BELLEVILLE, NJ Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. presented six Essex County residents with Outstanding Senior Citizen Awards during the 40th Annual Senior Citizen Luncheon at The Chandelier in Belleville on Thursday, May 7th. Approximately 200 Essex County seniors attended the annual celebration, which recognizes members of Essex County’s various senior clubs for their dedication and commitment to the program.

“Congratulations to our Senior Club members who are being recognized today. Whether you offered a kind word for your fellow members, gave a ride to someone who needs transportation, organized a trip or served as a club officer, your volunteer efforts are the reason this program continues to thrive,” DiVincenzo said. “Your actions contributed to a welcoming atmosphere where others can strike up new friendships, spend an afternoon and remain connected to their community. Thank you for Putting Essex County and our Seniors First,” he added.

“It’s very important for senior citizens to stay active and we are pleased to see you all take advantage of the clubs in our Parks System to remain involved in your community. Activities like these contribute to our quality of life and certainly are beneficial to all our residents,” Freeholder Patricia Sebold said.

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The Outstanding Senior Citizen Awardees are as follows:

Emil Krisocki, a resident of Belleville, is a member of the Belleville Park Monday Club. Mr. Krisocki has been with the club for over 15 years and is serving as President for the third time. He is very trustworthy and deposits all funds collected. Mr. Krisocki keeps the members entertained by telling jokes and singing, and is an avid reader and very knowledgeable about current events. “I didn’t even know we had a committee on this so I was surprised when I was told I was being honored,” Mr. Krisocki said. “We’re primarily a social club. It’s nice to be with your friends every day,” he noted.

Sam Lepiscopo, a resident of Bloomfield, is a member of the Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossom Club. Mr. Kepiscopo has been a faithful member for 15 years. He loves to attend the club and is always on the dance floor at club functions. Mr. Lepiscopo served in World War II and was stationed in Germany. “Our club is terrific. We do a lot of activities. There are other places that are closer to my home but I’m going to keep going to this club because we have such a great time,” Mr. Lepiscopo said.

Kathy Testa, a resident of Verona, is a member of the Independence Park Monday Club. Ms. Testa has been a member of the club for the past 15 years. For years and with patience and self-sacrifice, she lovingly took care of her aging mother. Now Ms. Testa extends the same attentiveness to all the members of the club. She faithfully attends meetings every Monday and, because of her unfailing commitment, she was chosen as a trustee two years ago. “My mother was a member and then I joined,” Ms. Testa said. “I enjoy the people. We have a good time together,” she said.

Angelina Reyes, a resident of Newark, is a member of The North Ward Center Casa Israel. Born in Puerto Rico, Ms. Reyes has resided on 7thAvenue in Newark since immigrating to the United States in 1941. Her greatest accomplishment has been as a single mother raising her son. She worked as a seamstress at a coat factory for a long time. Ms. Reyes loves to travel and recently visited her son and three grandchildren in Las Vegas. Her hobbies are arts and crafts, canvas, music, movies, dancing, sing along, reading, word search, hidden pictures and shopping. “I am very happy to be honored today,” Ms. Reyes said through an interpreter. “It’s a great atmosphere and I like the people at Casa Israel,” she said.

Judith Holtz, a resident of Roseland, has been named as the Roseland Senior Citizen of the Year. Ms. Holtz was a social worker with the Division of Family and Children’s Services and a teacher’s aide at Lester C. Noecker Elementary School in Roseland. She greatly cared for the students, often helping as a tutor or hosting baking classes at her home. After her husband died in 1987, Ms. Holtz took a bereavement course and then helped present the class for other mourners for many years. She led a weekly prayer group, which provided many with comfort as well as requesting special intentions for members of the police and fire departments. “Being recognized this way is very flattering and I thank the people who nominated me,” Ms. Holtz said. “The activities I was involved with were part of my healing process after my husband passed away. All the time, the people I was working with thought they were receiving my support, but in actuality they were helping me deal with my grief,” she pointed out.

Neil McGinniss, a resident of Bloomfield, is a member of the Watsessing Park Tuesday Club. Mr. McGinniss has been a member of the club for several years. He often brings goodies to the meetings and volunteers to transport members who are unable to drive. He is truly an asset to the club, who keeps order as its sergeant at arms. “I was surprised and shocked when I learned I was chosen. I never expected this,” Mr. McGinnis said. “When I retired I would come to the park every day to have lunch and then I found the club and joined. It’s been a real nice experience. We have a great time and I enjoy it,” he added. 

The annual award program was sponsored by the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs. Essex County hosts 11 senior citizen clubs, and each one has the opportunity to nominate someone from their club for the award. This year, six clubs participated in the awards ceremony.