A bakery owner for decades, Anthony ‘Tony’ Pestritto, 88, of Sea Isle City, has spent the last 26 years helping people in Haiti.

He focuses on projects that give people a stronger tie to the land, he said, like training in animal husbandry, beekeeping and honeymaking. Most recently he began funding a Victory Garden project in Haiti through a nonprofit called Food for the Poor, out of Florida.

The project will organize cultivation of a large piece of land for market crops, and planting of individual Victory Gardens like those of World War II, he said. Pestritto is a World War II veteran.

“We plan to have everyone who has a small piece of dirt to cultivate it,” Pestritto said. “Then we have a wild scheme to send seeds from a helicopter with instructions. Seeds from heaven.”

Last fall he traveled to Grand Boulage, Haiti, for the dedication of a new school he  and a North  Jersey man funded in a newly created village.

“They moved 15,000 people out of tents and started from scratch,” Pestritto said of the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated much of the island nation, including the capital of Port-au-Prince.

More than 540 students now get the best possible education there, said a Food for the Poor Executive Director Angel Aloma.

 “To me education helps people out of poverty and ignorance,” said Pestritto, who credits his Catholic school education in Camden more than 70 years ago with giving him the desire to help others now.

 His first wife, Rose, died in 1998, and the next year Pestritto funded a kitchen to make lunches for factory workers in Haiti, called Rosie’s Kitchen. But after the earthquake and other disruptions, many factories left he said. Now the kitchen is used to provide food for the anyone who needs it.

“They cook 35, 110-pound bags of rice there a day,” he said. “People line up to eat. For some it’s the only food they get.”

His second wife, Agnes, died recently. She was his partner in the beekeeping project, which is called the Tony and Agnes Bee Farming Project of Haiti, Pestritto said. It has trained 135 farmers to enter the beekeeping and honeymaking trade.

He plans to keep funding projects that help people make a living off the land, he said.

Key Club leader

Millville Senior High School junior Ariyanna Santiago, 17, of Millville, was elected Division 3 Lieutenant Governor for the New Jersey District of Key Club. She will begin her new position on March 29, 2015 at the conclusion of the District Convention, according to Principal Kathleen Procopio. Millville High School Key Club Advisor is Kimberly Meyrick.

Scholar athlete

Atlantic Cape Community College softball player Chelsy Seelman, a Milmay native and graduate of Buena Regional High School, was named a Woman of the Year by the New Jersey Association for Girls and Women in Sports.

Women of the Year recipients were honored at the annual New Jersey National Girls and Women in Sports Day luncheon at Seton Hall University Feb. 1.

Seelman, 19, intends to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology upon graduation from Atlantic Cape.

The sophomore is first baseman and captain of the softball team, with a batting average of .267 last season. She was nominated by her softball coach, Sean Thomas, who praised her leadership and positive attitude.

Each year, the NAGWS presents the Woman of the Year award to one exceptional athlete from each college and university in the state for their achievements in athletics, academics and community service.

Professors on gaming

Richard Stockton College’s Ellen Mutari, professor of Economics, and Deborah M. Figart, professor of Education and Economics, have written a book on life stories of Atlantic City casino workers called, “Just One More Hand - Life in the Casino Economy.” 

It is being published by Rowman & Littlefield this month, and the authors will sign books at Stockton 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Campus bookstore on the main Galloway campus.

Both Mutari and Figart have published many books are articles. For more information visit www.rowman.com .

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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