This year marks the fifth and final edition of Good Vibes for Good Times, the annual festival in Buchmuller Park to provide information and support for suicide/depression awareness.
Taking place from noon till 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, the event is an upbeat day of music, food, and more, with eight bands and more than 30 vendors participating.
Festival organizer Casey James Scheiner describes the event as a way to provide information about suicide awareness while not “surrounded by dreary aspects.”
“It’s intended as an awareness event more oriented toward positive sides of life,” he said. Hence the bands and the celebratory feel of the event.
While free to attendees, Good Vibes for Good Times raises money for the J-Shine Fund, which contributes scholarships for Secaucus high school seniors going into the field of music and/or firefighting.
“We try and pick at least two a year,” said Carol Ann Scheiner, Casey’s mom, who handles the scholarships. “We have given out $2,800 in scholarships, donated to the Moonachie First Aid & Rescue Squad after Hurricane Sandy, and donated to Firefighters with MS,” among others.
J-Shine was the nickname of Jonnie Scheiner, Carol Ann’s son, a firefighter in Secaucus who took his own life at age 19 on Aug. 18, 2010. Good Vibes for Good Times was launched in his memory. The upcoming concert will be held three days before the fifth anniversary of his passing.
Rash of suicides
Casey James Scheiner was the one who found his brother after his suicide. “It was out of the blue,” he said. “My brother had dealt with some issues, nothing really noteworthy. Everyone has their issues.”
Ironically, he said, the two brothers were both active advocates against suicide, helping friends who were depressed. It was after fighting a fire that Jonnie unexpectedly took his own life.
“Everyone goes to a fire, adrenaline is pumping through your body,” said Casey. “Your body receives this massive dose of energy, if you will. Afterwards your body goes into a very depressive state to counterbalance. What goes up must come down.”
It was in that state that Jonnie made his unfortunate choice. “If he sat for two more minutes, I could imagine the end result being different,” said Casey.
“It’s intended as an awareness event more oriented toward positive sides of life.” – Casey James Scheiner
Still, January 2011 saw a rash of suicides, with three residents taking their own lives within a week and a half.
In the wake of this, the Scheiner family became dedicated proponents of suicide/depression awareness. Carol Ann, who works in the athletic and guidance department at Secaucus High School, became a representative of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, attending advocacy forums on Capitol Hill.
She also organized Out of the Darkness fundraising and community awareness walks in Secaucus, beginning in 2012. The next one will take place on Sept. 12, beginning at Mill Creek Point Park.
Casey, meanwhile, launched the Good Vibes for Good Times concert series.
Bringing Good Vibes to life
Good Vibes for Good Times was inspired by a benefit concert held a week after Jonnie’s death. “It was run by a girl from town, a friend of my brother’s,” said Casey.
In addition to teaching health at the high school for the past two years, Casey, 26, is a musician. “I’ve been in the music world either going to shows or as a roadie or performing for 13-14 years,” he said.
Utilizing his contacts he put together the first Good Vibes for Good Times concert, featuring local bands, and grew it from there.
“I’ve been keeping an eye out for bands that have a positive message,” he said. “We want positive energy and good feedback.”
The idea is to provide an avenue to offer information on depression awareness and support services, but more importantly to generate an optimistic atmosphere and encourage kids to find life-affirming hobbies like music.
“Our goal is not to be reactive but to be proactive, rather than having to help after the fact,” said Casey. “The event itself isn’t just providing access to information. In my opinion, it’s less about the information and more about the message.”
The final show
“I’m looking to pursue other forms of reaching out to people,” said Casey. “Some people, music isn’t their thing. I’m pursuing other options, whether it’s fitness or dance. I want to target everyone to get a taste of what positivity should be.”
As a result, this year’s fifth annual Good Vibes for Good Times concert will be the last. Bands participating will be Extracurricular Activities at noon, Saturday Drive at 1 p.m., Yalls / Dan Casey at 2 p.m., Empire Fallen at 3 p.m., Whyte Henny at 4 p.m., Last Minet at 5 p.m., Lights Over Hudson at 6 p.m., and Check Your Morals at 7 p.m.
Food vendors include Bubble Tea-Licious, Candy Clouded Cotton Candy, Just Dogs by MMG Kitchen LLC, The Scoop, Dark Side Of The Moo, Mobile Mardi Gras Food Truck, Sweet & Flour, and Sweet and Sour USA.
Product and information vendors include Pampered Chef, Gourmet Creations Dip Mixes, Irene’s Massage & Bodywork, Scrumptious Scrubs, BE.natural, Lilshopaholick, Scrap Yard Aesthetics, B Sick LLC, Strength & Conditioning Outlet Crossfit Secaucus, Candles by Jess, Dagawom.com, Randy Now’s Man Cave, New Jersey Beard and Mustache Club, Rodan and Fields, Fabyou, TUBBERWARE, Bonefish Grill – Secaucus, Stella & Dot, Destigmatize Suicide, New Jersey Citizen Action, Twisted Color Wheel, Soul Charming Jewelry, MerveilleuxMe, Be The Difference LLC, Creations by Alicia and Alison.
The event is free to attend but donations to the J-Shine Fund are gratefully accepted. Visit facebook.com/JShineFund for more information.
Art Schwartz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.