WO Rotary awards $18K to nonprofits

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Rotary Club hosted residents and community organizations at Mayfair Farms for its annual Community Service Awards Luncheon on June 8, awarding $18,700 to 22 local and national nonprofit groups. The funds for the awards were raised during events held throughout the year, and go toward supporting organizations that might not otherwise continue to run without financial support.

“During the course of the year we have fundraisers and at the end we give it out to the community,” Ed Enginger, chairman of the Awards Committee, told the West Orange Chronicle in an interview at the event. “They apply to be chosen. There’s always someone in need of funds. We work with them and get to know them, and many of them work and live in the town. All the funds that we raise go back to the community. We don’t hold anything back.”

Awards Committee member Cynthia Hadley-Bailey presented Kimberly Rowland and Maritza Brown with an award for CORESSWC, the Circle Of Rainbow sistErs Seeking Spiritual and Wellness Connection. The West Orange organization helps domestic violence survivors find support.

“Our goal is to help these women find a leg to stand on,” Rowland said at the event. “We offer training to help them move forward. We want to help them and having this support makes a world of difference, so I thank you and they thank you.”

The Rainbow Program also accepted an award at the event. This group supports students in the West Orange elementary schools who have suffered a loss in their lives, helping them to understand loss and move past it. Washington Elementary School guidance counselor Rene Wells and Gregory Elementary School guidance counselor Sarah McIntosh accepted the award on behalf of the program. Wells said the funding would help the Rainbow Program expand into more district schools.

“The money that we get here gets us up and running at Redwood,” Wells said at the event. “We’re so grateful that we can do that.”

Megan Brill, executive director of the Downtown West Orange Alliance and a member of the Rotary Club’s Awards Committee, also presented an award to the Mayor’s Program for Individuals with Special Needs at the luncheon. In West Orange since 1989, the program provides opportunities to special needs residents in town.

“I’m so happy to say that we’re empowering the special needs people in our community at our summer camps this year,” Lisa Adams, the program’s coordinator, said while accepting the award. “This funding really helps us do that.”

The Zoological Society of New Jersey’s Adam Kerins, executive director of Turtle Back Zoo, accepted funding on behalf of the zoo; the money from the Rotary Club will go toward building the South American animals exhibit at the zoo.

“We’ve gotten bigger and better each year,” Kerins said at the event, mentioning the zoo’s goal of reaching a million visitors in 2018. “The mission is always going to be conserve, educate and inspire. This is going toward educating. The support of the zoo is very much appreciated, we appreciate all of you.”

Other organizations to receive awards were the Friends of Thomas Edison National Historical Park, the DWOA’s Historical Markers Initiative, the West Orange Police Athletic League, the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Foundation, the West Orange African Heritage Organization, the West Orange Arts Council, the Nikhil Badlani Foundation, Camp Merry Heart, the West Orange Scholarship Fund, the West Orange Community House, the West Orange Animal Welfare League, the Main St. Counseling Center, the West Orange Public Library, the Gift of Life, the International School Project in Ethiopia, Polio Plus, Rotaplast and the Rotary Foundation.

Rotary Club member Jerry Tarnoff told the Chronicle in an interview at the event that the Community Service Awards are one of his favorite events of the year.

“It’s so gratifying to live in a town where so many people want to help others,” he said. “So many people want to help, so anything we can do to help them is great.”

Photos by Amanda Valentovic