Dedicated volunteer: Greentown woman drawn to help church, granddaughters’ school

Published July 13, 2014
The Scranton Times-Tribune

When Eileen Eddins moved back to Northeast Pennsylvania from Florida, she did not anticipate the fulfilling life of volunteer work she would have.

The Archbald native began working with Head Start in Jermyn and Forest City in the mid-1970s and continued her career with the agency after she moved to Florida. After working for more than 25 years she was told she would need to get a college degree in order to stay employed. She graduated from college at 63 and retired shortly afterward.

While enjoyable, life after retirement in 2006 from the Head Start program in Lecanto, Florida, became even more pleasant after the birth of her daughter’s first child in NEPA. Hearing that her daughter was paying a daily fee for a baby sitter, Mrs. Eddins and her husband, Peter, decided to pack up and head north to be with her daughter and her family in Greentown.

Two years later, her daughter had another baby girl. When Mrs. Eddins attended her baptism at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hamlin, she decided she wanted to work with the parish, and her life of volunteering began.

Mrs. Eddins is humble about her hard work, making a point to say that there are several other volunteers who dedicate their time to the church as well. But her six-year list of volunteering goes on and on.

Her work ranges from baking cookies for church dinners to buying Christmas presents for children as part of St. John’s Angel Tree program. She also has been a member of the church vestry for several years.

In addition to working with the church, Mrs. Eddins recently started donating her time at her granddaughters’ school, Wallenpaupack South Elementary. She volunteers at the school’s movie nights, assists in collecting and sorting clothing for families in need, wraps presents in the school’s Santa shop and is the designated baby sitter for the parents’ PTO meetings.

Over the last six years, Mrs. Eddins hasn’t let anything stop her, not even a double knee replacement. When her recovery time conflicted with her baking schedule of more than 2,000 cookies for St. John’s Christmas party, she pulled up a stool next to her husband and got to work despite his protests.

“It wasn’t even an option to tell them I can’t do it this year. They need the fundraisers,” she said.

Mrs. Eddins did not always live the fulfilling life she lives now. She graduated from Archbald High School in 1960 and was married shortly afterward. The marriage ended in divorce 13 years later after a difficult court battle. Responsible for a 15-month-old daughter and a 10-year-old son, she started working two jobs to support them. When her children got older and lived on their own, she decided to move to Florida, where she met and married Mr. Eddins.

Mrs. Eddin’s daughter, Jennifer Mercereau, spoke highly of her mother’s dedication.

“Let me describe, from my point of view, my mom in a nutshell. She got out of a marriage to save her kids, worked two jobs to help her kids, moved here from a life by the beach to help her kid. Never am I told ‘no’ with help for her grandchildren,” she said, getting choked up. “Nobody’s ever told ‘No’ that is in my mother’s life.”

When she is not helping the community, Mrs. Eddins enjoys being able to travel with her husband. In the 12 years she and Mr. Eddins have been married, they have traveled across the country several times and been to Paris, Australia and England, where Mr. Eddins was born and raised. They have visited landmarks such as Stonehenge and Lands End.

“I’m happy at home, though, cooking and baking,” she said, noting that her first love is being able to spend time with her granddaughters.

Meet Eileen Eddins:
At home: She and her husband, Peter, reside in Greentown. She has a daughter, Jennifer Mercereau, also of Greentown, and a son, David Soroka, Arizona. She is a daughter of William and Mary Welsch.
At work: She retired from Head Start after 30 years.
Inspirations: Her husband, Peter Eddins; her daughter, Jennifer Mercereau; and her first supervisor at Head Start, Sally Kane, who influenced her to help the kids she worked with.
Aspirations: To volunteer more both at her church and at Wallenpaupack South Elementary School, ideally in a classroom; and to travel more.
Diversions: Crocheting and baking
Aversions: Mean-spirited people
Quote: “If you can’t say anything nice about people, don’t say anything at all.”

Cast as success: Moosic native Rosalie Joseph follows her dream of being in entertainment world

Published September 7, 2014
The Scranton Times-Tribune

Rosalie Joseph’s career shows taking a chance is worth the risk.

