Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Jersey Magazine with Jim Monaghan

Sound Start Foundation, that supports children born deaf or hard of hearing in New Jersey, is holding their annual fundraising gala on May 9th at the Mansion in Mountain Lakes. Keynote speaker will be celebrated racecar driver Kris Martin who was born deaf and how he dealt with bias from other children and the racing community when he started racing.

Also Dr. Jed Kwartler, a notable surgeon who did the first cochlear implant in a child in New Jersey will be honored. For more information visit

Our guest this morning here on Jersey Magazine is Bromme Cole, he’s the Chief Executive for Sound
Start Foundation.

About the Start Sound Foundation

BROMME COLE – Sound Start is a 30-year-old organization, a nonprofit organization, and we provide early intervention to kids who are born deaths.

JIM MONAGHAN – How did your journey take you there?

BC – Oh, Jim, that’s a long story.  It’s a 30-year-long story, as a matter of fact.

But I’ve always been involved in ventures that sort of offer the relief of suffering, care for the vulnerable.
I spent a long time involved with senior care, specifically dementia care.

I spent about 10 years in China doing that, sort of bringing a modern version of senior care to the Chinese.

And when COVID hit, I was on the last airplane out of Shanghai.

I came back here and I was still doing some work for the Asian Development Bank in places like Mongolia and Vietnam.

But being 8,000 miles away, it was kind of difficult to really sort of feel like I was changing things tangibly.

And a friend of mine came to me and they said, you know, there’s this organization called Sound Start and they really need some help.

They hadn’t had a captain in a while and they said, come on down and check it out and tell us if you like what we’re doing.

And I’ll be honest with you, I took a visit to the school and it really touched my heart.  And so I came on board and I’ve been working with them for the last year and a half.

JM – Every so often on social media, I will see a video that will pop up on my feed and it’s of a young child, usually a toddler who’s hearing his or her parents’ voices for the first time.

And the look on the eyes is just incredible.

BC – Yeah, it really, it almost brings tears to your eyes, tears of joy, you know, it’s just extraordinary to see that happening.

Even time, so after a child gets a cochlear implant, it usually takes a few weeks for the healing and then there is a point in time.  It may be a couple visits to really sort of fine tune that device.

Sometimes it happens very quickly; sometimes it takes a little bit of work by an audiologist to really sort of get it right.

JM – What makes Sound Start Foundation unique?

BC – Well, a number of things.

One, we have been around, we were the first early intervention, a nursery school in the
state of New Jersey.

And the fact that we’ve been around for 30 years is really a testament to the expertise that our teachers bring to the classroom.

We also have extreme longevity amongst our teachers.  Their tenure at the organization is really unmatched.

We’ve had teachers there for 20 years.  And so I think that that contributes a lot sort of that steady, embedded notion that what you’re doing is really making a change in students’ lives.

JM – I know you’re based in Mountain Lakes here in Northern New Jersey.  Where does the foundation work throughout the state?

BC – We have a footprint that really spans about 12 different counties.  Everything from the top New Jersey down to, I’d say, Ocean County right around there, east to west, but we also have a tele-intervention program too, which offers a way for our teachers to really sort of step inside the homes of these families.

And not just offer instruction to kids, but it offers a way to really teach parents the different types of technologies and stimulation techniques to begin to work with their kids as early as nine months old.

I can’t get to a kid early enough.

If I could get to them a few months after birth, then that would be ideal.

But as it is, when kids come to our school at about 18 months, I can guarantee you with about an 85 to a 90% certainty that I will graduate those kids into a general education scenario.

JM – How many do you have in the program currently?

BC – Just short of 90 this year.  And we have the ability to grow up to about 110 over this next year.  We have a number of different initiatives in our strategic plan to really grow beyond that.

Sound Start Foundation Fundraiser Gala May 9

JM – This Thursday night in Mountain Lakes, I know you have a Gala fundraiser that’s going on with a very unique guest speaker.  Tell our listeners about Kris Martin.

