Message from the President
November 24, 2020
2020 has been a hard year. We’ve lost friends, neighbors, and relatives, frequently without even being able to say goodbye. Even if you have been mostly spared by COVID, our economy has taken a hit. Many of our local businesses are struggling and too many have closed.
It’s been a year of disappointments. We’ve missed birthday parties and weddings. Our celebrations from
St. Patrick’s Day to July 4 and now Thanksgiving have at best been dramatically downscaled, or canceled
outright. The Strike Out Hunger Softball Tournament was also a casualty of 2020. Schools have moved to
partial or even fully online instruction.
Our day to day lives have been turned upside down and even if we are fortunate and still employed,
many of us work from home without that daily contact and camaraderie. Riding on the back of this
isolation, uncertainty for the future, and economic chaos, the specter of hunger looms large.
Bob White - President
Strike Out Hunger NJ
Statistics that were already shameful for a country of our wealth have reached frightening proportions. Per the latest estimates from Feeding America, as many as 50 million Americans are facing hunger this year and 17 million are children.
It isn’t just children suffering.
SOHNJ has been a supporter of Meals on Wheels since our founding, both with financial grants from the organization as well as personal support from our members. Meals on Wheels relies heavily on local volunteer groups for their Blizzard Bag program, which is an emergency bag meal in case of bad weather. With these groups not able to meet, the bags have not been assembled. As we have learned, the elderly are particularly at risk from both this awful disease and the hunger it has brought. In spite of all the problems, I can thank COVID for reaffirming my belief in the basic decency of people, particularly in our area. From weekly runs to bring food to our local pantries to donations that just show up in our mailbox, you have responded. The generosity of those who have donated – sometimes without knowing if they have a job in a month – has been incredible. And now vaccines and the hope they bring are coming.
But we have a long six months between us and the predictions of when the vaccines will be widely distributed. The economic impacts of COVID will also not disappear just because a shot is available. Since the last major economic setback in 2008, it took almost 10 years for the numbers of food insecure to drop to pre-2008 levels.
You can help. Not just with money, although that is always appreciated. Check with your local food pantries. Find out what they need, and that includes your time. I firmly believe we can change the world, and to do so we only need to start in our backyard.
The birth of a noble mission: Game 1 in 2014. Tournament organizer Bob White, Frenchtown Mayor Warren Cooper, Milford Mayor Jim Gallos, and Tournament organizer Charlie White
In the fall of 2013, Milford residents Charlie and Bob White met with Frenchtown Mayor Warren Cooper to propose a challenge softball game – Milford vs. Frenchtown – to benefit local food pantries. In May of the following year, the two teams met in what would be the start of Strikeout Hunger NJ, although it would be another five years before the game expanded to include other towns. In those five years, the two municipalities would raise over two and a half tons of food for the pantries in Frenchtown and Milford. They would also increase the awareness that hunger is real, and it isn’t just in third-world countries. It lives here, in New Jersey, within our communities, and with our neighbors.
Current statistics from FeedingAmerica.org put the number of people who are food insecure in Hunterdon County at almost 8,000. That number includes seniors, children, and employed but underpaid. Many households are but one paycheck or one serious medical condition away from being food insecure, and the numbers are rising.
No one should have to go to bed hungry at night, and no child should ever have to wonder when they will get their next meal, particularly in a country as wealthy as this one. Even if we cannot stop hunger altogether, our mission is to fill the local food pantries, so those struggling to survive in our area have access to the necessities of food and household goods.
Board of Directors
Bob White, aka ‘Gator’, earned his Masters Degree from the University of Florida. For over 20 years he has been active in the specialty gas sector, with projects ranging as far as the Star Wars defense initiative, NASA's Dawn Project to study the asteroid belt, and even spent two years as head of a small German subsidiary.
With his wife Charlie, he co-founded the Mayhem and the Milford vs Frenchtown game which developed into Strike Out Hunger NJ.
He splits his free time between serving on the Milford Borough Council, Planning Board, and trying to end hunger in NJ.
Charlie found herself involved in volunteer work when she was first approached to assist with Milford Alive almost ten years ago. Working with a small team, she helped turn a popular local event into an award-winning street fair attended by over 6,000 annually.
Inspired by this success, Charlie and her husband Bob got involved with small-town politics, focusing on struggling small businesses, bare pantries, and attention needed to abandoned properties. Charlie volunteers at the Presbyterian Church of Milford (PCOM), runs multiple social media pages promoting her local town as well as other projects. She became an Elder at PCOM six years ago and was asked to lead the Mission Committee, where she focused on collecting food for the pantries. After getting involved, she and her husband learned the shocking truth: New Jersey has over 1 million people who are considered “food insecure”, with 8,000 of them right here in Hunterdon County. With her husband, she co-founded the Mayhem and the tournament which has grown to Strike Out Hunger NJ.
Inspired by the mission, her church opened its own food pantry on March 31 of this year.
Charlie’s mission, “Strike Out Hunger NJ”, will go beyond the tournament. With like-minded individuals, she has formed a non-profit organization, connecting the local pantries and non-profits such as Meals on Wheels, Feeding America and NORWESCAP, to work together to help feed New Jersey, one pantry at a time.