The Northeast Pennsylvania native is a successful casting director in New York City who left a teaching career to pursue acting in the Big Apple. That, in turn, led to a chance job opportunity assisting a casting director. The experience and resulting self-confidence kept her on a successful career path, one that’s also led to a number of charitible ventures.

Ms. Joseph is currently working on the new NBC series, “Mysteries of Laura,” which stars former “Will and Grace” star Debra Messing. The dramedy about an NYPD homicide detective working to solve cases as well as being a single mother of twins will premiere Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on WBRE-TV, Channel 28.

Born and raised in Moosic, Ms. Joseph studied theater at Misericordia University. She started her career as a drama and communications teacher at Riverside Junior-Senior High School.

Pursuing her dream

Although there was nothing about teaching she didn’t love, she always felt there was something else she needed to do. So Ms. Joseph moved to New York City to pursue her original dream, acting.

“You do that when you’re young. You make sure you feed that part of you,” Ms. Joseph said of following her dream. But not without months of planning and saving, she added.

As she was spending her time working on off-Broadway shows, she received a call from a neighbor telling her of a casting director who needed someone to help for a few days. Even though she knew very little about the casting business, Ms. Joseph agreed to help out.

“I’ll never forget those first two days, I made the hugest blunders,” she said, laughing. “But I went to cover for someone for three days and I ended up staying for three years.”

Ms. Joseph started as Vic Ramos’ assistant and shortly after became his associate. After three years with him, she moved to CBS where she oversaw daytime production and eventually became a prime-time casting director, staying for six years.

She worked as an independent casting director for 10 years before heading to Los Angeles and a position with MTM during its rebuilding.

She had spent a year in California when ABC called with a proposition to return to the East Coast and be vice president of casting. Homesick for New York, she took the job. But in 2009, she left to be independent once again.

Helping families

Coming from a family that was deeply involved with local charities, it was natural for Ms. Joseph to donate time to special causes. But 23 years ago, after participating in a Christmas party that provided gifts to families in need, Ms. Joseph knew she had to do more than just volunteer.

She remembered going home that night and being haunted by the looks on the parents’ faces as they collected toys for their children.

“Their dignity was compromised. It really bothered me,” she said.

Unable to get the thought out of her head, she decided to start her own organization to help families. Working with a friend, writer Tom Fontana, they came up with Stockings With Care an organization that helps thousands of families in the New York City area provide a joyous Christmas morning for their children. This past Christmas, the charity helped around 1,500 children.

“It is about as pure as you can get. There are no salaries. It is all volunteer.” Ms. Joseph said, emphasizing that Stockings With Care provides gifts to be given on Christmas morning, unlike other organizations that give gifts in the weeks preceding the holiday.

While most items on the children’s wish lists are easily attainable, sometimes there is something that is far more expensive than a volunteer can be expected to spend.

“If it is something that we think can change a child’s life, we make sure we get it,” Ms. Joseph said recounting the year one child asked for a saxophone. The organization was able to raise enough money to make sure that child woke up on Christmas morning with the one thing requested.

Besides the many volunteers in the area, Stockings With Care has been lucky enough to get help from famous actors as well.

In 2009, Tom Cruise was spending Christmas in New York and could not be more eager to help. He told the volunteers that, because he was raised by a struggling single mom, the organization was close to his heart. The actor got the famous New York City toy store FAO Schwarz to close its doors temporarily to the public so the volunteers could shop. He then donated enough to help out 500 more children on top of what Stockings With Care already had.

Out of Stockings With Care came Ms. Joseph’s second organization, First Day New York, which helps children get clothes and supplies for their first day of school.

On top of running both of those charities, Ms. Joseph is very involved in her community, Battery Park City, which she calls “the best small town in the Big Apple.”

Located across from where the World Trade Centers once stood, the community was severely impacted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

After receiving help from outside groups to repair their community, the residents started Battery Park City Cares which helps other communities around the world affected by hurricanes, tsunamis and other disasters.

When she has downtime, Ms. Joseph enjoys spending time with her family here in NEPA and she offered some advice for residents of her hometown who have dreams of moving away.

“I think it doesn’t matter where you are but you have to follow a dream,” she said. “My advice would be just examine what you want and get support of people who love you and just try. It may not work out but that’s OK. … Maybe the life you are supposed to lead is right where you are.”

