SPARTA, NJ – Under the shade of the big trees in front of the Sparta library, a crowd of approximately 50 people gathered on Monday evening, July 13. They were gathered for the dedication ceremony of two reading benches honoring the life of Hope Cohen.
The event was led by Boy Scout Troop 82’s leader Todd Schmidt. Hope’s husband Albert and son are members of the troop. It was the troop that purchased the benches.
Sparta Town Manager, Bill Close, explained they requested the township’s assistance in finding an appropriate location. Once the spot was chosen, the DPW placed pavers in a circular pattern to serve as a base on which the benches were placed.
Pastor Janice of the Sparta United Methodist Church began the event ceremony with a prayer in which she encouraged people to use the benches to “pray, read, possibly meet a new friend and maybe even find hope.”
Mayor Jerry Murphy had greeted the assembly before handing the podium to Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn. Quinn made a few remarks about Hope Cohen using the words humble and a powerhouse to describe Hope. She said, “She was always striving to leave the world a better place, especially for the children.”
Schmidt explained the plaque that accompanied the benches contained the words of the Scout Law; A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. With the help of Hope and Albie’s son Alex, they placed the plaque in the ground.
Schmidt said he “appreciated the direction and assistance of the town.” He went on to speak about Hope saying she was a “humble mother, good friend, beautiful daughter and loving sister and wife, a great leader, tireless worker behind the scene.” Schmidt said, “She led from beside and behind. She mentored up.”
He shared a story about Hope having done such an impressive job running the fundraiser popcorn sales, “raising more than $16,000” that she was asked by the Patriot’s Path District to take on the role of Popcorn Kernel. Despite her son and husband moving on from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, she took on the role, to help others.
“She was constantly sacrificing for others,” said Schmitd.
He went on to list some of her many involements in the community; den leader, district leader in Girl Scouts, Cheerleading Coach, girls’ Lacrosse Coach, PTO volunteer, even volunteering at a local animal shelter.
“She was tough. She joined a women’s hockey team, rode horses and motorcycles.” She took the scouts hiking and worked as a CPA. Hope was an animal lover brining many animals to their home.
Schmidt closed saying, “There are no guarantees. Remember time is limited. Make the most of it like Hope did.”
Flowers were presented to Hope’s mother by the troop as well.
Schmidt then invited everyone on the lawn to take a moment to sit on the benches and then join them in a reception prepared by Librarian Carol Boutilier.
The main room in the lower level of the library was set with tables with table linens and flowers. A large table contained baked goods prepared by Boutilier, another had a large cake and a third had punch and other drinks. Photos of Hope decorated the room as well. People who attended also had the opportunity to write a message on a stone to be placed along the walkway to the library entrance.
Hope Cohen passed away as the result of a horseback riding accident on Dec 7, 2014. July 13, the day of the dedication, was her birthday.