Pathways, Centenarian, Arbor Day Honored with Proclamations

Members of Pathways for Exceptional Children Credits: Melissa Benno
Victoria Como with Committee Member Richard Conklin and Como's great-grandsons Credits: Melissa Benno
Michele Caron (4th from left) with members of the MTHS Earth Club and the Montville Township Committee Credits: Melissa Benno
Freeholder Hank Lyon gives Victoria Como a plaque in honor of her birthday Credits: Melissa Benno
Melinda Jennis speaks about Pathways Credits: Melissa Benno
Pathways' Dylan Acree addresses the audience Credits: Melissa Benno
Melinda Jennis speaks about Pathways Credits: Melissa Benno

MONTVILLE, NJ – Proclamations in honor of Pathways for Exceptional Children, Arbor Day and centenarian Victoria Como’s birthday were made by the Montville Township Committee at their meeting on April 25.

Pathways for Exceptional Children will be celebrating its 15th anniversary with a walk and concert on May 6. Pathways, an organization which works for the inclusion of children with all abilities, was started by Melinda Jennis as a grassroots effort and has grown to a much larger organization with nation-wide reach.

The township committee read a proclamation at the meeting which declared May 6 to be “Include Me!” Day. “Include Me!” is Pathways’ “movement toward achieving a common purpose: to make all communities and schools places where all children can feel they belong” as explained in the proclamation.

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Pathways has set up many programs within Montville Township’s Recreation Department which help children of differing abilities learn to play music, bowl, play golf, become a DJ, and become a mentor to other children.

“For the past 15 years, the lead mentors of Pathways for Exceptional Children, young adults ages 12-18, have been creating that vision and working toward making ‘Include ME!’ a national campaign,” the proclamation reads in part. “They want to promote ‘Include ME!’ as an avenue that can stir young people from the apathy of accepting things as they are, toward caring about and having a voice in improving our education, political process, and ultimately the direction America is going for the future. ‘Include Me!’ is about uniting diversity, creating that voice, and making that difference.”

Mayor Jim Sandham read the complete proclamation to members of Pathways who came to the meeting, and Pathways member Dylan Acree encouraged the audience to come for the anniversary event: “We’re going to have a walk, a concert and cheerleaders. We’re very excited – we’re going to have good songs. We’re going to have singing, dancing – it’s going to be a really big night!”

President Melinda Jennis accepted the proclamation and said, “I’d like to thank everyone in Montville Township. I love these kids like they were my own. Every one of them has contributed to Pathways. I have been all over the United States talking about ‘Include Me!’ and there is no place that has included people with special needs like Montville Township. The programs that we have in this area for children with special needs are the top in the nation. I have to thank Montville, because without you, we would not be here.”


The township committee made an official proclamation to wish Victoria Como a happy 100th birthday.

Como was born on April 23, 1917, in Brooklyn. After graduation, she worked as a switchboard operator at her father’s business. She married Pat Como in 1939 and they moved to Towaco, where the family has lived on Jacksonville Road ever since. She has two children, two granddaughters and two great-grandsons.

Como is a founding member of St. Pius X Church, was an active member of the Rosary Society, the Towaco Women’s Club and the Montville Senior Citizens Club.

The proclamation says that Como’s favorite sayings are, “Always be grateful for what you have, and love one another.”

Freeholder Hank Lyon also read a proclamation from the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, stating that Como attributes her long life to “olive oil, home-cooked meals, no smoking, no libations, and a positive attitude with lots of laugher, love and kindness.”

Arbor Day

The township committee declared April 28 as Arbor Day in the township with a proclamation.

It said, in part, “In 1872, J. Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside for the planting of trees, and this holiday, called Arbor Day, was first observed with the planting of more than a million trees in Nebraska. Trees can reduce the erosion of our precious topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce life-giving oxygen, and provide habitat for wildlife. We, the township committee urge all citizens to celebrate Arbor Day and to support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands.”

Environmental Commission Chairperson Michele Caron introduced the Montville Township High School Earth Club and invited the public to the township’s Arbor Day celebration on April 28.


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