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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)May 13, 2002

MAHWAH, N.J., May 13, 2002 – On Wednesday, May 15, the spotlight will shine on unsung heroes from throughout New Jersey at the presentation ceremony for the Russ Berrie Award for Making A Difference.

The ceremony will be held at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah with an 11:30 a.m. reception and a 12:30 p.m. awards presentation. The program was established by Russ Berrie – founder, chairman and CEO of Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. – and Ramapo College of New Jersey to recognize unsung heroes from throughout the state of New Jersey who have made a significant difference to the well-being of their community and for whom the award would make a significant difference in their own lives.

Up to 20 unsung heroes will be recognized at the ceremony. The Russell Berrie Foundation, named in 2001 as the Outstanding Foundation by the Association for Fundraising Professionals (New Jersey Chapter), will provide top monetary awards of $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000 as well as runner-up grants of $2,500 each. A special category, with an additional cash award, has been added to the program this year to recognize New Jerseyans who made a difference in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks on America.

“These are people who dedicate their lives to improving or helping others,” said Berrie, whose company generates more than $300 in sales and employs more than 1,500 people worldwide. “I write the checks, but it is these people who are putting in the time and the effort.”

The finalists include:

Susan Adams of Egg Harbor Township, who is a certified riding instructor and executive director of the all-volunteer Atlantic Riding Center for the Handicapped (ARCH).

Ronald Cannella of Manalapan, a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with catastrophically injured people, helping them adjust to their disability and find ways to lead productive lives.

Amanda Feldman of Linwood, who is founder and director of Peer Partners, a youth volunteer group, works intensely on projects advocating the prevention of youth smoking, illiteracy, homelessness and birth defects.

Sister Jacinta Fernandes of Elizabeth, who is founder and director of St. Joseph’s Social Service Center and the Elizabeth Coalition for the Homeless, has been an unsung heroine for more than 30 years.

Allyson Gilbert of Middletown, who formed FAVOR (Friends Assisting Victims Of terroR) to help the families of the 34 residents of her town who perished on September 11.

April Harris of Hoboken, who founded the grassroots volunteer organization “In Jesus’ Name” to carry out the biblical message: “to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and help the poor.” “In Jesus’ Name” has been providing emergency food, formula, milk and winter clothing to the more vulnerable, especially children, for 13 years

James Heenan of Westville, who perished in the line of duty as a volunteer firefighter in March 2001, the first New Jersey firefighter to perish in the line of duty since 1999.

Joseph A. Neary of Fair Lawn, who is a support group leader and peer counselor for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Greater North Jersey Chapter.

Susan A. Nobleman of Green Village, who is a substance abuse prevention educator and leader for New Jersey’s high school and middle school populations.

George Reed of Irvington and Mohammed Sheraiah of Union, who acted with total disregard for their own safety, making repeated attempts to gain entry to a building where a semi-conscious resident was trapped by the most adverse fire conditions.

Robin Reilly of Oradell, an advocate, who runs an office to provide services for the chronic homeless during the day.

Phil Reynolds of Long Valley, who established Garden State EnviroNet to provide a voice to the environmental movement in New Jersey.

Barbara Salamy of Long Valley, who is the founder of Optimum Chance, a nonprofit organization that provides free, quality early intervention services for babies and families in need in Third World countries.

Larry Smith of Wharton, who founded, organized and has since directed the Police Athletic League program for Dover’s youth.

Emergency room physician, Dr. Anna Sweany of Middletown, who opened Our Lady of Providence Free Medical Clinic in Neptune four years ago – realizing her dream of opening a free clinic that would be open in the evenings.

Nancy Woods of Bergenfield, who is the volunteer full-time coordinator for the Interreligious Fellowship for the Homeless.

Helen Wycoff of Butler, who has been an active member of the Tri-Boro First Aid Squad for more than 29 years, including multiple terms as president and lieutenant, and a New Jersey State First Aid Delegate for more than 20 years.

Linda Yolman of Wyckoff, a foster mother who has opened her home to 144 children over the past 32 years.

Russ Berrie founded Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. in 1963, and over the last 39 years has built the company into the world’s premier gift company. In addition to his business accomplishments, Berrie devotes boundless energy and resources to numerous charitable causes.

Russ Berrie and Company, Inc. is headquartered in Oakland, New Jersey. The company designs, manufactures and distributes approximately 6,000 seasonal and everyday gift products to retailers worldwide. Its diverse range of products includes everything from teddy bears and other stuffed animals to baby gifts, picture frames, candles, figurines and home decor gifts.

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s public liberal arts college, serving 5,200 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 20 states and 60 nations. The College named its newly opened 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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