Meet Rosalie Joseph
Residence: Formerly of Moosic, she now lives in Battery Park City, Manhattan.
At Work: An independent casting director in Manhattan
Outside of Work: “Be with the people I love, nothing is better than that,” she said. She enjoys taking part in organizations and charities, spending time with her neighbors in Battery Park City and visiting her family in NEPA.
Current project: Working with Debra Messing on the NBC series, “Mysteries of Laura,” premiering Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.

Ms. Joseph’s casting director credits include:
Movies:
“Jack”
“Radioland Murders”
“Kansas”

TV Series:
“The Mysteries of Laura”
“Golden Boy”
“Body of Proof”
“Sherri”

Source: imdb.com

Small dishes big hit: Restaurant’s menu promotes sharing food, conversation

Published October 3, 2014
The Scranton Times-Tribune

The restaurant business is nothing new for Mike Catalano, the longtime owner of La Trattoria in Scranton and catering company Al Mia Amore in Dickson City.

Now, he has taken on a new venture, Nosh Small Plate Restaurant & Bar in Dickson City. The restaurant’s name is a Yiddish term meaning to snack or eat lightly.

“The food is small, but the conversation is big,” said Mr. Catalano’s wife, Patricia, who is co-owner and general manager of Nosh.

She added that they decided to try the small-plate idea because they like to eat that way and their customers enjoy being able to share several dishes with each other instead of having to choose one main dish.

Mr. Catalano started working with food when he was just 14 at West Side Hospital and then began working with his uncle, Mario Catalano, at La Trattoria, where he has been for about 26 years.

Peaceful oasis

Nosh seats about 70 people, has a full bar and is completely wheelchair accessible. Its soft lighting and colors offer a peaceful “oasis” for its customers, Mrs. Catalano said.

“It’s like a getaway,” Mr. Catalano said.

The flat breads, pasta and even the french fries are all freshly made at La Trattoria and Nosh offers gluten-free options for customers.

The veteran team of chefs at his other restaurants allow Mr. Catalano to dedicate his time to running the kitchen at Nosh, where he comes up with and cooks all of the dishes.

One of Nosh’s dishes, the RumChata scallops, was made almost by accident. When cooking for friends who wanted scallops, Mr. Catalano had to improvise when he had no dry vermouth. He did, however, have a bottle of RumChata, which is a liqueur that uses distilled Caribbean rum and cream with a touch of natural cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and other flavors.

His improvised meal turned into one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, and is also served with warmed brie wrapped in prosciutto.

Unique dishes

The lobster macaroni and cheese and duck bites (a play on classic wing bites) are the other most popular small dishes Nosh offers.

Since its opening in May, Nosh has been a family project. Its small staff includes Mr. Catalano’s son, Nicholas, and Mrs. Catalano’s children, Gerard and Jean Gaughan, who help their parents run the restaurant.

While the long hours are tough — Mrs. Catalano also works as a full-time operating room nurse — the couple agreed that seeing satisfied customers makes it worthwhile.

What does this busy couple do when they have some down time?

“Go out to eat,” they said with a laugh, adding that they like to support local restaurants.

Nosh is open Wednesday through Sunday.
Nosh Small Plate Restaurant & Bar:
Address:
280 Main St.,Dickson City
Established: May 2014
Owners: Mike and Patricia Catalano
Cuisine: Eclectic small plate
Price range: $8 to $14
Hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 4 to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 4 to 10 p.m.; Sundays, 1 to 7 p.m.
Phone: 570-382-8156
Website: Facebook.com/noshscranton

Warped tour draws wide range of passions

Published July 10, 2014
The Scranton Times-Tribune
By Medea Giordano and Nicole James

A sea of rainbow-painted hair, full-body tattoos and bare skin stretched as far as the eye could see at Vans Warped Tour on Wednesday afternoon at the Pavilion at Montage Mountain.

Some concertgoers waited hours to enter the venue for the all-day music festival because of logjammed traffic simultaneously en route to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ doubleheader at PNC Field as well as Montage Waterpark.

More than 11,000 fans packed the mountain as temperatures peaked at 85 degrees with 76 percent humidity, according to AccuWeather reports. People tried to beat the heat while they enjoyed their favorite bands. Morgan Sledzinski, 17, of Scranton, said she made sure to drink plenty of water to avoid passing out like she did at last year’s Warped Tour. Others stripped down to their bathing suits to keep cool.

In addition to hours of live music on 10 stages stretched across the grounds, dozens of vendors hawked band merchandise and music lessons. Other booths pitched educational causes. The Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation used the tour to reach a younger demographic.

“Fifteen to 30 are the primary ages for testicular cancer,” said David Campbell, 34, a survivor from Olyphant, adding there is a 95 percent survival rate if the cancer is detected early.

The Canvas Foundation gave visitors a choice of painting their bodies or a mural with a monetary donation for student art supplies that donors could designate for local schools.

The crowd ranged from school-aged to retirees, whose styles could be described as everything from Goth to flower child to punk.

“No one gets judged by what they’re wearing or how they act,” said Jamie Dugan, 15, of Hamden, New York.

“It’s a good freedom of expression,” added her mom, Tracy Dugan.

Warped Tour also brought together music fans with many different tastes, from rap to ska to hardcore, for a common purpose.

“We’re a huge family that just comes for the music,” said Scranton resident Cara Lutchko, 17. “Even though there’s different genres, we come for one thing.”

Female bands featured at 20th anniversary of Vans Warped Tour

Women entertainers will have stronger voices at the upcoming Vans Warped Tour.

Conquer Entertainment Shiragirl Stage, which hosts female-fronted bands and solo female performers, is back for the 20th anniversary of the tour, which stops in Scranton on Wednesday. The festival begins at 11 a.m. at the Pavillion at Montage Mountain.

Shiragirl, a Brooklyn-bred performer who recently moved to Los Angeles, started Shiragirl Stage in 2005 and has partnered with Conquer Entertainment to get the all-female production back on the tour once again.

Shiragirl has performed on the tour multiple times, but she still enjoys being part of the festival experience. She spoke highly of the tour’s acceptance of female artists.

“It feels good to be out there sort of sticking our flag in the sand and just saying, ‘Here we are,’” she said. “It feels good to be able to be part of the tour and represent the women.”

On the other side of the gender spectrum, male singer Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup shares the excitement of being back on the tour. Because Bowling for Soup has played the festival sporadically since 2003, Mr. Reddick said, the group definitely knows how to survive it. Veteran musicians, the band’s members have learned not to take themselves too seriously, and they promise fans a fun performance.

“There’s a lot of serious bands on Warped Tour. There’s a lot of guys out there that are playing a completely different kind of music, but they’re definitely pretty intense. We are not intense,” he said, laughing. “We’re definitely out there having a good time, trying to entertain each other as well as the crowd. It’s been going really well so far.”

Mr. Reddick said the days spent on the tour may be long and hot, but the experience is worth it.

“There’s a lot of interaction with fans, which is really nice,” he said. “You definitely get a lot of opportunity to play in front of other bands’ fans. But you have to hustle as well, you have to really get out there. … You’re competing with 100 different bands, and it’s kind of important that you make yourself visible and you’re out there really working hard.”

Tickets are $46 for general admission for Wednesday’s daylong event or $56 for 20th anniversary commemorative tickets. They are available at the box office, by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or online at http://www.livenation.com.

If you go:
What: Vans Warped Tour
When: Wednesday, 11 a.m.
Where: Montage Mountain, 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton
Details: Cost is $46 for general admission tickets or $56 for 20th anniversary commemorative tickets, available at the box office, by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or http://www.livenation.com. For more information, visit http://www.vanswarpedtour.com.

Class act: Black Tie Stereo displays professionalism and hard work as it releases first EP

published June 30, 2014
The Scranton Times-Tribune

When a producer who has worked with legendary musicians like Anthrax picks a small-town band to produce, it must be doing something right. That is what happened to Scranton’s pop rock band Black Tie Stereo.

Carl Canedy, who started producing in the ’80s and has worked with several well-known heavy metal groups of that era, heard one of Black Tie Stereo’s demos and knew he wanted to work with the group. That one song eventually led him to produce and arrange the band’s first professionally recorded EP.

