cymca mlk awardsPhoto: Essay Contest winners Xavier Norman, Monmouth Regional HS, (l) and Sahar Akbarzai, Old Bridge Regional HS, (r),Humanitarian Contest winner Aisha Bhoori, Middletown HS (c).

High School Students Honored at 25th Annual YMCA Memorial Breakfast

Shrewsbury, NJ – Three area high school students were recognized as essay winners and for humanitarian efforts at the 25th Annual YMCA Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast on Jan 20, 2014, hosted by The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County, and sponsored by Meridian Health and Sunrise Optimist Club.


Each year, teens enrolled in Monmouth County YMCA programs are invited to submit essays reflecting on Dr. King’s words on how they can follow in his footsteps to improve the welfare of others and serve their community. This year’s essay winners were: Xavier Norman, a freshman at Monmouth Regional High School, and Sahar Akbarzai, a senior at Old Bridge Regional High School.  The essay winners were each rewarded with a $500 scholarship.

The Humanitarian Award is annually presented by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office to a student who exemplifies the definition of a humanitarian and conveys the character values of the Y: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.  All high school students in Monmouth County were invited to apply.  The winner this year was Aisha Bhoori, a senior at Middletown High School South. Aisha co-founded a not-for-profit, Dreamers Without Borders, to collect food supplies for Afghan refugees who are housed at an immigration center and Tibetan refugees from a village school in India.  The award was presented by First Assistant Prosecutor Marc C. LeMieux.

In addition to presenting the awards, the Ys collected non-perishable food items to support Lunch Break of Red Bank.

Approximately 300 people attended the annual breakfast at Branches Catering in West Long Branch.   The keynote speaker was Pastor Terrence K. Porter of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Red Bank, who received a proclamation from Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna and council for his dedicated service to the Red Bank community.