LIVINGSTON, NJ – Stacey Rubinstein, a Livingston resident and the president/co-founder of the rapidly growing Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors (LNHN) charitable foundation, was recently recognized as the Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Civic Leader of the Year.
Rubinstein is a lifelong volunteer who was raised in Massachusetts by a family that was committed to giving back to the community. During last week’s chamber awards dinner held at Crystal Plaza, Rubinstein said her parents “were tremendous role models” who inspired her in many ways” and that her entire family has been incredibly supportive of her community work—including her twins, Andrew and Alexis, whom she has “already seen my kids take initiative on their own to help others.”
“When I think about how my involvement in community work began here in Livingston, it comes back to my kids,” said Rubinstein. “When I became a mom, I thought long and hard about what I value as important, and among other things, I wanted to raise my children in a community that I could be proud of. Understanding that in order to enjoy the good, you need to give back, I looked to get involved.”
Rubinstein holds a degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and a master’s degree in public administration from New York University. Since moving to Livingston with her husband, Daryl, Rubenstein has become an active member of Healthy Community, Healthy Youth (HCHY), the Mount Pleasant Elementary School (MPE) PTA, Morristown Memorial’s Family Advisory Council and the United Way of Northern New Jersey.
When she began working with Livingston’s Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse in 2010, Rubinstein approached HCHY leaders Alan Karpas and Martha Ackermann about hosting a small food drive as part of Youth Appreciation week—and that little food drive has since become the well-known community-wide food collection “Stuff the Bus.” Today, Rubinstein’s brainchild, LNHN, manages the CHOW food pantry.
Rubinstein noted that it was through her work with CHOW that she learned how many families within the Livingston community were in need of more than just food due to illness, divorce or other hardships. She said that one family, consisting of a mother and children around the same age of hers at the time, stood out; and she knew she needed to help.
“Through CHOW and through reaching out to friends, we came together confidentially to give this mom food, a bed to sleep in, clothing for her children and a Christmas to remember,” said Rubinstein. “I saw that when presented with an easy vehicle to give, the generosity in our community was overwhelmingly high.”
Within weeks, Rubinstein and her fellow volunteers had put together a board of directors for LNHN, connected with the township social worker and found a new location for the CHOW food pantry with the help of the Livingston Township Council. It was truly “collaboration at its finest,” she said.
Rubinstein is currently the assistant director at Camp Lindenmere in Pennsylvania and has enjoyed a 20-year career in nonprofit management, working for Girl Scouts of America, YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities and Families and Work Institute in addition to serving as a consultant for other nonprofits.
While introducing this year’s honoree, Ackermann stated that Rubinstein’s volunteer work is contagious. By way of example, Ackermann noted that Rubinstein’s work to start a student community garden at MPE has “planted the seed” for this to occur in the other local elementary schools as well.
“Lucky for us, she has a fantastic ability to bring out the best in so many different people and she has an incredible group of friends and supporters who work with her on a daily basis,” said Ackermann. “This is a labor of love: giving back and making our community better...
“Stacey is an incredible human being, she epitomizes giving back to the community and she role models this on a consistent basis. She brings out the best to us and she leads by example…She’s also not afraid to role up her sleeves and get dirty and work side-by-side with so many people behind the scnes to make our community a better place.”
To her friend Rubinstein, Ackermann said, “I know that the word ‘feeling blessed’ is overused […] but I am truly blessed and we are blessed to have you in our inner circle and to honor you tonight as our Civic Leader of the Year.”
Rubinstein quoted Corretta Scott King as she accepted her award, saying, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
“I think we have shown through LHNH that Livingston is pretty great,” said Rubinstein.
In addition to thanking her fellow LNHN volunteers and her family members for their support, Rubinstein also thanked the many local businesses and organizations that partner with LNHN throughout the year. Click HERE to learn more about LHNH and the local students, businesses and organizations that support its efforts.
Click on the headlines below to read about more of this year’s award recipients: