Business & Finance

Community Access Unlimited Honors Community Partners at 2018 Awards Dinner

Roselle Councilwoman Denise Wilkerson (left) is congratulated by (left to right) Assemblywoman Annette Quijano; Sid Blanchard, CAU executive director; and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage.
Shantena Fleming (left), lead employment specialist at Community Access Unlimited (CAU), congratulates Amberly Russamano, shopper advocate at Shoprite of Clark, at the agency's 2018 Awards Dinner.
Greg Rybeck (left), director of community integration at CAU, congratulates TD Bank members (left to right) Paige Carlson-Heim, David Olmedo, AnneMarie Lavine and Renee Rattigan.
Erich Kussman (left) of the Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council, and CAU member Belinda Malave.

ELIZABETH, NJ - Community Access Unlimited (CAU) recently honored a number of key community partners at the agency's 2018 Awards Night Celebration, held April 12 at its headquarters in Elizabeth.

Community Access Unlimited is a statewide Union County-based nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as at-risk youth to enable them to live independently in the community, providing support in areas including housing, vocational skills, and life-skills training, education, advocacy, and recreation.

The 2018 award winners were:

Sign Up for E-News

  • ShopRite of Clark – Employer of the Year
  • TD Bank, Financial Literacy Program – Organization Community Services & Partnership Program
  • Roselle Councilwoman Denise Wilkerson – Partnership in Community Living Award for supporting CAU members who lost their home in Roselle to a fire earlier this year.
  • Erich Han William Kussman, Jr., of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Springfield, a member of the Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council – Community Integration Award
  • Zuleika Almanzar of Disability Services and Advocacy – Outstanding Community Advocate, Developmental Disabilities
  • Frederick Idehen of Coordinated Family Care – Outstanding Community Advocate, Youth Services
  • Mark Obler, a CAU member who opened his home to fellow CAU members who lost theirs to the Roselle fire – Individual Community Service & Partnership Award

"We are here tonight to recognize our community partners, those that not only talk about caring but put it into action supporting others so that we can all be productive members of the community," said Sid Blanchard, CAU executive director. "Without community partners, there would be no community. We all help each other. Without that glue, nothing would bind us together. And the glue is respect for each other, our commonality as well as our differences."

ShopRite of Clark has been a longtime partner with CAU in the agency's member employment program.

"We are an equal opportunity employer and we look to help everybody, regardless of their capabilities," said Amberly Russomano, shopper advocate at the store. "We look for the right people who will fit with the company and CAU has provided us with some great people, some of whom have been with us for 20 years or more."

TD Bank partners with CAU in a number of ways, including its financial literacy program. Representatives of the bank regularly visit the agency to teach financial literacy classes to its members.

"This year, we introduced our new adaptive financial education curriculum," said Eileen Holmes, retail market president at TD Bank. "Using a variety of newly created tools and resources, we were able to extend financial literacy to individuals with diverse abilities. This is important because financial education enables individuals to make better, more informed monetary decisions and get the most out of their income."

Following a fire at an apartment building in Roselle that left 14 CAU members without a place to live and few belongings, Wilkerson led a communitywide effort to raise funds for them and others displaced by the fire, and effort that raised more than $13,000.

"When you're working with an organization like CAU that truly believes in partnering with the community, it's easy for you to do your part," she said.

Kussman is a member of the steering committee of the Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council, which comprises more than 40 interfaith congregations and community-based nonprofits, including founding member CAU. He regularly holds services at CAU for agency members and spearheads an effort to lead houses of worship to embrace people with disabilities within their congregations.

"At the end of the day, we're all human," he said. "There's a commonality we all share and it's important to be human together."

Gary Ruben, a longtime CAU member and president of the agency's member-advocate group, Helping Hands, attended the event and is appreciative of everything CAU's community partners do for his fellow members.

"It means more people are out there caring about each other," he said. "It shows what we can do together." is Roselle’s official electronic news source! To get your free daily Roselle or Roselle Park news, click on your town. 

Sign up for our daily e-news!

Download the TAPinto App!   Click here for Android.  Click here for iOS.



TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Roselle/Roselle Park

Upcoming Events

Mon, June 4, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Tue, June 5, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Wed, June 6, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Applications for Roselle Firefighter Exam to Start in July

May 23, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - The Roselle Fire Dept. has posted an announcement for those wishing to apply for the entry-level firefighter exam. 

According to the release, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission will announce an entry-level firefighter’s exam on July 1. Individuals wishing to take this exam should visit the NJCSC web site @ 

Applications will also be ...

Roselle First to Hold Job Fair this Wednesday

ROSELLE, NJ - Roselle First will be hosting a career fair on Wednesday, May 23, with doors opening at 10 a.m. sharp until noon. The event will be held at AGAPE House of Worship located at 239 East First Ave. in Roselle.  The event is open to all nearby towns. 

Everyone should bring fifteen or more copies of your resumes absolutely no printing will be available on ...

Goethals Bridge to New Jersey to be Closed Friday Night through Sunday

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Goethals Bridge to New Jersey will be closed to all traffic beginning 9 p.m. Friday, May 18 until 9 p.m. Sunday, May 20. 

The Eastbound to NY will remain open. Officials said the closure is necessary to construct the entry and exit ramps for the new westbound span.

At 9 p.m. Sunday night, the westbound span is expected to open in its final configuration, three ...

Roselle Park High School to Hold Blood Drive

ROSELLE PARK, NJ - The Roselle Park high school we'll be holding a blood drive on Thursday, May 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will be held at the Roselle Park High School gym and is open to the public. 

Call for appointment or walk-in. Bagels, popcorn, cotton candy, and giveaways will be given out at the event.

For more information contact RPHS school nurse Jan Haddad or call ...

The 15th Annual Tour de Elizabeth Comes to Elizabeth this Sunday

May 15, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - Cyclists of every skill level are readying their bicycles in anticipation as the 15th annual Tour de Elizabeth that will roll through the city.\ this coming Sunday. 

This year’s ride, which is titled “Destination Elizabeth,” will begin and end at City Hall, is a family-friendly, 15-mile recreational tour of the City of Elizabeth’s historic ...

Suspect Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run Flees Country

May 22, 2018

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – A 36-year-old suspect charged in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian May 15th has fled the country, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Charges have been filed against Mario Infante, age 36, of New Street, Plainfield, following an investigation by detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office and North Plainfield ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

NFL Alumni To Host Charity Event At MetLife Stadium on June 13, 2018 From 5:30PM To 9:00PM Fun for Adults and Kids Tickets Available. Kids Under 10 Free Meet NFL Players and Play Celebrity Flag Football Field Access. Pictures. Autographs. Tours. KanJam and Cornhole Tournaments

May 27, 2018

NFL Alumni To Host Charity Event At MetLife Stadium on June 13, 2018 From 5:30PM To 9:00PM

Fun for Adults and Kids 

Tickets Available. Kids Under 10 Free


Meet NFL Players and Play Celebrity Flag Football

Field Access. Pictures. Autographs. Tours.

KanJam and Cornhole Tournaments


The NFL Alumni Association (NFLA) will host a charity event on June 13th at ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...