Giving Back

Jaycees to Honor Babbitts with Distinguished Service Award

Dave and JoAnne Babbitt

CHATHAM, NJ - At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 24, the Chatham Jaycees will honor Chatham Township residents Dave and JoAnne Babbitt, with the Jaycees’ 2014 Distinguished Service Award. The ceremony will be held at Charlie Brown’s Restauranton Southern Boulevard in Chatham Township. The public is invited, and there is no
charge to attend.

Since it was first awarded in 1960, the Distinguished Service Award has been given each year to an individual or, in select instances, more than one individual, whose contribution to the community is worthy of special recognition. This year, the Jaycees are recognizing the Babbitts for their many years of outstanding service to the community of the Chathams.

The Babbitts are the founders of the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation, a non-profit organization named in memory of their son and dedicated to preventing sudden cardiac death.

In 2006, 16 year old John Taylor Babbitt collapsed and died from an undiagnosed heart condition while playing basketball with friends at the St. Patrick School gymnasium in Chatham. In John’s memory, the Babbitts have dedicated their considerable skills in support of the Foundation’s objectives. The objectives include installing Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in places of public assembly, and proposing legislation for expanding the use of AEDs. Their activities include working with municipalities, schools and other organizations on policies and procedures to support the purchase and maintenance of AEDs and the development of sudden cardiac arrest plans.

The Foundation donates AEDs and supports CPR and AED training classes, teaching life-saving techniques. The Babbitts’ Foundation sponsors a grant program for nonprofit organizations to help advance research related to heart disease and sudden cardiac death.

In addition, based on the success of their initiative in Chatham, the Babbitts have developed an easy-to-use guide to launching a defibrillator and training program in a town or community. It can be downloaded for free from the Foundation’s website, .

The Babbitts’ notable accomplishments include spearheading the placement of AEDs on playing fields and in public buildings (e.g., churches) and educational institutions, including in Chatham and elsewhere. They have developed a network of chapters in high schools and universities increasing awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and AEDs. In addition, they successfully sponsored legislation, signed by Governor

Christie in 2012, amending New Jersey’s “Good Samaritan Law” to grant immunity to anyone who in good faith attempts to use an AED to save a life. In addition to her efforts supporting the Foundation, JoAnne Babbitt currently serves on the Chatham Township Board of Health. The Babbitts also have been active members of the Saint Patrick Church community for many years. Each serves as a Eucharistic Minister and volunteers to support numerous parish events. JoAnne previously served on the St. Patrick Pastoral Council and was a Co-President of the St. Patrick School Home School Association. Dave was active in scouting for several years.

The Babbitts’ commitment to the community serves as a continuing inspiration to residents of Chatham - and beyond - fortunate to benefit from their years of distinguished service.

At the ceremonies, the Jaycees also will present charitable contributions to community organizations in the Chathams, such as the Chatham Emergency Squad and numerous youth-focused organizations, such as the ECLC School. The Jaycees also will announce that they will be providing funding for a proposed new emergency response center, to be located for the benefit of the community at Chatham Township Presbyterian Church on Southern Boulevard. Finally, the Jaycees will recognize the recipient of their annual college scholarship, awarded each year to a graduating high school senior or seniors from the Chathams who demonstrate a strong commitment to community service. Over the past twelve years, the Jaycees have awarded approximately $60,000 in scholarships to Chatham students.

The Jaycees fund these endeavors primarily using the proceeds of their Christmas Tree sale, held annually at the intersection of Main Street and Brooklake Road in Chatham Borough, and their annual Fishawack Race. For over fifty years, the Jaycees have provided opportunities for service and leadership development, like the Christmas
Tree sale and the Fishawack race. The opportunities extend to community youth, including in 2014, for the first time, the ChathamSTEM program.

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