NEWARK, NJ - The prestigious New Jersey Governor Jefferson Award ceremony was held June 8 at the Newark Museum. Nominations are sought months ahead and through careful consideration, nominees were selected from a pool of over 550 applicants and across twenty two different categories.
Founded forty three years ago by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, this award celebrates ordinary citizens who demonstrate extraordinary acts in public service. The Jefferson Awards Foundation recognizes the honor as the “Nobel Prize for Public Service.”
The individuals recognized not only exhibited the foresight to recognize and act upon a need in a hero’s capacity but they did it as a volunteer capacity without compensation. These individuals are among 1.5 million annual volunteers in New Jersey according to keynote speaker, Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.
Prior the individual recognition, a portion of each winning nomination was read by a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteerism and/or Judging Committee.
Sussex County volunteers were among three winning categories. Julia Quinlan was honored in the Health Care Individual category for being a pioneer in the hospice movement. The inpatient facility bearing her daughter’s name, Karen Ann Quinlan Home for Hospice, is located in Fredon. Julia Quinlan will continue on to Washington, DC this month for national recognition.
Ginnie’s House Volunteers, based out of Newton, were recognized in the Volunteer Group category for raising awareness of child abuse issues. For sixteen years, they have provided resources to support abused children in the area.
Lastly, Tilly Giresi, of Andover, was chosen in the Faith-Based Services category for her long standing work with “Tilly’s Kids” in helping underprivileged children. Tilly works on a year round basis with children primarily from Newark to grant them enriching opportunities. During the summer, she has 35 children between the ages of four and fourteen who will benefit from, among other things, learning how to swim, science lessons, nature lessons and time with teen mentors from “Pass it Along.”
She is also well known in Sussex County for organizing a highly successful toy drive for children living in poverty at the holidays. Last year, over 2,750 children were hand delivered gift bags by her volunteers, many of whom are local residents.
To further promote volunteerism in the state, a website www.volunteerism.nj.gov was formed to match those wishing to lend their time and talents to non-profit organizations.