Dodgeball Raises Money for Students in Need

“What’s better than Dodgeball? It’s the All-Star Sport of Gym Class!” Ben Eshelman laughs happily as he describes the go-to rainy-day sport of Phys-Ed teachers everywhere. For those that know Ben, a Personal Trainer at Bloom Health & Fitness on Old Berwick Road, his excitement is infectious but unsurprising.

“It’s something that’s fun, gets kids and families involved!” You can’t help but notice the energy. Ben’s words bounce, impossible to avoid. “It’s a ball. You dodge it.” He smiles at you as he lets his Zen-like oversimplification of a simple game sink in.

“Yes,” you think. “I get it. I was so wrong before. I dodge the ball. And I have fun.”

Then you remember why you’re here in the first place, this high school gym on a Saturday, and that too is Ben. He took the tragedy of a child and created an annual charity event for the benefit of students in need at Central Columbia.

Two years ago, after horrid bullying left a student severely injured at Central, Ben, who also volunteers as a coach in the Central Columbia School District, approached High School Principal Jeff Groshek about the possibility of a charity dodgeball tournament. The tournament of that first year was “more successful than we could ever have imagined,” said Mr. Groshek.

Last year, again wanting to raise money for students in need, Ben organized a second annual dodgeball tournament. With “no specific student in need,” said Mr. Groshek, there was a question of what to do with the money. Central’s solution was to use their Student Assistance Program (SAP), an eight-member group consisting of Mr. Groshek, guidance staff, and faculty at Central that meets twice a week to identify students with possible needs and lend assistance when possible. With the money raised from these annual tournaments the SAP has greater means to assist students than previously.

Money from the fund is not distributed directly. Rather the SAP members make purchases for the students to ensure that the money is used as intended. “This year we know of and targeted four students,” Mr. Groshek explained. “One is unable to purchase lunch and we help him to buy a healthy lunch. There are some who are less fortunate and now they are benefitting directly.”

Because of the dodgeball tournament, the publicity it provides, and the funds provided to Central’s SAP, the program has this year received an outside, unsolicited donation of $800. With that money and the expected revenue from this year’s tournament, plans are being made to continue the financial assistance aspect of the Student Assistance Program well into next year.

“It’s a ball. You dodge it,” says Ben, exited and understated as always. What cannot be understated is the impact that Ben’s simple idea and energy is having on the lives of students at Central Columbia.

[box type=”shadow”]The Bloom Health & Fitness 3rd Annual Dodgeball Tournament will be held this Saturday, 25 February, with team registration beginning at 9:30 AM at the Central Columbia High School Gym. Team Registration is $60 if registered before 24 February.

Registration forms can be downloaded here or obtained at Bloom Health & Fitness and mailed to:

Dodgeball Information Flyer

Dodgeball Tournament Rules

Dodgeball Waiver

Ben Eshelman

C/O Bloom Health and Fitness

1150 Old Berwick Road

Bloomsburg, PA 17815

Phone: 570-412-6643

Fax: 570-784-3610


Geffken Seeks Democratic Nomination for PA House

James Geffken, Berwick Area School District’s Director of Buildings and Grounds, announced recently that he will seek the Democratic Party nomination for State Representative in the 109th District.

Mr. Geffken, 38, a Sugarloaf Township native, is a 1992 graduate of Benton Area School District and a former Peace Corps volunteer, spending two years in Niger. He attended Penn State University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Franklin Pierce University as well as a Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.

While this is Mr. Geffken’s first attempt at political office, he feels that his employment with the Berwick Area School District affords him the necessary experience to represent Columbia County in the Pennsylvania House.

“To be successful on behalf of a school district, you have to write,” Geffken said. “Whether it is a request for proposal, a bid specification or a grant, one has to take the time to address problems, define solutions and create projects on paper first. Only then can things be quoted, bid, awarded and accomplished.”

Mr. Geffken also takes issue with what he sees as inactivity with Columbia County’s current representation.

“Our current representative seems content to vote on other people’s issues. We need someone who is willing to put in the time to draft documents and legislation that put our issues out there. The people of our region deserve that, and that is what I will do.”

Specifically, Mr. Geffken is concerned with State-funded education and the financing and operation of the Pennsylvania Legislature. “The State University System needs to be fully funded at a level that makes higher education financially accessible to everyone,” said Mr. Geffken. “Money should be redistributed, with the current high allocations to Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln cut back and given equally to the less funded institutions including the 109th’s own Bloomsburg University.”

