Gottheimer, on Facebook live, recognized more than 100 Fifth District Coronavirus Hometown Heroes Awardees for their dedication to helping the lives of their neighbors, families, and all Jersey residents during the coronavirus.
“Today is a great day because we are here to acknowledge and honor our standout neighbors, friends, coworkers, leaders, and frontline workers, who have volunteered, served, or worked to help others in North Jersey throughout this pandemic and who kept families safe and healthy,” Gottheimer said.
“It goes without saying that, unfortunately, we are living through an incredibly difficult time in our country, with a pandemic constantly looming over our heads and economic uncertainty being highlighted on cable news and social media. If you pick up the paper, there is far more attention being placed on what’s going wrong with America, and far too little attention on what’s going right,” Gottheimer said at the ceremony. “But then, stories crop up here and there about someone making PPE, a neighbor opening up a food pantry or raising money for charity, and you realize that we just don’t spend enough time showcasing all of the good that happens every day — not enough time recognizing what it means to be a great citizen in the greatest country in the world.”
“During this crisis, I know we are stronger together when we celebrate what’s right in the world. I am so proud to be your representative and am thankful every day for what all of you have done for our community,” Gottheimer said.
Here is the full list of those honored:
- Sandy Wozniak, Andover
- Gordon and Mike Geerhart, Branchville
- Steve Losey, Frankford
- Darlene Pallay, Franklin Borough
- Andrew Thomas, Franklin Borough
- Anthony Corcella, Fredon Township
- Sandy Polizzo, Hampton Township
- Dennis Becker, Newton
- Robert Boyle, Newton
- Father Robert Griner, Newton
- Jim Hofmann, Newton
- Frank Leone, Newton
- Mark Maruska, Newton
- Lisa Martin, Sandyston Township
- Dean Voris, Stillwater Township
- Lillian Kornmeyer, Sussex County
- Scott Raghubir, Sussex County
- Lois Marples, Vernon Township
- Jacob Lopez, Vernon Township
- Kevin Mitchell, Vernon Township
- Scott Jahnke, Vernon Township
- Linda Smigen, Vernon Township
- Lindsay Van Zile McAloney, Vernon Township
- Aileen Donovan, Wantage Township
- Melissa Fortuna, Wantage Township
- Curtis Raye, Wantage township
- Mike Dalton, Ringwood
- Don Biery, Blairstown Township
- Emily Pilny, Blairstown Township
- Marco DeFilippis, Frelinghuysen Township
- Michael Citarelli, Hackettstown
- Stewart Ginsburg, Hackettstown
- Brian Gragnolati, Hackettstown
- Trish O’Keefe, Hackettstown
- Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller, Hackettstown
- Franco Lombardo, Hope Township
- Michael Madonna, Mansfield Township
- Eleanor Russell, Mansfield Township
- John Smith, Bergenfield
- Kate Smith-Cooper, Bogota
- David Smith-Cooper, Bogota
- Melissa Aldana, Dumont
- Kayla McEwan, Dumont
- Mark Savino, Emerson
- Judy Miller, Fair Lawn
- Michele Villani, Fair Lawn
- Tom Jennings, Glen Rock
- Greg Carter, Glen Rock
- Joanne Perry, Glen Rock
- Yadvinder Singh, Glen Rock
- Kelly & Cori Carroll, Hackensack
- Robert Garrett, Hackensack
- Mark Sparta, Hackensack
- Dianne Aroh, Hackensack
- Ray Germoso, Hackensack
- Jaffar Wahdat, Hackensack
- Dawn Bogosian, Harrington Park
- John Sullivan, Haworth
- Beatrice Garrone, Lodi
- Jeff Lavender, Lodi
- Gary Manjikian Vahan, Lodi
- Dawn Paladino, Lodi
- Jagdeep Singh, Lodi
- Ari Starkman, Lodi
- Suzanne Curry, Mahwah
- Michael Pronto, Montvale
- Natalie Ix, New Milford
- Sameer ‘Sunny’ Parikh, New Milford
- Richard Bucher, Oakland
- Charlie Stoppiello, Oakland
- Ariana Altman, Oradell
- Sophia Gaffin, Oradell
- Dara Lennon, Oradell
- Jane and Bernadette Lombardi, Oradell
- Alex Saldana, Oradell
- Cheryl Ziller, Oradell
- Jennifer Aydin, Paramus
- Debbie Cibelli, Paramus
- Deborah Visconi, Paramus
- Gian Varbaro, Paramus
- Thomas Amitrano, Paramus
- Scott Laughton, Park Ridge
- Suzi Gerace, Park Ridge
- Lisa Schreiber, Park Ridge
- Katerina Romnios, Ramsey
- Jack and Genny Allard, Ridgewood
- Lisa May, Ridgewood
- Audrey Meyers, Ridgewood
- Joe Yallowitz, Ridgewood
- Ann Marie Leichman, Ridgewood
- Ryan Berman, River Edge
- Melissa Goldstein, River Edge
- Andy Neville, Rochelle Park
- Paul Rosenberg, Saddle River
- Lisa Cifalino, Teaneck
- Michael Maron, Teaneck
- Adam Jarrett, Teaneck
- Michele Acito, Teaneck
- Felicia Temple, Teaneck
- Elias Sanchez, Teaneck
