SPARTA, NJ –The Center for Prevention and Counseling presented the Shining Star Coalition award at the June meeting.  Sparta attorney Jacqueline O’Donnell was “both shocked and honored” to receive the recognition from Anne Marie Schaffer and Executive Director Becky Carlson.

O’Donnell was recognized for her efforts in trying to keep Sussex County’s children safe from drugs and alcohol on June 9.

“The Center’s Coalition for Healthy & Safe Families is grateful for the proactive approach of Jackie O’Donnell, a concerned parent, community member and local attorney,” said Carlson.

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When presented with this award, O’Donnell said, "I am not doing anything different than anybody else is doing, and that is, trying to keep our kids safe. My three sons are the most important people in the world to me and I'm sure all parents feel this way.” 

Carlson explained O’Donnell stood out as someone deserving of recognition for several reasons.  “Jackie truly cares about the youth in her community and had recently contacted us to learn more about the facts on vaping and in doing so discussed the issue of underage drinking. She learned about our ‘Parents Who Host Lose the Most’ initiative, which is designed to educate parents, caregivers and the community about underage drinking during prom and graduation season.” 

Carlson said O’Donnell “volunteered to put up lawn signs we developed, featuring a message for teens to celebrate without alcohol.”  O’Donnell put the signs up all around Sparta and can be seen on the front lawn of her law office on Main Street.

O'Donnell is the founder of O'Donnell Law Firm in Sparta, which is located at 72 Main Street. She opened her firm in 1993. It was known as O'Donnell and Dumbroff from 1995-2014.   She is the mother of three sons, Ryan, Tim and Matt Dumbroff and is very active in the schools, sports, Saint Kateri Parish and many other charitable organizations throughout the county. 

She was President of the Sussex County Bar Association in 2001 and spent countless hours at the relief sites outside the World Trade Center donating her time to help the families affected by 9/11.   She was one of the only Sussex County Attorneys to be accepted into the Trial Lawyers Care program which required that you donate all legal fees earned representing 9/11 families who lost their loved ones. Her law firm donated over $800,000 in legal fees back to the victims.

In an interview O’Donnell said, “I love this town and I know a ton of the kids in it from watching them grow up.  I don't want anything to happen to them.”

She spoke about the far reaching implications and harsher consequences facing today’s children when they make mistakes.  “It's a scary world that this generation is growing up in--- much different than growing up in the ‘olden days’ she jokes, referring to her children’s reference to how old she is.   The media makes drinking, vaping and the legalization of marijuana really attractive for our kids--- they are under pressures today which perhaps didn't threaten the generations before."

O’Donnell shared an expression she heard a long time ago, poignant to the award, “’I stood there and wondered why somebody didn't do something; then I realized I am somebody.’ That is what I'm trying to say. I do what I can to help.”