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North Jersey Region Honors Extraordinary Volunteers

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It’s heartwarming to see all the ways volunteers are helping to fulfill the Red Cross mission.

The American Red Cross North Jersey Region honored some exceptional volunteers at three volunteer recognition events held last month. Each of the region’s three chapters presented an Outstanding Volunteer Service Award, an Outstanding Youth Involvement Award and Pacesetter Awards.

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“Volunteers are the heart of the Red Cross,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “I continue to be in an awe of the remarkable work our volunteers do each and every day to bring Red Cross programs and services to communities across the region. On behalf of the entire North Jersey Region, I want extend our sincere thanks for the exceptional work of our volunteers.”

American Red Cross New Jersey Crossroads recognized its volunteers during a ceremony on Thursday, January 15 in Summit. Executive Director Christy Hodde presented the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award to Julie Siciliano. 

During her tenure with the organization, Siciliano has been active in Disaster Services and has responded to numerous large-scale disasters to comfort, support and provide assistance to affected families. Siciliano has supported disaster operations during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, as well as following New Jersey flooding and home fires. Siciliano is also an active Service to the Armed Forces volunteer who co-chaired a program at the East Orange VA Hospital where she and her fellow volunteers assisted veterans training to compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games held in Philadelphia this past August.

Jordan Gross, chairperson with the Morris Youth Council, was awarded the Outstanding Youth Involvement Award for her efforts to help educate children in her community through Red Cross Scrubby Bear and The Pillowcase Project programs. Peer education is a passion for Gross. She served as Peer Education Chairperson for two years and trained more than 15 Red Cross Youth Council members to become Peer Education Presenters for Scrubby Bear programs. 

On Thursday, January 22, the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey presented the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award to Holly Lenhardt in recognition of her work as volunteer partner to the region’s Senior Disaster Programs Manager, as well as her help during the roll out of the region’s Disaster Cycles Services model. Lenhardt was also acknowledged for her support of her fellow volunteers. She is always eager to learn new Red Cross systems and procedure so that she can mentor and guide other volunteers. 

“Everyone here at the Red Cross is grateful for the work these stellar volunteers are doing,” said Paul Sullivan, chair, American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, who presented the awards alongside fellow board members Ed Susco and Michael Festa. “It’s heartwarming to see all of the different ways volunteers are helping to fulfil the mission of the Red Cross.”

Under the leadership of Varun Ravichandran, the James Caldwell High School Red Cross Club has brought numerous Red Cross events to their community. The club has held multiple fundraisers to benefit the creation of “Kids Care Kits,” which will be distributed to Essex County children displaced by home fires. It also actively supports blood drives and Scrubby Bear programs in the Caldwell area. For his leadership and dedication to the Red Cross mission, Ravichandran was honored with the Outstanding Youth Involvement Award by the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey. 

Robert Morgan, member, American Red Cross of Central New Jersey Board of Directors, presented awards on behalf of the chapter on Thursday, January 29 at the Red Cross regional headquarters in Princeton. Carmella and Tommy Ditmars earned the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. The couple dedicates an average of 250 hours a month to helping New Jerseyans become better prepared for disasters. They have a flair for getting children excited about disaster preparedness and frequently support child-friendly Red Cross preparedness initiatives in the community, including The Pillowcase Project and the Boy Scout Emergency Preparedness Cubarama

The Edison Red Cross Club accepted the Outstanding Youth Involvement Award for their continued efforts to help fulfill the Red Cross mission in their community. The club was a driving force behind the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign fire safety canvassing event held in October in Perth Amboy. Additionally, the club has entertained veterans at the Menlo VA Memorial Home, held food collections for local food banks, participated in disaster preparedness and fire safety training at elementary schools, hosted multiple blood drives and sent holiday cheer to veterans and members of the military through the Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

“I do my small part volunteering with the Red Cross by serving on Central New Jersey’s Board of Directors and donating blood,” said Morgan,. “But what I do is nowhere near the dedication and the commitment that all of you in this room have. I’m proud to share the room with you.”

The region also presented Outstanding Community Partner Awards to the ECLC of New Jersey, the City of Perth Amboy and the Newark Department of Fire & Fire Safety for their involvement with Red Cross programs and services. 

PACESETTER AWARD RECIPIENTS

American Red Cross New Jersey Crossroads: Judy Chester, Tish Corvino, Hart Coven, Elizabeth Hissim, Sheila Keefe, Anne LaFontaine, Molly Lenz, Frank Manniello, Lou Piccoli, Victor Prasad and Joe Runkle.

American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey: Ed Callahan, Robert Fischer, Bill Lampert, Paul Lalka, Aida Lopez, Ginny Molinaro, Maureen Moniz, Lisa Saeman, Sydney Scirica, Carol Lee Spages, Fred Spages and Albert Warren.

American Red Cross of Central New Jersey: Mary Brown, Barbara Flagg, Claire Geyer, Marv Goodman, Irwin Horowitz, Allie Mathews, Mary Petti, Thomas Seel, Michele Termini and Shawn Watters.

READ MORE about the region’s exceptional volunteers. 

BECOME A VOLUNTEER Volunteers constitute more than 90% of the total workforce to carry out our humanitarian work. There are a variety of ways people can get involved and the Red Cross is looking for diverse volunteers of all ages and skill levels. Join us!