Unity Achievement Awards
The Commissioners who volunteer their time and energies to serve on the Union County Human Relations Commission unequivocally agree that the best way to strive to accomplish our mission — to actively encourage, develop, promote and strengthen respect for human rights and cultural diversity among the people of Union County — is to publicly honor those who already do it well.
The UCHRC Unity Achievement Awards have been created to recognize the programs, services, activities and efforts being put forth by local role models that promote cultural diversity, strong community relations and human rights, and address the issues confronting the Commissioners. These nominated and selected individuals, organizations and businesses are honored at our annual Spring Award Presentation event.
Year after year, the inspirational and heartfelt event embraces the best we, individually and collectively, give of ourselves on behalf of others, and touches the spirit of our Award recipients, their guests, and ourselves.
We are grateful to the AGL Resources/Elizabethtown Gas Company for graciously permitting the Union County Human Relations Commission to use their atrium for our reception and ceremonies, and to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office for its continued support and funding.
The Union County Human Relation’s Commission’s 2011 Unity Achievement Award Recipients
The annual Unity Achievement Awards, presented by the Union County Human Relations Commission, honor individuals and organizations that have contributed in an extraordinary manner to promote respect for human rights, human dignity, and cultural diversity throughout Union County.
The fifteen recipients of the 2011Unity Award Achievement Awards are (front row, from left): Gail Leiberman, Liz Belough and Lin Salerno of Lin’s Linens (Non-Profit Organization); Johnna Booth, Hillside High School (Student); Clara Kramer (Special Achievement); Mary Beth Kelley, Trinitas School of Nursing (Special Achievement); Lillie Brown (Individual); (back row, from left): UCHRC Commissioner Brian Levine, Westfield High School (Special Recognition); Henry Varriano (Educator); Dawson Yeomans, Furniture Assist (Community Organization); Tim Williams, AGL Resources/Elizabethtown Gas Company (Corporation); John Miller, accepting the Award honoring the late Assistant Prosecutor Jo Ann Miller (Special Recognition); Reverend Dr. Gerald Lamont Thomas, Shiloh Baptist Church, Plainfield (Clergy); Lt. Keith Aslin, Linden Police Department (Law Enforcement); Union County Firefighters Edwin Donnelly (Union Police Department), Al Srnka (Union Police Department), Andy Stratton (Cranford Police Department), and William Lavin (Elizabeth Police Department) (Public Service).
This tenth annual awards presentation was held in the Atrium of the Elizabethtown Gas Company in Union on Monday, May 2nd, 2011.
Additional information about the Award recipients can be found on the Commission’s website at www.ucnj.org/uchrc. For more information about the Commission, please contact Commissioner Karen Positan at (908)889-9028 or by email at email@example.com.
To learn more about this program, click here.
UCHRC Unity Award Recipients
Achievement by a Corporation
2009 Trinitas Regional Medical Center / Gary S. Horan, FACHE, President & Chief Executive Officer – Recognition for its proactive outreach to the communities it serves outside its walls, and its standards of excellence for personal medical care within
2008 Merck & Co., Inc. / Rick Davis, Gail Driscoll – Recognition for responding to improve the quality of life around the world and in our own backyard, especially on behalf of children and the disadvantaged
2007 ConocoPhillips Bayway Refinery — Recognition for demonstrating an ongoing sensitivity and concern for those in need in our community
2006 Union Center National Bank — Recognition for a corporate philosophy and environment that encourages officers of the bank to be extremely involved in the community, and for the fulfillment of that pledge
2005 The Elm Street Café, Westfield — Recognition for generously providing the facilities and services of her business to reach out to those who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to share a traditional holiday meal
2004 RexPlex of Elizabeth — Generously providing facilities and services to support Union County youth
2003 Hillside Auto Mall — Recognition for providing mentoring and employment opportunities in the private sector for at-risk youth
2002 Wakefern Corporation — Recognition for providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities through the Supermarket Careers Partnership Program
Achievement by a Non-Profit Organization
2010 – Restore Ministries / Linwood Bagby, Executive Director – Recognition for taking the time to connect, intervene and inspire the priceless lives of at-risk urban youth, reclaiming them, one at a time, for a brighter tomorrow
2009 – Groundwork Elizabeth / Jonathan Phillips, Executive Director – Recognition for creating beauty from wasteland to inspire personal greatness while demonstrating that the sum of all the parts is always greater than the whole
