Century-old charity celebrates champions of the blind
Middletown, NJ – The New Jersey Blind Citizens Association (NJBCA), the oldest organization of the blind and visually impaired in the state, held their annual awards dinner this week honoring New Jersey’s most dedicated donors and volunteers to serve the historic charity over the past year. Honorees from across the state were awarded for their influence and efforts improving the lives of the blind and visually impaired.
The evening began with the presentation of the NJBCA “Member of the Year” award to Lt. Colonel (Ret.) James L. Guerrieri. A member of the Association, Guerrieri was key in raising more than $10,000 for programs serving the blind and visually impaired this year as captain of the Middletown Lions Club annual auto show. In addition, Jim worked tirelessly as a volunteer to supervise the recent renovation of multiple campus facilities.
“Award Winners from left to right: Patricia St. George, Ida Twist, James Guerrieri, Bernice Berger & Ruth Korn, and Jonathan Della Pietro.”
Jonathan Della Pietro was awarded “Citizen of the Year” for creating a Meditation Area on the NJBCA campus. For his Eagle Scout Project, Della Pietro led other scouts to design and build the space. “It’s just gorgeous and serves as a peaceful sitting place,” says Executive Director Doug Scott. “With seating, a babbling fountain, wind chimes, flowering plants, and more, Jonathan’s contribution is so important to our clients and really offers a personal space for quiet reflection.
The awards ceremony concluded with a presentation of the “Distinguished Service” award to the Garden Club RFD at Middletown. Bernice Berger and Ruth Korn, who were crucial in establishing NJBCA’s Garden Club, accepted the honor. The two volunteers have dedicated countless hours to cultivate the Association’s own organic vegetable garden, work with clients to share gardening techniques and harvest vegetables for NJBCA’s kitchen, and even organize educational day trips.
“The Meditation Area created by Della Pietro is used daily by NJBCA clients as a quiet place to destress.”
“Without the help of these visionaries, members of our generous family of donors and volunteers, our work would not be possible,” says Marisa Medina, NJBCA Director of Development. “Whenever one of our clients shows enthusiasm about our programs, learns to use computer screen reading software for the first time, or shows a newfound interest in the arts, I know it was achievable because there are so many people out there who truly care.”
Additional awards included naming Ida Twist, NJBCA Ladies Auxiliary Member, “Woman of the Year,” and Patricia St. George, NJBCA Client, “Day Camp Member of the Year.” Twist was honored for her many volunteer hours, which were crucial in raising the $15,000 donated by the Ladies Auxiliary to the Association in 2010. St. George was honored for her high level of activity as an NJBCA client, including her leadership as a board member, encouraging other clients to become actively involved with the organization’s volunteer efforts, and assisting at events throughout the year.
About New Jersey Blind Citizens Association, Inc. (NJBCA) www.njbca.org
Now celebrating its 100th year, NJBCA is the oldest organization of its kind in the state. With the mission of improving the lives of the blind and visually impaired economically, vocationally, educationally, and socially, NJBCA provides free programs to help clients gain independence and confidence to lead self-sufficient and productive lives. At Camp Happiness – the main campus in Leonardo – the nonprofit organization runs a fine arts program, computer training, peer support groups, special interest clubs, and more through the Wobser Day Camp and other initiatives.