Bordentown Rotary Club Young Professionals-Walk 4 Recovery-Love The Addict, Hate The Disease-Covered by Photojournalist Deirdre Ryan

Last night, I volunteered my photography services with my local Rotary Club for the first Walk 4 Recovery(#walk4recovery). We all met at Hope Hose Humane Co. 1 Firehouse, which is literally steps from my home. The night was cold, our breaths made clouds in the air, but the common ground we all stood upon was one to last and encourage.

This walk was also to support those fighting against addictions, which is a disease, their families and friends who are helping them. To get rid of the stigma of addiction.

I saw many who have lost family members, and friends to addiction, a lot of familiar faces. One family here in Bordentown have lost a son and, very recently, lost a daughter to addiction.

Our local police blocked off the streets, making it safe for us to walk. This was all made possible by volunteers, from the t-shirts, the food, everything.  Bill Mercantini, our Bordentown Rotary Club President spoke, then Mayor Lynch. Angelique Flynn spoke of her struggles with addiction, who is now 8 years sober. Father Matt Tucker offered a prayer and spoke out at least 50 names of those lost or struggling. This walk was enormous for its the first time, I think about 200 people attended.

Thank you to everyone who made this possible!

The article below is from The Burlington County Times, their reporter, Kelly Kultys and photographer Dave Hernandez, covered the event, as well as The Register-News(which is now back).

Bordentown residents walk for recovery

By Kelly Kultys

Posted Nov 14, 2018 at 9:40 PM Updated Nov 14, 2018 at 10:41 PM

The Bordentown Rotary Club and the Young Professional Rotary Club of Bordentown hosted the first Candlelight Walk as a way to help break the stigma of addiction.

BORDENTOWN CITY — “I walk for …” signs covered the backs of hundreds of people Wednesday night as they walked with candles in hand around the city.

The crowd gathered together for the first Rotary4Recovery walk, aimed at helping break the stigma of addiction and recovery.

Dawn Walton, of Mansfield, was walking for her son Boomer who passed away on Aug. 12 after he struggled with addiction.

“It’s great to see everyone come together and support this,” she said.

The walk was organized by the Young Professional Rotary Club of Bordentown, a new group formed out of the Bordentown Rotary, which began earlier this year.

Co-chairs Hillary Moore and Katrina Brophy, both of Bordentown City, said they thought it was important to get everyone together and show they supported those in recovery.

“I personally have lost someone to addiction,” Moore said.

That’s why she said it was important to get a large crowd together to “break the stigma” that those with addiction face.

Bill Mercantini, the president of the Bordentown Rotary, said the event had been a vision of his for a while and he was glad to be a part of the walk for those in recovery.

“I’m walking for Nick,” he said, referring to a family member.

For many of those in attendance, the loss from addiction weighed heavily on their minds as they walked. Michelle Trogdon, of Hamilton, Shannon Sticca, of Bordentown Township, and Chris Millington, of Bordentown Township, said between their family and friends they lost three people to overdoses within a three-week span over the summer.

Millington said it was great to see more than 200 people turn out for the walk.

“It’s so awesome and the thing is, it’s a sad thing and it’s a good thing, we know everyone here pretty much and it’s kind of sad because we’re all so connected,” she said.

For Angelique Flynn, of Burlington City, being a part of the walk allowed her to share her story to try and inspire others in recovery.

“I’m active in the community as a volunteer,” she said. “I own my business, I teach yoga. I am a homeowner and I live a truly amazing life and I’m so blessed to have it. I tell you all of this because this wasn’t always my story.”

She recalled trying to fill a void in her life and never being quite able to do so.

“My favorite thing to use was drugs,” she said.

Eventually, she was able to get into a 12-step program and now has been sober for eight years, but she still sees how addiction is affecting her community.

“The longer I stay clean, the more people I’ve lost,” she said.

Bordentown City Mayor Jim Lynch said the best way to try and tackle the problem is to come together for events like the walk to show that the community members support each other.

“You have no better cooperation than we have right now between the two municipalities (Bordentown City and Bordentown Township),” he said.

Lynch highlighted the work of resident Kevin Moore, who has been active with Bordentown Residents Against Drugs, and currently serves as the Bordentown Township/City Municipal Alliance Coordinator, for his work to bring resources and awareness to those struggling.

Before the walk, a list of more than 50 names of people both living and deceased who had battled or were battling addiction was read so that those walking would have them on their minds.

Here are some of the images that I took the other night:

Toscanos donated their fabulous Mac-N-Cheese!

Hampton Behavior Health Center

Sundays Catering

Bill Mercantini our Bordentown Rotary Club President.

Bordentown Mayor Lynch

Angelique Flynn

Hilary Moore of the Young Professionals Bordentown Rotary Club.

Father Matt Tucker

Hilary Moore asking for a moment of silence before heading out.

Once again, thank you all for participating and volunteering. This event I think will be even bigger next year.

Yours In Rotary,


On Being a Professional Photographer: Looking Back On My Career

This is me, the summer of 1992, going into my 2nd year of Art college, working at One Hour Moto Photo in Ewing, NJ. I hated having my picture taken, and I was not having a good summer.

Have you ever looked back on your career and wonder where you gained your skills and experiences?