- Rolando Monserrat, Teaneck
- Marquis Williams, Teaneck
- Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Teaneck
- Betty Kay, Teaneck
- Ofra Parmett, Teaneck
- Srinii Rao, Upper Saddle River
- Erica Ruggieri, Upper Saddle River
- Waldwick Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Waldwick
- Mann Singh, Washington Township
- Ralph & Julie Colantuano, Westwood
- Cooper Smith, Westwood
- Walter DiMattia, Woodcliff Lake
- Melissa Milano, Wyckoff
- Tina O’Shea, Wyckoff
- Karen Patton, Wyckoff
- Samara Latronica, Wyckoff
- Bob Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health; Mark Sparta, President of Hackensack Meridian Health; Dianne Aroh, Chief Nursing and Patient Officer, Hackesnack
The team at Hackensack Meridian Health, Bob Garrett, CEO; Mark Sparta, President of HUMC; and Dianne Aroh, Chief Nursing and Patient Officer. Mark and Dianne are here with us today. Some have said that through crisis comes innovation and Hackensack has been at the forefront by not only providing excellent care to coronavirus patients but by developing a COVID19 rapid-response test, revolutionary diagnostic tools, plasma research, and clinical trials. To everyone at HUMC, thank you for being true Hometown Heroes.
- Deborah Visconi New Bridge Medical Center President and CEO; Dr. Gian Varbaro, CMO New Bridge Medical Center; Thomas Amitrano, Chief Nursing Officer
What’s incredible about all our health systems in the Fifth District is that they all worked together to solve this problem. Thanks to Deb’s leadership, Gian’s knowledge, and Thomas’ ingenuity, New Bridge was able to stay on top of a rapidly evolving health crisis and save countless lives. Working with the Army Corps of Engineers, they built alternate care facilities on site, including a 100 bed annex. New Bridge created a Telehealth program that expedited care and was instrumental in early treatment. They were also able to bring mobile testing sites to communities throughout Bergen County, testing over 30,000 patients. To the New Bridge team, congratulations on becoming Hometown Heroes.
- Audrey Meyers, CEO of Valley Hospital; Joe Yallowitz, CMO; Ann Marie Liechman, Chief Nursing Officer at Valley Hospital
Another incredible health system that we are so lucky to have in New Jersey, Valley was instrumental in treating our COVID patients thanks to everyone there. What struck Joe most was a nurse who used to work with him years ago and asked how she could help. Because of the outpouring of support, Joe made a list of all the doctors who stepped up to help, but the list became so long! To this day, valley has had over 900 patients successfully recover. Audrey, Joe, and Ann Marie, thank you for your leadership and you are true Hometown Heroes.
- Michael Maron, CEO of Holy Name Hospital; Dr. Adam Jarrett CMO; and Michele Acito Chief Nursing Officer
Thank you to Michael Maron, CEO of Holy Name Hospital; Dr. Adam Jarrett Chief Medical Officer; and Michele Acito Director of Nursing Operations. There is so much that can be said about these three individuals right here but to sum it up, they have helped us beat this pandemic along with all our healthcare workers. At their peak, they had over 250 patients in the hospitals with COVID and 45 on ventilators. For perspective, a normal ICU has 19 beds and usually 8-10 people on ventilators. This team designed pop ICU’s to handle the influx. Their dedication and professionalism during this crisis have been remarkable and their ability to stay positive and focused on saving lives despite the overwhelming number of cases that Holy Name was incredible. To everyone at Holy Name, you are all Hometown Heroes.
- Brian Gragnolati, President and CEO of Atlantic Health System Newton and Hackettstown; Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller, CMO; Trish O’Keefe, Chief Nursing Officer of Hackettstown and Newton Medical Center
Brian Gragnolati who is the President and CEO of Atlantic, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller, Chief Medical Officer, and Trish O’Keefe have been instrumental in managing the six hospitals in Newton and Hackettstown, and averting countless layoffs. Trish is with us today. One incredible story that I hear is that hospital rooms were equipped with ipads so patients would be able to zoom with their family members. Thoughts like that are what make Atlantic Health such a great place. Not only were they able to help save lives, but they kept people working. For that, they are true Hometown Heroes.
