2019 Classroom Grants: Call for Entries!

Calling all teachers! Does your classroom need a little help for the 2019-2020 school year? Tell us what your classroom needs are!

The First Financial Foundation will be awarding classroom grants up to $500 each this coming Fall. Grants will be awarded to Monmouth and Ocean County schools.

Grant applications will be accepted between August 1 and September 30, 2019.

To submit an entry, please email foundation@firstffcu.com no later than 11:59pm on September 30th. Your email should tell us in 500 words or less, or you can submit a Youtube video no longer than 3 minutes – letting us know how much you are requesting up to $500, and what you would use the grant for. Please be sure to include your full name, position, school name, address, a contact phone number and email. Educators may also be nominated by an administrator.

All grant recipients will be notified by the First Financial Foundation on or about October 15, 2019.

Good luck!

*To apply, email foundation@firstffcu.com and tell us in 500 words or less or submit a video no longer than 3 minutes, letting us know how much you are requesting and what you would use the grant for. Grant applicants must also submit their name, position, school name, school address, and a contact phone number and email. All applications must be received by 11:59pm on 9/30/19. The Foundation will notify grant recipients on or about 10/15/19. Educators may also be nominated by an administrator. Total funds available for 2019 classroom grants is $2,000.  Applying does not guarantee receiving a grant. Not all applicants will receive grant money. Before applying, be sure to check with your school district to see if there are any rules or requirements for applying or accepting grant money. Federally insured by NCUA.

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this August 2019

With the summer days breezing by, make use of the sunny weather as long as you can. This is the time to make plans with family and friends, explore the activities waiting for you just outside your door, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t hang your head that summer is coming to a close, make the most of the time and make it your family’s best month yet!

August 1-4: Annual Clamfest (Highlands) from 6pm-10pm at Huddy Park. Love seafood? The Clam Festival features a 120 foot seafood court serving the freshest foods from many famous restaurants that the Highlands has to offer. Admission and parking is free and the event will be held rain or shine. There will be a beer and wine garden, live entertainment, vendors, and fireworks on August 2nd. For more information, click here.

August 3:

Lake Yoga at Lake Lefferts in Matawan from 9-10am. Participate in yoga on the lake every summer Saturday! Bulk class discount is available. For more information or to register call 732-566-3898 ext.130 or click here.

Italian Fest at Monmouth Park Racetrack (Oceanport) from 11am-5:30pm. Pizza, pasta and wine – it’s the most delicious time of year at the Italian Festival! Bring your family and friends to enjoy amazing Italian food, listen to live music, see and shop from Italian crafters, play a game of bocce, and experience a fun day of racing too. For $10, adults 21+ can enjoy 5 two ounce Italian wine samples. Parking is $5, admission is $5 and kids 12 and under are free. Learn more here.

August 3-4: Luau Foodtruck Festival at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Grab your Hawaiian shirt and enjoy some sangria, live bands, free vineyard wagon rides, 15 food trucks, and fireworks on Saturday night! Admission is $12 on Saturday and $10 on Sunday. Discount tickets are available online at www.lauritawinery.com or call 609-758-8000.

August 5-10: Keyport Fireman’s Fair at Fireman’s Park (West Front Street) from 7pm-11pm. The annual Keyport Fireman’s Fair is back yet again! Have fun at the boardwalk and carnival while enjoying warm weather, food, games, rides, and more. Fireworks will take place on August 10th. For more information visit this link.

August 7-11: Annual Township of Ocean Italian Festival at Joe Palaia Park from 5-11pm. Celebrate Italian heritage and culture! There will be rides, fireworks, games, raffles, food eating contests, an Italian street band, nightly entertainment and Italian delights. Free admission and fireworks on August 9th. Learn more here.

August 9 and 23: Movies in the Park (Howell) at dusk on the Howell Library Hill, 318 Old Tavern Road. August 9th will feature Mary Poppins Returns and August 23rd will feature Coco. Bring blankets or your favorite lawn chair. The event will feature a collection of non-perishable food items to go to the local food bank. Find out more here.

August 10: Mid-Summer Flea Market at Allaire Village (Wall) from 8am-3pm. Hunt for bargains among vintage treasure, books, artwork, handmade items, knick knacks and more! Cost of admission is $5 per car. The bakery will also be open to make purchases of delicious baked goods. Learn more and buy tickets in advance here.

August 12-13: Kite Festival at Jenkinson’s Beach (Pt. Pleasant) from 11am-4pm. There will be beautiful kites flying high up in the sky, as well as music, games, prizes and live radio broadcasts from several local area radio stations. Find out more by clicking here, or call 732-892-0600.

August 14 and 21: Family Movie Night at the Hall of Records in Freehold (East Main Street) at 8:30pm. Grab a lawn chair or a blanket, pick up a bite to eat downtown and watch a movie outside. August 14th will feature Grease and August 21st will feature The Goonies. Learn more here.

