Clark Rec Director and UNICO President Ralph Bernardo will be honored along with several others at An Evening of Thanks, the first annual Union County Family Service Awards at the Galloping Hill Golf Club in Kenilworth.
The Oct. 24 event will recognize and honor individuals from different communities in Union County who serve families in need in extraordinary ways in their civic and private lives. NJ State Assemblyman Jon Bramnick will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the event. Union County Freeholder Alexander Mirabella is the Honorary Event Chair, joined by an Event Committee of 20 community volunteers.
Ten citizens from Union County have been selected to receive the 2013 Union County Family Service Award. The honorees were nominated by the mayor of their municipality and chosen through a competitive process by an independent selection committee based on five criteria: 1) commitment to families; 2) support for families in need; 3) service to Union County families; 4) impact; and 5) longevity of service.
"I was very happy, honored and proud when I received a letter in the mail last week," Bernardo told Patch. "Volunteering time to run UNICO and all that encompasses – a lot of work, working weekends, holidays and long hours to bring great programs and joy to the residents of Clark – is actually quite easy when you love the town you live in, love the job you work, and enjoy the people, seniors and children I deal with every day."
"Our honorees are an inspiration to me and to my colleagues at Homefirst and to everyone who cares about families in need. They work quietly and faithfully to support and strengthen families facing adversity and we are very excited to salute them at An Evening of Thanks on Oct. 24," said Ellen McGovern, Homefirst's executive director. The other honorees include: Edith Coogan, Cranford; James Grover, Fanwood; Dolores Hynes, Linden; Sigrid Patsch, Mountainside; Ruth Robina, New Providence; Sarah Cadogan, Plainfield; Jacqueline Mitchell, Roselle; Lisa and Peter McNamara, Westfield and Frank Anderson, Winfield Park.
The goals of The 2013 Union County Family Service Awards program are: (1) to raise awareness about families in need; (2) to celebrate local citizens who volunteer their time to help their neighbors; (3) to encourage other individuals to make a commitment to serve families in need; and (4) to support the many free programs made available to low income families in Union County by Homefirst.
The evening will start at 6 p.m. with a wine & hors d’oeuvres reception, featuring music from At Ease, a Westfield High School jazz group and the Florian Schantz Jazz Combo of Westfield, followed by the awards ceremony and dinner at 7:30PM. The event will include a live auction as well as entertainment provided by the Celebration Singers, a community choral group based in Cranford. Ellen McGovern, Executive Director, will speak on behalf of Homefirst and will present a film about the agency’s services and their impact on families and children in need. The evening is scheduled to conclude by 10 p.m.
Established in 1986 in Plainfield, Homefirst delivers comprehensive solutions to homelessness by providing transitional and permanent housing, homeless prevention assistance and family support services. Working with a diverse coalition of partners, including community groups, religious congregations, foundations, businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and volunteers, Homefirst is a leader in Central New Jersey in assisting families experiencing homelessness and in preventing homelessness. Homefirst uses innovative national models to give families the tools and the resources they need to overcome adversity and develop self-sufficiency.