- Jack and Genny Allard
Jack, a former two time All-American Lacrosse player at Bates, became ill with Coronavirus and was in a coma for 20 days. Genny would not stop until her son got the proper treatment and was vocal about the effects this virus had on young people. This allowed Jack’s doctor to lead a Remdesivir trial for many other patients, also saving their lives. Jack woke up on April 7th and was released from the hospital and is still recovering but the worst is over. Their strength, advocacy, and courage during this difficult time are what make them true Hometown Heroes.
- Dr Paul Rosenberg
Dr. Paul Rosenberg from Saddle River nominated by Mayor Al Kurpis. Dr. Rosenberg organized volunteers, raised money, donated and repurposed his manufacturing facility to fabricate over 50,0000 protective face shields and then donated them to first responders and local hospitals for health care workers. He has shown incredible leadership, generosity, and a model of ideal community volunteerism that is infectious. Dr. Rosenberg congratulations on being a Hometown Hero.
- Mansfield Community Policing Officers
Michael and Ellie put their lives on the line during this pandemic and have gone above and beyond every day protecting their community and making everyone safer. Thank you to all of you, I am honored to call you Hometown Heroes.
- Judy Miller
Judy is a mom of two girls ages 10 and 15 who worked as the Manager for an interior design company. When the pandemic started, Judy had multiple fabric samples for material that had been discontinued and started to make masks for her community. After receiving donations, Judy gave all the money to the local food pantry. Judy, your selflessness during the pandemic is incredible. I am proud to name you a Hometown Hero.
- John Smith
John Smith from Bergenfield nominated by Mayor Arvin Amatorio. John Smith has dedicated his life to serving our nation and our community. He is a Vietnam War Veteran and a former police officer from Garfield. Throughout the years, he has volunteered as a baseball coach, served as the Quartermaster of Bergenfield VFW Post 6467, as a valued member of the Bergenfield Zoning Board and the Veterans Advisory Committee. Since the 2nd week of March, John has been volunteering his time, 7 days a week, to receive, organize, and distribute the hundreds of grocery and food donations brought to the Bergenfield VFW Post 6467 temporary food bank. John, thank you for your continued service to this country. I am proud to call you a Hometown Hero.
- LT. Mark Savino
Mark Savino from Emerson, nominated by Mayor Danielle DiPaola. Mark has been an Emerson Police Officer since 1997. He is presently a Lieutenant in charge of patrol and is the Coordinator of Emerson’s Office of Emergency Management. Mark’s efforts in juggling his responsibilities as a Lieutenant in the Emerson Police Department and as the town’s Office of Emergency Management Coordinator during the COVID19 pandemic should be commended and recognized due to his excellent performance in both roles. Mark, I am proud to name you a Hometown Hero.
- Suzanne Curry
Suzanne Curry from Mahwah, nominated by Bergen County Freeholder Mary Amoroso. Suzanne started a fundraiser called Care Cards for Corona Caregivers for healthcare workers at Holy Name Hospital to show the community’s appreciation. She partnered with two other women to distribute Dairy Queen gift cards for Holy Name healthcare workers who were on the front-lines of COVID. Suzanne raised $1,500 which was matched by an additional $1,500 by a local Dairy Queen. Suzanne, I am proud to name you a Hometown Hero.
- Kevin Mitchell and Scott Jahnke
Kevin Mitchell and Scott Jahnke from Vernon nominated by Vernon Police Chief Dan Young who prepared free meals for more than 30 senior citizens every single day since the outbreak. As owners of The Tracks Deli, they quickly jumped into action to provide meals for those in need. What originally started as a “Hot Dog Lunch” transformed into full dinners and platters. Kevin and Scott, thank you so much, you are true Hometown Heroes.
- Linda Smigen
Linda Smigen of Vernon, the creator and facilitator of Vernon Cares. Working with Kevin and Scott of The Tracks Deli, Linda organized over 100 volunteers who delivered meals to local residents, seniors and first responders and helped to restock local food pantries. Linda also arranged for no contact drop off/pick up of donated masks. Linda, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do, I am proud to call you a Hometown Hero.
- Steve Losey
Fire Chief Steve Losey from the Frankford Fire Department. Steve was integral in organizing parades and birthday parties in Sussex County to brighten everyone’s day. I’m told that they had 14 requests for parades in one day. The culmination of these parades was a 72 mile event with fire trucks, ambulances, and military vehicles. Chief Losey, thank you for not only serving on the frontlines, but making everyone’s day a bit brighter. You are a true Hometown Hero.