2008 – Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services, Inc. — Recognition for providing extraordinary, personal care and support, and, most importantly, hope, to individuals who experience mental illness
2007 – Newborns in Need / Plainfield Chapter — Recognition for finding an extraordinary need in our society and addressing it
2006 – The Volunteers of the Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care — Recognition for providing physical, emotional and spiritual support as important decisions are made concerning how patients live each day
2005 – Community FoodBank of New Jersey / Hillside — Recognition for continuously serving Union County’s needy, for excellence in creative volunteerism that serves the volunteers as well as the recipients, and for establishing innovative programs and services that address hunger, poverty and essential human needs
2004 PROCEED (Puerto Rican Organization for Community Education & Economic Development) — Recognition for providing individuals and families with a comprehensive network of supportive and preventative health and human services
2003 – Occupational Center of Union County for the Homeless — Recognition for providing a unique combination of vocational, employment, mental health and educational services to individuals with disabilities which advocate removing barriers to employment and fostering community integration
2002 – Volunteers of the Interfaith Council — Recognition for a broad-based collaborative effort by volunteers that provides comprehensive programs that improve the quality of life for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness — especially children; that promote personal development, independence and self-sufficiency; and bring the community together to create safe and stable neighborhoods
Achievement by a Community Organization
2010 – CONTACT We Care / David Owens, Executive Director – Recognition for eternally and non-judgmentally providing an ear to listen, a hand to help, and the offer of hope and light to those in need in their darkest moments
2009 – Josephine’s Place / Sister Judith Mertz, Director – Recognition for providing a warm, welcoming, hospitable, and caring space for women of all backgrounds which respects and responds to their physical, mental, emotional and educational needs
2008 – Cranford Family Care Association / Kathy Willis — Recognition for gracious and meaningful outreach to neighbors demonstrating true understanding of what it is to CARE
Recipient of the 2008 Award for Achievement by a Community Organization presented in 2007 by the New Jersey Human Relations Council
Elizabeth Public Library — Director Joseph Keenan — Recognition for providing a variety of materials, resources, programs and special events to the community that focus on exploring, understanding and appreciating cultural heritage
2007 – St. Clare’s Home for Children — Recognition for initially recognizing a unique need for medical services for HIV-infected children and babies, and ultimately addressing a more profound need for a unique range of services
2006 – Plainfield Public Library — Recognition for providing an enlightened library collection and program responsive to the needs of the changing communities it serves, with equal access to information resources, technologies and programs for a lifetime of learning and cultural enrichment by promoting literacy, preserving the history of the community, and serving as a community center
2005 – YWCA of Eastern Union County — Recognition for providing a spectrum of social services meeting the special needs of those in Eastern Union County, and their dynamic responsiveness to address community needs.
2004 – St. Joseph’s Social Service Center / Sister Jacinta Fernandes — Providing a community that unites city and suburb, poor and affluent, young and old, and people of all colors
2003 – Muslim Community Soup Kitchen
2003 – Omega Psi Phi
2003 – First Baptist Church of Elizabeth /Elmora Presbyterian Church— Recognition for providing volunteer-staffed soup kitchen services to their community’s needy, supplemented by a variety of other support services that are frequently required by their clients, and the positive impact and impressions their compassion has had on some of the lives they have touched.
Achievement by an Individual
2010 – Rosa Floyd – Recognition for a lifetime of love, caring and food baskets that has inspired a community and a family for the past four decades, and a whole future to come
2009 – Shade Lee – Recognition for his role as a trailblazer and torch-bearer in his service in World War II as one of the original Tuskegee Airmen and his visionary role in designing a protocol for the Army to overcome discrimination and to help integrate the military
2009 – Malcolm Nettingham – Recognition for his role as a trailblazer in his service in World War II as one of the original Tuskegee Airmen and his visionary role in passing the torch to youth with the message “Don’t let anyone deter you from what you are qualified to do.”
2008 – Debbie Marulanda — Recognition for intervening on behalf of traumatized victims of human trafficking in a dignified manner that ends their torment and sets them on a path to rebuild their lives
2007 – Sandwich Ladies aka “The Baloney Club” — Recognition for asking, “Is there anything I can do?”, and teaching us that when enough ordinary people respond, their wonderful accomplishments can move mountains
2007 – Albeiro & Maria Hincaple – Recognition for demonstrating a level of selfless dedication to reach out to individuals confronted by overwhelming personal and family challenges
2006 – The Patricia & William Lopez Family — Recognition for their passionate 24/7 responses to those in need in the community
2005 – Mary Ryan of Westfield — Recognition for her extraordinary efforts to extend physical, emotional, educational and spiritual guidance and support to her family, children and the broader community
2004 – Sally Ann Benjamin of Plainfield — Recognition for establishing and directing the volunteer-based NIA Community Habitat Development, Inc. Woman’s Crisis Center
2003 – Patricia McRae — Recognition for providing day care and after-school programs for Rahway’s children.
2002 – Donna Albanese-DeMair — Recognition for taking the initiative to form a grass roots community effort to unify the multi-cultural business owners on South Avenue in Plainfield in a generous spirit of cooperation to beautify the business district and to protect and enhance the area’s economic environment
Achievement by a Student (Added in 2004)
2010 – Joseph Bonacorso, Arthur L. Johnson High School, Clark – Recognition for charting new waters to raise awareness about global human rights initiatives, while, more importantly, making them matter in his own small town back home
Recipient of the 2010 Award for Achievement by a Community Organization presented in 2007 by the New Jersey Human Relations Council
2009 – Diogo Cardoso, Union County Vocational-Technical High School – Recognition for defying the perception of physically challenged as a limitation by accomplishing academic and physical success, while inspiring others through personal strength and incredibly unselfish commitment to others
Recipient of the 2009 Award for Achievement by a Student presented in 2007 by the New Jersey Human Relations Council
2007 – Hassan Edwards, Union County Vocational-Technical School — Recognition for his natural tendencies and efforts to look out for others, and to seek and make peace among and between students
2006 – Thomas Callahan, Jr., Linden High School — Recognition for his ongoing selfless service, exceptional ability and willingness to serve his community and citizens of Union County
2005 – Cynthia Martinez, Rutgers University/Newark — Recognition for demonstrating what friendship can be, and serving as a role model to show that the synergy of two together is much greater than the sum of each alone
2004 – Amanda Chokov, Elizabeth High School — Recognition for projecting enthusiastic spirit for life, for overcoming challenges and difficulties, and for teaching valuable lessons to all who know her about appreciating life’s many blessings despite the challenges that confront us along the way
Achievement by an Educator (Added in 2010)
2010 – Jordan Siegel, Roselle Public Schools – Recognition for showing the heart, soul and body of violence and hate of yesterday and today to inspire students and the community to build a better tomorrow globally
Achievement by the Media
2005 – Gabriel Gluck, Star Ledger — Recognition for demonstrating a sensitivity for the needs and concerns of the community, especially the most vulnerable
2004 – Ralph Adinolfe, Publisher, Union County Voice — Recognition for demonstrating a sensitivity for the needs and concerns of the community, especially those who are most vulnerable
2003 – Robert Misseck, Star Ledger Union County Bureau Chief — Recognition for beautifully written “Neighbors” profiles series, appearing every Thursday in the Star Ledger’s “In Our Towns” section, which feature extraordinary efforts of individuals who stand out as exemplary role models.
2002 – Bob Braun, Star Ledger Columnist — Recognition for beautifully written human interest stories which have served to enlighten the public about special considerations and needs, and, in some instances, to obtain solutions and support services for those he writes about.
Achievement by Law Enforcement
2009 – Chief Robert Quinlan, Hillside Police Department — Recognition for demonstrating visionary leadership and support with the community on behalf of all citizens within that community — especially children while upholding the highest standards of integrity, honor and grace.
