Code 9 event; ice cream and understanding

Movie at Sparta Library, Oct. 17

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  • Siblings Paul and Elizabeth Cernek enjoying Hugs Not Harm event. Photos by Rose Sgarlato

  • Sparta Fire Department's Chris Angelucci serves Leisl Hessel some pumpkin ice cream.

  • From left, Sparta Police Chief Neil Spidaletto, Bob Chubb of Code 9, Marjorie Strohsal of NAMI, Pete Litchfield and John Finkeldie of Sparta VFW, Steve Scro of Moahwk House and Lieut. John Lamom of Sparta PD.

  • Ron Grano gives his son Samson a taste.

  • From left, Lillian Farrell. Mary Hilgart, Mary Stanek and Nina Booth, friends and choir members of Saint Kateri Parish, enjoy a ladies night out.

By Rose Sgarlato

— Sparta Fire, Police and Ambulance came together last Friday night, Sept. 29, at an Ice Cream Giveaway & Fundraiser to raise community awareness for Code 9, a training program for police officers and first responders dealing with post-traumatic Stress (PTS).

The initiative will continue with a Code 9 documentary at the Sparta Library on Oct. 17.

The ice cream social was held at the former Carl’s Auto Body Shop. Steve Scro, owner of the Mohawk House and the auto body shop site, generously donated the space. The event aimed to showcase the Code 9 Project and raise funds for the Code 9 S.H.A.R.E. Program. Plans are being made to bring the Code 9 S.H.A.R.E. Program to the Sparta.

Members of the Sparta Police, Ambulance and Fire departments contributed by playing the roles of Celebrity Scoopers serving family and friends.

A special Hugs Not Harm Code 9 Pledge was introduced by the organization and signed by children:

“I take the Code 9 pledge to hug, not harm. I promise to respect, connect and care for all my neighbors and All the Police and Fire, Men and Women who protect and care for ME and my community.”

Marjorie L. Strohsahl, Board Trustee of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Sussex — one of the co-sponsors of the event — supplied the following information about an upcoming screening of award winning documentary “Code 9, Officer Needs Assistance.”

“Code 9, Officer Needs Assistance,” sponsored by the Sparta Library, Code 9 Project, Sparta Police Department and NAMI Sussex (National Alliance on Mental Illness), will be shown at the Sparta Library (lower level) on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. The screening is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. Light Refreshments will be served. Parental Guidance is suggested for young teens.

“The Code 9 documentary was conceived and created by filmmaker Deborah Ortiz after her husband experienced serious post-traumatic stress from serving as a highway patrol officer," Strohsahl said. "The film spotlights the prevalence of PTSD among police and other first responders and points the way toward hope and recovery. It is important for family and friends and the general public to learn what first responders may experience, so as to acquire a better understanding of their situation.”

Bob Cubby, a Sussex County resident and retired Jersey City police captain, will be on hand with others for a Q & A after the showing.

Sparta Police Chief Neil Spidaletto thanked the sponsors and the community.

"We would like to thank everyone that participated in last Friday night's Ice Cream Giveraway event that benefited Code 9 and Hugs not Harm event," Spidaletto said. "Code 9 is an organization encompassing two separate messages. Hugs not Harm is a pledge taken by the youth in our community to forge trusting and better relationships with our first responders. Besides taking this pledge we were able to give out over a hundred free T-shirts and Teddy Bears in association to this pledge at both this event and Sparta Day. Thanks to Steve and Rachel Scro of the Mohawk House who provided the perfect location for this community event. Friday night’s ice cream social included First Responders from Sparta Township, Sparta Fire, Police, and Ambulance scooping ice cream to the individuals that came. Also assisting us were members of the Knights of Columbus Saint Kateri Council, Sparta Kiwanis, and Sparta VFW. These organizations were kind enough to make monetary donations to the Code 9 Project. A special thank you to Windy Brow Farms who donated all of the Ice Cream that was given away this evening. Absolutely delicious!

"Sparta Police would like to thank everyone that stopped down to support us and Code 9 including organizations such as Sparta Women’s Club, Sussex County NAMI, and Sparta UNICO."

Spidaletto said the second phase of the Code 9 message is to raise public awareness of PTDSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) "that happens to some first responders during the course of their career. Sparta Library has allowed us to show a presentation of the Code 9 Documentary."

For information on NAMI Sussex call 973-214-0632 or visit"> Brochures on the Code 9 S.H.A.R.E. program will be available at the screening and found at For additional information, call Marjorie at 973-943-2155.

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