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First Lady Mary Pat Christie Awards $100,000 in Grants to New Jersey Heroes Recipients

June 21, 2013

Twelve Hero Organizations to Develop and Improve Services and Programs in Their Communities

Trenton, NJ – First Lady Mary Pat Christie today announced approximately $100,000 in New Jersey Heroes grants to twelve organizations previously selected as New Jersey Heroes. The grants, which must be used within twelve months from the date of the award, will help the recipients to further enhance the mission of their respective organizations through new programs and services. Mrs. Christie launched the New Jersey Heroes program in December 2010 as a way to showcase the positive ways people and organizations are impacting New Jersey in their own distinctive ways — big and small.

“New Jersey Heroes has been a great vehicle to recognize people in all walks of life who are doing really great things throughout our state, whether it’s for cancer, domestic violence, autism or any number of great causes,” said Mrs. Christie. “Through these New Jersey Heroes grants, we’re helping these organizations to increase their visibility and continue to keep doing remarkable work by developing and enhancing needed programs in their communities.”

The 2013 grant awardees are:

Arthur & Friends, Phillipsburg (Wendi Blanchard) – $5,000:  Arthur & Friends provides disabled and marginalized adults with a vocational training and employment program that promotes living skills with an emphasis on economic self-sufficiency, community integration, and employment preparation through its hydroponic agribusiness. New Jersey Heroes is awarding $5,000 for a housing program for Autistic adults that will include an Arthur & Friends greenhouse located on the “campus” to provide training and employment for the residents.  The residents will grow the produce that is used by the housing program, as well as to sell to the larger community, including teachers, parents, and restaurants.

Breast Intentions, Middletown (Erika Rich & Mike Ruane) – $5,000:  Breast Intentions provides crisis intervention for women who are facing financial hardship as they battle breast cancer.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $5,000 for a new awareness program in local colleges and high schools called “Pink Pact.”  This educational program will focus on preventative measures for breast cancer with a goal to educate young women about breast health and the need for regular breast examinations.  The program will commence at two New Jersey colleges (Rowan University and Monmouth University) and two New Jersey high schools (Middletown High School North and Middletown High School South) this fall.

Brick Stars Challenger Program, Brick (Alex DePalma) – $5,000:  Brick Stars is an organization that provides an ice hockey program designed specifically to meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities, mental challenges, or learning delays, and to continue their initiative that is Hockey is for Everyone.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $5,000 to cover costs that include ice rental, rink expenses, uniforms, and equipment. The organization will expand its marketing efforts to increase awareness and generate donations.

The Hope & Future Foundation, previously known as 4-One, Union City (Gian Paul Gonzalez) – $2,300:  The Hope& Future Foundation provides opportunities for youth to proactively become empowered members of their community through extracurricular activities, events, and programming while bridging the gaps between individual growth, improving families, and unifying communities. Programs include athletic training, male leadership and mentoring clubs, female empowerment programming, health and nutrition education, intramural basketball league, and assigned academic study periods.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $2300 for new programming that will include college tours and volunteer/community service road trips.

Make Some Noise: Cure Kids Cancer Foundation, Morristown (Malcolm Sutherland-Foggio) – $10,000:  Established by a child with cancer, The Make Some Noise: Cure Kids Cancer Foundation works to fund pediatric cancer research by securing private funding to distribute to research facilities and promote awareness through fundraising activities.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $10,000 for a new summer tour program where Malcolm, his family, and some of their young friends with cancer will travel across the country in an RV to bring pediatric cancer awareness to other states with his Angel Quilt, a quilt that depicts young lives that have been lost to pediatric cancer.

Operation Shoebox New Jersey, Somerville (Rod Hirsch) – $30,000:  Operation Shoebox New Jersey is a volunteer, grass-roots organization dedicated to collecting donated supplies and shipping care packages to US military personnel deployed overseas. To date, more than 62,000 packages have been shipped abroad.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $30,000 to Operation Shoebox so that the troops will continue to receive the necessities they need especially as bases in places like Afghanistan begin to shut down.

Partners for Women & Justice, Montclair (Jane Hanson) – $10,000:  Partners for Women & Justice empowers low-income and abused women to build safe and secure futures for themselves and their children by providing quality legal assistance in domestic violence and family law matters as well as guidance to promote financial competence and independence.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $10,000 for the organization to complete funding for their Partner in Hope Fellowship program, which allows for a staff attorney to provide direct representation to clients.  Through this new program, which began last July, 79 new cases have been taken on, 46 of which involved full court representation.

 Project Self Sufficiency, Newton (Beverly Gordon) – $5,000:  Project Self-Sufficiency  provides a broad spectrum of comprehensive social, health, and educational services enabling low-income families in Northwest New Jersey to achieve economic self-sufficiency, family stability, and a strong and stable future for themselves and their children.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $5,000 to the organization for a Summer Food Insecurity Program (SFIP), which will provide nutrition assistance to food insecure families during the summer, when children are not getting free meals through their respective schools.

Team Walker, Jersey City (Jerry Walker) – $5,000:  Team Walker creates positive alternatives for the youth of Jersey City through programs designed to enlighten participants and teach the importance of solid academics, teamwork, and sportsmanship.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $5,000 to Team Walker for the development of a series of seminars that focus on improving educational, cultural, and life skills.  The seminars will be conducted at the new Team Walker Learning Center this fall and targeted to Team Walker children and their families.

Rise Up to Cure Paralysis, Hamilton (David McCauley) – $2,400:  Rise Up to Cure Paralysis works to improve the quality of life of people living with paralysis in a variety of ways from issuing quality of life grants for people who can’t afford necessary adaptive equipment, supporting medical research and funding an adaptive art therapy studio/gallery for these individuals to create and showcase their art.  Rise Up partners with local hospitals and rehabilitation centers to provide art therapy workshops to the community.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $2,400 to help fund a new art therapy workshop with Gregory Stone for artists and non-artists living with paralysis to improve motor skills.

Women’s Opportunity Center, Burlington (Cathi Rendfrey) – $5,000:  The Women’s Opportunity Center is committed to helping women gain economic self-sufficiency through education, job readiness, networking, outreach, referrals, and emotional support.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding  $5,000 to the organization for the development of  new programs including expanded computer classes, a “scholarship fund” to help cover books, childcare, test fees, and gift cards for woman in need to purchase food and gas to support their families.

Your Grandmother’s Cupboard, Toms River (Clark& Jean Paradise) – $15,000: Your Grandmother’s Cupboard helps to provide the homeless and working poor in local communities with basic needs such as clothing, shoes, blankets, and personal care items.  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Cupboard became and remains an important hub where donations can be received and distributed.  In addition to helping these victims, they continue to support 20+ soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters throughout the state.  New Jersey Heroes is awarding $15,000 to the organization to increase their hours of operation and for purchase/refurbishment of a van to be operated as an additional mobile “Cupboard”.

New Jersey Heroes is an initiative of First Lady Mary Pat Christie. To nominate a hero, go to and follow the application instructions and submit the person you believe is a true New Jersey Hero.