Giving Back

Local High School Students Honored with NCJW/Essex Volunteer Awards

Thomas Salandra of West Caldwell with NCJW/Essex co-chairs of the awards committee, Susie Botwinick (left) and Jen Pawlak (right). Credits: NCJW/Essex

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Thomas Salandra of West Caldwell and Max Prince of North Caldwell were recently presented with the Nancy and Robert Eskow The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)/Essex Volunteer Award, bestowed to select graduating high school seniors from Essex County who have shown a commitment and dedication to making life better for others locally or globally.

For reflecting the mission and values of NCJW/Essex through their “commitment and dedication to community service projects and advocacy experienced during their high school careers,” both boys received a $500 scholarship and an award certificate from NCJW/Essex. 

“I volunteer because I choose to be an active member in my community,” said Salandra, a senior at James Caldwell High School. “I choose to make a difference by giving back.”

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“My outreach will hopefully save the lives of many more strangers than the ones that I have the ability to save with just my organs,” said Prince, a senior at West Essex Regional High School.

Salandra, a senior at James Caldwell High School and member of the West Essex First Aid Squad, has always had a desire to give back to his community, according to NCJW/Essex, which is centrally located in Livingston. Salandra was drawn to the West Essex First Aid Squad because of its selfless nature and the overwhelming compassion and empathy demonstrated by everyone on the squad.

Currently, according to NCJW, he has clocked in more than 800 hours and has responded to more than 100 calls. His volunteer experience with the First Aid Squad also inspired him to become a volunteer firefighter. Salandra has been attending night classes to earn his certification as an Emergency Medical Technician so he can further grow in his role as a first responder.

In addition to being a leader in his community, Salandra is also a leader at his high school as president of the Patriot Club, which works to promote acts of patriotism throughout James Caldwell High School. While president, he coordinated “Salute to Service Night,” an event made to recognize and honor first responders.

In January, he was recognized by his football team and was awarded the Jim Robinson Caldwell Gridiron Club Award for spirit, determination, desire, and sportsmanship.

Salandra is pictured above with co-chairs of the awards committee, Susie Botwinick (left) and Jen Pawlak (right).

Prince, a senior at West Essex Regional High School and treasurer for the National Honor Society, along with being a key member of more than six different clubs at his school, has always had a passion for igniting change and being a leader. Since the age of 13, he has been fundraising for the NJ Sharing Network (NJSN), an organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue for transplant.

His passion for organ donation came after finding out that his younger brother was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and only one working lung, according to NCJW/Essex. Over the past five years, Prince has been able to draw in hundreds of people to join his team, Max’s Mitzvah Movers, to participate in the NJ Sharing Network 5K.

He has also become a certified volunteer for the organization, a member of the NJSN Cycling team, and one of their keynote speakers. He has been interviewed by Dateline NBC for his efforts and was awarded the ShopRite Stars award for his service to his community. Now, as a graduating senior, he has been able to raise more than $70,000 for NJSN, according to NJCW/Essex.

Max Prince is also pictured above, courtesy of NJCW/Essex.

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