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TRT - Testosterone Replacement Therapy in Rockaway, NJ

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What is Testosterone?

What is Testosterone?

Testosterone is a crucial hormone for men and plays an important role throughout the male lifespan. Most of a male's testosterone is produced through the testicles. Also called the male sex hormone, testosterone starts playing its part during puberty.

When a male goes through puberty, testosterone helps males develop:

  • Facial Hair
  • Body Hair
  • Deeper Voice
  • Muscle Strength
  • Increased Libido
  • Muscle Density

As boys turn to men and men grow older, testosterone levels deplete naturally. Sometimes, events like injuries and chronic health conditions like diabetes can lower testosterone levels. Unfortunately, when a man loses too much T, it results in hypogonadism. When this happens, the testosterone must be replaced, or the male will suffer from symptoms like muscle loss, low libido, and even depression.

How does TRT work men

How Does TRT Work?

TRT is exactly what it sounds like: a treatment option for men that replaces testosterone so that your body regulates hormones properly and restores balance to your life. Also called androgen replacement therapy, TRT alleviates the symptoms that men experience with low T.

Originally lab-synthesized in 1935, testosterone has grown in popularity since it was produced. Today, TRT and other testosterone treatments are among the most popular prescriptions in the U.S.

Without getting too deep into the science, TRT works by giving your body the essential testosterone it needs to function correctly. As the primary androgen for both males and females, testosterone impacts many of the body's natural processes – especially those needed for overall health. For example, men with low T are more prone to serious problems like cardiovascular disease and even type-2 diabetes.

When your body quits making enough testosterone, it causes your health to suffer until a solution is presented. That's where TRT and anti-aging medicine for men can help. TRT helps balance your hormones and replenish your depleted testosterone. With time, your body will begin to heal, and many symptoms like low libido and irritability begin to diminish.

What Causes Low T

What Causes Low T?

For men, aging is the biggest contributor to lower testosterone levels, though there are other causes like obesity, drug abuse, testicular injuries, and certain prescribed medications. Sometimes, long-term health conditions like AIDS, cirrhosis of the liver, and kidney disease can lower testosterone levels.

When a man's testosterone levels drop significantly, it alters his body's ratio of estrogen and testosterone. Lower testosterone levels cause more abdominal fat, which in turn results in increased aromatase, which converts even more testosterone into estrogen.

If you're concerned that you might have low T, you're not alone. Millions of men in the U.S. feel the same way. The best way to find out if your testosterone is low is to get your levels tested.

For sustainable testosterone replacement therapy benefits, you must consult with hormone doctors and experts like those you can find at Global Life Rejuvenation. That way, you can find the root cause of your hormone problems, and our team can craft a personalized HRT plan tailored to your needs.

Lowered Libido

Low Sex Drive

One of the most common reasons that men choose TRT is because they have lost that "spark" with their partner. It's not easy for a man to hear that they're not performing like they used to. Intimacy is a powerful part of any relationship. When a once-healthy sex life dwindles, it can cause serious relationship issues.

The good news is that low libido doesn't have to be a permanent problem. TRT and anti-aging medicines help revert hormone levels back into their normal range. When this happens, many men have a more enjoyable life full of intimacy and sex drive.

Inability to Achieve and Maintain Erections

Inability to Achieve and Maintain an Erection

Weak erections – it's an uncomfortable subject for many men in the U.S. to talk about. It's even worse to experience first-hand. You're in the midst of an intimate moment, and you can't do your part. Despite being perfectly normal, many men put blame and shame upon themselves when they can't achieve an erection. And while the inability to perform sexually can be caused by poor diet, obesity, and chronic health conditions, low testosterone is often a contributing factor.

Fortunately, weak erections are a treatable condition. The best way to regain your confidence and ability in bed is to speak with your doctor. Once any underlying conditions are discovered, options like TRT may be the best course of treatment.

Hair Loss

Loss of Strength and Muscle Mass

Loss of Strength and Muscle Mass

Do you find it harder and harder to work out and lift weights in the gym? Are you having problems lifting heavy items that you once had no problem lifting?

Recent studies show that when men are inactive, they lose .5% of muscle strength every year, from ages 25 to 60. After 60, muscle loss doubles every decade. While some muscle loss is common as men age, a significant portion can be tied to low testosterone levels. When a man's T levels drop, so does his muscle mass.