Doug Cole is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1993, and also admitted to practice in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey; Eastern District of Pennsylvania and U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Mr. Cole received his B.A. from the University of Southern Maine in 1990 and J.D. from Temple University School of Law in 1993. His practice concentrates in family law, commercial litigation, bankruptcy, estates, and estate planning. In addition, Mr. Cole’s practice includes commercial and residential real estate, criminal and municipal court law, immigration services, Social Security disability appeals, personal injury and Worker’s Compensation.
His experienced legal team consists of a paralegal and legal assistant.
Jody is very involved in the community and works with a great team of people who are equally dedicated. She truly believes “It Takes a Village”.
After retirement from AT&T, she found her passion for volunteering. When her children were at Holland Township School, she assisted teachers and was a headroom parent. She was also served as Cub Scout Pack 187 Committee Chair for several years.
Jody volunteers at the Cornerstone Soup Kitchen in Easton for the last eight years where she has worked with the homeless and fed the hungry. She has organized coat drives, delivered tents, sleeping bags, blankets, coats, scarves, hats, and gloves. She developed her passion for giving back to the community and helping the less fortunate here.
Jody has also partnered with Meals on Wheels and delivered over 300 Blizzard bags each year to ensure their clients had a balanced meal in the event drivers couldn’t reach them in inclement weather.
During a chance meeting, Jody met the pastor of the Milford Presbyterian Church. She attended a worship service the next week and quickly fell in love with the little church on the corner, joining the congregation in April of 2010. It wasn’t long before Jody found herself in a leadership position in the Church. She became a Ruling Elder, assumed the office administration and was elected the Clerk of Session. In addition, she is currently the chairperson of the Mission Committee where she realized her dream – to open a food pantry to serve the public at large. The “Village Pantry” opened on March 31, 2019
Joe has been softball crazy for over 30 years but it was just six years ago when he started coaching the Milford team, that he was diagnosed as being severely Mayhem crazy. As the Mayhem coach and pitcher, Joe considers himself to be most fortunate to have been part of the mission since game one back in 2014. But in his softball heart and soul, Joe fully embraces the true purpose of Strike Out Hunger NJ of working to help those less fortunate due to food insecurity. He’d love for the Mayhem to win the tournament but regardless of who takes the trophy home, Joe believes that we all win by being committed to ending food insecurity for all.
He currently lives in Hunterdon County with his wife, two daughters, two dogs, three rabbits, and one crazy cat.
Managing Member At Large
Westley Hackmann is a Senior Account Manager for a Dana Communications, a global marketing agency. In this role, he is responsible for the development of strategic marketing and advertising campaigns that will move the needle for his clients.
When he’s not in the office, Westley is deeply involved in his local community. He currently serves as a member of the Holland Township School Board and was previously a member of the Milford Borough School Board from 13 – 17. Westley is also the Team Captain for the Milford Mayhem, one of the original participating teams for the softball benefit tournament to Strike Out Hunger NJ. He also annually organizes a food drive for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen and a holiday gift drive for the Children’s Home Society in Trenton.
Westley holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is an avid sports fan and resides in Milford, NJ with his wife and two daughters.
As Owner & Chief Digital Officer at Carnegie Agency, Bill Benz provides Digital Marketing capabilities to small and medium-sized companies, priced to be affordable for any business. Before his role at Carnegie Agency, he spent over 25 years in the Financial Services Investment Management industry. Bill is a Founding board member of Ice House Flats, a local Not-for-Profit creating an open space in the town of Phillipsburg, New Jersey providing regional, low-cost entertainment, a Director of the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Alumni Board of Trustees, and a member of the executive team of the North River Business Network.
Managing Member at Large
Chief Financial Officer
Managing Member at Large
With his focus on that which is most important to him, Jay Arancio is able to pay it forward in ways that matter most!!
A 35 year Alexandria Township resident, Jay moved from NY during his senior year of high school. He worked as a graphic designer and owned a small ad agency, Media Works, for 25 years!
In 2008, Jay took a path to reinvent himself physically and mentally. Fulfilling his desire to pay it forward, he became a certified health coach and has been running a very successful coaching team for over 10 years, working with over 1200 clients, coaches, and health professionals!
With the additional freedom in his career, Jay is able to focus on that which is most important: family, friends, and community! "I feel that I am most fulfilled when I help others, so I serve through volunteering!"And volunteering he does!! Jay serves as Chair of the Alexandria Township Environmental Commission, and member since 2006. He is also a Girl Scout Parent Volunteer. In addition, Jay is very active in the Alexandria Township School Community serving as a room parent and President of the PTO!
"As busy as my schedule already is, I couldn't turn down being part of such a worthy cause," Jay said, of the honor to serve on the board of directors for Strike Out Hunger. Jay is the General Manager and a player for the Alexandria Anarchy softball team.
On a personal level, Jay is an extremely proud husband to his wife, Cindy, and Dad to his daughter, Mia! "Mia has taken the best of both of us, and inspires me every day! She truly is the catalyst, my WHY, my reason for why I do what I do!"
Jay created the opportunity to change lives on a daily basis, and he works hard to make incredible transformations! He is a part of many communities within his town, and goes above and beyond to lead, give back, and better those communities via his career and volunteer work!!