As a little girl, Shannon Hartey, of Mays Landing, lived for three years at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, fighting acute myeloblastic leukemia. The lost years were from ages 5 to 8, she said.

The playroom was an important place for her.

"I spent a big chunk of time there. It was great to get out of the hospital room," Hartey said.

She went back for a checkup when she was about 16, and happened to see the playroom again. It hadn't changed much. And that bothered her.

So she started a foundation called "Shannon's Dream" to update hospital rooms and other pediatric spaces to be more appealing to children. She was still a student at Oakcrest High School, and then-Vice Principal Maria Caiafa helped her, she said.

Now 24, the daughter of Donna and Patrick Hartey just graduated from Rowan University with a degree in public relations, and will soon start graduate school in health communications at the University of Delaware. She plans to take her foundation, now called "Room for Hope," to a whole new level.

Hartey has designed pediatric rooms at the new Virtua Hospital in Voorhees, Camden County, with the help of Oakcrest High School art students and mural painters. She is on the design and planning committee for Give Kids the World, which provides housing to children with compromised immune systems when they visit Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

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Enthusiastic Reader

Jae'on Forrest, a third-grader at West Avenue School in Bridgeton, is a recipient of the 2013 Enthusiastic Reader Award from the New Jersey Association of School Librarians. Nine recipients were honored at NJASL's annual spring meeting and luncheon May 18 at the Robert Wood Johnson Conference Center in Mercerville, Mercer County.

Students are nominated by school library media specialists, teachers in public and private schools, and librarians in public libraries.

Gardner's Basin gallery

Watercolor artist Donna Elias will celebrate the grand opening of her new gallery at Gardner's Basin in Atlantic City this Memorial Day weekend.

Elias' previous two shops at Gardner's Basin were flooded in Hurricane Sandy, and her studio, office and warehouse were all severely damaged in the storm. She lost more than 200 of her original paintings and thousands of fine art prints.

For more information, call 609-266-5826 or visit

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219