August 17: Bugs, Birds and Beyond at the Monmouth County Agricultural Building on Kozloski Road (Freehold) from 12-4pm. Join the Rutgers Master Gardeners at a free festival for children of all ages! There will also be nature inspired activities, crafts, and educational exhibits. See live – butterflies, ladybugs, rabbits, snakes, bees and more. There will also be Six Flags Adventure animal demonstrations. The event features food, ice cream, fresh produce and other vendors. Learn more here or call 732-303-7614.

August 17-18: Winestock Food Truck Festival at Laurita Winery (New Egypt). Dress like it’s 1969 (tie dye, headbands) at the re-creation of the first Woodstock Festival 50 years ago. There will be 3 live bands daily, 15 food trucks, free vineyard wagon rides, and fireworks on Saturday night. Admission is $12 on Saturday and $10 on Sunday. Discount tickets are available online at www.lauritawinery.com or call 609-758-8000.

August 18: Rolling Iron Antique Auto Show at Allaire Village (Wall) from 8am-3pm. Come out and see 200 antique cars including family cars, firetrucks, motorcycles, and more. To attend, admission is free and parking is $5. If you have a car to display, the pre-registration fee is $18 ($20 the day of) and the car must be older than 1992. Learn more about the event here.

August 22: Belmar Cruise Night (Belmar Plaza Parking Lot, between 8th and 10th Aves.) from 5:30-8:30pm. Free admission! Don’t miss a great night of fantastic cars, oldies music, shopping downtown, and great local dining options. Learn more by calling 732-894-9022 (if you’d like to register a car for the show), or click here.

August 23: Drive In Movie in Seaside Heights from 8:30-11pm. Come see Back to the Future on the bay! Drive into the Sumner Avenue lot right at the entrance of town. Free admission. Learn more by calling 732-830-3700 or visit www.exit82.com

August 26: Movies at Main Beach (Manasquan) at 8:15pm. Free to attend – bring a beach blanket or your favorite beach chair, and come out to see a showing of Jaws on the beach! Get more details here.

August 31: Bradley Beach Lobsterfest from 11am to 8pm on Ocean Avenue. This event features a DJ, 6 bands playing live music, over 180 craft vendors, 25 food vendors, and kids activities (water slide, rides, sand art, facepainting) with an oceanfront view! Find out more here.

We hope you enjoy the last month of summer!

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this June 2019

You can smell the freshness in the air, feel the warmth of the sun and the grass between your toes – it’s almost summer! This is best time of year to indulge in fun activities and take local day trips with family and friends. Check out these free or inexpensive activities and events below to start your next adventure. And, Father’s Day is Sunday, June 16th so don’t forget to appreciate Dad too!

June 1:

Giant Spring Flea Market in Ocean Grove from 9am-4pm. Free admission to the event, which includes over 300 vendors selling new, used, and antique items. The event will be held rain or shine. Learn more at http://www.oceangrovenj.com/ or call 732-774-1391.

Summerfest in Pt. Pleasant from 11am-7pm. The event will take place at Community Park, 2255 Bridge Avenue. There will be vendors, food, music, inflatables and more! Get additional details at https://www.facebook.com/Pointpleasantsummerfest/ or email info@pointpleasantchamber.com

June 1 & 2: Jersey Shore Wine Festival at First Energy Park (Lakewood). The event runs from 12-5pm each day and will be held rain or shine. Sample over 100 great NJ wines, plus eat delicious food, and there will be entertainment, crafters, and exhibitors. Tickets are $20 in advance or $30 at the door for ages 21+ and designated drivers and attendees age 15 and up are $5. Call 732-946-2711 or click here for more information.

June 2: Red Bank Farmers Market from 9am-2pm in the Galleria Parking Lot, 2 Bridge Avenue. You won’t want to miss locally grown produce from NJ’s best farmers, as well as unique vendors and crafts for sale. Learn more by calling 732-530-7300 or go to https://www.redbank.org/events/55/red-bank-farmers-market-2019/

June 5: Downtown Toms River Farmers Market from 11am-5pm at the Ocean County Parking Garage Lawn on Hadley Avenue. Free parking is available. You will also find NJ fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, olives, pickles, Italian specialties, spices, candy, nuts, coffee, homemade soap and more! Get more details by calling 732-341-8738 or visit www.downtowntomsriver.com

June 9: Irish Festival at Monmouth Park Racetrack (Oceanport) from 11am-6pm. Make it a lucky day and come celebrate your inner Irish at the 49th Annual Irish Festival. Start your day with a Roman Catholic Mass. Follow that with a fun-filled day of live thoroughbred racing, crafters, food, a pipe and drum competition, two human horse races and more! Authentic Irish music and step dancing will be performed throughout the day. Plus, enjoy Family Fun Day with face painting, pony rides, and a bounce house. Parking is $5 and admission for those over age 12 is $5. Learn more at http://www.njirishfestival.com/

