The Spirit of Hope & Resilience: Our Honorees

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Georgian Court University is proud to offer its sincere gratitude
to the following honorees for their unwavering dedication to
individuals and institutions across the Jersey Shore.
They have demonstrated extraordinary acts of kindness that
continue to inspire hope and strengthen our resolve.

PUBLIC SERVICE HONOREES

Union Beach Police Department

CHIEF SCOTT WOOLLEY
SERGEANT TIMOTHY KELLY
DETECTIVE SERGEANT MICHAEL J. WOODROW
PATROLMAN BOBBY HARRIOT
PATROLWOMAN DEBORAH TREMBLEY
PATROLMAN CHRISTOPHER TUBERION

Turning to a local police department in times of need is expected and in normal times, not necessarily extraordinary. But when Sandy roared ashore, the Union Beach police force went above and beyond the call of duty. Chief Woolley demonstrated extraordinary and courageous leadership during the hurricane and thereafter, coordinating rescue efforts with dozens of other agencies. Sgt. Kelly and Sgt. Woodrow rescued numerous families from the water and decimated houses, without regard for their own safety. Patrolmen Harriot, Trembley, and Tuberion are honored for their exemplary efforts in assisting in hurricane disaster relief efforts. Georgian Court University comments the Union Beach Police Department for their heroic efforts.

MONMOUTH COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS & ENGINEERING

JOSEPH M. GRASSO
MICHAEL J. RIGBY
MARC J. METZINGER
DAVID T. MILMORE
RONALD J. BOYCE
NICHOLAS I. KILLMER
DANIEL ADLER
DAVID G. HANISCH
KENNETH A. FAHNHOLZ
GARY FREAD
DONALD HOLMES

On October 29, these individuals braved 12-feet-high storm tides, wind gusts of over 75 miles per hour, downed trees and downed power lines to rescue over 250 residents in Union Beach and over 60 residents in Belmar and Lake Como. Equipped with army transport vehicles, they entered over 5 feet of water to rescue people from rooftops and boats. They cleared trees in the roadways to reach those in danger and at one point, hit a low hanging power line that severed the roof off one of the rescue vehicles. They entered flood areas where water was at the height of the steering wheels of the vehicles. Together, this team had the courage to act when they believed the time was right, rather than wait.

LACEY TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL & STAFF
On November 8, 2012, Lacey Township High School students, along with staff, organized “Provide for the Pride,” a day-long event at the high school to raise donations and assist devastated citizens, family, and the community and help in their recovery from the aftermath of Sandy. The event directly benefited the Lacey Food Bank and the Lacey United Methodist Church, both of whom have been very active in serving the community’s needs since Hurricane Sandy came ashore. The day was a remarkable example of Lacey coming together to take care of its own.
Read more about the high school’s efforts in this Patch.com story: Provide for the Pride

TOWNSHIP OF OCEAN – CERT TEAM
The volunteer members of the Township of Ocean CERT Team in Ocean County are honored for their immediate response to the needs of the citizens and the township. Ocean and Barnegat Township opened a joint shelter and with one phone call, the CERT volunteers were moving into action to assist in every area necessary. They were scheduled round the clock at the shelter. Some of these volunteers were directly impacted by the storm, yet they still continued to work and care for other residents adversely affected by the storm. The CERT team has given their time to take the classes to assist in any emergency at any time and their teamwork and dedication during Sandy in particular was outstanding.

TOMS RIVER MAYOR THOMAS KELAHER & THE TOWNSHIP OF TOMS RIVER
Nearly 10,000 homes in Toms River were either destroyed, partially destroyed, or flooded in the storm. Mayor Kelaher and the Township worked and continue to work tirelessly to assist residents and businesses, cleaning debris, providing police security, inspecting damaged properties, issuing permits, working with FEMA, and carrying out countless additional assistance efforts. The responsible and dedicated leadership of Mayor Kelaher and the Township during the storm and its aftermath shows their strong commitment to the people of Toms River and the surrounding communities. GCU also recognizes the mayor’s wife, Carol, who supported him though some very challenging days and no doubt gave up lots of family time to accommodate a very busy and challenging schedule.

Faith-Based Organization Honorees

ROBERT “BOB” SMITH OF PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN TOMS RIVER
“God has had a direct hand in what we’ve done,”  Bob Smith writes in his narrative about the community’s response to Sandy.

A Work Teams Coordinator for the church, Bob jumped into action immediately after the storm to assist those devastated by Sandy and hasn’t stopped since. Bob has coordinated not only volunteer church work teams, but also orchestrated numerous groups who have come from all over New Jersey and states around the country. Thanks to Bob’s leadership: over 500 volunteers are assisting in Superstorm Sandy relief and recover efforts; 121 homes have been worked on; 7,000 volunteer hours have been spent removing cleaning and repairing homes; and 2,480 volunteers have been helping victims receive aid. Through Bob’s selfless efforts, countless lives have been touched, giving people help and hope.

ST. PAUL’S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH IN BAY HEAD & REVEREND SCOTT H. BOSTWICK
Read more in The Blessing of Sandy, by Pastor Scott

Despite many losing homes themselves, this group from St. Paul’s fed families and National Guard members for months, as well as helped survivors get back on their feet. GCU friend, Stacey Abate, who lost her home and was helped by this group, stated, “As a family and as a community, we owe them a huge thank you. They were instrumental in getting us through 2012. All of our Christmas decorations for our rental came from them as well as hot breakfasts, food for the rental, cleaning supplies, water for volunteers, hats/gloves, and so much more. We can never repay their kindness.”

CATHOLIC CHARITIES’ VISITATION RELIEF CENTER IN BRICK
Visitation Catholic Church in Brick set up a relief center immediately following Hurricane Sandy’s landfall. Originally, their operations were concentrated in a small stand-alone gymnasium next to the church. The church later created an independent non-denominational charity, Visitation Relief Center, to distribute food, clothing, and supplies into the community daily. The staff is all volunteers and many have been working there daily since the storm. Their dedication and efforts on behalf of those affected by the storm have been tremendous.

REVEREND LINDA APPLEGATE & THE LACEY METHODIST CHURCH
The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy saw Rev. Applegate and the members of her congregation provide shelter, meals, clothing, cleanup assistance, and supportive fellowship to the citizens of Lacey and neighboring communities. Their devoted efforts are worthy of high recognition, praise, and thanks.

CHAVERIM OF LAKEWOOD
Their efforts of Chaverim during and after Superstorm Sandy included, but were not limited to: assisting the Lakewood Police Department in rescuing residents trapped inside houses where trees had fallen; ensuring that doctors’ offices and township shelters had power; transporting individuals to dialysis and area hospitals; and assisting in distributing and starting up generators for residents who lost power, including the sick, elderly, and families with young infants. Their efforts were true examples of kindness and compassion.

 

Business Honorees

NEW JERSEY RESOURCES & LAWRENCE M. DOWNES, CHAIRMAN & CEO
An ongoing commitment to the community is the hallmark of New Jersey Resources. During Hurricane Sandy, NJR worked endless hours to restore service and a sense of normalcy for area residents. Their dedication and support continues today. Many of their employees continue to provide community service and assistance efforts in the recovery and rebuilding of the Monmouth/Ocean area.

 

WEGMAN’S FOOD STORE IN OCEAN
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Wegman’s was one of only a few public places that had a generator. The store opened and stayed opened to ensure that residents could buy food, supplies, and charge their phones. The company provided food for emergency responders during the early days of the event and donated thousands of dollars of food to the FoodBank and Community Fund of Ocean to assist those affected by the storm. Wegman’s is truly a model business who is a caring member of the community.

TOWNSQUARE MEDIA

Even before Sandy came ashore, New Jersey 101.5 reporters and hosts began showing up at the studio with sleeping bags, preparing for a long ordeal.  They left their own families and homes to provide vital and life saving information to the people of New Jersey.  New Jersey 101.5 served as a lifeline, and a voice in the dark for millions left without power and without heat.  Many lost their homes, and didn’t know where they would go.  New Jersey 101.5 knows that it is both a responsibility and a privilege to serve the state in a time of crisis. They were there in the days and months after Sandy, and will be there to serve and inform New Jersey when the next disaster strikes.

ASBURY PARK PRESS

The Asbury Park Press published a commemorative book detailing the stories and photos of how Sandy changed the Jersey Shore. Proceeds benefited the Red Cross and local tourism boards.

Journalists are accustomed to doing whatever it takes to get the story and to get it right. But what do they do when their homes, their families, their very lives are part of the story as well? At the Asbury Park Press, reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and production staffers worked through the storm to help keep all of us informed. They worked around the clock, reported from dangerous conditions and for more than a week, many of them slept—when they could—in the newsroom. The newspaper even welcomed other businesses who were without electricity into the APP’s Neptune location. A few weeks after the storm, writers and editors decided to publish a book that chronicled the Sandy’s impact. Since then, sales of “Sandy The Jersey Shore in the Eye of the Storm,” and “Sandy: Devastation and Rebirth at the Jersey Shore,” have generated more than $180,000 in profits—money that has been donated to the American Red Cross and the Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau.

