By John Burton
MIDDLETOWN – When Lori Anne Oliwa was planning the township’s annual business–to–business networking event, she realized how well it would work in conjunction with Meridian Health System’s Paint The Town Pink breast cancer awareness effort program.
“The timing couldn’t be more perfect,” given the two events traditionally are held around the same time, said Oliwa, who, along with having her own public relations firm, Write Angels, is a member of the township’s Community Affairs Council and township chairwoman for Paint The Town Pink.
Middletown’s annual Business is Blooming event, now in its sixth year, has traditionally attracted the representatives of 100 to 125 local businesses as a fun way to network.
This year the event also will serve as the kickoff for the township’s initial participation in Paint the Town Pink.
Oliwa has been distributing flyers and has sent out about 2,500 invitations for the event, encouraging businesses to participate and individuals to attend.
Business is Blooming, which will be hosted by the community affairs council, is scheduled for 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at the Middletown Arts Center, 36 Church St.
Attendees will get kits put together by Oliwa that includes decals and information from Meridian about what businesses can do to be “more pink” and support health awareness programs.
“I’m anticipating there is going to be a large crowd this year,” Oliwa said. Eighty businesses have already responded and she has found that “people in town are very, very happy that Middletown decided to participate this year” in the Meridian campaign that has spread to 23 towns in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
Naturally, the evening will have a pink theme with participants asked to wear some pink clothing. The event space will be decorated with pink floral arrangements, donated by Silver Tulips Florist in Lincroft, and pink table linen. The event will feature a light buffet, provided by Chiafullo’s restaurant, and the dessert of chocolate covered strawberries and bananas will be courtesy of Suzi’s Sweet Shoppe.
Other businesses have notified Oliwa they plan to offer services for the month-long cancer awareness initiative, including Salon La De Da on Route 35 whose owner, Grace Sepe Caputi, will offer free makeovers in May for women undergoing chemotherapy.
Meridian representatives will be on hand at the April 30 event to answer questions and breast cancer survivors will be in attendance to offer their support and share experiences.
Like the other communities participating in Paint the Town Pink, the township will be informally known as Pinktown for the month.
In addition, the township library at 55 New Monmouth Road will be hosting a Pink Physician Panel from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, with health care professionals offering information and answering questions.
While there is a festive, fun component connected to Paint the Town Pink, Oliwa stressed the underlying reason for the campaign is to inform the public about and encourage them to get mammograms and regular exams to save lives.
“I’ll tell you, it’s something that touched my life personally,” Oliwa said. “It’s touched women on both sides of my family.”