A volunteer carefully ties a blue and green ribbon around a lamp post on Spring Street in Newton.
Photo by Laurie Gordon
By Laurie Gordon NEWTON and SPARTA — On Thursday, Mardh 30, Erin Louglas, the owner of Between the Bread on Spring Street in Newton, hosted a special event for the NJ Sharing Network and to help spread awareness of this vital organization. Green and blue ribbons were tied around the County Seat's main thoroughfare because April is Donate Life Month. “My mom is an Organ Recovery Specialist for the NJ Share Network,” Louglas said. “April is national Donate Life Month. Volunteers met at our cafe this morning and decorated the street with green and blue ribbon to spread awareness of the importance of organ donation.” She added, “[Through organ donation] one person can donate and save eight lives and enhance a whole lot more. There are currently 49 people waiting for a transplant right here in Sussex County. The Sharing Network is a really special group of people and they save so many lives so we were more then happy to let them use Between The Bread as home base for this whole thing.” In Sparta, the Township Council acknowledged the efforts of NJ Sharing Network and Sparta residents to spread the word about organ and tissue donation by reading a proclamation at their March 28 meeting declaring April as Donate Life Month. Sparta resident and Foundation Programs Coordinator of NJ Sharing Network, Kelly Bonventre, was present to accept the honor on behalf of those who have been helped by donation and those still waiting to be helped. Bonventre was accompanied by Sparta residents who have been touched by organ and tissue donation: donor family member and NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board of Trustees member Dan Sarnowski, volunteer Amy Cilli, donor family members Ed and Maureen Nelson and Carol Mc Ellen. All are members of NJ Sharing Network's Sussex Warren Donate Life Group. Bonventre thanked the Sparta Town Council for this recognition and acknowledgment. As part of her efforts to educate the public, Bonventre stated, “One organ donor can save eight lives and one tissue donor can restore health to over seventy-five others. However, due to the medical nature of a transplant, less than one percent of people who pass away each year are actually able to become organ donors. That is why it is so important for the public to register as organ and tissue donors.” Currently, there are over 120,000 people waiting for life-saving organ transplants, including over 4,000 people in New Jersey, 49 in Sussex County and six in Sparta. Unfortunately, 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant. “The ribbons are a reminder of the need for registered organ and tissue donors. They also serve to honor those who gave the gift of life, pay tribute to those who have received transplants, offer hope to those who continue to wait and remember the lives lost while waiting for the gift of life.ope to those who continue to wait, and remember the lives lost while waiting....for the gift of life,” Bonventre said. During the month of April, people are encouraged to register online for organ donation at njsharingnetwork.org or at donatelife.net. You can also register to be an organ donor through the Division of Motor Vehicles and it will be noted on your driver's license, but Bonventre said the online registration is a better resource in times of emergency. NJ Sharing Network saves lives through organ and tissue donation. Located in New Providence, the organization recovers organs and tissue and belongs to a national network that helps the 120,000 people waiting for a transplant. In 2016, more lives were saved than ever before. Thanks to the selflessness of New Jersey organ donors and their families who said yes to donation, 613 people are alive today. This year, the organization is celebrating 30 years of saving lives. Of the ribbon hanging in Newton, Lillian Louglas said, "The blue and green ribbons represent the NJ Sharing Network colors. Today a group of volunteers and employees hung these ribbons to make the public aware of organ and tissue donation as April is NJ Sharing Network's Donate Life Month." New Jersey residents can help save a life by registering as an organ and tissue donor, having a conversation with family and friends and joining NJ Sharing Network at its upcoming events. Locally, the May 20th Stampede 5K and Mile Run/Walk will be held at Lodestar Park in Newton. The race is in memory of Terrie DeFabritis. The NJ Sharing Network was near and dear to this gallant EMT and Firewoman, and proceeds will benefit the organization. To register, visit: raceroster.com/events/2017/11980/stampede-5k-in-memory-of-terrie.