 

Non-Profit Honorees

PEOPLE’S PANTRY

The People’s Pantry originated with the Toms River school district. The volunteer-driven organization continues to serve others nearly a year after the superstorm.

The People’s Pantry started out as a pantry operated by the Toms River School District distributing donated food and other items after Sandy. It now has become a comprehensive relief center offering a wide range of services to the community, including counseling, personal case assistance, and other services, food, furniture, and household goods, and more. The center continues to help thousands of people each month still struggling to recover.

U.B. STRONG OF UNION BEACH
U.B. Strong is honored for their un-ending efforts to help their community, as well as neighboring communities, following the days after Sandy. They donate 100% of their proceeds to the community to support people still recovering. They consistently make time to hear each person’s story and provide unconditional compassion.

NEW JERSEY HOPE & HEALING AND THE MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION
The theme for NJ Hope and Healing is “your calm after the storm.” The association sends out teams of trained disaster counselors to disaster-declared counties to provide emotional support and links to assistance for those in need. Over the last year, they have offered counseling to tens of thousands in the area who were affected by the storm. To reach the organization, call 1-877-294-HELP. More information also is available at http://www.mhanj.org/new-jersey-hope-and-healing/.  See how NJ Hope and Healing workers are making a difference across the Jersey Shore.

OCEANPORT CARES
High Hopes After High Tides—The Oceanport Cares Story

CHRISTINA ELLAM
CHRIS BAGGOT
WENDY BAGGOT
BUZZ BALDANZA
JACK HARRIS
ROBIN LENORTH
JESSICA HERNDON

OceanportCaresThese individuals—-assembled by Oceanport Cares founder and director Christina Ellam— and 378 other Oceanport residents immediately stepped forward and helped the community during the first two weeks of Sandy. Whether it was for 1 hour or over 150 hours, they each made a difference. They started out as simple volunteers under Emergency Management and have since formed into Oceanport Cares, taking care of their neighbors and the community. These volunteers helped to run a full-time shelter providing critical services from November until March, and the shelter still operates on an as-needed basis. The efforts of these 6 individuals went beyond what was expected of them and they can be credited for giving Oceanport a sense of security in a time of disaster and ongoing recovery.  Follow their Facebook page for continuing updates.

PROJECT PAUL
Project PAUL was founded in 1980 as a part of the community outreach ministry of St. Ann’s Parish, Keansburg. The early work of Project PAUL centered on a food pantry, serving approximately 25 local families, and a thrift shop. When Sandy hit, Project Paul housed one of the largest food pantries in Monmouth County, serving 1,600 families weekly. Project Paul suffered crippling damage to their infrastructure from the storm, but that did not stop them. They continued to help the community in any way they could. Project Paul reopened in February to serve the Bayshore community so hard hit by the storm, and continues as it has always done to sow the seeds of hope.

 

SAVE BARNEGAT BAY
BRITTA WENZEL
WILLIE deCAMP

SAVE BARNEGAT BAY is an environmental group that works to restore, protect, and conserve Barnegat Bay and its ecosystem. Despite losing her home and both her family businesses to floods associated with Sandy, Britta continued her work with Save Barnegat Bay to keep public attention on all aspects of the region’s environmental health. Britta and Willy organized numerous environmental cleanups, coordinating hundreds of volunteers to clean up local marshes in time for breeding season for local birds, terrapins and other animals. They helped guide the company hired to remove debris from the Bay to areas of high need and helped coordinate the efforts of visiting volunteer groups for service to people who lost their homes and for projects restoring the ecological health of the larger environment.

 

Individual Honorees

STEPHANIE LEATHER, NEPTUNE CITY FIRST AID & FIRE UNIT
Stephanie, a GCU student, is also an EMT who worked upward of 100 hours to assist those in need throughout Monmouth County, even while holding down her own classes and other responsibilities. As Stephanie wrote about her experience, “I know I’m a compassionate person. You need to be if you want to do anything in regards to helping people…I am there whenever someone needs me and I feel as though throughout the storm, integrity kept everyone calm and able to work together.”

KIEL ARNONE, POINT PLEASANT EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
Kiel is described as one of those people who instinctively sees a need in his community and is there to lend a hand in any way he can. When the storm hit, Kiel rescued an elderly gentleman from his house, swimming under water with the man to get him out safely. Later Kiel went to the high school, an evacuation site, and sent out texts and Facebook requests asking for supplies, blankets, clothes, and food.  Many answered his call. The mayor then appointed Kiel, only 18 years old, as Deputy Coordinator of Emergency Management. Kiel worked 20-hour days, organizing volunteers and donations, setting up an area to feed displaced residents, putting up tents to protect the supplies. He continued to manage the borough’s relief center and served as the liaison to FEMA, Red Cross, National Guard, and charity and relief efforts. He has compassion beyond his years.