Testosterone is a much-needed component used in gaining and retaining muscle mass. That's why many doctors prescribe TRT Rockaway, NJ, for men having problems with strength. One recent study found that men who increased their testosterone levels using TRT gained as much as 2.5 pounds of muscle mass.

Whether your gym performance is lacking, or you can't lift heavy items like you used to, don't blame it all on age. You could be suffering from hypogonadism.

Hair Loss

Hair Loss

If you're like millions of other men in their late 20s and 30s, dealing with hair loss is a reality you don't want to face. Closely related to testosterone decline and hormone imbalances, hair loss is distressing for many men. This common symptom is often related to a derivative of testosterone called DHT. Excess amounts of DHT cause hair follicles to halt their production, causing follicles to die.

Because hair located at the front and crown is more sensitive to DHT, it grows slower than other follicles and eventually stops growing permanently. Thankfully, TRT and anti-aging treatments for men in Rockaway, NJ, is now available to address hair loss for good.

While it's true that you can't change your genes, you can change the effects of low testosterone on your body. Whether you're suffering from thinning hair or hair loss across your entire head, TRT and other hormone therapies can stop hair loss and even reverse the process.



Also called "man boobs," gynecomastia is essentially the enlargement of male breast tissue. This increase in fatty tissue is often caused by hormonal imbalances and an increase in estrogen. For men, estrogen levels are elevated during andropause. Also called male menopause, andropause usually happens because of a lack of testosterone.

If you're a man between the ages of 40 and 55, and you're embarrassed by having large breasts, don't lose hope. TRT is a safe, effective way to eliminate the underlying cause of gynecomastia without invasive surgery. With a custom HRT and fitness program, you can bring your testosterone and estrogen levels back to normal before you know it.

Decreased Energy

Decreased Energy

Decreased energy was once considered a normal part of aging. Today, many doctors know better. Advances in technology and our understanding of testosterone show that low T and lack of energy often go hand-in-hand.

If you're struggling to enjoy activities like playing with your kids or hiking in a park due to lack of energy, it could be a sign of low T. Of course, getting tired is perfectly normal for any man. But if you're suffering from continual fatigue, a lack of enjoyment, or a decrease in energy, it might be time to speak with a doctor.

Whether you're having a tough time getting through your day or can't finish activities you used to love, TRT could help.

Lack of Sleep

Lack of Sleep

A study from 2011 showed that men who lose a week's worth of sleep can experience lowered testosterone levels – as much as 15%, according to experts. Additional research into the topic found almost 15% of workers only get five hours of sleep (or less) per night. These findings suggest that sleep loss negatively impacts T levels and wellbeing.

The bottom line is that men who have trouble sleeping often suffer from lower testosterone levels as a result. If you find yourself exhausted at the end of the day but toss and turn all night long, you might have low T.

TRT and anti-aging medicines can restore your T levels back to normal, which can help you sleep better with proper diet and exercise.



You're feeling down about everything, and there's no solid explanation for why you're in such a crummy mood. Your daily life is great and full of success, but you can't help but feel unexcited and unmotivated. If you're experiencing symptoms like these, you may be depressed – and it may stem from low testosterone.

A research study from Munich found that men with depression also commonly had low testosterone levels. This same study also found that depressed men had cortisol levels that were 67% higher than other men. Because higher cortisol levels lead to lower levels of testosterone, the chances of severe depression increase.

Depression is a very real disorder and should always be diagnosed and treated by your doctor. One treatment option gaining in popularity is TRT for depression. Studies show that when TRT is used to restore hormone levels, men enjoy a lighter, more improved mood. That's great news for men who are depressed and have not had success with other treatments like anti-depression medicines, which alter the brain's chemistry.

Inability to Concentrate

Inability to Concentrate

Ask anyone over the age of 50 how their memory is, and they'll tell you it wasn't what it used to be. Memory loss and lack of concentration occur naturally as we age – these aren't always signs of dementia or Alzheimer's.

However, what many men consider a symptom of age may be caused by low testosterone. A 2006 study found that males with low T levels performed poorly on cognitive skill tests. These results suggest that low testosterone may play a part in reducing cognitive ability. If you're having trouble staying on task or remembering what your schedule is for the day, it might not be due to your age. It might be because your testosterone levels are too low. If you're having trouble concentrating or remembering daily tasks, it could be time to talk to your doctor.

