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Unsung Heroes Distinguished As Finalists For Russ Berrie Award For Making A Difference

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)May 12, 2004

19 New Jersey Residents to be Honored for Giving Back to Their Communities

MAHWAH, N.J., May 12 2004 – Among the 19 finalists considered for the 2004 Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference are a six-year-old who saved a playmate from choking to death, an off-duty nurse who performed life-saving CPR on a stranger who collapsed near her home, a devoted mother who fostered 120 children in need over the last 30 years, and an American soldier who pushed his driver to safety before dying in an Iraqi bomb explosion.

These New Jerseyans will be honored during ceremonies at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah on May 27. The top three finalists, chosen by a selection committee comprising eminent New Jersey business leaders and professionals, will receive cash awards of $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000. Other finalists will receive grants of $2,500.

Delivering the keynote address will be Emme, the nation’s first plus-size supermodel who is a vocal advocate for women of all ages to be fit and healthy. Chair ambassador of the National Eating Disorders Association, she is also a national ambassador for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and an advisory board member for Dress for Success.

This year’s finalists include:

Loretta Shea Campbell of Waldwick, a devoted and dedicated foster parent for Children’s Aid and Family Services for more than 30 years. She opened her home and heart to 120 children in need.

Stephanie M. Clark of North Brunswick, founder and CEO of My Daughter’s Keeper, Inc., helps other mothers by providing support and resources to strengthen relationships between mothers and daughters and identify realistic solutions to problems and issues they face.

Seth Dvorin of Pennington, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, died when an Iraqi bomb exploded. He saved the lives of 17 other men in his unit and than of his driver, whom he pushed to safety before the bomb was detonated.

Jason M. Gibis of Cape May swam through high seas and near gale force winds to rescue an incapacitated sailor. He secured a towline to the boat, then monitored the owner’s medical condition despite his own bouts of seasickness and fatigue during the four-hour tow to safe harbor.

Clare Golden of Newton is a volunteer for Healing the Children. She visits, at her own expense, impoverished nations to provide medical care to children in need.

Ed Lucas of Jersey City is a sportswriter and fundraiser. Legally blind since the age of 12, he volunteers to help raise funds and awareness for blind and physically disabled children, spending thousands of hours traveling to give speeches to service organizations.

Shimul Shimmy” Mehta of Rutherford founded a nonprofit organization,, a web-based philanthropic organization with links to 65 health care centers to help them realize their wish lists. To date, Angelwish has helped grant more than 5,000 wishes.

Sr. Alice McCoy, O.P. of Jersey City is founder and director of the Hudson Hospice Volunteers. Working out of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, she runs a soup kitchen and a free clothing store.” Her goal is to purchase property and build a home for Hudson County’s terminally ill residents.

Sr. Barbara Moran, CSIP, Ed.D. of Teaneck is a pioneer in the field of early childhood development and education among homeless families. She is the founding director of The Nurturing Place in Jersey City, a program that attracts visitors from across the country and abroad who hope to duplicate the program in their own communities.

Kathleen Pearson of Princeton, director of health and safety for the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey, is credited with saving the life of a pregnant mother and her four year old son after a Christmas Eve auto accident caused by a drunk driver.

College sophomore Haley Rae Reimbold of Roosevelt combines academic achievement and volunteerism, taking part in countless events for homeless and needy families, Special Olympics events, blood drives and meals at shelters and soup kitchens. She is the director of HAVOC, Hamilton Action Volunteer Outreach Coalition, the student organization that helps the local community.

Hillary Roberts of Keyport is president of Project Linus NJ, Inc. Based in Monmouth County, 3,700 blanketeers” from throughout the state have created 15,000 handmade blankets, preemie sets and handcrafted toys, sending them to 120 nonprofit agencies, hospitals and homeless shelters for distribution to children suffering serious illness and trauma .

Sheila Shuford of Randolph founded the Deaf Contact Center, an organization to assist deaf and hearing-impaired people with communication, more than 20 years ago. She teaches sign language classes to hearing people and is preparing for a new career as a chaplain to serve those who are deaf in hospitals, nursing homes and state institutions for the mentally ill.

Arlene R.B. Sullivan of Towaco is an artist and executive director of Changing Images Art Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing beauty to institutional settings through collaborative artwork. Sullivan creates murals to provide cheer and hope to patients, primarily in the New Jersey/New York area but also as far away as Kosovo.

William Thomas of Rahway jumped into the frigid waters of the Rahway River to rescue a woman trapped by her partially submerged car. He freed her clothing from the vehicle, then pulled her to safety. He learned later that the accident victim was a mother of a young child with another on the way.

Karnig Thomasian of River Edge is a WWII veteran who survived a Japanese POW camp in Rangoon, Burma. In 1999, he became a National Service Officer (NSO) to help aging former POWs deal with the effects of severe, war-related conditions attributed to the torture, starvation and psychological brainwashing endured in prison camps.

Catherine Turner of Dumont is a registered nurse who is credited with saving the life of a man who had collapsed on her lawn and stopped breathing. She administered CPR until the arrival of paramedics, who used a defibrillator and other emergency measures to restore his vital signs.

Dr. R. Brian Ullmann of Ramsey is a prosthodontist and dentist who provides dental care to the poor and homeless. Since he founded Eva’s Village three years ago, he has recruited other dental specialists who provide emergency and long-term care. Over the past year, the clinic has handled 5,000 patient visits.

Erik Wegner of Emerson, age six, saved the life of his friend, Brian Griggs, who fell head first into a box of packing popcorn” while the two were playing in the backyard. When Griggs inhaled a piece of the packing material and it stuck in his throat, Wegner remembered learning the Heimlich maneuver and on his third attempt, dislodged the popcorn” from his playmate’s windpipe.

Late philanthropist and businessman Russ Berrie created the award in 1997 to honor the efforts of those who give back to the community, without thought of recognition or reward, and inspire others to action.

Russ Berrie founded Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. in 1963, and throughout the last 40 years built the company into the world’s premier gift company. Headquartered in Oakland, New Jersey. The company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries design, develop and distribute approximately 8,000 gift, home decòr, infant and juvenile products to retailers worldwide.

In addition to his business accomplishments, Mr. Berrie devoted boundless energy and resources to numerous charitable causes, earning recognition in 1998 as one of the 40 most generous Americans by Fortune Magazine. His widow, Angelica Berrie, shared his passion for giving and now leads the Russell Berrie Foundation’s efforts to realize his philanthropic vision.

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s public liberal arts college, serving 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 20 states and 60 nations. The College named its center for performing and visual arts, the site of the Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference ceremony, in honor of both Mr. Berrie and his wife Angelica.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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