Him: "We met online and last night was our first date."
Me: "Everything worked out well?"
Him: "Oh, yeah!"
Her (Laughing): "Date number two!"
Me: "So, what helps you get through difficult times in life?"
Him: "What allows me to progress forward in life always is the Lord. It's God and religion. Different people have different religions, but I believe ultimately we have a higher power. That gets me through my day all the time. You bumped into me today with a cause for your online blog, and this helps your situation, and actually talking to you relieves *my* situation. I just lost my mother a month ago. God is the only reason why I'm here. He's the only reason why I smile. I'm a married man; I'm 30 years old; I have a wife and five children. Life is hard. It's tough. But you know, we move forward and we make our day. Not being judged helps me get by. You stopping me and saying, 'Hey, I got a blog, you look like you fit the profile.' Understanding our world, and not to bring it up, but there's a lot of racial tensions and things like that, but you stopping me to speak to me like a human being: things like *that* allow me to get by. Being treated like a human allows me to get by, and only through God's grace."
She is an early childhood educator:
"Pre-K teaches basic foundations that you need in education and it gives you the discipline in a child that they need to enter kindergarten. Because you're starting from scratch if they come into kindergarten without having preschool and the basic foundation of sitting down with self control. The most important thing that I teach them is responsibility."
Doug has been playing keyboards for about twenty years. He played this past Saturday at the Easton Farmers' Market Winter Mart.
"I play in a Hall and Oates and Talking Heads tribute band that's becoming my main gig, and I do a lot of original stuff. I make my own yoga albums for yoga and meditation. I really love Stevie Wonder and a lot of West African music, too."
You can get in touch with Doug at www.DougHawk.net.
"Sing! Sing! Sing whenever you can! I sing all the time. Not as a performance; I just sing all the time. It's required for survival through the day."
"I got my degree in college from John Glenn. Do you know who John Glenn is? It was in his boyhood home. Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. He grew up there and went to college there and when I graduated there in '79, he gave me my degree. Not too many people get that honor."
"One of my friends got killed during basic training in Arizona when they started up the airplane and the propellor broke. A piece flew and killed him. That's always stayed in my mind."
"I've always loved art, since I was a little kid drawing on the walls with Crayolas; now I just draw on people's skin with ink."
We're lucky to have a local treasure here in Easton in Frank Finocchio. Frank is a luthier--a guitar maker--and his fan base is from all around the world:
"I've been in Easton since 1976 and we make custom guitars. We do restoration, repair and we teach guitar making and repair. People come from all over the world: Italy, Spain, Geneva, Germany, Japan. We're entrenched in teaching and we love what we're doing. That's the best part."
Frank's studio is at 20 S. Maple Street and you can call him at (610) 258-5154.
"This is Maya, my granddaughter."
"What's the most important and lasting advice you could give her?"
"Stay away from boys!"
"I'm a quilter and I started late, so I'm really passionate about it, and I thought it would be wonderful to get a quilting group started in Easton, and through the library, because the library is really establishing itself as a lifelong learning center in addition to being a place to get books. But unlike a quilt shop or a quilt guild, a library can't say, 'You can only come if you can afford your own sewing machine, your own fabric, your own rotary cutters, and mats, and rulers.' So, in order for us to welcome anyone from the City of Easton who wants to learn to quilt, we needed a grant to get sewing machines and equipment. The Friends of the Library have given us a grant, and I also have two private donors. My quilt guild has donated fabric, that's the Courthouse Quilters from Frenchtown, New Jersey. And the local quilt store, At Piece Quiltery, is offering to open in the evening just for us so that she can teach about colors and choosing fabrics. She's giving our members a discount. The sewing machines will be at a discount from Singer Sewing Center on Northampton Street. So we're trying to really do it through the community. We're having an opening event called, 'Do You Think You'd Like To Make A Quilt?' on March 26th at the library. And you can call the library for information or check the library's website."
Jeff Finegan was involved in some theft at his former university, "which," he says, "started out as a fraternity prank" but then got out of hand. He was expelled, but according to Finegan, it was a "watershed event" which propelled him into benefiting the community rather than continue on his destructive path.
"I got myself into some criminal trouble at Bucknell University and now I'm a student at Lafayette College. In the interim, I spent about a year and a half here as a volunteer, and eventually as a member of staff and now I'm actually on the board of directors of the shelter. I sort of like to describe my story as making a mistake, certainly, but being removed from an environment which hindsight revealed was not suitable at all to either my intellectual or social growth, and being placed by larger-than-life forces, for lack of a better term, in a place that I have an impact on people. It's a very sobering thing, and I think the most sobering aspect of it is the idea that you're able to use your personal gifts and talents that God or a higher power gave you, and sort of channel that into a positive direction."
