State Queens. To the right, she
is with the other 4 finalists. Left to right are:
Joan Kaplan, Bernadette Dudek, Joan Cooney,
Frances Lundeen. At the bottom are 2 photos
of our lovely Queen.



The Queen reigns, long live the Queen! A capacity crowd filled the Concert Venue Theater at Harrah's in Atlantic City, on Wednesday, June 25th, where 14 fabulous ladies graced the stage to compete for the coveted title of MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 2008, and lovely Jo Ann Gordon won. A retired public school teacher of 38 years, Jo Ann taught in the Neptune Township School System where she learned sign language in order to participate in the hearing impairment and special education programs.
A big band style singer, she has sung backup for Paul Anka, toured Europe, and has recorded CDs. For her talent, she sang an arrangement of a Nat King Cole standard, "Orange Colored Sky" that rocked the house!


National finals to determine who will be MS SENIOR AMERICA 2008 will also take place at Harrah's during the week of October 19-25, and Jo Ann will represent the Garden State. Jo Ann says she is looking forward to meeting other talented delegates from around the country. She believes that women over 60 who live in the "age of elegance"can make a big difference in people's lives both younger and older than themselves. Good luck, girl. Your New Jersey Cameo Club sisters are very proud of you!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

OUR PHILOSOPHY


The cameo pictured here is the logo for both State and national organizations, as well as our philosophy which reads: The Ms. Senior America Pageant is the world's first and foremost pageant to emphasize and give honor to women who have reached the "Age of Elegance". It is a search for the gracious lady who best exemplifies the dignity, maturity, and inner beauty of all senior Americans.

The Ms, Senior America Pageant philosophy is based upon the belief that seniors are the foundation of America, and our most valuable treasure. It is upon their knowledge, experience and resources that the younger generation has the opportunity to build a better society.

Our odessy will begin with the Ms New Jersey Senior America 2008 Pageant. To learn about past State and national pageants, please log on to the Senior America, Inc. website: www.senioramerica.org. Another blog of interest is: josephinearanitisings.blogspot.com.