Why? The aforementioned study found that participating men experienced improved cognitive skills when using TRT.

Weight Gain

Weight Gain

Even though today's society is more inclusive of large people, few adults enjoy gaining weight as they age. Despite their best efforts, many men just can't shed the extra pounds around their midsections, increasing their risk of heart disease and cancer.

Often, male weight gain is caused by hormone imbalances that slow the metabolism and cause weight to pile on. This phase of life is called andropause and happens when there is a lack of testosterone in the body. Couple that with high cortisol levels, and you've got a recipe for flabby guts and double chins.

Fortunately, TRT treatments and physician-led weight loss programs can correct hormone imbalances and lead to healthy weight loss for men.

What is Sermorelin

What is Sermorelin?

Sermorelin is a synthetic hormone peptide, like GHRH, which triggers the release of growth hormones. When used under the care of a qualified physician, Sermorelin can help you lose weight, increase your energy levels, and help you feel much younger.

Benefits of Sermorelin

Benefits of Sermorelin

Human growth hormone (HGH) therapy has been used for years to treat hormone deficiencies. Unlike HGH, which directly replaces declining human growth hormone levels, Sermorelin addresses the underlying cause of decreased HGH, stimulating the pituitary gland naturally. This approach keeps the mechanisms of growth hormone production active.

Benefits of Sermorelin include:

  • Better Immune Function
  • Improved Physical Performance
  • More Growth Hormone Production
  • Less Body Fat
  • Build More Lean Muscle
  • Better Sleep
What is Ipamorelin

What is Ipamorelin?

Ipamorelin helps to release growth hormones in a person's body by mimicking a peptide called ghrelin. Ghrelin is one of three hormones which work together to regulate the growth hormone levels released by the pituitary gland. Because Ipamorelin stimulates the body to produce growth hormone, your body won't stop its natural growth hormone production, which occurs with synthetic HGH.

Ipamorelin causes growth hormone secretion that resembles natural release patterns rather than being constantly elevated from HGH. Because ipamorelin stimulates the natural production of growth hormone, our patients can use this treatment long-term with fewer health risks.

Benefits of Ipamorelin

Benefits of Ipamorelin

One of the biggest benefits of Ipamorelin is that it is suitable for both men and women. It provides significant short and long-term benefits in age management therapies, boosting patients' overall health, wellbeing, and outlook on life. When growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland using Ipamorelin, clients report amazing benefits.

Some of those benefits include:

  • Powerful Anti-Aging Properties
  • More Muscle Mass
  • Less Unsightly Body Fat
  • Deep, Restful Sleep
  • Increased Athletic Performance
  • More Energy
  • Less Recovery Time for Training Sessions and Injuries
  • Enhanced Overall Wellness and Health
  • No Significant Increase in Cortisol

Your New, Youthful Lease on Life Starts Here

Whether you are considering our TRT services, HRT for women, or our growth hormone peptide services, we are here to help. The first step to turning back the hand of time starts by contacting Global Life Rejuvenation.

Our friendly, knowledgeable TRT and HRT experts can help answer your questions and walk you through our procedures. From there, we'll figure out which treatments are right for you. Before you know it, you'll be well on your way to looking and feeling better than you have in years!


Request a Consultation

Latest News in Rockaway, NJ

Teriyaki Madness Arrives in Rockaway, NJ

This is madness!No, this is Teriyaki Madness.Please, don’t kick this messenger down the well, Spartan. Hold up and listen to a tale about one specific taste profile that became the basis of an entire restaurant concept.The Rockaway Town Plaza location of Teriyaki Madness opened in November 2023. Built around options prepared in a sweet, salty, and (sometimes) spicy glaze. And this fast-casual concept includ...

This is madness!

No, this is Teriyaki Madness.

Please, don’t kick this messenger down the well, Spartan. Hold up and listen to a tale about one specific taste profile that became the basis of an entire restaurant concept.

The Rockaway Town Plaza location of Teriyaki Madness opened in November 2023. Built around options prepared in a sweet, salty, and (sometimes) spicy glaze. And this fast-casual concept includes a mad dedication to quality ingredients.

