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Community Access Unlimited Celebrates Those Who Make a Better Community for All

The award winners at the 2014 Gala Dinner and Dance of Community Access Unlimited (left to right holding proclamations), Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, attorney Daniel McCarthy and Roselle Mayor Jamel Holley, are congratulated by (also left to right) Sid Blanchard, CAU execcutive director and Union County Freeholders Mohamed Jalloh and Sergio Granados.

In celebration of a community effort that enables people with disabilities and at-risk youth to lead fulfilling and independent lives within the community, members of Community Access Unlimited and their family, agency staff, business supporters and representatives of government gathered for CAU's 2014 Gala Dinner Dance this week at L'Affaire in Mountainside, NJ.

CAU provides support programs and services to people with disabilities and youth served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enable them to live independently in the community, in areas including housing, vocational and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation.

"Our mission is to enable our members to live fulfilling lives within the community, to work and pay taxes, to live independently in apartments and their own homes, to be consumers and engaged citizens and to recreate and love," said Sid Blanchard, CAU executive director. "We could not fulfill that mission without the commitment of our members and staff as well as the support of the greater community, including business and government leaders. Community is the key word in our name and we're here tonight to celebrate those in the community who help us achieve our goals."

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CAU honored three award winners at the dinner: Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, Mayor Jamel Holley of the Borough of Roselle and CAU board member Daniel McCarthy.

Bramnick was honored with the Public Leadership Award. Years ago as a member of the Plainfield City Council Bramnick was instrumental in enabling CAU to create one of its first residential properties for members in that city and has supported the agency ever since. He also often volunteers his services as a comedic auctioneer on behalf of nonprofit organizations. Bramnick is a partner in the law firm of Bramnick, Rodriguez, Mitterhoff, Grabas & Woodruff, based in Scotch Plains.

"Government should be about people and should be about love of people, (including) shared experiences" he said. "That's what (CAU) does – bring people together and boost them up and let them have shared experiences. When you bring people together, that's what success is."

Holley was honored with the Humanitarian of the Year Award. He is regarded as one of New Jersey's most engaged young activist. He also serves as chairman and chief executive officer of the Jamel C. Holley Civic Association, a 501c3 nonprofit organization providing resources and programs to residents of the greater Roselle community. Holley has been especially engaged with CAU and its members, attending a block party hosted by CAU Roselle residents and inviting them to Thanksgiving Dinner at the Borough Hall.

"I'm very humbled to be here tonight," he said. "They say a child born to an unwed teenage mother is unlikely to even graduate high school let alone receive a humanitarian award. It's a testament to the people I work with, whom I represent, my family and my supporters who allow me to achieve what I can achieve.

"I'm involved with CAU as it relates to the expansion of their programs, services and housing. They are doing amazing work and we're happy they chose Roselle to be part of that."

McCarthy was honored with the Ira Geller Award, which is presented to someone with a significant commitment to CAU, including its members, and best reflects the concept of volunteerism. McCarthy, a partner in the law firm Rogut McCarthy, LLC, has been a long-time supporter of CAU and a driving force behind the agency's annual golf outing that raises funds for CAU programs and services. He also played a significant role in raising funds to purchase a generator for the Union County Youth Shelter, which is operated by CAU, following Hurricane Sandy.

McCarthy was drawn to CAU after meeting its leadership team and "seeing the unbelievable work they do for the community that needs that support," he said. "The greatest strength of Community Access is the sense of community and making sure everyone knows we're all part of the same community and we have an obligation to take care of all our brothers and sisters in the world."

Audrey Vasey, president of the CAU board of trustees, said the gala is a way to recognize the community leaders who do great things for the agency and people with disabilities in general.

"It's about reaching out," she said. "It's a big community and we want to be inclusive and the more we reach out the greater the momentum. People like to be part of something and this is one hell of a cool thing to be part of."

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage believes the community's relationship with CAU is beneficial both ways.

"Community Access has been such an important part of our city," he said. "Many of you here tonight are taking advantage of fair housing, fair employment and fair living opportunities because of Community Access and CAU has had a great hand in providing housing throughout our city, county and state."

Union County Freeholders Mohamed Jalloh, the vice chairman, and Sergio Granados attended the dinner and presented the award winners with proclamations honoring their achievements.

