Ocean County College Receives Funding to Support Program Detailing Veterans’ Stories of Sacrifice

Jun 14, 2017

Ocean County College has received a number of grants and donations to support an upcoming installment of the series “Beyond the Classroom,” designed to bring OCC students and members of the community together to engage with topics that explore the human spirit. With the recent funding, the college’s Repertory Theatre and the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts will produce a program titled “Stories of Service,” to give voice to Ocean County’s active military and veterans, and detail the sacrifice military personnel and their families make for the country.

The grants and donations include a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts – Arts Engagement in American Communities, a $10,000 donation from the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, a $2,000 donation from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a $1,250 grant from the Ocean County Tourism Advisory Council and a $1,000 grant from the Ocean County Cultural & Heritage Commission.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support the excellence and diversity of arts programs across the country, including organizations like Ocean County College that make the arts accessible to people in Ocean County and further enhances the vitality of their community,” said NEA Chairwoman Jane Chu.

According to OCC, “The main program begins with the cooperation of StoryCorps and The Telling Project. This group will curate stories of Ocean County veterans and create a play to give the community a new perspective of the lives of veterans.”

Since its start in 2003, StoryCorps – America’s oral history project – has collected more than 60,000 interviews with approximately 100,000 participants. The recordings are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

In July, StoryCorps will visit the OCC campus to record interviews, the college explained. “With the help of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst personnel, local VFW groups, the American Legion, local senior communities, OCC’s Oral History Project and advertising, a large number of veterans will be reached.”

The Telling Project will then create a play conveying the story of veterans from the Jersey Shore, and the OCC Repertory Theatre Company will perform the play in November, to coincide with Veterans Day.”

According to NJ Advance Media, Toms River has the largest veteran population in the state.

“It is important that our veterans’ stories be heard, archived and told for future generations,” said Mark Wilson, OCC director of cultural affairs. “By combining an oral history of StoryCorps with the playwriting of The Telling Project, we will be able to accomplish our goal of letting members of the community understand the history of our veterans. The oral histories and play will be an additional resource for teachers to share with their students and a resource for communities across New Jersey.”  —J.K.-H.

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