Bowls, bowls, and more bowls. As the manifesto for Teriyaki Madness reads: “It takes big bowls to make something this awesome!”

That something—for many customers—is the chicken teriyaki bowl.

“My favorite also happens to be the number-one selling dish,” said the Rockaway, NJ, Teriyaki Madness operating partner, Tony Santarelli.

“In the chicken teriyaki bowl, you have the choice of thigh or breast,” he said. “For me, thigh is more flavorful. And we make really good fried rice. So, you can get that bowl with fried rice. Sometimes I get a side of the ‘Mad Spicy’ sauce and that brings some thunder. I just stick the edge of my fork in it, and that quenches my need for heat.”

Santarelli is the operating partner of the Rockaway, NJ, Teriyaki Madness location. He’s so stoked on the Madness that he’s signed on for four more locations in the Garden State. Today, though, Santarelli is focused on pleasing the audience dining at his Rockaway Mall location.

Most commonly, meals at Teriyaki Madness go just like Santarelli suggested. If a customer orders a chicken teriyaki bowl, they might also grab a fountain soda, an appetizer—maybe an egg roll, potstickers, or crab rangoon—and perhaps even a chocolate cookie for the road.

When customers aren’t set on the chicken teriyaki bowl or the spicy chicken teriyaki bowl, they might be trying the orange chicken or the steak teriyaki.

“Your typical bowl is white or brown rice, a veggie mix that contains broccoli, zucchini, carrots, onions, cabbage, and then a protein like chicken,” explained Santarelli. “And the sauce changes things up a little bit. Plus, you can customize it with fried rice or noodles as base. Typically, people elect for a bowl and side, as well as a drink.”

The audience has grown as word has spread about the quick, healthy, made-to-order food at Teriyaki Madness. You can order takeout or delivery, or sit down to eat in the restaurant.

Customers looking for vegan, vegetarian, and/or gluten-free food choices will find options available at Teriyaki Madness. “It’s great for multiple audiences,” said Santarelli. “It was very appealing to us because the menu is slanted toward gluten free—which is something my wife and I seek when we go out dining as well. And there are options for no meat—we have tofu, and we have salmon.”

Endless rice and chicken bowls are what dreams are made of for so many health-conscious diners.

“I would say that the key thing for us in the franchise world is that our food comes out hot and made-to-order, and we prep every day,” said Santarelli, about the business’s operating habits.

“For example, the heads of cabbage and the broccoli are fresh. We slice fresh veggies all day, so they are ready for guests. Nothing is pre-cooked and held under a heat lamp. The first thing customers see is our grill section where we’re cooking proteins all day.”

The Teriyaki Madness in Rockaway is the first of five new NJ locations to be managed by Santarelli, who has managed multiple Dunkin Donuts franchises.

Santarelli said he fell in love with the Teriyaki Madness concept because it was a step above fast food with the cook-to-order promise, and had dine-in and takeout options, while still offering quick service.

Teriyaki Madness differs from other concepts like Bubbakoos or Chipotle because “those brands are scoop and go, the food is pre-made and down the line customers are building the product, and the food is instant,” explained Santarelli.

“We’re doing fresh cooking at that exact moment,” he continued. “Customers sit and get a table, or get delivery and we bring it out, to-go, and bag it up. The differentiation there is we have customers that order fresh-cooked and assembled food—nothing has been there since 8 a.m. Even still, there’s an eight-minute speed-of-service expectation, and if you ordered ahead, it should be ready when you get here.”

Teriyaki Madness also provides ordering for curbside pickup through its app, what they call: “Mad Dash.” “It’s essentially drive thru without the drive thru,” said Santarelli. “Customers order ahead, we see on our iPad the progress of their vehicle coming, and we take the order to their car at the curb. Just download the app and select ‘curbside’ for the Mad Dash experience.”

It’s not just dine-in or takeout either. Teriyaki Madness also offers catering to office employees as well as residents in the area who need food for an off-premise event.

“We have a large office population here as well as medical reps and pharma employees, so we’ll do catered lunches or meetings,” said Santarelli. “The quality of the food speaks for itself. There are varieties so most people wouldn’t veto the food. And we don’t just dump it off on the counter, we take pride on setting it up with labels, utensils, plates, and such.”

