CLARK, NJ – Clark Recreation Director Ralph Bernardo presented the fifth annual “Volunteer of the Year” award at Tuesday’s township council meeting. This year’s award went to a completely stunned Dominic Preite.
Preite was completely taken off guard by the award thanks to a little trickery on the part of Bernardo and Mayor Sal Bonaccorso.
Bonaccorso opened the evening by announcing from the podium that something was off in the council chambers. “Something is fishy…Ralph is here to present this award but I don’t know who it is (the winner) and I don’t know why, so something fishy is going on here and I’m going on the record here,” he said.
Preite was sitting in the audience smiling because he thought he was going to join Bernardo in surprising Bonaccorso with an award. It turned out the surprise was on Preite when Bernardo announced his name as the winner.
Preite thanked Bernardo whom he referred to as his adopted dad, Bonaccorso, his brother, friends, the Clark Boys’ Travel Basketball team and coaches for sharing the moment with him. “This is a surprise to me, I never thought I was going to get this,” Preite said. “I appreciate you coming to support me.”
“I’m happy and proud to present this…award to Dom,” said Bernardo who then shared a witty, warm and personalized message with the audience about Preite.
Bernardo started by joking about Preite’s favorite sayings, things he is known for around town hall and more. Then he spoke about Preite's pride in Clark and in being an Arthur L. Johnson HS graduate. In the end, Bernardo referred to Preite as a fixture in the Recreation Department and then warmly thanked him for his dedication to the town and the work he does around the Clark Recreation Center.
“Dominic plays the Role of Assistant Director with conviction and authority directing anyone who will listen, gives orders and opinions even when you don’t want them,” joked Bernardo. “He moves tables, chairs, picks up…delivers messages and other things he is asked. He is friendly and direct to most people he comes in contact with and an honest dedicated friend who is the first person to help.”
Bonaccorso share a reflection with the audience about Preite. “Dominic and I know each other since first grade. I’m very happy for him, he deserves this, he is a great guy, part of the Clark fabric each and every day,” said Bonaccorso. “Clark is always about us, who lives here, who works here, who plays here…my man deserves it.”