The band, formerly known as the Kickbacks, left the exact reason for choosing the new name a mystery, saying it is a secret among the members. However, they believe the new name represents the classy and sophisticated image they like to portray on and off the stage.

The quartet, made up of vocalist and keyboardist Stephen Murphy, guitarist Charles Kaszuba, drummer George Pachucy and bassist Aaron Kovalich, said they had struggled with their identity in the past. They found it with Black Tie Stereo.

With over a decade of professional training under their belts and diverse tastes in music, they produce a hybrid sound unlike many other bands in the area.

“Everybody has different musical backgrounds … and we all blend everything together,” said Mr. Kovalich.

The group members also cite their professional attitude as another distinguishing trait.

“We’ve established a professionalism that sets us apart,” said Mr. Kaszuba. “We try to do everything as professional as possible.”

Besides sharing a love of music, they continually stress how well the four of them work together.

“We have really good chemistry. I couldn’t think of anyone else I would want on guitar, bass or drums,” said Mr. Murphy.

Mr. Canedy agreed.

“I’ve seen bands who have what it takes and I’ve seen bands who don’t … and I think this band has it,” Mr. Canedy said. “There’s a chemistry. They’re really nice guys, they work very hard, they’re really into their music.

“If you catch one of their shows, it’s a really amazing energy,” he continued. “They have a great appeal. I don’t know how you put your finger on it, but I’ve learned over the years that can’t be manufactured.”

In addition to being full-time students, the band members dedicate most of their time to their music. There is a saying that if someone does what he loves, it is never work and Mr. Murphy made it clear that is the case for him.

“I’ve been playing music all my life, this doesn’t really feel like a job to me. You never get tired of it,” he said.

With the help of Mr. Canedy, Black Tie Stereo is releasing its first professionally recorded album. The band will celebrate the occasion with a release party at Ale Mary’s Pub on Saturday when it will perform tunes from the album as well as other original and cover songs. Digital downloads of the album will be given to the first 100 guests.

“It will be a good opportunity for people to come and meet us and Carl will be there as well,” Mr. Murphy said.

In addition to hosting the release party, the band has a busy schedule of performances lined up in the area.

Hoping Black Tie Stereo can become a nationally recognized name, the members are dedicated to working hard to get through what they call the “circus” that many musicians have worked through.

Mr. Canedy said he has high hopes for the band as well.

“There’s never a guarantee … but I have heard nothing but 100 percent positivity from my industry people.”

Meet Black Tie Stereo

Established: July 2013
Based in: Scranton
Members: Stephen Murphy, vocalist and keyboardist; Charles Kaszuba, guitarist; Aaron Kovalich, bassist; George Pachucy, drummer
Genre: Pop rock
For fans of: Maroon 5, The Killers and Neon Trees
Online: Visit http://www.blacktiestereo.com and follow the band @blacktiestereo on Twitter and Instagram

You would do anything for love, but would you sell your body?

This semester, I am taking a class on human trafficking. In just a few months it has opened my eyes so much to what is happening not only all over the world but in our backyards as well. I could talk for hours about what we have covered so far, but I would like to talk now about a documentary we watched on prostitution in New York City and the surrounding boroughs. It was called “Very Young Girls” because that is just what the prostitutes are – the average age is just 12-13.

I think I have always been quick to judge women who sell their bodies, as I’m sure a lot of other people have as well. It’s easy to judge them for what they’re doing because to the outside world it looks as if they are choosing to subject themselves to that lifestyle but a lot of the times there is someone behind the scenes pulling the strings and making the money. These pimps know what types of girls to prey on – the naive and vulnerable – and they know how to play the psychological game of manipulation. While making all these promises of a better life together, they make these girls fall in love with them. Love can be so beautiful but also so dangerous because when you love someone you want to do anything for them. These girls believe that if selling themselves is what they have to do for these men they will do it because what else do they have?

Besides always being at risk for abuse, rape, and STDs, they are psychologically so damaged that even after they get out and realize what a bad person their pimp is, they often return. It is like being addicted to a drug that you can not detox from. There is no magic cure to the pull of that life.

This documentary has made me feel so awful for these young girls who don’t think they have any other options. How can we stop this from happening?

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