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RUSS BERRIE AWARD FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE WINNERS ANNOUNCED Fallen Westville Firefighter Honored Posthumously With Top Cash Award of $50,000; A Total of 19 Unsung Heroes Receive Recognition and Cash Grants Additional Category Honors Heroes of September 11

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)May 15, 2002

MAHWAH, N.J. — MAY 15, 2002 — The family of James Heenan of Westville, a volunteer firefighter who perished in the line of duty, accepted the top award and a $50,000 grant to the James Heenan Trust Fund at today’s Sixth Annual Celebration of the Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference.

A total of 19 finalists were distinguished with cash grants during the Awards Ceremony, which was held at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah. The top three finalists, chosen by a selection committee comprising eminent New Jersey business leaders and professionals, received cash awards of $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000.

Susan Nobleman of Green Village, who is a substance abuse prevention educator and leader for New Jersey’s high school and middle school populations, received a $35,000 award.

Dr. Anna Sweany of Middletown, who opened Our Lady of Providence Free Medical Clinic in Neptune four years ago, received a $25,000 award.

Sixteen additional New Jersey residents received cash awards of $2,500 each. The 19 finalists were selected from a record 300 nominations by an advisory board comprising distinguished New Jersey business leaders and professionals, led by Dr. Rodney D. Smith, President of Ramapo College of New Jersey, and Josh Weston, Honorary Chairman of Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP).

The Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference was established in 1997 by philanthropist Russ Berrie and Ramapo College of New Jersey to recognize unsung heroes 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.

The Russell Berrie Foundation was named the 2001 Outstanding Foundation by the Association for Fundraising Professionals (New Jersey Chapter). In addition to total monetary awards of $150,000, a special category, with an additional cash award, was 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 million 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 to make the world a better place.”

Addressing the honorees and guests were Elizabeth G. Christopherson, executive director of NJN Public Television and Radio, and. U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews of Haddon Heights.

Recipients of cash grants of $2,500 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

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.

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.

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

Helen Wyckoff 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.

A special category was added this year to recognize New Jersey’s heroes of September 11. In addition to recognition for their selfless acts, the following persons each received monetary awards of $2,500:

Andy Deane of Wayside, a college student living, working a studying in lower Manhattan, who assisted firefighters on the scene after leading a group through dust and smoke filled streets to safety.

Christopher C. Marley of Manalapan, a building engineer who helped evacuate workers from nearby buildings, including Mayor Giuliani and members of his staff who were trapped by debris.

After retrieving his evacuation chair from a storage area, a group of 10 Port Authority employees carried co-worker John Abruzzo — a quadriplegic — down 69 floors of the World Trade Center’s North Tower, reaching the street just minutes before its collapse. Philip Caffrey of Rutherford, Michael Curci of Edison, Michael Ambrosio of North Bergen, Gerald Simpkins of Jersey City, Anthony Pecora of Fanwood, Wilson Pacheco of North Bergen, Margaret Zoch of East Rutherford, Peter Bitwinski of Bayonne, Michael Fabiano of Rutherford and Richard Capriotti of Massapequa Park, N.Y. each received $2,500.

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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