BC – Kris was born profoundly deaf, but he is a NASCAR superstar.

His life story about how he made such an incredible success of himself is truly inspiring.

He was denied the ability to race at NASCAR for, I think, two or three times until he showed them this FM technology, which would connect his implant to a receiver, and so he could communicate with his pit.

He’s really tremendous individual, and he’s coming in here on Sunday.  He’s going to spend the entire week here visiting our sponsors.  And then Thursday night, we’ve got a big bash.

JM – Bromme, for WDHA and WMTR listeners who want to learn more about Sound Start Foundation or about the event this Thursday, where do they go?

BC – They should come to our website, which is

  • How To Help NJ Veterans Transition Back To Civilian Life

    May is Military Appreciation Month and mentors are needed to help NJ veterans transition to civilian life both here in New Jersey and across the country.

    Nearly 200-thousand men and women leave the U.S. Military service each year. The transition out of uniformed service can be difficult.

    Onward Ops and the PenFed Foundation, both veteran nonprofit organizations, are teaming up to empower service members as they transition from military service to civilian life.

    Onward Ops pairs new veterans with mentors from their community, focusing on the 12 months before leaving the military and reintegrating into civilian life. The program helps service members begin new lives and stay ahead of serious issues like suicide, PTSD and homelessness.

    10-thousand service members were enrolled in the program last year.

    Brigadier General Mike Eastman and Andrea McCarren from the PenFed Foundation joined Jim Monaghan on Jersey Magazine to talk about this important endeavor.


    JIM MONAGHAN – General Eastman, you’ve had six combat deployments. What is it like transitioning back from that to here in the United States?

    GENERAL EASTMAN – It’s a challenge, right? But I don’t think that it’s a necessarily tied to combat experience or combat deployments.

    It’s really about leaving a very structured and regimented organization with sort of a common sense of bonding and mission and purpose. And then stepping into an environment as a veteran and as a civilian where you’re leaving that behind.

    I think that’s where most veterans struggle. I wouldn’t necessarily correlate it to the number of deployments.

    Although for many of our veterans that number is probably unacceptably high in terms of the number of tours they’ve done. It’s really more about a cultural change and a loss of identity that makes transition challenging for many.

    JM – How much of the multiple deployments is due to the fact that it’s a volunteer military as opposed to when the draft was in effect?

    GE – I’m not sure that I’m necessarily equipped to answer it. I would say that probably the volume of deployments that we see right now, part of that is because they are shorter.

    Once upon a time, as you know, you would deploy to the war, you would spend four years there, the war would be over and you would come back.

    But now because we’re trying to limit the time away that people spend, deployment cycles have much shorter, which causes repeated turns as the conflicts that we engage in, you know, still in many cases in recent history take a couple of decades.

    So you know, what maybe my grandfather or great grandfather would have said I had one tour.

    He would fail to mention that that was four-and-a-half, five years long.

    JM – Andrea, let me ask you about the PenFed Foundation. Why did you partner with Onward Ops?

    ANDREA McCARREN – The PenFed Foundation exists to empower veterans as they make that important transition from the military to becoming community assets in the civilian world.

    I’m also the proud daughter of a late Air Force general. So that’s kind of the world I know and I now have become a staunch advocate for veterans because they are resilient.

    They are natural born leaders. They have this extraordinary skill set.

    And I also believe in the inherent goodness of Americans. All we are looking for is volunteers willing to give a few hours a week to a veteran to ensure their success.

    Succeeding veterans is good for all of America.

    You come from a military family as well. So you understand some of the challenges.

    We truly believe that if we are proactive, if we set up transitioning veterans with one-on-one hometown mentors, they’ll have that support system that prevents some of the more challenging issues down the road.

    Homelessness, substance abuse, military suicide, if we can get to them before they separate from the military, give them more confidence and give them that structure in the civilian world, they will succeed.

    JM – How much did your dad talk about his military service, Andrea?

    AM – Such a great question; very, very little.

    JM – My dad too, my dad served at the end of World War II. And even though he saw no action whatsoever, he rarely spoke about it.

    He would tell me about the ships that he was on. Yeah, I’d hear stories about the aircraft carrier that he was on and what have you.

    And there’s a picture of him with a .45 strapped to his side. Never mentioned it, didn’t talk about it.

    My his dad, my grandfather was also in the Navy. Never once did he mention anything about World War I.

    My maternal grandfather passed away before I was born so I never got to know him. But I do know that he was wounded. It says on his military discharge papers, he was slightly wounded.

    If you consider being gassed and having shrapnel in your body from a grenade being slightly wounded, then he was slightly wounded.

    AM – I do think that’s a generational thing not to discuss it. And I think that’s where we really have evolved and advanced. It’s okay to talk about some of the challenges.

    I think that’s a real positive. And the PenFed Foundation-Onward Ops partnership really paves the way for that open dialogue. And we just are looking for mentors and we’re also trying to spread the word so transitioning service members know about the great innovative program that is Onward Ops.

    JM – General Eastman, let me ask you, I don’t know if you watched Masters of the Air or not that was on the nine-part series.

    (My family has) a personal connection to this. My dad’s first cousin was a bombardier on a B-17 he was shot down shortly after D-Day in 1944.

    He spent the last 11 months in a prisoner of war camp. That camp was in the series.

    I had a chance to read his diaries and a lot of what was in his diaries managed to be included. He’s not mentioned at all in the in the film series whatsoever. But a lot of what he experienced was in there.

    And all I could think about because the final episode is everybody coming home, because I know some of the story of his transition when he came back to the United States.

    I’m watching all of these men who have flown in World War II, 8th Air Force, what have you all of these missions and you know what they’ve gone through. And they’re coming home and all I could think about was that transition.

    Like all of a sudden here I am, I’m home. Now what?

    GE – I think there is a commonality there. Certainly the way we’ve received our veterans back after the various conflicts has changed over time. I think we’re doing a much better job now.

    I would say that you know it just on the one hand every service members transition into veteran status is unique.

    Some saw some saw combat some did not some have medical challenges some do not.

    But what do they share in common? They all really want to come back and be contributing. They want to leverage the skills and experiences that they’ve gained. And they can if we set them up for success.

    So I think that is that commonality that we want to focus on.

    I think about my dad coming back from Vietnam and transitioning. And then I try and juxtapose that with my own return from Iraq or Afghanistan.

    What’s the first thing you realize?

    It’s not natural to stay up 22 hours a day.

    First thing, and second thing is you don’t really have to like organize every single thing you do over those 22 hours, right? Which is the first thing that my family snaps me back into very quickly.

    So yeah, I get it, right?

    Everyone’s journey is different, but there is one thing we know and that’s with a little bit of help. They’re going to have a better outcome than if they’re left to navigate it on their own.

    JM – Why do you think Vietnam veterans had so much difficulty? Maybe it’s because we’re learning about it more. But why did it seem that they had more difficulty transitioning back?

    GE – I think that were better or for worse, public views on the war itself colored the way we treated the people that fought in that war.

    Unfairly probably to them.

    You know, as you know, there was the draft. These folks were not asking necessarily to participate.
    But they went, they did their job to the best of their ability and they came home.

    And because the public perception of the righteousness, the morality of that war wasn’t necessarily
    where we would want it to be or it wasn’t very positive, it transferred over into the service members themselves.

    As I told the soldiers and sailors and airmen that I led, you know, really all you can do is your mission to the best of your ability. And when you’re in that environment, I don’t care about the political environment around me.

    I care about the lives and the livelihood of the service member to my left and to my right. And as long as you’re doing that, you should be justifiably proud in your service.

    JM – My son has a very good friend who’s been deployed a couple of times and in fact, he’s overseas right now. And he said almost that very same thing.

    It’s not what I believe in as much as I’m serving my country. And it’s very profound to hear that come from a young guy who’s in his, I think he’s in his late twenties right now.

    Andrea, you mentioned the need for mentors. If WDHA and WMTR listeners are involved or interested in becoming mentors, how do they do that?

    AM – We would love to have your listeners go to our website, Whether they want to become a mentor or explore that possibility or whether they are a transitioning service member or have a loved one.

    That is who would like to sign up free of charge to onward ops and become part of this innovative groundbreaking program.


    New Jersey Assemblyman Brian Bergen was a guest on the WDHA Morning Jolt speaking on assisting NJ veterans.

  • Rock N Ruff

    WDHA’s Rock N’ Ruff is back this week with a great pup! Sweet Kona- A 2-3 year-old female pup that is a long-term resident of The Randolph Regional Animal Shelter – Randolph Regional Animal Shelter Website


    Kona is a 2-3 year old female terrier mix, who is the life of the party! The Randolph Regional Animal Shelter took in Kona after being found as a stray and ending up in another shelter and is a fun, energetic girl. In fact, Kona has been overlooked at the shelter because she is so happy and exuberant, her energy may scare some people off- why? It shouldn’t! Kona is happy, friendly, loves riding in the car, playing with her ball and toys, swimming, and running, basically Kona likes doing everything!  She would really like to do everything in her forever home, with her very own family.

     Rock N' Ruff with Kona

    Kona Loves Her Ball

    Kona also enjoys the company of other dogs and the shelter feels she would be fine with Cats. Poor Kona, is coming up on being in the shelter for a year. Making her a long-term shelter resident, so we are hoping her Rock N’ Ruff exposure will get her noticed and she will have some visitors! The Randolph Regional Animal Shelter also has a fantastic “Foster To Adopt” program, which helps dogs and humans find their perfect match. I actually feature them in my- ‘5 Important Tips When Adopting A New Pet” story- 5 Important Tips Before Adopting A New Pet.



    Kona is super active!



    Kona is such a pretty pup too

    More Rock N’ Ruff

    Check out the WDHA Rock N’ Ruff Page for all of our adoptable- WDHA’s Rock N’ Ruff

    My TC Rock N’ Ruff Roundtable Page- TC’s Rock N’ Ruff Roundtable

    And a Fun Fiesta Event To Support Local Adoptions- Furry Friends Fiesta

    And of course a rocking puppy playlist! A Doggie Dozen Rock Tunes 

    Opt To Adopt and here’s to helping Kona find her forever family!

  • Coach Sheets' Ride In

    Jeremy Sheetinger is the head baseball coach at Georgia Gwinnett College where he led the Grizz Gang to the 2021 NAIA National Championship.

    These quick hits may, on the surface, be geared toward his fellow baseball coaches, but his motivational message can easily be applied to the classroom, workplace, and your personal relationships.

    This morning, Coach Sheets asks us if we’re playing the victim, or are we playing the game?

  • Local Look

    Looking for something fun to do in the area? Chris Swendeman has you covered with this week’s Local Look.

    There are always so many fun events happening in our local communities.  Check out what’s in store for this week in New Jersey.

    • Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in style and maybe meet your new furry family member today at the Furry Friends Fiesta in Denville from 11 AM to 2 PM. It’s a heartwarming celebration where loving dogs find their forever homes. There will be adoptables, courtesy of Cold Nose Warm Heart, New Jersey Rescue, plenty of wagging tales and some great opportunities to make a huge difference in a dog’s life. The event takes place at 276 East Main Street in Denville in the Route 53 CVS Plaza.
    • A staple of North Jersey entertainment reopens for the season in Stanhope this weekend. This is the opening weekend for Wild West City where you can watch and witness the reawakening of the Wild West Times come to life right before your eyes. You can experience the new Native American Village this year as well. There are real frontier animals, live demos at the blacksmith shop, the mountain man cabin, Chuck Wagon Camp and so much more. To get more details visit

    And that’s your Local Look for this week on The Jersey Magazine.  If you’d like your event to be featured on The Local Look, you can email us at [email protected].  See you next week on 105.5 WDHA.

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