Regarding campaign finance, Mr. Geffken belives that no candidate for should spend more than half of what that position pays as annual salary. “Anyone doing this is taking too much lobbyist money or does not understand basic math and financial sense.” Additionally he thinks that increasing the size of House districts, thereby decreasing the number of representatives would result in an estimated $10,000,000 savings for Pennsylvania annually.

Mr. Geffken met his wife Abbey in 2003. They have two children Gabriel, age 6, and Avery, age 4.

Mr. Geffken’s campaign can be contacted via his website at or by visiting his Facebook page.

Opinion: Are the Budget Cuts Affecting You?

In the wake of this week’s budget proposal from Governor Corbett, where it was proposed that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) should take a 20% ($82.5 million) cut in funding; I found myself reading the Op/Ed entitled “Shuttle Bus Stressers: Long Lines Leave Students Stranded” in the Voice. Some of you may remember that last year Governor Corbett proposed a 54% cut to PASSHE and that several dedicated APSCUF faculty, including myself, were out on campus attempting to make students aware of the impact such a cut could have on their education. APSCUF asked students to write postcards to their PA representatives and senators to emphasize how a 54% cut would affect them. Over 1500 postcards were sent from Bloomsburg’s campus and over 11,000 from all the PASSHE Universities. The final budget saw PASSHE absorb an 18% (~92.5 million) cut which resulted directly in a 7.5% increase in tuition across the system.

In my opinion, the above mentioned article addresses another direct result of the 18% cut in PASSHE’s budget. The author, Joe Fisher states that “… more buses need to be added to routes that have shown to be extremely busy.” He also states that “Every Bloomsburg University student pays $35 for a Transportation Fee.” Let’s think about the issue for a moment. More buses ($$) means more drivers ($$) and more fuel ($$). If we have already lost nearly $92.5 million and we are positioned to lose another $82.5 million where will the money for more buses come from? That’s right, from the students.

As I’ve stood at table after table trying to encourage students to write a postcard to their PA representatives, senators, and governor, as recent as last week, many students walk by stating “it doesn’t affect me.” If you are student here at Bloomsburg it does affect you. Maybe you have to stand in a long line in the hopes of getting on a bus. Maybe you have to hope that you can get into a class that you need. Maybe, you hope to get a physical seat in a class you are enrolled in as one of my students said to me. “I need to leave lab as early as possible so that I can get to my (_____) class to get a seat. There are more students than seats, but it is assumed that not everyone will show up to every class so there should be enough seats for those that do show up.” I’m sure there are many other stories being told by students that can be directly related to the lack of funding for the PASSHE system. Come out over the next few weeks and help APSCUF tell Governor Corbett and the PA legislature that education is important and it should be funded.

If you are an employee at Bloomsburg University from President Soltz on down I’m sure you have felt the effects of the budget cuts. Maybe you had to wait several weeks to have your office painted, to have a simple electrical or carpentry repair completed; or you’re a staff member looking at a “to do” list that is becoming unmanageable. Maybe you’ve seen your classes get larger or your advisee list grow faster than your salary. Again, I’m sure there are many other stories being told by employees that can be directly related to the lack of funding for the PASSHE System. Come out over the next few weeks and help APSCUF tell Governor Corbett and the PA legislature that education is important and it should be funded.

While we appreciate that our local representative David Millard and Senator John Gordner supported Bloomsburg University in making sure the 54% proposed cut was reduced to 18%; we request all readers to encourage them to not sign another budget that cuts the Bloomsburg University budget.

[box type=”shadow”]Eric Hawrelak is an Associate Professor, Inorganic/Organometallic Chemistry at Bloomsburg University.[/box]

The View from Here: Snowy Day

While many have enjoyed a more mild winter than we have been accustomed to in years past, it is hard to complain about the beauty it imparts when it does arrive. The Bloomsburg Daily’s own, Bob Rush, set out to capture a few glimpses of what winter is supposed to look like at this time of the year. We hope you enjoy the view as much as we do!

Penn State Well-Represented in Super Bowl XLVI

Penn State again will be well-represented on the field and the sidelines at the Super Bowl.

When the New England Patriots and New York Giants clash in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday (Feb. 5) in Indianapolis, Penn State again will be well-represented on the field and the sidelines.