2007 – Maria Esteves, UCPO Victim/Witness Unit, Union County Prosecutor’s Office — Recognition for teaching us how you can endure the suffering from a personal tragedy, and still then reach out to help others avoid the same sorrowful loss
2006 – Assistant Prosecutor John Esmerado, Supervisor, Child Abuse Unit, Union County Prosecutor’s Office — Recognition for constant efforts on behalf of children who are victims of sexual or physical abuse and those who suffer from other human rights abuses
2005 – Detective Frank Bartone, Union County Sheriff’s Office — Recognition for his dedicated commitment of spirit and energy to, in his spare time, direct and produce a series of educational video programs to keep children and teens safe and out of harm’s way
2004 – Detective Robert Segear, Cranford Police Department — Recognition for his dedicated commitment of spirit and energy “to make a difference in the world because I was important in the life of a child”
2003 – Chief Edward Santiago, Plainfield Police Department — Recognition for his dedicated commitment of spirit and energy as the Chief of Police and private citizen to improve the human condition and relationships between and among the citizens of Plainfield and the larger Union County community
2002 – Lt. Guy M. Steward, Union County Prosecutor’s Office — Recognition for his enthusiastic response to a project commissioned by the UCHRC and Union County Prosecutor’s Office to improve communications and relations between Union County youth and law enforcement, and for asserting his own sensitivity and creativity that continue to make the PATT program a success
Achievement in Public Service
2009 – Union County Sexual Assault Response Team – Felicia Infante, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner; Tamara Bauman, Director, Union County Rape Crisis Center; and Assistant Prosecutor David Hummel, Union County Prosecutor’s Office — Recognition for the wide spectrum of round-the-clock assistance support provided by highly-trained and caring collaborators to sexual assault victims as they try to reclaim and rebuild their lives
2008 – Elizabeth Geminder — Recognition for her dedicated time, efforts and energies in professional, voluntary and personal efforts that brings comfort to and improves the lives of children, senior citizens, and underprivileged residents
2007 – Angel G. Estrada, Freeholder Vice Chairman, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders — Recognition for professional, political and personal efforts to advocate for and protect the human rights of minorities, children and senior citizens
2005 – The Honorable Joseph Cryan, Jr., New Jersey Assemblyman — Recognition for responding personally when confronted with individuals or families in the community who had extraordinary needs
2004 – The Honorable Thomas H. Kean, Jr., New Jersey Senator — Recognition for legislative, professional and personal efforts to protect and enhance the human rights of the developmentally disabled and senior citizens, advocating for children’s health and promoting the arts, and for protecting human life as an emergency service volunteer
2002 – Lewis Mingo, Jr., Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders — Recognition for exemplary volunteer service that aims to improve the quality of life for all Union County citizens, especially that of less privileged children
The Clergy (Added in 2006)
2009 – Father Donald Hummel, St. Agnes Church, Clark – Recognition for delivering while yet transcending that activity which is at hand to always offer a safe haven, a higher ground, and a loftier place to rest and believe the best for and about ourselves
2008 – Fountain Baptist Church / Reverend J. Michael Sanders – Recognition for the power and energy of individual and collective efforts to substantively address the long-term needs of the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
2006 – Reverend Joseph L. Adair — Recognition for providing extraordinary and courageous leadership in joining forces with law enforcement and other community organizations to marshal community venues to confront some of the community’s toughest problems
Achievement by a Faith-Based Organization (Added in 2010).
2010 – Westminster Comforters, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Berkeley Heights – Recognition for eloquently showcasing the connection between the fabric of a quilt and the fabric of a life of a child
Special Achievement Awards
2010 – Elisa Sananman – Recognition for her decades of service as an advocate, organizer, trailblazer and torch-bearer in initiatives that help to reclaim and reinvent life for refugees, and individuals with physical disabilities
2010 – Sandra Cureton – Recognition for being here, there and everywhere in her community, and always going the extra mile to deliver excellence and magnificence
2010 – Annie R. Lucas – Recognition for her continuous journey to improve the quality of life in the local and global communities
2010 – Flor Gonzales – Recognition for steadfast determination, commitment, perseverance and heart to help those in her community who desperately needed someone, and who found her
Recipient of the 2010 Award for Achievement by an Individual presented in 2007 by the New Jersey Human Relations Council
2009 – Lynn Bilman – Recognition for literally sharing a world of knowledge with young students to expand their worlds while helping them to internalize that, in their county or across the globe, it’s a small world, after all!
2009 – Margarite Robinson – Recognition for her embodiment as a role model ceaselessly working to improve the human condition and human spirit, and find equality for all
2009 – Herbert T. Green – Recognition for a lifetime of activities in the realm of education, voter registration dedicated to enhance the human spirit and improve the qualify of life and relationships for citizens of all ages
2008 – Angela Scheck — Recognition for striving toward creating a peaceful world by encouraging and teaching students and adults tolerance and respect, and how to peacefully resolve conflicts
2008 – Tricia Nering — Recognition for providing a caring place that demonstrates a big heart for humanity, with all the dignity it deserves
2007 – Kevin LaMastra, ESL / World Languages Teacher, Joseph E. Soehl Middle School, Linden — Recognition for bringing his own creative energies to bear to create programs and projects to confront some of the most profound challenges of our time,striving to bring peace to a world torn with strife.
