Next Montclair Story Salon will have a ‘welcome home/holiday theme’

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Participants in the Dec. 14 Montclair Story Salon will include (clockwise from top right) Liz Samuel, Kate Zernike, Cyndie Spiegel, Megan Reilly, Amy Scott, Paul Schneider and Merrie Koehlert.

Montclair Story Salon founder Liz Samuel will host “Welcome Home … a Holiday Story Salon” to benefit CASA for Children of Essex County, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. This storytelling event will be held at Watchung Booksellers: The Kids’ Room in Montclair.

“Bringing the creative community together in Montclair to tell their stories feels vital these days,” said Samuel, adding that “connection through storytelling is something that brings me so much joy. It also feels great to raise money and awareness for organizations through these unique storytelling events. I get really excited when I hear of someone in the community who I think would be a good addition to the events. One of my favorite parts is reaching out to up-coming performers.”

She hopes that her events inspire others to tell their stories, enhancing the sense of uniqueness and empathy in our community.

Storytellers will include Kate Zernike, New York Times reporter and author of 2023’s “The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science”; Cyndie Spiegel, motivational speaker and author of “Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay” and “A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom, and Courage”; and former TV and radio personality and producer Amy Scott.

All three, Samuel says, will share a story that aligns with the “welcome home/holiday theme.”

Singer-songwriters Megan Reilly and Paul Schneider will tell stories through music in separate sets. Reilly recently released a deeply evocative self-titled EP on the Montclair-based Magic Door Record label. Schneider will release his second album, City From Here, soon. He is also a sound designer for podcasts.

Merrie Koehlert will create a work of art in real time in front of the audience. A visual artist for more than 40 years, she has an ongoing series of large-scale oil portraits of female artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Alice Neel and Kara Walker. Her work is shown regularly at Studio Montclair.



Samuel, who hosts these events five to six times a year, is an actress, writer and producer who has created a digital series called “MOMtress.” She has appeared in an episode of the CBS crime drama “East New York”; the Netflix comedy “The Week Of”; Apple TV’s “Dear Edward”; and the feature film, “Ex-Husbands.”

These salons bring people together to share a piece of themselves, but also to raise much-needed funds to help those in need in Montclair and the surrounding area. Prior salons have supported Toni’s Kitchen and Planned Parenthood.

According to its mission statement, CASA for Children of Essex County promotes the welfare of children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment by providing a safety net of support, advocacy and mentorship.

Samuel is planning another salon that will likely occur in February or March. “I have four organizations that have asked me to produce events for them in 2024, but I don’t have dates yet,” she says.

If you are interested in participating in an upcoming salon, email Samuel at

For information and to purchase tickets, visit or There is additional information on Montclair Story Salon’s Facebook page.


Since launching in September 2014,, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


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