I have and now I’m showing you what I’ve done and how I sort of came to where I am now. When I was 14, I got my workers permit, for my first part-time paying job. I was a salad bar assistant for Sizzlers, refilling everything from the lettuce, dressings, to pasta, the sauces, puddings, and soups. Shutting down at night condensing and putting all the food away, mopping, sweeping and cleaning both the men and women’s bathrooms. Try as we could, the smell of grease and food would never get out of my uniform.

So here is my partial list of positions, descriptions, and experiences:

Lingerie Model/Product Photographer and Digital Retoucher:
Photographed lingerie models for the online catalog, retouched/color-corrected, uploaded onto the company’s website and added written content of items. Helped to keep the website up to date and created e-newsletters for customers. Worked with the stylists and helped new models to see if they can take direction and work with us.

In-House Graphic Designer creating embedded HTML ads for emailing customers & point of sales displays for car dealerships nationwide.

Digital Scanning Technician and Producer Assistant for a TV Production Studio: Creating digital files of production paperwork of past and present shows. Also managed the Receptionist desk when needed, answering phones, preparing memos, shipping, and other related duties. Help on various shows looking up stock footage, and making phone calls.

Production Assitant, Digital Retoucher and Customer Service: Checked drum scans for correct color, density, and spotting for dust; then digitally saving them, and/ or e-mailing them to clients. Also involved system time retouching, and setting up files for Fujix dye sublimation, large format, Iris printers and LVT. Assisted customers with their orders both in person and on the phone.

Customer Service Specialist: My duties were to assist customers at the front desk as they came in to have digital images printed and retouched. This was at the time the only full-service digital photo lab in the area of Los Angeles. I helped to create orders for small and large format, fine art printing, press printed marketing materials, as well as retouching for old family heirloom pictures. I was then moved to handle corporate accounts by phone and email for large orders. While I was there, I created the orders as they came in, invoiced, and this included walking the jobs from start to finish to shipping everything out or preparing them for pickup or local delivery. Everything was done in-house, we even had our own server, that I would occasionally have to look items up on.

The singer for Three Dog Night, Chuck Negron, came in one day very angry about a job that wasn’t done correctly. I hadn’t taken the order in, but I assured him that I would personally make sure that whatever was done wrong, it would be done correctly by the very next day. I walked that order from start to finish, making sure that everyone down the line understood what needed to be done. By the next morning, he came in and was so happy! Gave me a hug, and a letter of glowing recommendation because he was about to pull his account from us.

Another time, a gentleman came in with a very old photograph, while he was explaining to me that he just wanted a copy made, I saw the telltale tattoo of numbers on his arm. Upon looking more closely at the photo, it was of him as a boy in a Nazi concentration camp. So I showed it to my boss, and we had it completely digitally restored and printed for no cost to him. When he came to pick up his order, he was moved to tears when he saw the result.

Customer Service/Sales and Purchaser for a large camera store: I assisted customers in the then brand new world of consumer-ready digital cameras, printers, and other digital media. Working with professional photographers and hobbyists in person and on the phone with their orders and needs. I was then moved into the position on digital dept purchaser making sure that our shelves were well stocked and special high and low-end orders were met for our customers.

Professional b/w and colour darkroom printer for a large photo lab: Created prints as small as wallets up to 30″x40″, printed Duraflexes, Duratrans, and transparency duplicates, colour and b/w negatives from 35mm up to 8×10 sheet film.

Portrait Photographer for Expressly Portraits in various Malls: Photographer, customer service, sales, darkroom printing.

Customer Service and Lab Tech for 1-hour photo labs while in high school and college. I’ve done everything, cleaning the machines, refilling the chemicals and paper, working with customers, taking payment, explaining how much of their images would be cropped when making larger prints, cutting the negs to put in sleeves, making sure that every order was done on time and correctly. I even worked in a drive up drop off booth in the middle of a parking lot. While I haven’t been able to travel yet, I feel like I’ve been everywhere from checking customers photos to make sure nothing was missing.

I learned really quickly how to work with people from all walks of life when I started to be a portrait photographer at Expressly Portraits. Helping customers into poses, making them feel at ease, understanding what they wanted, I learned to listen first, and add suggestions. This job I did while in art college up in MA and I continued during my summers back in NJ.

My fine art background in painting, life drawing, printmaking, graphic design, art history, and the skills I learned in a traditional b/w and colour darkroom back in art college, has helped tremendously for digital retouching. I still use my experiences when choosing a location, setting up the lighting, working in Photoshop and in Capture Pro One(I used to use Lightroom).

Being compassionate, listening, showing my clients suggestions and helping them to visualize it whether on the phone, email or in person. Having a good telephone voice and interacting online. How? If a client is having a hard time posing, I use my skills gained years ago, to help them be comfortable in front of the camera, and finding their self-confidence and be at ease. The relationship between a photographer and the person they’re photographing is quite intimate. I listen to their needs, fears, and self-doubt, and I work with them. I like to chat, have a conversation to help everyone be comfortable.

I also add suggestions to a clients idea, if I feel it may add or subtract from their vision, thinking out of the box, being creative when something doesn’t go as planned, and keeping calm makes who I am a professional. Keeping calm is huge, and I get this from my years as an equestrian. You need to remain calm, even when your horse decides to be a jerk and bolt from a standstill heading back to the stables. If not, you both get hurt, I mean you still could, but showing your horse that you’re all going to be ok, and that you’re the one in charge, does prepare you for life.

What have you done in the past that helped or hindered the career you’re in now? Post your comment below, thanks!