Overall, Santarelli is betting that New Jersey residents are underserved when it comes to teriyaki-style food.

“I went in on Teriyaki Madness with a partner of mine, and we kind of joined forces because we loved the fresh-cooked food, the very small freezer space, the daily vegetable prep, and the cook-to-order model,” said Santarelli. “It’s a blend of sit down and quick serve where customers can get fresh food in a relatively short period of time. Plus, it’s a taste profile of the food we loved.”

Ultimately, Santarelli was sold on Teriyaki Madness when the food quality and taste met his expectations for how a franchise restaurant should operate. So, keep an eye out for more locations across the state.

Teriyaki Madness 395 Mount Hope Avenue, #600 Rockaway, NJ 973-891-1041

Rockaway Borough Food Truck & Music Festival

Location: Rockaway Borough Fireman’s FieldAddress: 144 Beach Street, Rockaway, 07866Event Date: 07/29/2023Event Time: 11:00 am - 7:00 pmEvent Description:The Rockaway Borough Food Truck & Music Festival takes place on Saturday, July 29, 2023 at Firemans Field in Rockaway. The event is from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm. Admission is $5, but kids under 5 can attend for free. ...

Location: Rockaway Borough Fireman’s Field

Address: 144 Beach Street, Rockaway, 07866

Event Date: 07/29/2023

Event Time: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm

Event Description:

The Rockaway Borough Food Truck & Music Festival takes place on Saturday, July 29, 2023 at Firemans Field in Rockaway. The event is from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm. Admission is $5, but kids under 5 can attend for free. Visit the Just Jersey Fest website to learn more about this event.

The Rockaway Borough Food Truck & Music Festival offers up to 15 food trucks and music all day. Dogs are welcome at this event. Tickets for the festival are available on-site. Follow Just Jersey Fest on Facebook for event updates and more details.

Every Just Jersey Fest festival is guaranteed to feature over 20 gourmet food trucks per event. In addition, all festivals are kid friendly and many events are dog friendly as well. (It’s best to check with each event for more info about rules regarding pets.) Other benefits of Just Just Fest Events include craft beer, sangria, and margarita bars. Plus, all events feature either a live band performance or a DJ.

Just Jersey Fest does ask guests to bring their own blankets or chairs, as they do not provide seating. Likewise, they do not permit outside food, drinks, or coolers. (Food and refreshments are available for sale at every event.) Finally, Just Jersey Fest asks all attendees to consider bringing a non-perishable canned or boxed item for donation. These donations are provided to local food pantrys.

Allison Kohler is the president of both Just Jersey Fest and JMK Shows. With over 35 years of experience in event promotion, she is the premier event organizer for food truck festivals. She also organizes the Big Brew Beer Festival, Beer BBQ Bacon Showdown, Taco Palooza, and many other local festivals.

Click Here To See More Events on Best of NJ.

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Upcoming Events at Rockaway Borough Fireman’s Field:

Celebrating Wellness: Holistic Re-Leaf Unveils its New Cannabis Dispensary in Rockaway, NJ

ROCKAWAY, N.J., March 13, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- A new destination for cannabis connoisseurs is set to open its doors in Morris County. Holistic Re-Leaf, located at 321 Mt. Hope Ave. in the Rockaway Township Mall, is celebrating its grand opening on March 15th, 2024, marking a significant milestone in New Jersey's growing cannabis market. Just an hour outside of New York City and conveniently situated off Route 80 with ample parking, Holistic Re-Leaf is set to become the center of holistic health and wellness in the community.Sherry Hun...

ROCKAWAY, N.J., March 13, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- A new destination for cannabis connoisseurs is set to open its doors in Morris County. Holistic Re-Leaf, located at 321 Mt. Hope Ave. in the Rockaway Township Mall, is celebrating its grand opening on March 15th, 2024, marking a significant milestone in New Jersey's growing cannabis market. Just an hour outside of New York City and conveniently situated off Route 80 with ample parking, Holistic Re-Leaf is set to become the center of holistic health and wellness in the community.

Sherry Hundal, a Denville native, opened Holistic Re-Leaf with the goal of combining conventional wellness with innovative cannabis solutions. With a bachelor's degree from Kansas University and an Ayurvedic Wellness Post Baccalaureate Certificate from the University of Maryland, Hundal brings a distinct viewpoint and a wealth of experience to the cannabis sector.

