Gottheimer Hosts Fifth District “Hometown Heroes” Awards

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Gottheimer Hosts Fifth District “Hometown Heroes” Awards


Hometown Heroes honors veterans, first responders, students, volunteers, & community leaders


Above: Congressman Gottheimer with Fifth District Hometown Hero honorees today.


HACKENSACK, NJ — Today, Friday, July 9, 2021, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) honored local first responders, veterans, students, life-saving bystanders, volunteers, Scouts, community leaders, and residents during his Fifth District Hometown Heroes Ceremony, held today at the Hackensack Performing Arts Center.


Fifth District Hometown Heroes Awards were presented to more than sixty Fifth District residents today to recognize their dedication to helping improve the lives of their neighbors, families, and communities.


“We are lucky to have so many unsung heroes in our communities, whose quiet power of service goes on every day without the recognition they truly deserve. They just do it because they care. Today is their day,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “It goes without saying that the past nearly year and a half has been an incredibly challenging time for our country — with a pandemic looming over us, sick loved ones and neighbors, and a drumbeat of economic uncertainty. If you pick up the paper, turn on cable news or flip through social media, there is far more attention being placed on what’s going wrong with America, and far too little attention on what’s going right. We should focus more on what unites us, as opposed to what divides us — and spend more time focusing on those who give back to our country and communities.”


Gottheimer continued, “Today’s Hometown Heroes were all nominated by leaders from our community — including our elected officials, nonprofit and faith leaders, friends, family members, first responders, and neighbors who believe that they truly deserve the title. These individuals come from all walks of life, but they all share an idea that is particularly special: they embody our Jersey Values and make our community such a special place to live, work, and raise a family. They help us build the more perfect union we should all be fighting for. We should all work to live up to their example.”


Video of the Fifth District Hometown Heroes Awards ceremony can be found HERE.


The July 2021 Fifth District Hometown Hero Award honorees in order of appearance:


Robert Byrnes Jr., New Milford, Bergen County — a career firefighter and current Captain at the Bergenfield Fire Department who has received multiple honors for his two remarkable life-saving rescues: a 65-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl at the local high school.


Ken and Jacquie Lunden, Liberty Township, Warren County — an impressive couple who has gone out of their way for over three decades to support essential services, sponsor vital community projects, and care for their neighbors. Ken serves as a volunteer firefighter and EMT, Jacquie serves as the President of the Ladies Auxiliary, and they have both taken on leadership roles at the Mountain lake Community Association.


Reverend Frank Fowler III, Hackettstown, Warren County — posthumous — a giant in his community who passed away earlier this year. Reverend Fowler served as the Senior Pastor of the Trinity Church and consistently dedicated himself to serving his neighbors with everything from running food pantries to a church thrift shop, as well as supporting children with disabilities.


Ross Herbert, Closter, Bergen County — the decorated Captain of the Closter Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Corps, who stepped up throughout the pandemic to handle 417 ambulance calls, as well as to support neighboring EMT teams by briefing them on COVID-19 safety protocols.


Christopher Bianchi, Demarest, Bergen County — a career law enforcement officer and Chief of the Demarest Police Force, whose unwavering dedication to protecting his residents has made his community a safer place to live. Throughout the pandemic, Chief Bianchi supplied first responders and neighboring agencies with PPE and served as a resource to anyone who needed assistance.


Karen DeMarco, Dumont, Bergen County — the founder of the Food Brigade who has facilitated the delivery of over one-million pounds of food to those in need in North Jersey. Inspired by the show of support from her community after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Karen decided to pay-it-forward and feed others who could not support themselves and their families.


Lisa MacClements, Fair Law, Bergen County — the facilitator of Fair Lawn for All Ages, an organization that supports programs and resources that help make the community more age-friendly by supporting seniors and instilling the values of service onto the younger generation.


Mike Richards and Kyle Sander, Frankford, Sussex County — the Sussex County Fairgrounds Manager and Groundskeeper, respectively, who served as the backbone for their community’s vaccination site by shoveling snow and caring for volunteers. Their efforts ensured that their neighbors were able to receive these life-saving shots.


Lisa Bufalini-Saavedra, Glen Rock, Bergen County — the founder of Glen Rock Angels Feeding Oasis, an organization that stepped up throughout the pandemic to serve more than 29,000 meals to those in need. She also coordinated and recruited more than 200 volunteers to join this effort.


Julia Decker, Green Township, Sussex County — a Junior at Newton High School who partnered with Love Without Boundaries to raise money for orphaned and vulnerable children suffering from cleft lip or palate in China and Cambodia. After an anonymous donor sponsored her lip repair surgery when she was a three-and-a-half, Julia was motivated to give back.


Bob Wolff, Hardwick, Warren County — a dedicated community leader for over forty years who has volunteered as a firefighter at the Stillwater Fire Department, served on the Hardwick Township Grants, Open Space, and Agricultural Committees, and sponsored countless community events.


Louisa Giberti-Toledo, Hillsdale, Bergen County — a former First Lieutenant in the Army Reserves and a current Heart Transplant Nurse Practitioner at Newark Beth Israel Medical center whose outstanding service has permanently bettered her community and her country.    


Kyle Wilson, Lafayette, Sussex County — a dedicated, live-saving medical practitioner who serves as the Assistant Manager at the Emergency Department of Newton medical Center and as a mobile intensive care nurse for Hunterdon Medical Center and Atlantic Mobile Health.


Jessica Card, Liberty Township, Warren County — a Physicians’ Assistant who made it her mission throughout the pandemic to find vaccine appointments for her neighbors. What started as a favor to her friends expanded into a vast network of community members in need who Jessica served with relentless dedication.


Anthony “TJ” Luna, Lodi, Bergen County — posthumous — a 38-year long, immensely dedicated employee of the Lodi School Board who we unfortunately lost to COVID this year. From serving as a custodian to the Supervisor of Buildings and Ground, TJ became family to everyone in the Lodi school community. He was a gracious custodian of the school grounds and a friend to so many. He will be dearly missed.


Frank Hoogerheide, Midland Park, Bergen County — a community leader who has spent more than 25 years combatting food insecurity for students and churchgoers throughout his community. Every winter, Frank, the founder of the Midland Park United Methodist Church’s Super Bowl Food Drive, leads a canned soup drive and donates thousands of cans to local banks that feed people in need.


Laura Mickley, Montague, Sussex County — the Director of Norwescap Child and Family Resources Services who has been on the front lines of child care for 16 years, providing invaluable support to families and providers across…

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