Irvington veteran receives EC Community Star Award

Photo Courtesy of Essex County
From left are Essex County Deputy Chief of Staff William Payne, Isabel Cruz representing U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson, U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, 2020 Essex County Community Star Award winner Cheryl ‘Kit’ Turner, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr., Clarence Jackson from DAV Chapter 3 in Newark, Sheriff Armando Fontoura, register Juan Rivera and 2018 Community Star Award recipient Bill Squires.

IRVINGTON, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. hosted the annual Essex County Veterans Day Observance in Essex County Veterans Memorial Park in Newark on Wednesday, Nov. 4. During the ceremony, he presented the 2020 Essex County Community Star Award to Irvington resident Cheryl “Kit” Turner, a retired Air Force master sergeant and founder/CEO of New Hope Village 4 Veterans, which assists homeless veterans.

“Throughout our country’s history, brave men and women have put their lives on hold to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at home and abroad. Our Essex County Veterans Memorial Park was created to provide our veterans with a place to find serenity and comfort and provide a constant reminder to the public about their contributions and sacrifices,” DiVincenzo said. “We are proud to stand with our veterans at this important occasion, give them our respect and thank them for representing our country with valor and bravery.

“Cheryl ‘Kit’ Turner has never stopped serving her country and her community,” he continued. “She served honorably in the Air Force, Army National Guard and Air Force Reserves and used the leadership skills she learned in the armed forces to become the first female to serve as commander of the Montclair American Legion and Irvington VFW. Her service continues today helping one of our most vulnerable populations — our homeless veterans — to live with dignity.”

“I always wanted to wear the uniform,” Turner said at the event. “It’s been a great honor and I love doing what I do. I understand what our veterans are going through, and I want to let them know that someone cares about them.”

The 2020 Essex County Community Star Award plaque reads: “Cheryl ‘Kit’ Turner has never stopped serving her country and her community. While in the Air Force, she attained the rank of master sergeant, specializing as a prefabrication and parachute specialist. Upon retiring, she joined the Army National Guard and then transferred to the Air Force Reserves, where she worked in the Air Med Evacuation. Even after her second retirement from the military, Kit’s dedication to duty was not complete as she became the first female commander of American Legion Post 251 in Montclair and then repeated the feat when she took over leadership of VFW Post 1941 in Irvington. Never slowing down, Kit has turned her attention to helping a vulnerable population — our homeless veterans. As the founder and CEO of New Hope Village 4 Veterans, she is spearheading efforts to assist veterans with housing, clothing, medical care, food and employment. A trailblazer in the military and her community, we thank you, Kit, for your service to our country and for helping others.”

“What a veteran does after they serve their country is just as important as what they do while they are serving in the military. We can’t forget about our veterans who are homeless and that’s why the work being done by Kit Turner is so important,” said Bill Squires, a 2018 Essex County Community Star Award honoree and Navy veteran.