"As we open the doors to Holistic Re-Leaf, we're not just launching a dispensary; we're cultivating a community centered around healing and holistic well-being," explains Sherry Hundal, owner. "Our goal is to enlighten and educate our customers, offering them a diverse range of premium cannabis products tailored to fit their unique lifestyles and needs."

As a certified MWBE (Minority and Women Business Enterprise) in New Jersey, Holistic Re-Leaf stands out for its commitment to diversity, quality, and community. Customers of Holistic Re-Leaf may look forward to an experience that promotes knowledge, comprehension, and responsible use, in addition to premium cannabis products. The staff at Holistic Re-Leaf is committed to helping our customers understand the many advantages that cannabis can provide.

Grand Opening Event Details:

Date: March 15th, 2024Location: 321 Mt Hope Ave., Rockaway Township Mall, Rockaway, NJ 07866Time: 10:00am - 9:30pm

Join us for a day of celebration, education, and discovery. Experience the Holistic Re-Leaf difference and start on a journey toward better wellness and holistic health.

About Holistic Re-Leaf™:

Holistic Re-Leaf is striving to offer a comprehensive experience that enables our clients to make educated decisions for healthy living, all while upholding purity, potency, and responsible use. We are dedicated to providing premium items that reflect the variety and requirements of our community as a locally owned, woman and minority owned business in New Jersey.

Media Contact:Raman Singh, MarketingEmail: ramanholistic@gmail.comPhone: +1 (845) 420-9449

SOURCE Holistic Re-Leaf Dispensary

They've handed out 450 presents over four years. Meet the Christmas angels of Rockaway

Three years ago, Rockaway Township’s Cathy Vonk passed a giving tree in Denville and decided to help. Supported by friends and family, she has spread the Christmas spirit to hundreds of kids in need since.Vonk was on a coffee run in 2020 when she walked into SmartWorld Coffee on Diamond Spring Road in Denv...

Three years ago, Rockaway Township’s Cathy Vonk passed a giving tree in Denville and decided to help. Supported by friends and family, she has spread the Christmas spirit to hundreds of kids in need since.

Vonk was on a coffee run in 2020 when she walked into SmartWorld Coffee on Diamond Spring Road in Denville and spotted an "Angel Tree" − a Christmas tree festooned with tags requesting gifts for a child. She took one.

Her heart sank a week later when she returned to see no other tags had been claimed. She took two more and turned to Facebook, where she shared an image of the neglected tree alongside the gifts her family had prepared. Then Vonk appealed to her friends. “There are so many kids in need,” she wrote. She offered to do the shopping and wrapping; she just needed donations to help buy the gifts.

That first year, Vonk and her supporters bought presents for more than 100 kids − toy drones and art kits and Barbie Dreamhouses and more. But the holiday spirit didn't end there. Season after season, the family has gone back to Angel Trees in the area. Now in its fourth year, the effort has raised more than $16,000 to buy gifts for some 450 kids and counting.

No strangers to hardship

Vonk, a clerk in Rockaway Township's town hall, empathized with the struggling families. So did her husband, Patrick, who spent time in homeless shelters when he was a young child. Now a civil engineer, he encouraged Cathy's generosity. Childhood sweethearts, they grew up together in Elmwood Park.

"My husband had a very rough start to his life," Cathy Vonk said. "He was a tag on a giving tree more than once. He was without a home more than once."

Of her own upbringing, she said: "We didn't have much growing up, but I didn't know it because my parents were always giving ... If anybody needed a meal, they were at our dining room table."

Vonk returned to that first tree a couple of times in 2020 to check on its progress before deciding to take all of its tags. Her living room looked like Santa’s workshop as the family packaged presents for children of all ages.

Disney dress-up costumes, walkie-talkies, roller skates and scooters: Vonk did what she could within a $40 spending limit for each tag. She added her own money whenever the bill went a little over. In the spirit of Christmas, she always added a little something extra as well.

"We always put candy canes in their bags," she said. "We put small toys like bubbles or slime or a puzzle or a slinky. It's just something extra."

Searching for Angel Trees

Donations came in various amounts, from $5 up to $200. Vonk makes sure that all the money goes toward gifts; she posts pictures on Facebook for contributors to see what they're buying for families.