Several former Penn State players and staff with ties to the Nittany Lion football program will be involved in the National Football League’s Championship game, headed by new head coach Bill O’Brien and three former standout student-athletes, Kareem McKenzie, Jimmy Kennedy, and Rich Ohrnberger. O’Brien, who was introduced as Penn State’s 15th head coach on Jan. 6, is the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the AFC Champion Patriots. McKenzie, a tackle, and Kennedy, a defensive tackle, are members of the Giants, while Ohrnberger, a guard, is with New England.

For the 41st time in the Super Bowl’s 46-game history, at least one Penn State alumnus will be a member of one of the teams, with at least one former Nittany Lion guaranteed of being on this year’s title team. Thirty-three former Nittany Lions have earned a total of 49 Super Bowl rings, most recently tight end Andrew Quarless with the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers.

In addition to the three former players, two members of the Giants’ coaching staff – Pat Flaherty and Peter Giunta – are former Penn State assistant coaches and are coaching in their second Super Bowl with the Giants.

A member of the Patriots’ coaching staff since 2007, including the last three mentoring the quarterbacks, O’Brien has been instrumental this season in helping New England advance to its second Super Bowl during his tenure. The Patriots scored 513 points (32.1 avg.) during the regular season, the AFC’s highest mark and No. 3 in the NFL. New England also ranked second in the NFL in total offense (428.0 ypg) and passing (317.8 ypg).

Under O’Brien’s tutelage, quarterback Tom Brady threw for 5,235 yards (No. 2 in NFL) and 39 touchdowns this season, as the Patriots won their final eight regular season games. Wide receiver Wes Welker led the NFL with 122 receptions and his 1,569 receiving yards to rank second in the NFL. Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski (90-1,327) ranked No. 1-2 in the AFC in receiving yardage. Gronkowski led the NFL with 17 touchdown receptions during the regular season.

Ohrnberger missed the entire 2011 season after being placed on injured reserve on September 3. A fourth round choice of the Patriots in the 2009 NFL Draft, Ohrnberger started 35 games at Penn State, earning third team AP All-American and first team All-Big Ten honors in his senior season.

In his 11th season in the NFL and seventh with the Giants, McKenzie anchors New York’s offensive line from his right tackle spot. He has played in 161 career regular season games and has made a remarkable 153 consecutive starts since 2002, in addition to the 14 postseason games in which he has played. The Giants have featured one the NFL’s top passing attacks this season, led by quarterback Eli Manning and 1,000-yard receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Originally selected by the New York Jets in the third round of the 2001 NFL Draft, McKenzie won a Super Bowl ring with the Giants during the 2007 season. A product of Willingboro, N.J., McKenzie earned All-Big Ten honors in 2000.

In his first season with the Giants and 10th overall in the NFL, Kennedy has played in six games this season, making four tackles. Drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Rams in 2003, Kennedy has 129 tackles and eight sacks in his career. A four-year starter at Penn State, Kennedy was named the 2002 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and was a two-time first team All-Big Ten selection. A semi-finalist for the 2002 Lombardi Award, he was selected first team All-America by The Sporting News as a senior.

Flaherty joined the Giants in 2004 and serves as the offensive line coach. A native of McSherrystown, Pa., Flaherty was a member of the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff in 1982 and ’83, serving as a part-time assistant coaching the offensive line under Dick Anderson. He helped Penn State win the 1982 National Championship with a Sugar Bowl victory over No. 1 Georgia. When Anderson was named head coach at Rutgers for the 1984 season, Flaherty joined the Scarlet Knights’ staff. He was at Rutgers through the 1991 season and coached in the college ranks until joining the Washington Redskins’ staff in 2000.

Giunta joined the Giants staff in 2006 and is the secondary/cornerbacks coach. From Salem, Mass., he was a part-time assistant at Penn State in 1982 and ’83, working with the tight ends. In 1981, Giunta served an internship with the Nittany Lions. He also helped Penn State win the 1982 National Championship with an 11-1 record. Giunta coached at Brown and Lehigh through 1990, joining the Philadelphia Eagles’ coaching staff in 1991. He was the defensive coordinator in 1999 when the St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV.

Both Flaherty and Giunta were on New York’s coaching staff in 2007 when the Giants defeated the Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII.
Seven former Nittany Lions playing in the National Football League were on 2011 playoff teams, with at least one Penn Stater on six of the squads vying for the Super Bowl XLVI title. There are 34 former Nittany Lions on NFL rosters, placing Penn State in the Top 15 nationally among schools in producing current NFL players.