June 15:

Eco Elephant Family Flea Market at Dorbrook Park (Colts Neck) from 9am-2pm. Browse and shop a number of vendors offering one-of-a-kind items and other wares. Admission and parking are free. Get more information at https://www.monmouthcountyparks.com/page.aspx?ID=4548

Spring Lake Irish Festival from 12-5pm in Downtown Spring Lake. Enjoy an afternoon of everything Irish! There will be music, dancing, food, shopping, kids activities and more. Fun for the entire family.  Learn more at http://www.springlake.org/irishfestival or call 732-449-0577.

June 16: Father’s Day at iPlay America (Freehold) from 11am-9pm. Dads eat and ride FREE on Father’s Day, plus they’ll get a free draft beer at the Game Time Bar & Grill. Find out more details at https://www.iplayamerica.com/event/fathers-day-2/ or call 732-577-8200.

June 22: Taste of Highlands from 12-5pm at Huddy Park. You won’t want to miss this spectacular event with five hours of scrumptious samplings and cocktails at over 20 restaurants and eateries. Nowhere else will you find such an eclectic selection of cuisine served in just a half square mile. Tickets are $45 and include a drawstring backpack with a map, plus free transportation and parking. Learn more here.

June 22 & 23:

Wine and Chocolate Festival at Monmouth Park Racetrack (Oceanport) from 8am-5pm. Unlimited wine and sweet dessert samples – what more do you need? So gather up your friends and family, sample from dozens of delicious New Jersey wines and finish it all off with the smooth taste of chocolate. Option 1: $10 Unlimited Wine Sampling & Commemorative Wine Glass, Option 2: $7 Chocolate Sampling Only, Option 3: $16 Wine and Chocolate Sampling Combo & Commemorative Wine Glass. Parking is $5. Learn more at http://www.monmouthpark.com/event/wine-chocolate-festival/2019-06-22/

Family Camp Out at Ocean County Park (Lakewood) begins at 6pm Saturday and ends at 9am on Sunday. Cost is $5 per person, ages 5 years to adult are welcome to attend. The camp out takes place at the Beach Complex and there will be a campfire at night and an evening nature walk. You will need to bring your own tent, sleeping bag, marshmallows for roasting and a no-cook breakfast for Sunday morning. Children must be accompanied by an adult for the entire camp out. Find out more details by calling 732-506-5122 or click here.

June 29 & 30: Wall Township Fair at 1870 Baileys Corner Road. The fair runs from 4-11pm on Saturday night and ends on Sunday at 9:30pm with fireworks. You won’t want to miss rides, games, music, and delicious treats. Learn more at http://wallfair.mmdacademy.com/

Small Business Spotlight: MOCEANS Center for Independent Living

I am pleased to present a monthly blog post which features one of our current businesses, how they got started, and how First Financial has helped them grow their business. If this inspires you to want to expand your business goals or see how First Financial can assist you further, feel free to reach out to me. Keep reading to learn more about our featured Business of the Month, MOCEANS Center for Independent Living in Long Branch and Toms River. — Matt Brazinski, Assistant Vice President of Business Development

Judyth Brown: Executive Director of MOCEANS Center for Independent Living

Tell us a bit about MOCEANS. We are the community hub for people who live with disability. We have a Monmouth County office in Long Branch, and an Ocean County office in Toms River. I used to say that we were like the guidance counselor for life after High School, but that metaphor only works if your guidance counselor is also a neighbor who has a disability. We’re the go-to place to find answers, solve problems, get access to support and services, peer support and advocacy. 50% of our staff are people who live with a disability, so we know about the obstacles and challenges that disability imposes on everyday living.

What are some of the keys to your success in growing the organization?
For me it’s really been about returning to our mission (providing information, instruction and support for people living with disability, their families, friends and allies in the community. Also promoting public awareness and barrier-free access in the community while supporting individual choice, advancing the independent living philosophy, promoting the civil rights and inclusion of all people living with disabilities). MOCEANS has been working for 30 years and the original need is just as pressing as it ever was. We’ve seen progress, sure, but we’ve also seen new challenges develop. So, we’ve turned back to our original mission to find ways to make our responses more relevant.

Tell me about your goals for MOCEANS, what does the future hold?
We’re dedicated to reaching people across the lifespan. We are primarily a resource for adults, but we want to be there at the times of life that make a difference. We’re looking to offer resources that make a lasting difference in people’s lives. So for the foreseeable future we’re looking to support young people in their transition to adult life, and we’re traveling to senior centers to support older caregivers too.