When the 2021 holiday season rolled around, Vonk found herself in coffee and bagel shops across Morris County searching for more Angel Trees. By that point, her kids were involved, too.

Vince, her 11-year-old son, enjoys sketching and comes along whenever art supplies are requested. He helps his mom pair presents with their tags and package them into cellophane bags. "He asks me every morning, 'Did we get anything overnight? How many kids are we helping today?'" Cathy Vonk said.

More:Where to cut down a Christmas tree in New Jersey and New York this year

Daughter Grace, 8, assists with the buying and is also in charge of morale. It's her encouragement that gets her mom out the door to shop after work. In one of Vonk's Facebook posts, Grace can be seen dancing to Christmas music in front of her mom’s red shopping cart at Target.

“My daughter does all the shopping,” she said. “We call her Head Elf."

Together, the Vonks and their supporters spread Christmas cheer to 121 kids in 2021 and 116 last year. The family has raised and spent between $4,000 and $4,500 each year, with Vonk kicking in about $200 of her own money per season, she said.

Inspired by Boonton pastor

The Angel Trees are the brainchild of Pastor Dunia Velasquez of the King Jesus Rise and Shine International Ministry in Boonton. The nonprofit puts the trees around Morris County each year and typically collects about 1,500 gifts for children whose families are struggling.

The trees were the impetus for the ministry, which started 12 years ago. Like the Vonks, Velasquez has faced hard times. There were a few years when she couldn't put presents under the tree for her own children, she said.

Velasquez refers to everyone who helps with the program as an angel. But Cathy Vonk, she said, is her "special angel."

How to help

Vonk has no intention of stopping. She's shopped for 108 kids so far this year. She's hoping she'll be able to surpass the previous years' totals before donations slow down in the middle of the month.

It's what her parents taught her, she said.

"They always kind of said, 'If you have a little bit, but someone has less than you, you have to give what you can,' and that kind of stuck with me," Vonk said. "When I was looking at that tree with all those tags, I thought, 'Oh, I don't want them to have nothing.' And it just turned into this."

Those interested in donating can email [email protected].

Gene Myers covers disability and mental health for NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY Network. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @myersgene

Gene Myers covers disability and mental health for NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY Network. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]

Sugar Leaves Cannabis Dispensary Fighting Rockaway Borough

The NJ adult use cannabis dispensary Sugar Leaves wants to open in Rockaway Borough. But the town awarded multiple resolutions while only allowing two dispensaries.They were always only planning to allow two NJ adult use cannabis dispensaries to open. Rockaway Boroough likely thought the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) would decide who would be allowed to open within their borders.Sugar ...

The NJ adult use cannabis dispensary Sugar Leaves wants to open in Rockaway Borough. But the town awarded multiple resolutions while only allowing two dispensaries.

They were always only planning to allow two NJ adult use cannabis dispensaries to open. Rockaway Boroough likely thought the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) would decide who would be allowed to open within their borders.

Sugar Leaves owner Usman Khawaja is a local Pakistani American seeking to open a New Jersey adult use cannabis dispensary in town. He has launched a petition to get the town to allow him to open.

Khawaja is seeking people to advocate that he be allowed to open at the next council meeting this Thursday, September 28th.

“I was the first one to get a license. The town is telling me you’re going to get it,” he said. “I don’t know what they were thinking. They took the money from all 5,6.”

Rockaway Brough Administrator/ Chief Financial Officer Patricia Reiche has running the local cannabis licensing process.

Sugar Leaves recently received their annual license necessary to open approval from the NJ-CRC since they had a location and the necessary town resolution. But with the town cap they cannot get the final paperwork from Rockaway Borough to open.

“Neither are minorities. One is an MSO (Multi-State Operator corporation),” Khawaja noted. “A millionaire came into town and they forgot about minority businesses.”

Rockway already has a dispensary open with the company Kind Kush.

Fighting for an NJ Adult Use Cannabis Dispensary

Khawaja has worked for nearly 3 years to open an NJ adult use cannabis dispensary. Initially, the town didn’t allow any.

“I advocated for it, I fought for it,” he explained. “I kept going back and forth with the town.

Sugar Leaves has been paying rent on their location in a coveted Green Zone spot where cannabis companies are allowed for 3 years.