- Felicia Temple
Felicia Temple from Teaneck who is a former contestant on “The Voice” and Holy Name Nurse. Felicia put her music career on hold to return to her old job at Holy Name and care for COVID-19 patients there. She was on tour overseas when the announcement came that the borders were closing. Felicia’s sacrifice for the greater good of the community is the perfect example of why she is a Hometown Hero.
- Ariana Altman, Ryan Berman, Sophia Gaffin, Melissa Goldstein and Dara Lennon]
Five Sophomores from River Dell High School in Oradell, Ariana Altman, Ryan Berman, Sophia Gaffin, Melissa Goldstein and Dara Lennon who created an Instagram page titled valley.bracelets to sell string bracelets to their friends, family and people within the community. Within the first month, they sold over $1000 dollars worth of bracelets; spending their weekday afternoons Facetiming each other while they assembled them and spent their weekends riding their bikes around town making deliveries. They also purchased women’s crocs for healthcare workers, and purchased food from local businesses for those healthcare workers who were working long hours in the hospital. Thank you, you are all Hometown Heroes.
- Lisa Cifalino
Lisa Cifalino from Teaneck who is a nurse at Holy Name Medical Center. Lisa has a special story where she personally drove to Queens to pick up an 82-year old woman named Marie Lancaster. Marie was suffering from COVID-19. Lisa taped garbage bags to her car to prevent herself from being infected and brought Marie to Holy Name Medical Center where she made a full recovery. Lisa, thank you for going above and beyond to save someone, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Jim Hofmann
Jim Hofmann from Newton who is a STEM teacher and the robotics coach at Newton High School who started his own 3D printing operation, “PPE Made in America”, in his basement coordinating his students, local businesses, and other community members. I am told that Jim is a pillar in the community and has worked with several members to get these facemasks to the right people. Jim, thank you for your ingenuity and dedication to the community. You are a true Hometown Hero.
- Mark Maruska
Mark Maruska from Newton who is the owner of Gravity Design Works, Inc. Mark, working closely with robotics teacher Jim Hofmann who I just recognized, made and donated 8,000 face shields, which he distributed to hospitals, nursing homes, the Newton Police, and Franklin Police. Mark organized 45 different people who had 3D printers at home to make the pieces and assemble the face shields. Each face shield that he made was engraved with the words “Lovingly crafted by many thankful hands in Newton, NJ” with the added words “USA” and “Stay safe!” Mark, thank you for everything you have done, I am proud to call you a Hometown Hero.
- Jeff Lavender
Jeff Lavender from Lodi nominated by Boys and Girls Club CEO Joe Licata. Jeff single-handedly started a food operation for residents in need, which has now grown to a food pantry called “American Eagle Food Pantry of Northern NJ. Jeff has been helping over 4,800 families, the most vulnerable and residents in need by ensuring they had food and essential supplies during the COVID-19 crisis. Jeff, thank you for your commitment to the community during this crisis, you are a Hometown Hero.
- Debbie Cibelli
Debbie Cibelli is from Paramus and is the Chairwoman of the Paramus Community Pantry which delivers food to those recovering at home from COVID-19. Debbie and her volunteers are responsible for serving over 1,000 meals to those in need to over 60 families during the height of the pandemic. Debbie said “”I’m very passionate about what I do,” and “I just really want to help those who I can.” Debbie did just that by stepping up and being a true Hometown Hero. Debbie, thank you.
- Alex Saldana
Alex Saldana from Oradell Boy Scout Troop 36 who every night played the Marine Corps Hymn and Taps in front of the New Jersey Veterans Home in Paramus. He was inspired to give back because his dad is a Marine. I’ve seen this in person and I want to thank Alex, from Boy Scout Oradell Troop 36, for his dedication to keeping hope alive at the Paramus VA and making our veterans nights just a bit brighter. Alex, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Anthony Corcella
Anthony Corcella from Fredon, nominated by Mayor John Flora. Anthony organized and managed a COVID relief program that assisted people in need with rides to the doctor, shopping for shut-in residents, and tending to the needs of any Fredon resident with a team of volunteers. Anthony said his inspiration comes from his grandmother and said, “for as long as she was able, she always found a way to fit caring for her community and veterans into her busy life.” Anthony and his team also made masks and distributed them to those in need including our fire departments, and first responders. Anthony, thank you for your leadership and much like your grandmother whom you mentioned, you are a true inspiration to us all.