A total of 325 Penn State football student-athletes have been drafted by NFL teams, including 10 first round draft choices in the past 11 years. A total of 26 Nittany Lions have been drafted since 2006, including 13 in the first three rounds.

[box type=”shadow”]This article originally appeared at Penn State Live. Photo via Flickr.[/box]

Grandson of Mohandas Gandhi to Speak at BU

Activist, diversity speaker and spiritual leader Arun Gandhi will speak in Carver Hall of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. Grandson of the legendary peace fighter and spiritual leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Arun Gandhi will discuss his grandfather’s legacy and their kinship.

Born in 1869, Mohandas K. Gandhi was considered the father of his country, India. As the leader of the Indian nationalist movement against British rule, Mohandas Gandhi protested against violence in hopes of achieving a political and social balance. His assassination in 1948 led to the country’s mourning.

Arun Gandhi, founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, renders a message of integrity, social harmony and peace. He follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, sharing these lessons around the world. His first book, “A Patch of White,” published in 1949, explains the prejudice filling South Africa. He wrote two more books on poverty and politics in India.

Arun Gandhi is inspired by his grandfather’s words, “If we know how much passive violence we perpetrate against one another we will understand why there is so much physical violence plaguing societies and the world.” At BU, he will speak on “Lessons Learned from my Grandfather: Non-Violence in a Violent World.”

For more information on this event, which is open to the public free of charge, contact Madelyn Rodriguez, director of Multicultural Center, at

Bloom Psychological Center Helping Those Affected by Flood

We recently had a chance to talk with Sue Ei, who is a psychologist with the Bloomsburg Psychological Center (BPC).  We talked about their Flood Support Group and how she feels the community is doing after the Flood of 2011.

1. Tell us a little bit about the Flood Support Group.  Obviously the devastation was tremendous with a multitude of people affected, but were there other factors that made your group decide to start it? 

Well, I’ll start by giving credit to CMSU (Columbia, Montour, Snyder and Union Counties of Central Pennsylvania, which is a cooperative arrangement between the four counties to provide mental health, mental retardation and drug & alcohol services).  They came up with the idea and asked for help. Dorothy Ashman asked the staff at Bloomsburg Psychological Center (BPC) for volunteers and agreed to donate a space at the BPC Annex office where people could gather. Several of us at BPC were immediately interested in volunteering to facilitate the group, some because of our own involvement with the flood, and others out of concern for our community. Many of our clients have been directly impacted by the flood, so the need was clear.

2. What are the details? When and where does it occur? And for whom? Eligibility requirements?

The Flood Support Group meets at 7pm on Wednesdays (weather permitting) at the BPC Annex office, 16 Sherwood Drive (in Sherwood Village, behind Campus Clipper). There really are no eligibility requirements; anyone who has been impacted by the flood, or cares about someone who has been impacted, is welcomed. The first Wednesday of the month is open to children, families and adolescents under age 16. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Wednesdays are for adults and older adolescents (age 16 and older). People can call 570-387-1832 for details, including directions or cancellations due to weather.

3. While respecting the privacy we know you must keep, can you give us a general sense of how people are coping? How are the children doing?

I’m forever impressed and encouraged by the resilience of individuals and communities, and the response to the recent flooding was a good example. The community and those affected by the flood really rose up to help and support each other. That said, when such tragedy strikes, it’s pretty difficult to bounce back functionally, financially and emotionally. Many people are not yet back in their homes, some never will be. Some people are living in just a few rooms of the house amid an ongoing chaos of construction, contractors & utility companies, insurance companies, etc. It takes a toll emotionally when a person’s home is not yet restored to a haven of safety and comfort. Coping with such a loss is a challenge that no one should face alone.

A number of factors can impact a person’s ability to cope with devastation. The extent of the damage, financial resources, and ability to make repairs (e.g. availability of contractors, equipment, supplies, etc.) are some of the more obvious issues. As anyone can imagine, it can be really frightening to have a property that wasn’t insured against flood damage, and state and federal funding only stretches so far. Plus, several people in the support group have told stories of insurance companies not making good on their promises. That’s just adding insult to injury.

On top of the more practical issues, people are dealing with emotional reactions, including anger, frustration, anxiety, a deep sense of loss, and the challenges of being displaced. Privacy has become a thing of the past for many of those affected. People are struggling with just wanting to feel normal again.

