Bringing joy of theater to children in New Jersey

Throughout my entire life, I’ve been very fortunate, which is why I’ve volunteered for many organizations over the years. But no organization has meant more to me than Children’s Theater of Livingston, where I am currently co-president and treasurer. The CTL embodies my passion for theater, children and volunteering all in one. Some might say I have a special attachment because I founded CTL in 2006 with a group of close friends, but it truly is much more about sharing my love of theater with the next generation.

The goal for CTL is to introduce children in grades two through five to the magic of theater by creating a warm environment and changing the intimidating audition process into a positive one. Instead of a traditional audition, the children who sign up are given a simple assessment – they read a few lines and sing a simple song like “Happy Birthday.” The process is first come, first served, and the first 50 children who sign up are automatically in the show.

Since we started the organization, we’ve had over 1,200 elementary school children perform on stage and hundreds of middle school children learn behind the scenes’ skills. We put on one big show every March and conduct workshops throughout the fall, spring and summer seasons. This year, we put on “Seussical the Musical” and all four shows were completely sold out. In fact, our last three productions sold out. The support from the town of Livingston has been nothing short of remarkable.

The gratification gained from helping others is a feeling unlike any other. Volunteering is important to me because I love giving back to my community, and doing something that is important and meaningful to someone else.

The work my team and I put into CTL has been great, and we’ve seen major success since we started. Before we opened, there weren’t any venues for children of this age to participate in theater.

I also owe a big thank you to my board of 11 parents because we all play a big role in bringing an outlet to children in the area that they’ve never had before, and everyone has been extremely supportive.

I’ve been an employee with PSEG for 37 years, currently as manager of energy supply regulatory support & compliance. PSEG’s Power of One campaign is amazing, and I’m happy that the wonderful company that I’ve been part of for so long is recognizing the volunteer work that our own community is doing, as well as the community at large. There is no good deed too small, so get out there and do your part. You’ll be surprised how grateful and satisfied you will be.

PSEG volunteers help Navy SEALs cross the Hudson River

PSEG veterans, their families and friends recently volunteered at the first Navy SEAL Hudson River Swim sponsored by the GI Go Fund. Our volunteers participated in the day’s events, as they helped set up the staging area in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, where the SEALs began their journey. Once the SEALs were in the water, a team of PSEG volunteers, other spectators and the SEALs’ families, followed by boat for the two-mile swim across the Hudson River, cheering and offering encouragement the entire way. And when the SEALs arrived in Battery Park in lower Manhattan, a team of PSEG volunteers were on hand to help the SEALs change into running shoes, keep their belongings safe and give them American flags to run with to their ultimate destination – the 9/11 memorial – recognizing the men and women lost that day. Continue reading

The buzz on why PSE&G studies bees

More than 75% of plants on earth require the help of a pollinator, such as a bee, butterfly or bat, to reproduce. Some experts estimate that these pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food humans eat. Unfortunately, many pollinators, especially bees, are in decline, which is threatening food production and other critical human needs. Continue reading

Women helping future women in STEM

As women remain dramatically underrepresented across all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) studies and careers, how do we make strides to close the gender gap and fuel the next generation of female innovators? With that mission in mind, we stepped up and donated our own time and energy to help young girls pursue STEM. We’re thrilled that PSEG’s Power of One campaign is highlighting our work, as well as our colleagues’.

We are the dream team volunteering for It’s a Girl’s World Inc. in Carneys Point, New Jersey. Exposing girls to STEM careers early and providing them with confidence, mentoring and business skills before high school is critical to continuing to create a gender-balanced workforce. It’s a Girl’s World is a program focused on young women entering seventh, eighth and ninth grades in Salem and Cumberland Counties, and seeks to help them pursue and be successful in their future career goals in STEM.

Each of our journeys began in the summer of 2018 when the PSEG Foundation notified us about the opportunity to volunteer with It’s a Girl’s World, and we haven’t looked back …

Audrey Baricko

Volunteering and giving back to my community is extremely important to me, and since I’ve had some very strong mentors in my life that have guided me, I knew that I wanted to do the same for others.

I’ve been an electrical design engineer at PSEG Nuclear for seven years. As soon as I heard about the opportunity to volunteer for It’s a Girl’s World, which is a subprogram of South Jersey Robotics, I knew it was something in which I wanted to be involved. Mentoring and getting young women interested in STEM is a passion of mine, and I’m lucky to be a part of something like this.