- Melissa Aldana & Kayla McEwan
Melissa Aldana & Kayla McEwan from Dumont nominated by Mayor Andrew Labruno. Melissa and Kayla were on the frontlines of COVID-19 as Dumont Volunteer EMTs. While they were attending Dumont High School they were also responding to 9-1-1 calls from people with ‘fevers and difficulty breathing’ that harbingered their own exposure and treatment of presumptive positive patients. The sacrifices they made every day to keep people safe and healthy are perfect examples of what makes them Hometown Heroes. We wish you the best as you go off to Rutgers (Kayla) and Brown University (Melissa) in the fall.
- Curtis Raye
Curtis Raye from Wantage who is a comedian that started a very unique charity. While using the Touchtunes app, he noticed a lone jukebox, locked inside Airport Pub, was still running. Curtis sent the word out on social media that if someone sends him $1.20 to play on the jukebox through Touchtunes, he will play a song that nobody will hear and donate $2 to a server, bartender, kitchen staff, or host who has lost work. To boost attention for the fundraiser, he recruited comedy friends Cecily Strong and Richard Kind to record videos to help get the word out. I’m told that the most requested song was Bruce Springsteen. Curtis, thank you for supporting our workers who need it most. You are a true Hometown Hero.
- Marco DeFilippis
Marco DeFilippis from Frelinghuysen nominated by Mayor Chris Stracco. Since the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, Marco’s restaurant Caffe Navona has been donating meals to health care workers. He knew he couldn’t sit back while his daughter Marisa was working on the frontlines as a Nurse Manager at NYU Langone in Manhattan. Marco, thank you for the sacrifices you made to keep our front liners fed. You are a true Hometown Hero.
- Lindsay Van Zile MacAloney
Lindsay Van Zile MacAloney from Vernon. Lindsay has demonstrated once again why she had been named her Vernon High School’s teacher of the year even before the coronavirus outbreak. Seizing on the current online learning environment Lindsay let students vent their feelings of isolation amid the pandemic by creating an assignment to have her class make original lyrics to famous Broadway show tunes. The assignment gave the students something to look forward to during the day. Lindsay, we thank you for being an incredible advocate for mental health and a true Hometown Hero.
- Pastor Ray Germoso
Pastor Ray Germoso from Hackensack nominated by Freeholder Germaine Ortiz. Pastor Germoso supported the hardest hit communities in Hackensack and surrounding towns during Covid-19 with food assistance and other communal services that helped a great number of residents. Pastor, thank you for being a leader and a pillar during this pandemic, I am proud to name you a Hometown Hero.
- Mike Dalton
Mike Dalton from Ringwood nominated by Ringwood Police Captain Peter McGinty. At the start of the Pandemic, Mike started Cupsaw Cares, and spent hours gathering PPE supplies and raising money for supplies to help the first responder agencies in the area. After a $20,000 dollar goal, $150,000 PPE goggles, masks, suits, hand sanitizer, cleaning solution, apparatus, glasses, gloves, and anti bacterial wipes have been donated all across New Jersey. Mike, thank you for continuing to provide relief to people who need it the most, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Dawn Bogosian
Dawn Bogosian from Harrington Park nominated by Mayor Paul Hoelscher. Dawn has lived in Harrington Park for 34 years and led a group of residents who have made over 7,200 face masks to combat COVID-19. Dawn posted a video of herself online challenging others to step up and help out and woke up the next day to over 300 private messages from residents offering to sew and donate materials. Within a day she had a line outside her door with volunteers ready to work. Dawn is a tireless volunteer, advocate, and staple of the Harrington Park community and there is no question that she is a true Hometown Hero.
- Waldwick Volunteer Ambulance Corps
Waldwick Volunteer Ambulance Corps including Captain Kenneth Gurian, 1st Lieutenant Richard Rykowski, 2nd Lieutenant John Papendick, President Neil Moses, and Vice President Norma Alzapiedi nominated by Mayor Tom Giordano. The Waldwick Volunteer Ambulance Corps has spent countless hours responding to the calls of the Waldwick people for their urgent health needs, especially as the initial front line during this pandemic. They volunteer their time at all times of the day and night. During this pandemic they literally put their lives on the line whenever they answer a call from someone who could have the virus and be in need of help. Because of their expert planning and saving supplies from the H1N1 pandemic, they had more than enough masks available during the outset of the pandemic that they were able to donate their extra PPE to the local Police Department. To the Waldwick Ambulance Corps, there is no question that you are true Hometown Heroes and we thank you for your sacrifices.
