Growing up, Toni enjoyed singing, writing, and acting. She studied voice at Westminster Choir College and music at Rider University with the hope of a career in performance. Instead, after two semesters, she married and took a position which led to a 20 year career in Human Resources–for a school district, a publisher, and finally, for a pharmaceutical company.
When the pharmaceutical company closed its doors in 2002, Toni returned to school, this time taking Communication courses. She fell in love with radio, and after a professor encouraged her to pursue commercial writing, she interned at a local radio station. A few months later, she began a new career in their Creative Services department that would span 12 years–first as a Copywriter and then as Creative Services Director writing, voicing and producing commercials for five stations.
During this time, she also worked as an Adjunct Professor at the same college where she obtained her Radio degree, teaching Writing for Radio/TV and Intro to Radio for five years.
In 2007, Toni began attending a small church plant where their focus was on community outreach. She felt a tug on her heart as she participated in several small but powerful outreaches and acts of service. A year later, she entered the doors of Central Baptist Church (now Central: a Christ-centered Church) and knew God had called her there to heal in the midst of her four year separation and eventual divorce. Toni immediately started serving in her new church by driving a van to a local homeless shelter where women who had been attending a Bible study led by a Central congregant expressed a desire to come to church. She served in that capacity for over 18 months.
Although a volunteer, Toni was invited to a number of staff leadership meetings, and at one, she was given a copy of the book “The Externally Focused Church.” She set it aside for more than a year, but when she picked it up, she was challenged by a quote from the book. “Would your community care if your church closed its doors tomorrow?” Toni came to the difficult conclusion that the hard answer was “no,” and after sharing her thoughts with her pastor, he agreed.
That discussion with her pastor in January of 2010 led to a food drive that kicked off a ministry called CommunityConnections. “CC” is still going strong today even though Toni has left the radio station and Central in order to accept a full-time staff position as Local Outreach Ministry Leader with Princeton Alliance Church in Plainsboro, NJ. There, she oversees a food pantry, car ministry, life skills workshops, requests for financial assistance from the surrounding community, and several large-scale annual outreaches.
A few years ago, God put it on Toni’s heart to write a book about her experience in founding that original ministry and all the outreaches He made possible. It would become the how-to manual Toni wished was in existence to guide her when she navigated the uncharted waters of church outreach.
Jesus Has Left the Building: The Nitty Gritty of Creative Church Outreach details how one unqualified, but willing woman helped her church adopt a culture of service and impact their community while providing step-by-step instructions on how, regardless of your “qualifications” or lack thereof, you can do the same.
Jesus modeled a life of service and Toni believes He has called each of us to do the same–not as just things to check off a to-do list, but a way of life that reflects His love in real and tangible ways. This belief is supported by several of her favorite scriptures: Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” and Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It is her desire to see each Christian in every church experience the rich rewards of reaching others with the love of Christ through simple acts of service.
Toni is the proud mom of an adult son, daughter, and son-in-law, and is “Gamma” to a precious two-year-old little girl. She resides in the tranquil Village of Crosswicks in Central New Jersey.