Giving Back

Clark Recreation Awards ‘Volunteer of the Year’ to John Kurek; Recognizes ShopRite of Clark

John Kurek was named the Clark Recreation "Volunteer of the Year" for 2017. From left, Mayor Sal Bonaccorso, Kurek and Clark Recreation Director Ralph Bernardo. Credits: Susan R. Bonnell
Shoprite of Clark was recognized for its many contributions to township events over the years. From left, Mayor Sal Bonaccorso, Shoprite of Clark store manager Dominic Romeo and Ralph Bernardo. Credits: Susan R. Bonnell

CLARK, NJ – Clark Recreation Director Ralph Bernardo presented the second annual “Volunteer of the Year” award to John Kurek at Tuesday evening’s township council meeting.

“I’m happy and proud to present our second recipient for this award,” Bernardo said.  “This gentleman has gone above and beyond volunteering and donating his service to the recreation department and township.  John is the first person to jump in and help whenever the rec department or township is in need, even if not asked.”

Kurek was clearly surprised as he heard his name announced and Bernardo admitted he had help getting him to attend the meeting.

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Bernardo said that Kurek began helping with the town’s annual tree lighting event when he was 13 years old. 

“He is the first one here in the morning and the last to leave, making sure everything is in place and working,” Bernardo said.

Bernardo went on to list Kurek’s many other contributions to the town over the last ten years, including:

  • Setting up for the Easter Egg Hunt and 4th of July celebrations as well as breaking down both events.
  • Decorating the Dr. Wm. Robinson Plantation Museum lawn for the Halloween haunted house and running the necessary electric.
  • Checking in throughout the year to lend a helping hand.
  • Working endless hours for the UNICO Italian Festival assisting with the electrical, vendors, reviewing grounds and more.

“A sense of calm takes over me when John is around because I know there will be no problems and if a situation arises, John takes care of it immediately,” Bernardo said.  “He exemplifies the meaning of hard work, dedication and especially giving himself and not expecting anything in return.”

Bernardo said he has had the honor of watching Kurek grow from a young boy into a “fine young man.” 

“John inspires me whenever he is here with me helping,” Bernardo said.

Dawn and Lenny Grieco were the first recipients of the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2016.

Bernardo also publicly recognized ShopRite of Clark for its efforts in giving back to the community by presenting a plaque to manager Dominic Romeo.

“The generosity and support of your store this past year and every year has been so much appreciated as your donations have allowed myself and the community to do so much for our youth, seniors and township as a whole,” Bernardo said.

He added that Romeo and his staff are always willing and able to help. 

“He and his staff even get dressed up each year for the Trunk or Treat!” Bernardo said.

Mayor Sal Bonaccorso thanked both honorees as well as all the residents who donate their time to the township. 

“You help make and keep this town a wonderful place to live,” Bonaccorso said.

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