- Tina O’Shea, Karen Patton, and Samara Latronica
Tina O’Shea, Karen Patton, and Samara Latronica from Wyckoff where they started a volunteer group, Wyckoff Helping Healthcare Heroes on Facebook that has raised over $80,000 dollars and they have been working with local restaurants to deliver over 14,000 meals to frontline healthcare workers. They organized over 200 volunteers who made the deliveries. Thank you to all four of you who have done so much for the community. I am proud to call you Hometown Heroes.
- Jagdeep Singh
Jagdeep Singh from Lodi who galvanized his Sikh community to donate hand sanitizer and masks to the Lodi Police Department. Jagdeep has lived in Lodi for the past 20 years and just wanted to give back to everyone. Jagdeep, thank you for your leadership during these difficult times and I am proud to name you a Hometown Hero.
- Erica Ruggieri
Erica Ruggieri from Upper Saddle River. Erica started MealTrain with a goal of raising $2500 dollars but ended up raising $12,000 for medical workers and for Nurse Appreciation Day. She also made 700 goodie bags for nurses in the community. They were able to deliver two 17 foot trucks filled with bags of food, clothes and over 2,000 peanut butter sandwiches. Even with all this effort, she still had time to have “prom” for the high school kids in her backyard. Erica, thank you for supporting our front liners, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Don Biery
Don Biery from Blairstown who is a robotics coach at North Warren Regional High School where he worked with his 32 students to 3D print face shields that healthcare workers could use. Specifically, over 200 face shields went to the VA facility in Paramus. Don, thank you so much for all your hard work. You are a true Hometown Hero.
- Dennis Becker
Dennis Becker from Newton who is the owner of D. Becker Photo. To mark the 30th anniversary of his studio and to help distract those in quarantine, Dennis offered to take free family portraits at people’s homes. Dennis, thank you for making the community’s memories come to life and lifting people’s spirits. I am proud to call you a Hometown Hero.
- Father Robert Griner
Father Robert Griner from the Christ Episcopal Church in Newton who collected food for Andover Subacute, the local long term care facility whose workers have been devastated by the pandemic. Father Griner delivered a truck full of food himself and one of the staff was moved to complete tears. Father Griner, thank you for supporting our healthcare workers. You are a true Hometown Hero.
- Dawn Paladino
Dawn Paladino from Lodi. After three police officers cared for her nephew with special needs, she provided lunch for them to thank them for their service to the community. It’s small acts of kindness like these that go a long way. Dawn, thank you for being a Hometown Hero.
- Jaffar Wahdat
Jaffar Wahdat, from Hackensack who is the owner and founder of Juicy Platters. Jaffar wanted to give back to the healthcare community and gave free meals to healthcare workers throughout the pandemic, as a show of thanks. Jaffar said, “I treat my community like guests and in times of duress, I would never charge my guests in a time of need.” Jaffar, thank you for your kindness, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Emily Pilny
Emily Pilny from Blairstown. Emily is a Sophomore at North Warren Regional High School. She started a food drive project called the Patriot Pride Project. Emily went to different houses and took pictures of families to cheer them up and in return, received donations for food pantries. Emily was able to raise over $200 in monetary donations and collect more than 200 food items. Emily, thank you, I am proud to call you a Hometown Hero.
- Charlie Stoppiello
Charlie Stoppiello from Oakland who is the owner of Customer Creations Inc. Charlie donated more than 300 gloves to Oakland’s First Responders. His daughter Kristen, who is on the frontlines as a nurse at Kessler Rehabilitation Center, was his inspiration to step up and help out during these times. Thank you Charlie, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Kelly & Cori Carroll
Kelly & Cori Carroll from Hackensack nominated by Freeholder Steve Tanelli. After hearing the distress from a mother in Hackensack, Kelly and his wife Cori, a special education teacher at Hackensack High School, and their two daughters decided to find a way to provide healthy food for those who are ineligible for government benefits. Known as Caroll Family Values, they have been able to feed hundreds of families, reaching 300 Bergen County families in a single day. They collected more than $100,000 worth of food in total. To the Caroll family, you are true Hometown Heroes.
- Jacob Lopez
8-year-old Jacob Lopez from Vernon. Jacob was able to fundraise and donate food and lunches to front line medical workers and police officers in Vernon. Jacob was inspired by the police officers who sang him Happy Birthday at his doorstep, so he decided to step up and give back. He even performed and recorded “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” by Dean Martin for the Vernon officers as he delivered them lunch. Jacob, thank you for supporting our front liners, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Kate and David Smith-Cooper
Kate and David Smith-Cooper from Bogota who started the Feeding the Frontliners Fund. Kate and David are owners of Scholastic Culinary Services and donated food to the Teaneck Police Department. Kate and David’s organization donated more than 1,300 meals to frontliners all across the Fifth District. Kate and David, thank you so much, I am proud to call you Hometown Heroes.
