As a business leader and involved citizen in the Scotch Plains area, Allstate New Jersey exclusive agency owner and lifelong Union County resident Nelson Espeland plays a vital role in the development of many community service organizations, including HomeFirst and the Summit YMCA.

For his work, Espeland was named a 2010 finalist for Allstate's Ray Lynch Community Service Award, which recognizes Allstate agency owners dedicated to making positive contributions in the communities they serve.

Espeland selected both HomeFirst and the Summit YMCA to receive a $500 grant from The Allstate Foundation on his behalf. Espeland is currently the Vice President of the Board of Trustees for HomeFirst, an organization dedicated to providing housing and social services to the homeless. He has also been involved with the Summit YMCA since childhood and now coaches his daughter on the youth soccer team he once played on as a boy.

Having suffered third degree burns from a house fire back in 1997, Espeland is also a supporter of the St. Barnabas Burn Unit. It was in this unit where Espeland recovered from his injuries. He is also involved in his community thorough his work with the Cancer Society and the Scotch Plains Police Department's DARE program.

While he supports many worthwhile organizations in Union County, Espeland's primary community work has been with HomeFirst and the Summit YMCA. He has been involved with HomeFirst since 2003 and has worked with the organization to help them with their fundraising efforts and in their quest to secure transitional housing units for the homeless. "Nelson is a dedicated and tireless volunteer," said Casey Woodruff, President, Board of Trustees, Homefirst. "His compassion and his drive to help provide shelter for our homeless clients, most of whom have incomes far below the poverty level, is truly inspiring. And, his business experience has been invaluable in helping our clients receive the services that they so desperately need."

Espeland, who has been an Allstate New Jersey agent in Scotch Plains for more than 10 years, believes that it is important to support the community where he has lived and worked for his entire life. His dedication to the community and his outstanding business achievements helped him win the honor of being named Business of the Year by the Scotch Plains Business and Professional Association and the Fanwood Business and Professional Association in 2009.

"I spend a lot of time working with charities within the Union county area where I work and live, so it was an amazing feeling to be told that I was a finalist for such a prestigious company award," said Espeland. "Community involvement makes you feel good and it's a great way to show people that you care about the neighborhood and are committed to it."

Nelson Espeland's Allstate New Jersey agency can be found at 2284 South Avenue in Scotch Plains. He can be reached via telephone at (908) 233-6300 or via email at