How can members of the local community help to support MOCEANS?
We have social and fundraising events, so we always need hands. We had our first annual Beach Bash this year, it was a fully accessible day at the beach in Long Branch. Volunteer help with events like that are priceless. Of course, we are a 501C3 and monetary donations keep us working in the community. But the most important support the community can render, is to be sure that anyone who needs assistance gets our number. Our services are free of charge and confidential.

What do you like most about First Financial FCU? I like the feel of a home town bank, First Financial is clearly invested in the welfare of the community. You support financial literacy with more than words, you go out to make sure that young and vulnerable people have the resources they need to manage their financial life, and that really speaks to me.

To learn more about MOCEANS and how you can help support the organization, visit their website at https://www.moceanscil.org/ 

Ready to grow your business? Call the Business Development Department at 732.312.1500, email business@firstffcu.com or stop by any branch location. Learn more about our Business Account products and services on our website.

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this January 2019

Happy 2019! We’re ready to kick off the new year with some wallet-friendly activities for your family and friends. So, break out that new calendar and pencil in these dates for some free or inexpensive events happening in a town near you this month.

January 4: Pizza and Penguins at Jenkinson’s Aquarium (Pt. Pleasant) from 6-7:30pm. Your favorite flightless bird will make a special dinnertime appearance while you and the kids enjoy pizza! Learn all about them, ask their keepers questions, and meet Perky the Penguin too. Pre-registration is required. Cost is $20 for adults and $15 for children. Call 914-334-2440 or email to reserve your spot is conservation@jenkinsons.com

January 5: Night Skies Hike & S’mores from 6-8pm (Lincroft). Take a hike around Thompson Park and learn what’s in the night sky before warming up by the firepit with s’mores, warm drinks, and music. Open to ages 7 and up, under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The event begins at the Thompson Park Ski Hut.  For more information, click here.

January 12: Christina Noel and Friends Hands On Cooking Class (Soule’ Culinary and Art Studio, 800 Ocean Road in Pt. Pleasant) from 5-8pm. Hands on cooking for the evening includes making wet mozzarella, stuffed baby bella mushrooms, roasted peppers, crostini, caprese, homemade ricotta for ravioli filling, maple sweet potato sauce, and soufflé for dessert. Purchase your tickets here.

January 13: Goldfish Swim School Free Family Swim (Manalapan) from 4:30-6:30pm. Goldfish Swim School is hosting an exclusive event for local families. The event includes FREE family swim, facility tours and lots of family fun! RSVP at 848-206-3584 or email swimmanalapan@goldfishss.com for more details, or click here.

January 24: New Year, New Flavor Tasting Event (Molly Pitcher Inn, Red Bank) from 6-9pm. Enjoy an evening of fantastic flavors from some of Red Bank’s finest restaurants, amazing dessert purveyors, and artisan breweries – all to benefit the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide and the Red Bank Business Alliance. The party will rock to the beat of the Sherri Pie Band while you feast on the best food and spirits Red Bank has to offer. There will be an auction of prizes donated by Red Bank and Monmouth County businesses that will add to the fun.  Get your tickets here.

January 26 & 27: Asbury Park Beer Fest at Convention Hall. The event takes place 12-4pm both days, and Saturday night has an additional session from 6-10pm. Advance tickets are available at ticketmaster.com or at the Stone Pony Box Office. Ages 21+ only. The event features craft beer, cider, retro beer, boardwalk food, and tasting classes. Learn more here.

January 27: Beef and Brew at Chubby Pickle in the Highlands from 3-7pm. Tickets are $30 and include a buffet dinner & brew. There will be a gift auction, pipe bands and Irish dancers to entertain. All proceeds will benefit the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Call 732-291-4713 or click here.

January 28: Taste of Long Branch Restaurant Tour at Rooney’s from 5:30-8:30pm. Join the Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce for their annual Long Branch Restaurant Tour. They will be showcasing the local restaurants and their talented chefs. Be prepared to taste delicious food from multiple restaurants and bakeries. Taste of Long Branch is a night to eat, drink, and be merry. Rooney’s cash bar will be open for the evening. Learn more here and purchase tickets in advance.

We hope you have a happy and healthy new year!

2018 Holiday Toy and Gift Drive in All First Financial Branches

Holiday Greetings to all of our First Scoop Readers!

As we continue into the 2018 holiday season, First Financial is partnering with local non-profit organizations to help families in need within Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

Each branch will be holding a holiday toy and gift drive through December 2018:

Please click on the links above for more details. These gifts will be picked up at all First Financial locations on the dates listed above – so please be sure to return your gifts to your nearest branch before this date.

We are also collecting non-perishable food items at each branch location until December 31st.

Help brighten someone’s holiday this season and thank you for your continued support!