- Katerina Romnios
Katerina Romnios from Ramsey who is the owner of Simply Stix. Katerina helped raise over $140,000 dollars through Ramsey Strong to support local businesses and business owners. Katerina, thank you for supporting your community during this pandemic, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Suzi Gerace and Lisa Schreiber
Suzi Gerace and Lisa Schreiber from Park Ridge who created an organization called Masks Matter that now has grown to 133 people, making thousands of masks and caps for local hospitals, police, meals on wheels, shelters, and other causes. Suzi and Lisa, thank you for all that you have done to support our front liners, I am proud to name you Hometown Heroes.
- Frank Leone
Frank Leone from Newton who is a retired Pastor from Christ Community Church who assisted Bristol Glenn residents. Frank has dedicated countless hours running errands to shop for the elderly and spend time with them. I was also honored to name the Oakland Post Office after your father, Frank Leone Sr. and I’m sure he is very proud. Frank, thank you for looking after our senior citizens, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Ari Starkman
Ari Starkman who is the owner of The Elan in Lodi. An award-winning banquet hall, Ari transformed his business into a grocery store that has over 120 items. Ari, thank you for transforming your business to help others. I am proud to name you a Hometown Hero.
- Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps
Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps and we have Pete Philomey here on their behalf. As first responders working in the epicenter of the outbreak, the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps has not stopped caring for the people of Teaneck. Every day, they put their health and safety before others even working 36-hour shifts and with half of their membership infected. We are so grateful for their hard work. Pete was even infected with COVID and was in the hospital for 8 days. To the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps, there is no question that you are all true Hometown Heroes. Congratulations.
- Joanne Perry, SGT. Greg Carter, Thomas Jennings
Joanne Perry, SGT. Greg Carter, and Director Thomas Jennings from Glen Rock nominated by Mayor Kristine Morieko and Police Chief Dean Ackerman. These three all work for an integral service: the Office of Emergency Management for Glen Rock. Joanne, Greg, and Thomas all saw what was coming from COVID19 and made the necessary preparations including outreach for the elderly. Without their foresight, the town of Glen Rock would have suffered and we thank them for their leadership. Thank you to all three of you, I am proud to name you Hometown Heroes.
- Lisa May
Lisa May who is the owner of Lisa’s Mediterranean Cuisine from Ridgewood nominated by Scott Lief from the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce. Lisa was one of the first people donating food to feed frontline workers. She is still doing it to this day. Her efforts have inspired others, including a community effort in Ridgewood which inspired local officials into what is now called Feed The Frontline. Lisa is constantly concerned about others in the community and that is what makes her a true Hometown Hero.
- Cheryl Ziller
Cheryl Ziller from Oradell who was nominated by Oradell Mayor Dianne Didio. Despite losing her job during the COVID pandemic, Cheryl has remained positive and resilient. She has dedicated herself to sewing thousands of masks for healthcare heroes, first responders, the elderly, those who could not find masks, and so on. Cheryl made it a goal of hers to provide masks for every senior in town. Her resiliency is certainly Jersey strong. Her dedication to helping others get through this pandemic safely when she has been so adversely impacted makes her the perfect “Hometown Hero” and a great example of service before self. Cheryl, congratulations.
- John Sullivan
John Sullivan from Haworth, nominated by Haworth Councilwoman Jackie Guenego. John has been Haworth’s volunteer Office of Emergency Management Coordinator for several years. He has marshaled resources, worked closely with our first responders and other borough departments, communicated with our county liaisons, and submitted FEMA paperwork. He also served as a borough councilman and was a recreation sports coach for many years. John is a-behind-the-scenes but integral member of our COVID-19 response team. John, thank you for your leadership, I am proud to call you a Hometown Hero.
- Jane and Bernadette Lombardi
Jane and Bernadette Lombardi from Oradell, nominated by Mayor Dianne Didio. Jane embarked on a Front Porch Portraits project with her Mom, Bernadette. Together they photographed over 100 Oradell Families on their front porches, created a book to capture the families of Oradell during the COVID pandemic, and then sold them for a slight mark up, the proceeds of which were donated to a Hackensack charity known as Caroll Family Values which fed families facing economic challenges and food insecurity. Jane and Bernadette, thank you for making our days a little brighter, you are true Hometown Heroes.
- Yadvinder Singh
Yadvinder Singh from Glen Rock, nominated by Glen Rock Councilwoman Mary Barchetto. Yadvinder is the Chairman of the Sikh Temple in Glen Rock where he has organized hundreds of free vegetarian meals to hand out each week with volunteers. Yadvinder and members of his temple embody true selflessness. I am proud to call them Hometown Heroes.
