By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
CLAYTON â€“ Caleb Rogelio Ward was on this Earth for about a month, but he continues to have a tremendous impact on his parents James and April Ward and everyone connected with them.
The infant was born to the founders of Creative Content OnDemand and Fruition Life Media prematurely in 2009 but died 40 days later. Fruition Life Media, which provides professional services for those who have lost a loved one, was rebranded in Caleb’s memory.
“Caleb was a huge inspiration to our family and it’s foundation of strength and overcoming life challenges,” the Wards told Front Runner New Jersey recently. “It taught us how tomorrow is never promised; so live your life today by loving one another and never allow things to anger you. Life is precious and we all have purpose here on Earth.
“Even in his short time of 40 days, Caleb made an impact and lived a purpose filled life. In his short time here with us, people got inspired to rededicate their life to Christ during his homegoing, and Golden Gate daycare named their babies section after Caleb because of his fight, his family faith, and strength to endure and comfort others when they were in the midst of the world storm,” the Wards said.
The couple said along with their two children â€“ Ashley, 13, and Nolan, 7 â€“ Caleb still has a strong presence in their family.
“We have courage because he went where none of us have yet to go,” the Wards said. “We have understanding of our purpose because of his limited time here on earth, we must make the best of it and leave a legacy of hope, love and understanding behind.”
Romance Made in (Local) Television
The Wards are sharing their legacy of media skills to benefit people throughout South Jersey and beyond with their companies. James and April Ward met while working at a local Philadelphia television station. They have also led the media team at The Perfecting Church in Gloucester County for the past eight years.
James, a Texas native, and April, a first-generation Filipino-American hit if off while working different jobs at the station. James Ward was a videographer for the news department and commercial production while April worked the overnight desk in the newsroom but became an Emmy-winning production assistant.
“April and I would see each other on the regular at work and sometimes have lunch together,” James Ward said. “During those lunchtimes, we would talk about life and the future. Unknowingly, God was introducing us as a match for a couple.
“Time went on as we got to know one another as good friends and we explored the idea of being in a relationship. Things moved a little fast in our dating that would soon turn into a marriage. We’ve been happily married for over 13 years and soon to hit the 14-year mark this June 17th,” he added.
Building Family, and a Business
Creative Content OnDemand is a subscription-based video production company which helps business e-commerce by creating online video content to generate leads and educate the customer’s target audience through its video production-on-demand service.
The Wards say that going into business with each other fit them perfectly since they are both creative types and comfortable to video production.
“Some would say marriage is like a business, and we seem to run our business/marriage smooth like a well-working oil machine,” the Wards said. “We both are creative people, understand video production, love working with people, and love the idea of being in business for ourselves.
“We focused on our marriage in the first two years as we continued to grow with each other. After truly understanding each talent and aspiration, we knew that we needed to start a video production company that would offer digital photography, videography, and video editing,” they said.
The couple said starting their business and living in Clayton instead of a bigger city was by design for their children.
Living in Clayton
“Raising our children in a small town gives them a sense of family from our local church to their school community,” James Ward said. “They are continuing to learn how to build relationships in such diverse environments while making sure God is at the center of it all. We also believe itâ€™s important for our children to have a strong relationship with their grandparents.
“My parents passed away and we both felt that our children would have a better foundation and respect for elders if theyâ€™re around their grandparents. Our children are very talented and have a deep influence on the media industry, and it wouldnâ€™t surprise us if they both enter the same industry. In addition, we have a great church family where we worship and grow spiritually. So, in a nutshell Family and God makes us stay,” James Ward added.
The Wards have been connected with The Perfecting Church’s Pastor Kevin Brown and his wife Angela as they prepared to get married. They said it was an easy decision to get involved with the church as its media directors.
“We eventually got to a point where we felt that we had outgrown our previous church and that God had want to position us into a new season,” the Wards said. “During our search to where God was to position us next, we heard that at the time Minister Kevin Brown who would soon become founder of The Perfecting Church.
“This was awesome because Pastor Kevin and Angela Brown were our teachers/counselors in our pre-marital class. He also happens to be the officiant of our wedding. It made sense that we would attend His church because of all the significant milestones He had already deposited into our lives. From the start of the church, we volunteered our gifts and talents to start a media team that provided video services for the world to see and hear,” they said.
More to the Story
There were other subjects the Wards touched on in their interview with Front Runner New Jersey.com.
FRNJ: Tell me about yourself and families.
The Wards: James is from the state of Texas and is the youngest of six raised by a single mom. The music and arts played a special role in his early years as a teenager that would later transform into a professional TV News career. While working in TV News he held many different job titles within the Southern and East Coast television markets for over two decades as a commercial production photographer, chief news photographer, and special project photographer and video editor to name a few. His passion for creativity and working with like-minded people had inspired him to start a video production to share his talent with the world. While working a full-time job he started filming weddings and mom and pops tv commercials. In time his vision would grow when he met his wife April.