During the summer camp that we participate in with our mentees, I especially love the opportunity to talk to them about my particular career, the path I took to get where I am today, as well as what first caught my interest in STEM. And, throughout the program, it’s great to not only help them with the assigned learning activities, but watch as the young women gain more and more knowledge as the activities become more intricate.

I love what I’m doing, and the call to action for the community to volunteer and get girls involved resonates with me. Even if I help just one person, it’s incredibly meaningful and valuable.

Alissa Fine

Volunteering really grounds me and helps me put everything into perspective.

I went to school for business administration and worked in hospitality management for 10 years before discovering my love of STEM. Once I found my true passion, I decided to harness it and go back to school for engineering – to work smarter, not harder – which brings me to my one-year anniversary as an electrical engineer at PSEG Nuclear.

Mentoring the small group of young women at It’s a Girl’s World has been amazing. At the start of the program, our mentees choose three goals to achieve by a specific deadline. Some goals are smart, others are timely and some can be STEM or non-STEM related. At the end of the day, we are there to help guide and steer them in the right direction to achieve their goals.

I like to think of volunteering as a two-way street. You’re helping someone else; they are appreciative, which makes you feel good. As we go through life, we are in our own little bubbles, but engaging with our communities not only helps us realize what really matters in life, but it’s also extremely rewarding.

Michele Marandola

PSEG plays such a big part in community involvement that it’s contagious and makes you want to give back.

I’ve been an engineer with PSEG Nuclear for five years. It’s a Girl’s World is an organization that I care about because I had a similar experience growing up. I participated in a similar camp through the College of Engineering at Rowan University, called Attracting Women into Engineering. Additionally, I was part of an engineering academy in high school. This involvement grew my interest in STEM, helped me decide to go to college for chemical engineering and landed me where I am today.

Mentoring these young women to get them interested in STEM early and to reach their goals is what I love most. Our bimonthly meetings always are enjoyable because we get to hear about what our mentees have attained, along with hearing from great speakers in the field. In fact, during our last meeting, women from our local community college came in and talked about proactively taking classes for college credit, and women from The Society of Women Engineers at Rowan came in to talk about their roles.

It’s a Girl’s World is making a lasting impact. One of the girls in my group is going to be a sophomore in high school and is interested in continuing her participation in our mentor group. As a result, the organization is thinking about expanding the age group to include more young women.

Giving back to the community feels good, and I hope our wisdom impacts these young women to pursue their dreams.

Helping pups strut their stuff in support of domestic violence victims

When people help others, it’s satisfying to know that you have made a positive difference for someone else. Volunteering is important to me because it gives me a sense of community and giving back to that community is extremely important.

Since joining PSEG Long Island five years ago, I’ve been a paralegal in the law department. A few years later, I discovered a local organization called L.I. Against Domestic Violence, which provides a range of services that help over 14,000 Long Island adults and children each year to escape from abusive relationships and build new lives. Domestic violence is more common than most people think and I’ve personally known people who have had to deal with it, which made this organization hit close to home, lighting a fire in me to help.

I’ve been volunteering with L.I. Against Domestic Violence for two years, sitting on the planning committee, as well as charged with planning their Paws for a Cause event, which is held annually at the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts in Bayshore, New York.

According to Safe Place for Pets, up to 65% of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusive partners because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave.  This why I just love the Paws for a Cause event, which is a dog fashion show where all proceeds go to support domestic violence victims.

This event takes a year’s worth of planning with lots of meetings, organizing, advertising and securing sponsorships. This year, I was in charge with securing a DJ from 106.1 BLI, a local classic rock station in Long Island, a photographer, as well as securing guest judges, event sponsorship and social media marketing.

Our PSEG community did not disappoint and immediately raised their hands to help support the cause. Daniel Eichhorn, president and COO of PSEG Long Island, along with Suzanne Brienza, director of customer experience and utility marketing of PSEG Long Island, happily jumped in as guest judges, and PSEG signed on as a sponsor for the event, making my job extremely easy. Additionally, PSEG’s employee business resource groups (EBRG) helped secure more PSEG Long Island volunteers for the event, as well as provide branded gift donations to be raffled off.

I’m proud to say that this year’s Paws for a Cause event raised $17,000 and this donation for domestic violence will help adults, children and pets alike get the support and courage they need to leave abusive situations.