“You know how hard it is to get in the zone? I got fucking blessed,” Khawaja exclaimed. “Now they won’t let me open up. That hurts to my core.”

He noted Sugar Leaves could donate 3 to 5 percent of their earnings to the town as a community giveback.

“I want to work with the town. We’re bringing people from this community. We’re hiring minorities,” Khawaja said.

Passionate About Cannabis & Sugar Leaves

He has been passionate about cannabis for years. In 2016 a car accident left him badly injured. Initially he tried legal medical pills to treat the pain.

“I developed anxiety. Here’s an anxiety pill. A month later I was on 5 different meds I never needed,” Khawaja noted.

Cannabis helped him heal.

He thought the name Sugar Leaves would stand out.

The original definition of Sugar Leaves is trimmed weed like “I got the sugar leaves.”*

Khawaja launched Sugar Leaves as a clothing brand first.

He has a background in sales and management. Khawaja was previously an assistant manager at cell phone stores. He came to United States when he was 12 when his family moved to Dover in Morris County from Pakistan.

“This is home. That’s why I’m fighting so hard,” Khawaja said.

Rockaway Borough and Dover have a combined school district so the two towns are closely linked he explained.

At 28 he’s a family guy with 2 kids.

“I’m at work every single day. I would love to be home with my kids,” Khawaja noted.

Running a CBD Store

While he was waiting to open an NJ adult use cannabis, Khawaja opened up a CBD store.

“The town loved me for that. I got the mayor to come in for the ribbon cutting when we opened up the CBD store,” Khawaja noted.

A lot of money that went into converting Sugar Leaves to a NJ adult use cannabis dispensary was generated from the store.

He has been selling Delta 8 and legal Delta 9 THC hemp-derived products and CBD.

“We don’t sell weed,” Khawaja declared.

He noted many smoke shops have been doing so.

But the CBD store sales can be hit or miss.

“Most come wanting actual weed,” Khawaja noted. “People don’t want to hear about that Delta stuff.”

Raising and Spending Money

“I spent over half a million trying to get a build out. I have money invested,” he noted.

Khawaja said he raised the money from smaller personal loans from friends and family.

“I put too much money into it: I can’t just move to another spot. I don’t have money to move. I’m running on my last fuckin dime,” he lamented.

Khawaja said the construction and conversion of his CBD store to a licensed New Jersey adult use recreational cannabis dispensary is almost complete.

“I’m 80 percent done with my build-out. I could open in less than a month,” he noted. “I don’t need millions of dollars to do it.”

Wary of Many Cannabis Investors

“The State is telling us you need money. But they want you to partner with investors. They’re leeches,” Khawaja exclaimed. “They want… everything from you.”

He is in a Catch-22.

“The investor wants the town to give me my last permit. The town wants me to show investors before they give me the license,” Khawaja lamented. “I don’t know how to move forward.”

“If I could get town approval, then I could be in a better position negotiating,” he noted. “They want me to be desperate to take these deals.”

“We want 50 percent of your company. I know a lot of suppliers. We would be able to get the inventory without paying upfront,” Khawaja recounted investors saying.

He explained investors are uninterested in Social Equity and giving back to the community. They want to take it over and make him a figurehead puppet.

Khawaja is fearful he could lose the company to investors. Some potential investors wanted 60 percent of the company.

He tried to enter the NJ-EDA’s grant program for cannabis companies. But their initial pilot program filled up quickly.

“As a minority, what are we supposed to do? The State isn’t helping. The towns are not helping,” Khawaja said. “Minorities don’t have the money to open up.”

His story is not unique. Khawaja is not the only one telling horror stories about potential licensed New Jersey cannabis business investors.

Determined to Move Forward

Khawaja is unhappy that for all the great rhetoric that went into passing New Jersey cannabis legalization, the results seem very different.

“They’re supposed to be helping minorities out,” he declared.

Despite the time and the great difficulty, he has made great progress jumping over the hurdles of the New Jersey cannabis industry.

“It’s not easy. I have a passion for it. That’s the only reason I stuck along,” Khawaja noted.

“This is what I was meant to do with my life. It’s truly what I believe. I gotta just keep moving forward. This is the fight of our lives,” he added. “Either I gotta sue the town, or I gotta sue the State.”


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