ELIZABETH, NJ - Five Union County residents were recognized for outstanding contributions in social services, the arts, economic development, education and history at the Snyder Academy Awards held on November 2 at the Snyder Academy in Elizabeth.  

“Each of our award recipients has contributed to the richness of the Elizabeth community in his or her own unique way,” Marybeth Lapham, Executive Director of the Snyder Academy said. “For the third year, we’re proud to shine a light on the amazing people whose talents and commitment make such a positive impact on our neighbors.”

Those recognized includes:

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Linda Flores-Tober, Executive Director, Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless is the recipient of the Hannah Caldwell Award in the area of social services. A longtime Elizabeth resident, she has served the coalition for 24 years while providing her expertise to several county resources. She has served as Co-Chair and Chair of the Union County Comprehensive Emergency Assistance Systems and Continuum of Care Committee. She is part of the Union County Homeless Trust Committee, the Human Service Advisory Council and the Union Country Freeholders Task Force on Foreclosures.

The Coalition was recognized in 2013 with the Union County Unity Award and in 2010 Linda was awarded Bank of America’s Local Heroes honor for her work with the homeless in Union County.

Theodore Perkins is the founder of the Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble (EYTE) and the recipient of the Frederick Law Olmsted Award in the Arts. An Elizabeth native, he founded Walking the Beat, an ongoing arts-in-education residency project that unites Elizabeth High School students and police officers to build positive relationships through written pieces and performances about students’ neighborhoods and local heroes.

The project is sponsored by the Elizabeth Office of Youth and HBO’s Corporate Social Responsibility division, with support by Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, Police Director James Cosgrove, Joe Cryan and the Union County Sheriff’s Department. An actor and producer, Perkins plans to introduce the program and curriculum in other cities across the United States. 

Marlenes Teixeira, who most recently was a vice principal in the Elizabeth public schools, is being honored posthumously with the Francis Barber Award in education. A classical pianist born in Santiago de Cuba, she came to Elizabeth in 2001 at the age of 19 and earned a bachelor’s degree at Kean University and a master’s degree from Boston University. During her tenure in the Elizabeth schools, she shared her deep appreciation for music with thousands of students as a teacher and administrator. She also served as a member of the board of trustees of Union County College.  Ms. Teixiera’s husband, Tony Teixeira accepted the honor on her behalf.

Sal Garcia, the founder of MAS Construction, is being honored with the Alexander Hamilton Award in the area of economic development. Born and raised in Elizabeth, he has built more than 250 residential units in Union County and MAS is the lead developer for Midtown Elizabeth, a 525-unit residential development next to the Elizabeth train station. His love for his hometown extends to its historic buildings, including the restoration of a century-old West Jersey Street house. An active philanthropist, he also serves on the Hispanic Markets Committee and the Union County Workforce Investment Board.

John Prescott, History Programs Coordinator for the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, is being recognized with the Dorothy Snyder Award in history. An exemplary advocate for historic sites, history education and heritage tourism in Elizabeth and Union County, he has worked with community groups and organizations to develop dynamic and substantive programs to educate the public about the county’s remarkable history. His enthusiasm for local history is infectious and inspirational. Born and raised in Hillside, Prescott currently lives in Springfield.

All proceeds from the event support the Academy’s mission to serve the people of Elizabeth and New Jersey as a vibrant center for culture, education, history, and economic and social development. Generous support from Elizabethtown Gas helped make the event possible.

Visit the Snyder Academy website at www.snyderacademy.org for more information on its programs.

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