PSEG’s Power of One, which honors the volunteer efforts in our organization and in our communities, is enriching and motivating, and I encourage everyone to get out there and volunteer! I found my home with L.I. Against Domestic Violence and, by giving back, you can find your home too. #PSEGPowerOfOne #PowerofOnePSEGLI

Building thriving communities through public-private partnerships – A look at why we support the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies at Montclair State University

Last week, I had the privilege of welcoming the talented and passionate Green Teams from the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies at Montclair State University as they presented their business- and environment-impacting projects to leaders from across New Jersey.

PSEG has a longstanding relationship with Montclair State University, including significant support for the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies that helps to bring the global principles of sustainability to an on-the-ground municipal level.

The PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies is an exemplification of what Public Service founder Thomas McCarter wrote early in the 20th century that would become our company’s mission: “To help make New Jersey a better place to live.” That’s a guiding principle for our company that still holds true today – to build thriving communities.

Today, we work toward this goal by helping people to use less energy, to ensure that the energy they do use is generated in a way that is clean, green and climate-friendly, and to do these things while ensuring that delivery of that energy is as reliable and resilient as ever.

We call this our “Powering Progress” vision – and it’s that vision that brings us together with organizations like Montclair State University.

Green Teams

The fundamental role of the Green Teams and the talented, committed students who take up the challenge is to help public and private organizations apply the benefits of sustainability at a local level.

Thanks to PSEG’s ongoing support, the Green Teams, recently completing their fourth year, have contributed to the breadth of New Jersey, from state government agencies, such as New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, to local agencies such as the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority. And the students’ work has benefited New Jersey’s cities such as Newark, Jersey City, Princeton and Montclair.

Their work has also benefited the fields of:

    • Higher education – at Centenary University, Essex County College, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Kean University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Ramapo College, Raritan Valley Community College, Rider University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, Stockton University, The College of New Jersey, and William Paterson University;
    • Nonprofits – including Hydrogen House Project, Newark Science and Sustainability, and Sustainable Princeton;
    • The energy sector – with PSEG and NJ Natural Gas;

And more – including ADP, Bristol Myers Squibb, Earth Friendly Products/Ecos, Hackensack Meridian Health, Honeywell, NJM, NJ TRANSIT, NJ American Water, PGIM Real Estate, Stryker, and SUEZ.

This year’s Green Team for PSEG leveraged the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to help illustrate and explain PSEG’s role in the world as a leader in sustainability to help us better communicate to a wide variety and rapidly expanding universe of stakeholders, which enables those stakeholders to make better, more informed decisions for the long-term.

At the end of the day, the many organizations that have benefited from the PSEG Green Teams all have at least one thing in common: A shared commitment to sustainability for the benefit of the community.

 Public-Private Partnerships

At PSEG, building thriving communities and making New Jersey a better place to live is part of our DNA. But we cannot do it alone.

We need partners.

The role of the modern utility is, at its core, a partnership. It’s a partnership between a company – in this case, PSEG – and public and private entities, whether it’s state or local government, their agencies or many of state’s higher education institutions or our state’s many successful private organizations, and ultimately with the citizens of the state.

By working in partnership with organizations like the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies at Montclair State University, we ensure that we provide the services that are most important to the communities we are committed to serve.

 Clean energy future

Today, as we confront the urgent need to address global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we know we need to do more.

For years, PSEG has had one of the lowest carbon emissions intensity rates among the largest US generators. At PSE&G, we have proposed a $3.5 billion investment with our Clean Energy Future program, which features significant programs for energy efficiency, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, energy storage and advanced metering to help our customers use less energy.

Recently we also announced that we plan to reduce the carbon emissions from our power fleet by 80% by 2046 and that our vision – given the right advancements in technology and public policy – is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

PSEG’s longtime association with Montclair State University, and our support for the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies and for the student-led Green Teams, is another example of a public-private partnership that works to benefit New Jersey and its communities. It’s also a standout example of PSEG’s continuing role as a leader when it comes to furthering clean, sustainable energy for the benefit of the many, many communities we serve.

Filling hearts and bellies – PSEG employees volunteer at Pittstown Farm

Three years ago, my husband and I moved back to my hometown to raise our children and enjoy all that scenic Hunterdon County has to offer. For months, I drove past a farm called America’s Grow-A-Row on my way to and from work at PSEG, wondering why they never sell any fresh produce in a roadside stand. I had no idea what the farm was about until almost a year later when a friend told me about his volunteer experience with America’s Grow-A-Row, a nonprofit organization dedicated to donating fresh produce to food banks and hunger relief agencies across the mid-Atlantic region. Continue reading