In June, more than two dozen of New Jersey’s most outstanding volunteers were honored at the Newark Museum to receive the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service, which receives underwriting support from the Verizon Foundation.
Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, who addressed the honorees at the reception and ceremony, acknowledged individuals, organizations, and companies who have volunteered their time, talents, and resources to improve the lives of fellow citizens in New Jersey and beyond.
These honorees represent a small fraction of the approximately 1.5 million New Jersey volunteers who provide millions of hours of service each year.
The Verizon Foundation also sponsors the Jefferson Awards’ Education Category, which recognizes volunteers who provide classroom and/or after-school programs, enrichment opportunities, tutoring, or other academic support that would enhance the student’s ability to succeed.
This year’s education award honoree was Rosemarie Gelber, who has served as a Refugee Resettlement Volunteer at Bishop Francis Center for Immigration Services in Newark since 2009. She volunteers as an ESL instructor, teaching adult refugees and immigrants English and life skills necessary to survive in the U.S. Rosemarie consistently recruits other volunteers to enhance her program, in addition to her commitment to hosting as many as six children from foreign countries through the Healing The Children New Jersey program.
Each year the Governor’s Jefferson Awards are an opportunity to honor the achievements and contributions of the state’s most engaged citizens who dedicate themselves to helping others without expectation of recognition or reward. In addition to the traditional categories of volunteer service, this year’s awards featured a one-time-only category for those who volunteered during the response to Hurricane Sandy.
Edward J. O’Malley, Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteerism, praised the honorees for their extraordinary efforts.
“The scope of work being done by volunteers is humbling, and caliber of the individuals we honor sets the bar for us all,” said O’Malley. “The Governor’s Jefferson Awards are truly a highlight and inspiration for everyone involved each year.”
The New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards are a partnership of the New Jersey Office of Volunteerism, the Community Foundation of New Jersey, and The Star-Ledger/NJ.com. In addition to Verizon, PNC Bank, BD, PSEG, and State Farm Insurance provide underwriting support.
The Governor’s Volunteer Awards began under Governor Kean in the 1980’s. The National Jefferson Awards were initiated in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard. New Jersey consolidated the two awards programs in 2007.
Information on the awards, the online nomination form, and profiles of this year’s honorees can be found at www.njgovernorsawards.com.