"I suffered from mental health issues for many years and kinda worked myself into a drug addiction. I didn't take medication; I didn't have any insurance, so the drugs really enabled me to get myself away from the mental health and kinda cure the pain a bit. But it didn't work, and I got myself into a habit of drug addiction and it ultimately landed me in Northampton County prison for a year, but there, I had a little bit of time to collect my thoughts. I made my Narcotics Anonymous meetings once a night and my church meetings once a night. Then I got discharged to Safe Harbor, and I had this structure built around me and could utilize every service I was possibly given. For a whole entire year I stayed here, from January 17th up until December ninth, and for a whole entire year, I did everything I had to do to get myself into a good balance and built myself a lot of good, established connections, and it ultimately landed me a house manager position for my work ethic, dedication, and heart."
"I'm the day program case manager here at Safe Harbor. I first came here in 2007 as a resident, homeless, sleeping underneath the bridge, addicted to crack cocaine."
"What makes someone take a first hit of crack?"
"For me, I was brought up in a very abusive home life at a very young age. There was a lot of alcohol abuse with my dad; my mom, physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse. From there, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd and there was very little guidance in my life. It started with marijuana, drinking some beer, progressed to cocaine, experimenting with other stuff and I took my first hit of crack when I was 26 years old. That spawned fifteen years of life spiraling down and down and down, doing things that I normally wouldn't do."
"So after you got to safe Harbor, what happened?"
"I came here and utilized the case management that was here. From there, case management told me I needed to turn myself in because I had some issues I needed to take care of. Had to go to jail, came back out and got involved with the community, got involved with a lot of outreach programs, went back to school. Little by little, I started volunteering, and I was asked to come here and do a men's group about two years ago. From there I started working full time as the day program manager and now have since been promoted as a case manager. It's kinda come full circle for me in the last seven years. this June, I have seven years clean coming up and the rewards of safe Harbor are far better than anything I could ever imagine: being able to work with another person and share my experiences and hopes with them and hopes of improving the quality of their life improves the quality of my own life. For that, I'm very blessed and grateful to be part of safe Harbor."
Apparently, this dog is named after cheap fiction magazines printed in the 1950s and often dealing with "lurid and sensational subjects." It's amazing what you can learn from Dictionary.com.
Him: "We met this li'l pup in October."
Her: "She was found in Allentown and we think she's part Jack Russell and Chihuahua. Her name is Penny Dreadful."
Me: "Penny Dreadful? What kind of name is Penny Dreadful?"
Him: "I like pulp fiction, and penny dreadfuls are the British version."
Mike Cusano owns The London Shop, 339 Northampton Street.
"That's my father (pictured in the background) who started the business. He's name was Andrew Cusano. We started the business in 1939, and we had two different moves before we came to this location. We came to (our current location) in 1978, and this is where we've been running our business ever since. We're a full service men's store, where we sell everything from socks to shoes, suits, tuxedos. All tailoring is done in-house and we're a very upscale store and we're very happy to have the brands that we carry. All of our shirts and neckwear are either made in Italy or the United States. Anything you'd like in smart-tailored sportswear, we have. With the resurgence of easton as a city now, with all the new restaurants coming in, all new apartments, business for everybody is starting to pick up and it's good to see the revitalization. The facility we have here is 5000 square feet on the main floor and 2500 square feet on the bottom floor. We'd never get that space in a mall. The rents there are so prohibitive, you couldn't survive. And we're a destination point. We'd rather have you come into the city, park, eat, and shop in a civilized manner rather than park who-knows-where, walk a quarter of a mile, walk into a mall and you're bedazzled by, for example, 'What floor is it on?' Everything there has a sameness. There's something to be said about being in a city."
"What prompted your dad to open a clothing store in the first place?"
(Laughs): "He had to eat! Food! That was a driving force…you have to do something. My father loved to dress; he was a great dresser. We started out and it was hard. I mean, it's hard to develop a business and it's hard to carve a niche and we did it. We're still honing it. It's never complete, and we learn every day."
"I've been bouncing back and forth from Washington State and here through my family. Born and raised in Washington, family was over here, so me and my mom came in 2006."
"So what's Washington State like?"
"Depending on the season. A lot of the time it rains because you have a lot of evergreens; it's the Evergreen State there. During the summer, absolutely gorgeous, especially if you go on a ferry ride from Seattle: you get to see orcas, dolphins, seals, everything. Sunsets and sunrises, unbelievable when it hits the mountainside."
"My father passed when I was three months old, but we still have a spiritual connection. It's like a weird essence, like I look just like him. It's just a feeling at certain times. It's hard to explain."
These are the stories of the people of Easton, PA