FELICITA SMOLIN (Alice)
84, of Randolph Township - volunteer, advocate
Felicita Smolin (popularly known as Alice Smolin, and sometimes known as Felicita Santiago - Smolin), 84, of the far eastern corner of Randolph Township, passed away on Wednesday,16 January 2019 at her residence at Morris View located in Morris Plains N.J, where she was in the loving care of the staff of the nursing home for over 6 months.
Alice was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, to Carmelo and Juana Santiago. She graduated from High School while on the island, and came to the U. S. of A. with her parents, and her three younger siblings: brothers Jose and Juan and her sister Hilda.
She was a lover of books, had a keen appreciation of the arts, and was innately selectively academic to suit her purpose. While being a homemaker (i.e. cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc.), providing her three children support in their after school sport activities (i.e. transportation, encouragement, etc.), providing her family other loving nurturance, and meeting other life challenges (primarily as a community activist) - she also found time to complete her education.
In 1956 Alice married Albert (Al) Smolin whom she loved and encouraged to do oil paintings to relax, become a Mechanical Engineer, and years later to become a Teacher of Mathematics. They lived in New York City until 1965 when they and their two sons (Ivan and Nikolai) moved to Randolph Township, N.J., where in 1967 their daughter (Tatiana) was born. Alice, already a notably busy person, found time (at night) to attend the County College of Morris (located in Randolph) where in 1976 she received her Associate of Applied Science Degree in Accounting. She then continued her higher education (at night) at Montclair State University (in Montclair, N.J.) where in 1988 she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology. Her choice of education served her well as she utilized her knowledge and skills as a community activist.
In 1968 Alice joined the League of Women Voters (LWV) in Randolph. While with the League she discovered that community service was a civic duty and that it would be a particularly rewarding use of her time. She became aware of a large Hispanic community in Dover (a nearby town) and brought her energy, enthusiasm, and intelligence to work on behalf of “her community”. As a member of the League she: did voter education and voter registration in the Hispanic community, did survey work for the local neighborhood Community Center to determine the economic impact Hispanics had in the Dover community, and joined the board of the Morris County Community Action Poverty Agency.
The working knowledge and skills she acquired in her volunteer work led her to be importantly involved in the establishment of the first Hispanic-led community agency in Morris County, N.J. In 1975 she was a key member of a group that made the effort to establish the agency. Her contribution in the writing of incorporation papers and the application for the first grant to start operations in 1976 was critical. In addition to being one of the founders of the Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs (MCOHA), Alice served as a board member of that agency, President (1980-82), and in other capacities for 22 years. The agency continues to be vital part of that community.
In 1969 Beth Whitehouse, Alice, and Jean Seavey undertook a project to teach English to Spanish-speaking 3 and 4-year olds - to give the children an opportunity to develop socialization and language skills needed as they entered public school kindergartens. This was the founding of the El Primer Paso (EPP) school (The First Step school) that the founders worked at as volunteers for 7 or more years, after which, as the school grew, they began to receive token salaries. Today, the school flourishes (serving about 40 three and four year olds). After working 32 years for and at the school in various capacities (teacher, bookkeeper, fund raising, and other fiscal functions) she retired in 2002. A tree was planted at the school as a show of continued appreciation for her lasting contributions as an energetic, dependable responsible person who loved the children.
In 1988 the Morris County Freeholders appointed Alice as the first Hispanic Trustee of the County College of Morris. She served in that important prestigious volunteer position for 8 years. For over four decades Alice served as an active member of numerous other county wide boards as a representative of the community she loved and served so well.
Alice received numerous accolades earned for her unselfish community work and devotion to the betterment of struggling members of society. Her most dearly appreciated receipts are: a United States Senate – “Certificate of Appreciation” for Distinctive Service and Dedication to the State of New Jersey (Jon S. Corzine – then US Senator, NJ); Recognitions from United States House of Representatives’ Rodney P. Frelinghuysen then Congressman from NJ’s District 11; and Recognitions and Commendations from Dr. Edward Yaw, then President of the County College of Morris.
In addition, Alice received specific recognition and appreciation from the Morris County, NJ, Chosen Freeholders. This was provided in the form of Resolutions Honoring Alice for her dedication to, service to, and achievements for the Hispanic community. Major here in mention are the following (Whereas): Alice Served 5 years with distinction, as a member of the “Private Industry Council (PIC) of Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties; she represented MCOHA and served as a member of the PIC’s Training Committee, her leadership and expertise contributed greatly to the PIC’s continued success in addressing, in cooperation with local industries, the employment and training needs of dislocated workers, the economically disadvantaged, and the youth of the tri-county region; she provided 32 years of distinguished service to El Primer Paso (EPP) in Dover, NJ; she was responsible for the fiscal operation of EPP and played a vital role in the development and establishment of its Family Day Care Program, providing much needed, affordable, in-home day care to families in the Dover area; she gave generously of her time as a volunteer, serving as a board member of the United Way of Morris County, a member of the Morris County Human Services Advisory Council, and member of the board of MCOHA.
Alice held strong Christian beliefs, attended the Rockaway Assembly of God church regularly, and enjoyed the friendship of many of its members. She was particularly proud to be a member of the “Silver Foxes”, an enlightened delightful church group of women that she enjoyed sharing both religious and social meetings and other occasions with. The humor Alice brought to some of the meetings and occasions will not be soon forgotten.
Alice is survived by Al her loving and mutually supportive husband for 62 years; their three children: Ivan of St. James City, FL; Nikolai of Spotswood, NJ; and Tatiana of Pittsfield, MA, and 7 grandchildren: Rebecca, Hannah, David, Andrew, and Matthew - via Tatiana; and Julia and Ryan - via Nikolai, – all eleven of whom Alice loved dearly; and admired their intelligence, talents, and their drive toward excellence.
Alice was predeceased by her brother Juan Santiago, and their parents.
The Smolin family welcomes friends to attend the Memorial Service to be held at the Rockaway Assembly of God church on Saturday April 6, 2019 at 10:30 A.M. The church is located at: 113 East Main Street, Rockaway, 973-627-0239.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Alice's memory to El Primer Paso, 29 Segur Street, Dover, NJ 07801, www.elprimerpaso.org.