By Maddy Vitale
Janice Johnston knows her group is unique. The president of Lawson’s Pride of Somers Point, a non-profit created to help raise monies for the crew and their families of a Coast Guard vessel docked in Cape May Harbor, was thrilled that the Somers Point City Council presented a resolution Thursday night, showing support for the organization.
“We are the first community in the United States to adopt a ship,” Johnston remarked outside council chambers. “It is great that we have the town’s support. We are hoping that it helps us get the word out and really start raising more funds.”
The 154-foot-long Cutter Lawrence Lawson ship was commissioned on March 18, 2017. The vessel provides aid to search and rescue missions. There are two officers and 20 crew members.
Johnston, along with the help of Councilman James Toto, who served as a United States Federal Air Marshal, helped start Lawson’s Pride with a handful of other residents. Some of the other members include Vice President Greg Sykora, Treasurer Anne Marie Lucchesi, Secretary Maureen Helbig, John Turner and Mike Owen. Toto is the First Committee Ship’s Liaison.
The organization’s mission is to help the crew and families of the ship by providing funds for Family Readiness programs, a key component of family morale, with particular attention to health and welfare during emergency situations and tragedies.
So far, they have held fundraisers and raised some funds, but Johnston said their goal is to raise a lot more to ensure that they can help the crew and their families in times of need.
“Lawson’s Pride is a great support group. It is important to support the military,” Mayor Jack Glasser said prior to the meeting. “These folks are supporting the ship and the crew. I am very supportive of them – this is great thing.”
Johnston said the person responsible for creating the organization was Turner, a retired colonel.
“We started talking about it and we spoke to the Commander Joe Rizzo. We toured the ship in May,” Johnston said. “It was great meeting all of the crew members. It was really a great day and after meeting them we just realized what they were standing for.”
Toto presented Johnston with the council’s resolution supporting the cause.
“I want to thank the members of Lawson’s Pride of Somers Point,” Toto said. “It is a great group raising money for a great cause helping military families in times of need.”
In other matters, Police Chief Michael Boyd gave a presentation thanking AMVETS Post 911 for donating two K-9 trauma kits, one for K-9 Doc and the other for K-9 Erco. With the limited hours now at Red Bank Animal Hospital in Linwood, precious moments could be lost traveling to get proper veterinarian care for the dogs. The kits will aid in lifesaving efforts and comes complete with two oxygen masks.
Council President Sean McGuigan addressed the AMVETS, “With cuts to the hours at the local animal hospital, these kits will help bridge that gap. We really appreciate your help.”
The AMVETS bought Somers Point its first K-9 many years ago, the mayor said. “I am proud to be a part of this organization.”
The Atlantic County Junior Football League Junior Varsity Champions of 2017, the Somers Point Sharks, filled council chambers and patiently awaited their turns to get up, pose for pictures and be honored for their achievement in a victory over Atlantic City Nov. 18. Atlantic County Freeholder Maureen Kern read the resolution.
Councilman Dennis Tapp told the players, “You guys make us proud. You made the city proud through hard work and dedication.”