People who’ve experienced tragedy may notice signs of depression – changes in sleep, loss of pleasure, feelings of isolation, hopelessness or guilt, tearfulness, difficulty concentrating, appetite or weight changes, even suicidal thoughts. Anxiety symptoms are also common and might include racing thoughts, inability to focus or concentrate, feeling “on edge” all the time, excessive worrying, loss of sleep, etc. For some, the flood had a traumatizing effect, leaving the person feeling unsafe even in secure settings.

Kids who are struggling might show behaviors that are not “normal” for that child. For example, a normally independent kid might suddenly be afraid to let parents out of her sight; a social kid might start spending most of his time alone; a diligent student might stop doing homework or stop studying for tests. Shifts in behavior following a tragedy like the flood might mean that a child is struggling to cope.

My colleagues who work directly with children talk about the losses kids have faced. Families talk about confused routines and the challenges of being displaced from the home, neighborhood, and familiar surroundings. Many kids lost favorite books or toys, or had to throw away cherished items that were contaminated by flood waters. Some families are living away from their pets while displaced from the homes.

4. If people know or love someone affected by the flood, what can they do to help?

Some people have gotten fairly good at asking for help; others are more reluctant. If you see a need, consider filling it without being asked, because the chances are good that the person will not ask. Even the smallest gestures can mean the world. A card or a note saying “I’m thinking about you” lets those you care about know that they are on your mind. Small comforts –packets of hot chocolate or a favorite beverage, a toy for the person’s pet, a distraction that you know the person enjoys (puzzle book, hobby supplies) can be an inexpensive way to say “I’m thinking about you.” If you see them out somewhere, a touch on the shoulder and a kind message, such as “I’ve been thinking about you” is often comforting. In our society, we don’t want to intrude, and it’s hard to know what to do or say, but if someone has been on your mind, let them know. It will mean a lot to them.

Also, you might give someone a break from the post-flood chaos. Invite them to dinner, or out to coffee, or to do an activity. Unless they bring it up, don’t discuss the flood. If they want to talk about it, they will. Remember, for many of these folks, flood-related issues take up most of their time and energy. A nice distraction can be wonderful and healing. Allow the person to choose the direction of the conversation, or ask specific questions that focus on other areas of the person’s life (family, work, hobbies, church, etc.).

Finally, if you run into someone who’s been affected, ask yourself this question before you speak to them, “Do I really care about this person, or am I just curious?” If you really care, then a kind word or gesture will be appreciated (e.g. a pat on the shoulder and a short statement, “It’s good to see you; I hope you are well.”). If you are just curious, consider respecting the person’s privacy and just walking by, or saying a quick “hello.”

5. After a trauma like this, what can victims expect? Everyone deals differently, but how long can symptoms last? Aside from talking in support groups like this, is there anything else victims can do to heal?

Everyone heals in his or her own way. Some people find solace in support groups, spiritual pursuits, projects, hobbies, fitness, therapy, or commiserating with friends and neighbors. Others draw into their families, and some people refocus their efforts toward work, clean-up, or helping others. Coping in these ways is healthy and generally moves people toward restoring their lives to normal.

People also sometimes cope in ways that can cause more problems, even if it feels like a good escape at the moment. If you notice that your alcohol use, smoking or recreational drug use has increased, or you are living on junk food, isolating, watching a lot more TV than usual, etc., then you might be struggling to cope. Also, if you find yourself withdrawing from normal activities, sleeping a lot, isolating, or struggling with other symptoms of depression or anxiety (see above), it might be time to reach out for help. Some behaviors can feel like an escape, but if you’re coping in a way that keeps you from moving forward, it might be time to talk to someone. The support group is a good place to start, or with a friend, family member, trusted co-worker or clergy person, counselor, etc. This experience was devastating for individuals and communities; no one should have to go through the recovery process alone.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

We all need a little extra support sometimes. Through the support group, we’re offering an informal atmosphere where people can come together, share common experiences, take comfort, and exchange information. Those in attendance usually choose the topic(s) and the direction of the conversation. Remember, a support group is about getting support, but it’s also about giving support. Your experiences might be just what someone else needs to hear about: to help them feel less alone, learn about a program they need, consider a new way to cope, etc.

We are centered in Bloomsburg, but want to be sure that people outside of the local community know they are absolutely welcomed to attend. We try to make sure that the word gets out, with flyers, postings in the local paper and on Facebook, and by word-of-mouth. Still, we’re concerned that people who could benefit aren’t aware of the group. If you’re reading this, please spread the word.