SUMMIT, NJ - Nine high school students -- including Steven Zoughy of Cranford High School -- were awarded the Bridges Founders Award, given to high school juniors or seniors who have distinguished themselves in terms of their work with Bridges.
The Awards were presented as Bridges Outreach held their annual meeting at the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad headquarters. The evening was a recap of the year’s highlights, and a forum to recognize people who made important contributions to the organization.
In addition to Zoughy, the year award recipients included Lorenzo Beer, Oratory Prep; Caroline Deumling, Corpus Christi Church of Chatham; Samantha Gargiulo, First Congregational Church of Westfield; Paul Malatesta, Stanley Congregational Church of Chatham; Malcolm Mead, Delbarton School; Connie Pullan, Carmen Ruiz, Oak Knoll School; Anthony Smith, Oratory Prep.
“These students have made real commitments to helping people in need, and we’re grateful for the many contributions they’ve made to Bridges,” said Dan RosenHanst, Bridges’ Director of Operations.
Several adult volunteers -- Debbie Abbattista, Yve Cohen, Jordan Fried, Joan Oslzewski, and Al Schweiker -- were recognized for their commitment to Bridges, regularly volunteering on Bridges "Runs," or street outreach visits.
These volunteers show up at the outreach site before the Bridges truck arrives to talk with people on the street. They develop real friendships with and are critical to the relationships that Bridges forges with the people served on "Runs."
Two other volunteers, Jean Trees and Anna Velez, were honored for the many hours they spend every week sorting donations and supplies. “Bridges is fortunate to have so many committed and talented volunteers. Volunteers are at the heart of our organization, and make Bridges’ work possible”, said Lois Bhatt, Bridges’ Executive Director. Founded in 1988,
Bridges reaches out to the homeless in New York City, and Newark, Irvington, and Summit, New Jersey every week. Last year, Bridges served 21,000 people. More than 2,600 volunteers helped deliver more than 63,000 brown bag meals, served more than 49,000 cups of beverages, gave 10,000 pairs of new socks and underwear, and provided 1000 new backpacks to children in need.
Bridges also runs Project Connect in Newark, which offers case management services that link homeless people to health and social services to lead to a healthier life and, ultimately, employment and housing. The ID program assists clients in obtaining New Jersey State IDs, essential to obtaining social service benefits, a job, or even a shelter bed.
For more information, visit bridgesoutreach.org, or call 908-273-0176.