2007 – Special Achievement Award in honor of Kevin Apuzzio (posthumously) — Award accepted by Dr. Joseph Apuzzio & Mrs. Marilee Apuzzio,Kevin’s parents — Recognition for a legacy of a man who is deemed to be great,even though his years were just a few.
2007 – Robert P. O’Leary, Executive Assistant Prosecutor (ret.), Union County Prosecutor’s Office — Recognition for a 27-year career accentuated by outstanding efforts to teach students about the dangers of wrong choices and save one life at a time
2007 – Karen E. Positan, Assistant Public Information Officer, Union County Prosecutor’s Office; Commissioner & Recording Secretary for the Union County Human Relations Commission — Recognition for her energy, enthusiasm, and untiringly selfless dedication to the work of the Commission and for the good of the community.
2006 – Stuart Green, M.S.W. — Founder/Chairman, New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness & Prevention — Recognition for bringing a high level of sensitivity and a high calibre of professional leadership in the area of awareness and prevention of bullying, intimidation, harassment and hazing in Cranford, Union County and in New Jersey
2006 – Wilson Londono, Los Faroles Restaurant, Elizabeth — Recognition for taking the time and finding the energy to add to the quality of life of citizens in the community that addresses the needs of the most at-risk
2006 – Joseph Nierle, Drama Teacher, Westfield High School — Recognition for producing plays that confront important contemporary issues that are controversial in nature, and afford an indelible experience upon those who participate as actors and viewers
2005 – Ina White — Recognition for a lifelong commitment on behalf of people with disabilities who face discrimination and limited opportunities and to champion the full inclusion of people with disabilities into society
2005 – Mary Krech — Recognition for extraordinary volunteerism and unselfish dedication to doing good deeds on behalf of anyone in need that she meets or finds out about along life’s pathways
2005 – Caroline Petrilla-Sagnip, Esq. — Recognition for her invaluable Conflict Mediation training and ongoing and dedicated support of the Union County Human Relations Commissioners, and our programs, activities and initiatives
2004 – Honorable Edward W. Beglin, Jr., Assignment Judge of the Superior Court, State of New Jersey
2004 – Honorable Rudolph N. Hawkins, Jr., Judge of the Superior Court, State of New Jersey— Recognition for providing enlightened and sensitive leadership in reaching out to assist troubled youth in Union County to rebuild their lives toward a brighter future with hope and promise
2003 – Dr. Thelma Hurd — Recognition for providing leadership that motivates high standards from students and teachers and emphasizing accountability and accomplishments
2003 – John Griffith — Recognition for spotlighting his dedicated extracurricular efforts to influence students and at-risk youth to stay in school and to commit themselves to high quality and advanced academic achievement, and for serving as a mentor to countless individuals throughout his career, including co-founding a mentoring organization at PSE&G
2002 – Victor Richel — Recognition for his humanitarianism as an individual, businessman, and board member
2002 – Robin Parker, former Deputy Attorney General, NJ Office of Bias Crime & Community Relations — Recognition for his outstanding and far-reaching efforts in the arena of human relations
The Union County Human Relations Commission would like to express its appreciation to these individuals for their invaluable contributions to revitalizing the Commission in 1997, and their continued leadership, dedication to, and support of, the Commission, its programs and activities.
2010 Charles Newman – from 2008 to 2010
2008 Alfred E. Brown, UCHRC Co-Chair, 2006-2008
2006 Helene Scheuer, UCHRC Co-Chair 2004-2006
2006 James F. Keefe, Esq., First Assistant Prosecutor 1997-2004; UCHRC Co-Chair 1997 to present
2006 SPECIAL PRESENTATION by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders Honoring
James F. Keefe, Esq., Union County Human Relations Commission Co-Chair (1997 to present) commemorating the Award for Achievement by Law Enforcement presented in 2007 by the New Jersey Human Relations Council, recognizing his high moral standards, keen sense of fairness, and highly valued qualities as a leader, role model and friend
2004 – Jack Weinshanker, UCHRC Co-Chair 2002-2004
2002 – Faheemah El-Amin, UCHRC Co-Chair 2000-2002
2000 – Thomas V. Manahan, Union County Prosecutor 1997-2002
Unity Award for Achievement by a Corporation