BETH HESSEK, MONMOUTH COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
A volunteer for the Monmouth County CERT Team and Monmouth County Medical Reserve Corps, Beth also manages the New Jersey Register Ready. Before the storm, Beth realized the importance of having a registry in Monmouth County identifying the specialized needs of residents. Beth volunteered before and during Sandy, providing information to the local offices of emergency management about their residents who may have been in need of assistance with evacuation or other needs during and after the storm. Beth worked with the Monmouth County Office of Emergency Management answering phones throughout the storm and after providing information, comfort, empathy and assistance to the hundreds of daily callers. Her dedication and work on behalf of the residents of Monmouth County is truly commendable.

KRISTIN SIMS, OPERATION gLOVING THE JERSEY SHORE
After the storm, Kristin observed her elderly neighbors outside their homes peeling wet photographs from frozen frames and gave them some gloves. From that, Operation gLoving the Jersey Shore began. Beth, along with Bethany Luz, Jill Rossics, Kerry Insano, and Melissa Schliegh, collected donations from around the United States, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The donations filled several rooms in two homes. They traveled in their own vehicles and at their own expense to pick up donations and distribute thousands of packages of supplies, food, and Home Depot gift cards to families in need, as well as workers, throughout the storm-damaged areas of Brick, Belmar, Manasquan, Neptune, Bradley Beach, Point Pleasant, and the Barrier Islands. Beth and gLoving the Jersey Shore are recognized for their commitment, compassion, dedication, and resilience.

EILEEN FEDELE and FAMILY (Dominic, Nick and Lucia)

Eileen Fedele (second from left) combed Spring Lake Heights the day after the storm in search of GCU education professor Claire Gallagher (center). Eileen and her husband Dominic (left), along with son Nick and daughter-in-law Lucia, found Claire and helped her begin the process of post-storm cleanup.

Eileen Fedele (second from left) combed Spring Lake Heights the day after the storm in search of GCU education professor Claire Gallagher (center). Eileen and her husband Dominic (left), along with son Nick and daughter-in-law Lucia, found Claire and helped her begin the process of post-storm cleanup.

From GCU education professor Claire Gallagher, who nominated Eileen:

Eileen and her family showed kindness and compassion when I was at my lowest after the hurricane. I had returned to my house, which had been severely damaged in hurricane Sandy and from which I had been evacuated. I found the yard filled with pieces of the boardwalk, large pieces of driftwood and other debris. I could not get the doors of the house open and had no power or heat. I was shocked and desperately sad. With few things I could do to clean up or to begin repairing things, I had been trying to drag as much to the curb as possible, with no neighbors to help me. I was unable to lift most of the wood. I became very discouraged and decided to take a walk toward the beach. I was walking back to my house when I heard my name; it was Eileen. She said she and her family had been looking for me. Without even a question, her husband and son picked up all the things scattered around my yard and carried them to the curb. It was as if an angel had appeared. They were so kind, caring, and selfless and lifted my spirits when I thought things were impossible. They asked for nothing and wouldn’t accept anything from me. This is what the true spirit of GCU is.

OTHER HONOREES

MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY
Read more about Monmouth’s response in the community’s time of greatest need.
Monmouth University hosted the largest emergency evacuation center in New Jersey, with over 1,000 people housed in Multipurpose Activity Center and Boylan Gymnasium. Assisted by law enforcement and emergency officials, Monmouth University cabinet officers, employees, engineers and electricians, plumbers, carpenters, custodians and communications personnel enabled the center to operate around the clock for over a week. The MAC/Boylan Gym had sleeping and eating sections, a child play area, as well as an infirmary located in the Athletics training room. The university also led fundraising and volunteer efforts centralized through the Student Government Association’s Monmouth U Sandy Relief Project: “Hawks Fly Together For Relief.” Monmouth University provided vital support services in this most critical time of need.

NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS
This is an award to honor the thousands of individuals throughout the region who are not part of an organization, but helped in every way they could. They took food to neighbors; helped salvage possessions from damaged homes; donated clothes, money, support; offered rooms to friends for days, weeks, or even months after the storm. They cared for one another; provided a shoulder to cry on, or a hug, or a smile. They let those who suffered the most know they were not alone. We all witnessed this magnificent outpouring of humanity, compassion, and kindness in our neighbors and in ourselves — so true to the spirit of the Mercy core values that serve as the foundation of Georgian Court.

 

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