CAU also presented two members with the Colleen L. Frasier Advocate of the Year award, each receiving $500 scholarships. Myrta Rosa was recognized for advocating for people with disabilities and Jasmine Houseman was recognized for advocating for at-risk youth.

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Scotch Plains Man Arrested for Exposing Himself to Girl at Farley Park

April 19, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — A 26-year-old Scotch Plains man was arrested and charged with lewdness after he allegedly exposed himself in front of a girl at Farley Park, police said.

The girl's family members contacted the Scotch Plains police, who arrested Melvin A. Hanciles, who lives near the park on Farley Avenue.

Sergeant David Lavery and Patrolman Chris ...

2018 Municipal Budget is on Collision Course with Principles of Financial Soundness & Stability

April 18, 2018

Having chaired the town council’s finance committee in the recent past, I appreciate the hard work that goes into developing a municipal budget for a town as large and dynamic as Westfield. But as I have expressed publicly and also to the mayor and my council colleagues, I do not support the adoption of Westfield’s 2018 municipal budget. Although the budget contains much that I ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, April 19, 7:00 PM

Westfield High School Auditorium, Westfield

Panel on Transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy

Education Green


Thu, April 19, 8:00 PM

Molly Maguires Irish Pub and Restaurant, Clark

Open Mic Night @ Molly Maguires in Clark

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Thu, April 19, 8:00 PM

Union County Torah Center, Westfield

“The Jewish View on Reincarnation”

Religions And Spirituality

Westfield Police Blotter: Residence Burglarized & More

April 18, 2018

April 11, 2018 10:23 a.m.

Raymond Rodgers, 56, of Westfield, NJ was arrested in the area of E. Broad Street. Rodgers was arrested pursuant to an unrelated traffic investigation. Rogers was transported to Westfield Police HQ without incident. At WPD HQ, Rodgers was processed and released after posting the full bail amount ($250). Rodgers was arrested on the strength of an outstanding Westfield ...

Union County Freeholder Board Reminds Seniors on New Medicare Cards

April 19, 2018

In recognition of May as Older Americans Month, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds Union County’s senior adults that they will receive new Medicare cards from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this summer.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is the federal agency that runs the Medicare program. It is a branch of the US Department of ...

McKinley School Kicks Off its Annual Fundraising Effort for Pediatric Cancer Research

It was an enthusiastic start as students and staff kicked off the 7th Annual McKinley School Mini-THON, a schoolwide, energetic effort to raise money for leukemia and pediatric cancer research.

“As you know, McKinley School does a lot to give back [to the community],” said McKinley principal Marc Biunno as he addressed students and staff gathered in the gymnasium on April 11.

Get Your Home Ready for Summer Before its TOO HOT

Finally, the weather is getting warmer and you are shedding those down coats. Now is a great time to start thinking about summer and getting your home prepared. Paying attention to a few maintenance items can alleviate painful repairs later on if you wait too long. The line ahead of you will build as the summer rush starts. So, let’s not wait.

Check your roof   (hire the expert ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Fear of Rising Rates? Remember The Reason You Own Bonds

If the current interest environment has you concerned about your bond portfolio, remember why you are investing in bonds.  The role bonds, or fixed income, play in a portfolio is not solely based on performance.  Bonds are used to offer stability, particularly when stock market volatility is rising. Rate hikes can dampen bond performance, but keep perspective on how rising rates impact ...

Hellenic Therapy Center

April 13, 2018

Dropping Off Our Kids At College – Learning How To Adjust

Hellenic Therapy Center


Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents.  There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child.  Feelings ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 14

On this week’s AtlantiCast, an internationally recognized orthopedic oncologist takes a leadership role at Atlantic Health System, see the newest weapon in the fight against HPV-related cancers, Atlantic Health System leads the Castle Connolly / Inside Jersey Rankings, and much more!



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Kathleen A. Hertell passed away peacefully with family at her bedside on April 14, 2018. Loving ...
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Edison Cop Arrested, Charged With Computer Theft and Stalking

April 18, 2018

EDISON, NJ - An Edison police officer has been arrested and charged with computer theft and stalking.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Chief Thomas Bryan of the Edison Police Department on Tuesday announced the arrest of Paul Pappas. The 43-year-old officer, an Edison resident, has been charged with computer theft/criminal activity in the second degree and stalking in the fourth ...