April is a first-generation Filipino-American from New Jersey and the youngest of two daughters by Filipino immigrants who met in Philadelphia, PA, later married and moved to South Jersey.
Photography and videography were present throughout Aprilâ€™s childhood because her parents loved to capture family photos and home videos. Her mom was the main archivist in the family, after each family celebration or milestones, sheâ€™d print out the photos and place them in photo albums. April has followed suit and made her parentsâ€™ hobbies as a foundation for her interest in television production. She was active in her high school television production classes which led her to major in Communication Studies at Widener University in Chester, Pa.
After graduation, she worked in TV news as an overnight news desk assistant and later production assistant where she earned a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Program/Series for â€œThe Tribuneâ€ Show. She moved onto become a Senior Talk Show and Pledge Producer for an Independent Public Television Station in Pennsylvania. Under her leadership, she earned a Telly Award and received multiple Award for Excellence in Broadcasting by Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters. Before leaving the TV industry in 2005, she worked as a Pledge Producer for a top five market public television station.
Our relationship grew through friendship to marriage and next starting a family. April remained active in the media industry. She worked as a lead operations coordinator and communication manager for TPC, photography instructor for an after school program at Clayton Middle School, and photographer for the South Jersey Journal.
Both her passion with storytelling and television production gave her the foundation to know how to work under pressure to produce results and a sense of community.
FRNJ: How did your business come into being?
The Wards: Being a young married couple, we didnâ€™t want to dive into debt buying all types of expensive equipment to start the business. We walk by faith and start saving our money but only soon realized that by the time we bought one piece of production equipment, it would have been obsolete by the time we could save for the next item.
In our frustration, we decided to sow our money into a pastor that was visiting different churches to raise money for his home church; which at the time was required by government mandate to upgrade their video equipment to HD in order to continue to broadcast. We figured we should give him the money we saved and at least someone can have the video equipment theyâ€™ll need.
Shortly after giving our saved money to help his church, God impressed upon a business ownerâ€™s heart to want to work with us on a video project. Mind you we had no equipment but by faith, we did lay down the groundwork of establishing the paperwork to start our company. This business owner, stress how they really wanted to work with us and decided that we could do a trade. They offered that they would buy all the equipment we needed if we would shoot and edit the project they were requesting. We felt as if God was honoring our obedience to stay debt-free and giving saved up money to go into business to someone else that needed it. Long story short, In three months we were running our business debt-free.
We operated under Fruition Life Media providing corporate videos for many companies that are large and small. It was in 2019 when we started to rebrand ourselves as Creative Content OnDemand, a subscription-based video production company that would allow businesses to have their own creative marketing department services of video production, digital still photography, social media management, and public relation services all in one. This idea became popular with many businesses who need marketing help to build great revenue and compete with larger companies that are alike.
As for Fruition Life Media, we decided to change its course to focus more on a human servicing type of company. Yes, Fruition Life Media started as a corporate video production company in 2008; however, James realized that there was an unanswered need for professional service to those who have lost a loved one through death.
We were, unfortunately, all too familiar with the heavy burden of losing a loved one. Our painful experience of losing a child and close family members was the inspiration for the creation of Virtual Memorial Funeral Service and Life Legacy Tribute Video, our signature style photo movie. It became a personal outlet to heal and celebrate those they loved and knew they would miss.
We shared the videos with others and received an overwhelming response to how it helped them cope with losing someone special. We directed our focus to make sure everyone experiences a professional video that captures and illustrates the life story and legacy of their dearly departedâ€”a professional video of something special and unique that can be cherished and regarded by generations.
Now family and friends can access a web portal that honors those who have gone on before us and revisit those cherished moments through these custom-tailored memorial tribute videos.
FRNJ: How seriously do you take your role as a role model for others â€“ individually along with being an African-American couple and business owners?
The Wards: Being a bi-racial couple of African-American and Filipino-American minorities; our roles are vital toward setting a positive and successful footprint for others to follow in an industry that weâ€™re not often recognized.
FRNJ: Where do you see yourself in five years?
The Wards: We see ourselves operating both our business, Creative Content OnDemand, and Fruition Life Media with a huge staff onboard.Â Creative Content OnDemand will have a large corporate account under our subscription plan that gives them the power of having a creative marketing house without the overhead cost of actually having one at their location and Fruition Life Media will be a well-known company where families can preserve their legacy on our digital memorial walls with our Virtual Memorial Funeral Services and Life Legacy Tribute Videos, our signature style photo movies.
FRNJ: Anything else would you like to add?
The Wards: Weâ€™ve been the media team leaders at The Perfecting Church for eight years. We help train and teach volunteers how to operate our provided equipment that captures the Sunday and Wednesday services.
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