- Ralph and Julie Colantuono
Ralph and Julie Colantuono from Westwood, nominated by Mayor Ray Arroyo. Ralph and Julie run Granita Grill, a family-style restaurant where they cooked and delivered free meals to the front line workers at Valley Hospital and HUMC at Pascack Valley. They donated the “Heroes Work Here” signs planted on the hospital grounds as well. Ralph and Julie, thank you for taking care of our front liners, you are true Hometown Heroes.
- Scott Laughton
Scott Laughton from Park Ridge who, after serving his country in the Army, served his community as a police officer, then answered the call by becoming a nurse at Holy Name Medical Center. Scott has been on the front lines everywhere and we thank him for his courage, sacrifice, and willingness to step up. Scott, you are a true Hometown Hero, congratulations.
- Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle from Newton who owns Planet Networks and donated more than 450 surgical facemasks to Newton First Aid Rescue Squad, Atlantic Health, and 40 different groups. Robert, I am proud to call you a Hometown Hero. Thank you.
- Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas from Franklin who owns Franklin Wash n’ Lube. Andrew sanitized the Franklin Police Department’s police cars to help keep officers safe. Andrew, thank you so much for protecting our front liners, you are a true Hometown Hero.
- Dr. Richard Bucher
Dr. Richard Bucher from Oakland who owns Laser Dentistry in North Jersey. Dr. Bucher donated more than 500 masks and 80 boxes of gloves to Oakland First Aid. Dr. Bucher thank you so much, I’m proud to name you a Hometown Hero.
- Cooper Smith
13-year-old Cooper Smith from Westwood who raised money for hospital workers through a hairstyle competition. Cooper organized “Simple Hairstyles 4 Heroes” where children from Kindergarten through 8th grade would compete for the best hairstyle. All the proceeds would go to healthcare workers nearby. Cooper, thank you for stepping up, and as you said, “doing something kind.” I’m proud to name you a Hometown Hero.
- Darlene Pallay
Darlene Pallay from Franklin who is the owner of CKO Kickboxing in Franklin. While everyone was staying at home, Darlene provided free online fitness classes to everyone affected by the pandemic, keeping everyone active and happy. Darlene, thank you for providing such a great service to the community. You are a true Hometown Hero.
- Lisa Martin
Lisa Martin from Sandyston. With her 4 sewing machines, Lisa made 800 masks and left them on her porch for anyone to pick up for free. She also gave them away to Bristol Glen Church and Homestead rehab and refused to sell them or charge people. Lisa, thank you for helping out your community when people needed supplies. I am proud to call you a Hometown Hero.
- Natalie Ix (ICKS)
Natalie Ix from New Milford who sold lawn signs thanking heroes on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. Natalie raised over $6,500 in proceeds that went to hospitals and fire departments. Natalie, thank you for being a Hometown Hero.
- Lois Marples
Lois Marples from Vernon. Lois got a call from one of her friends looking for help to make masks and 5 minutes later, Lois was in her friend’s driveway with a sewing kit. Lois is the former president of the Vernon Women’s Club and also collected food, PPE, and scarves for Hackettstown medical workers to make sure they were cared for. Lois, thank you so much and I am honored to name you a Hometown Hero.
- Melissa Fortuna
Melissa Fortuna from Wantage who organized the Wantage United Methodist Church to offer free Wednesday to-go meals for community members. Melissa, thank you for making everyone’s days a little brighter. I am proud to name you a Hometown hero.
Those unable to attend were:
- Walter DiMattia
- Beatrice Garrone
- Gordon and Mike Geerhart
- Stewart Ginsburg
- Andy Neville
- Dean Voris
- Michelle Villani
- Sameer “Sunny” Parikh
- Marquis Williams Jr.
- Michael Proto
- Melissa Milano
- Gary Manjikian Vahan
- Mann Singh
- Sandy Polizzo
- Rolando Monserrat and Elias Sanchez
- Aileen Donovan
- Lillian Kornmeyer and Scott Raghubir
- Jennifer Aydin
- Sandy Wozniak
- Officer Michael Citarelli
- Srinii Rao
- Franco Lombardo
- Betty Kay and Ofra Parmett
“Thank you so much for joining me for my special Coronavirus Fifth District Hometown Heroes event. During this crisis, I know we are stronger together when we celebrate what’s right in the world. I am so proud to be your representative and am thankful everyday for what all of you have done for our community. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless these United States of America,” Gottheimer said.
Full video of the ceremony can be found here: