RED BANK, NJ:  The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County will present its Martin Luther King Jr. Human Dignity Award to Gwendolyn Love, Executive Director of Lunch Break in Red Bank this Friday, January 15, from 8:00am – 9:00am. 

This virtual event is free and open to all.  To register or to learn more, click HERE.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Human Dignity Award will honor and recognize Love as an individual who reflects Dr. King’s principles and ideals in philosophy and action.

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“Gwen is one of the most caring and compassionate individuals and leaders in our community and in the entire region.  She has dedicated her career to help others find dignity and a sense of security in an insecure world.  We are honored and humbled by her work and commitment,” said event chairman and Y board member Michael Wright.

Love has been at the helm of Lunch Break since 2008. Under Love’s direction, Lunch Break serves 6,000 hot meals every month and more than 850 families receive groceries through the Client Choice pantry.  Several thousand people receive clothes and needed household items.  Through Lunch Break and its partner organizations, hundreds of children are given toys through the Holiday Toy Program.

Since Love took leadership, services at Lunch Break have been expanded to include a hot breakfast on Saturdays prepared by various churches.  There are regular cooking classes for boys and girls and the hours of operation at the expanded facility have been extended to help serve more people in need.  Meals to home-bound clients are delivered six days a week by volunteers, and Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas breakfast and Friday community dinners are provided for the community’s fellowship and enjoyment.

During the pandemic, grab-and-go meal services and grocery distributions have grown exponentially.  Lunch Break did not miss a meal since the pandemic took hold in March 2020.

Love has made sure that Lunch Break continued its various outreach initiatives, such as the Food for Thought Male Mentorship Program, Women’s Word Mentoring Program, and a Life Skills employment coaching program to provide clients with a pathway to self-sufficiency.  Under Love, Lunch Break has evolved into one of the most vital social service agencies in Monmouth County and beyond.

Love has acknowledged the strong foundation of partnerships and support fostered by former director Norma Todd.  She also credits the efforts of the thousands of volunteers and dedicated staff who work to ensure the efficient operation of Lunch Break which serves its clients “in an atmosphere of dignity and concern.”

“I am honored and humbled to be this year’s award recipient. It is Lunch Break’s mission to uphold Dr. King’s message of non-violence and equality. We treat everyone who walks through our doors with dignity, respect and compassion,” said Love upon hearing she was chosen as this year’s Dr. King honoree.

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