The gala is a salute to the special people who have positively impacted Catholic Charities’ ability to meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable.
It also is Catholic Charities’ signature fundraiser, raising much-needed funds to support the 100,000 people the organization serves annually, regardless of religious affiliation.
A momentous anniversary
“This wonderful celebration gives us an opportunity to honor the ‘everyday heroes’ who exemplify the dedication, compassion, courage, and hard work required to transform the lives of Central Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Marlene Laó-Collins, executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton (pictured, left). “This year will be a special year – the 30th anniversary of our Guardian Angel Dinner Dance, which raises money to support the nearly 60 programs we offer to help people overcome poverty, homelessness, hunger, domestic violence, childhood trauma, mental health disorders, drug addiction, and so many other hardships. We invite everyone to come support this worthy cause, and to celebrate our deserving honorees.”
Several people and organizations will be honored for their tireless work on behalf of the region’s most vulnerable citizens. The Client Achievement Award honors a Catholic Charities client who has shown great courage, persistence, and hard work in overcoming hardship. The Richard J. Hughes, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton Humanitarian Award will be presented to an outstanding leader who is committed to humanitarian causes, is a devoted advocate of Catholic Charities and the betterment of humanity in general, and compassionately strives to improve the quality of life of people across all economic and social lines. The Light of Hope Award honors a person or organization in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties for their support and commitment to the work of Catholic Charities in their community. The Corporate Citizen of the Year Award recognizes a business that partners and supports Catholic Charities’ goals and mission.
“We are called to love and serve those in our community in their time of need. Answering this call has been an honor and a blessing. Catholic Charities has opened our eyes to the depth of love and caring for our brothers and sisters,” said Jeffrey D. and Megan Gordon, co-chairs of the gala’s planning committee. “We ask everyone to join with Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton in following Jesus’ instruction for those that love him to ‘feed his sheep,’ which is accomplished through the work of the honorees, staff, volunteers, and donors.”
The honorees are …
- Marianne Earle of Freehold, NJ – Richard J. Hughes, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton Humanitarian Award. Marianne Earle has been making headlines lately because she’s running for mayor in Freehold Borough. But Earle has been working quietly behind the scenes for years to improve her community. Besides supporting Catholic Charities, Earle is a dame in the Order of Malta, a religious group that helps people overcome poverty and homelessness. She’s a charter member of the Freehold Center Partnership, which improves the downtown district. She was the longtime PTA president at her kids’ parish school at St. Rose of Lima – where she now attends church and belongs to its handbell choir. She also serves on the board of Collier Youth Services, a Marlboro nonprofit for at-risk youth. She and her late husband Walter co-founded the Earle Companies, a construction business, in 1968. She has seven children and 28 grandchildren.
- Jesse DeSanto of Delanco, NJ – Light of Hope Award for Burlington County. Delanco Police Chief Jesse DeSanto has financially supported Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton for nearly a decade. Before becoming chief in 2012, he served as the department’s domestic violence liaison and worked closely with Providence House-Domestic Violence Services of Burlington County to help families in domestic violence crisis. He also has helped link people to shelter and other basic-need services through Community Services, which was located in Delanco until moving in March to Burlington. His charitable instincts were instilled during childhood by his philanthropic parents, he said, adding that he was “surprised but grateful” for being honored as a Light of Hope.
- Frank Taylor of Stuart, FL– Light of Hope Award for Mercer County. Frank Taylor served on Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton’s Mercer County board for nine years and has consistently supported the agency financially for more than 20 years. He founded the Atlantic Lining Company, Inc., or ALCO, in 1994. The Eastampton-based environmental construction firm focuses on landfill design and installation. Taylor also has donated to the New Jersey Amateur Basketball Club and coached a Trenton team for years. He and his wife Nancy, who have four grown children, recently relocated to Florida and enjoy traveling. “Society crumbles from the bottom up, so this work is so important,” he said of Catholic Charities’ services. “You hear that saying: ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him one day, but teach him to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ Catholic Charities does both.”
- Joseph Leone Introna of Brielle, NJ – For Joseph Leone Introna, charity is a key ingredient in his business, Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties. He started the business as a bakery when he was just 21, and it has since grown into a Jersey Shore mainstay. Introna donates to countless causes, including Catholic Charities, Covenant House, and Common Ground Grief Center. He also has a disaster-relief fund to support the recovery of natural disasters in Italy. Introna, a parishioner of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Point Pleasant Beach, has not missed a day of Mass in more than 10 years. He and Jennifer, his wife of 20 years, have five children.
- Stanley Koreyva Jr. of Sea Girt, NJ – Light of Hope Award for Monmouth County. Stan Koreyva has served on Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton’s board of trustees since 2015. He also has donated financially for many years. Koreyva is president and chief operating officer of The PRC Group, a construction, development, and property-management firm based in Long Branch, a position he took in 2018 after serving for many years as chief operating officer and then president of Amboy Bank. He credits his Catholic upbringing, as well as his family’s longtime ties to Trenton, to instilling his commitment to community service. He and his wife Gayle live in Sea Girt, where they are parishioners of St. Mark’s Catholic Church.
- The Bank of Princeton – Corporate Citizen of the Year. At The Bank of Princeton, philanthropy is a core value. Since its founding in April 2007, the bank has grown to a $1.3 billion company with 150 employees at 14 branches stretching from Philadelphia to New Brunswick. With acquisitions and new construction in the works, the bank expects to launch seven new branches by year’s end. As the business has grown, so has its commitment to charitable giving, bank President and CEO Edward J. Dietzler said. The bank gave to more than 150 community groups and charities – from food pantries to medical treatment centers to arts and educational services – last year alone. Since 2008, the bank has generously supported Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton annually.
- Jordan C. of Lakewood, NJ – Jordan C. had a tough start in life, dropping out of school in the ninth grade and having a baby at 17. By 23, she was a single mother of three facing homelessness – so she reached out to Monmouth County social services for help. The county placed her in Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton’s Linkages program in Tinton Falls, which offers emergency transitional housing and wraparound services to help people overcome the hardships that led to their homelessness. For Jordan, Linkages represented a safe, stable home base while she pursued her general-equivalency degree and employment. After leaving Linkages, she continued working to lift her family toward a better future. She got her driver’s license, became a certified nursing assistant, landed a job in January 2018, and regained custody of her oldest child, who was in his grandmother’s care, last August.
Anyone interested in attending the festivities, sponsoring a table, advertising in the event program, buying raffle tickets, donating auction items, or otherwise supporting Catholic Charities, click here or contact events coordinator Barbara Yuson at (609) 394-5181, ext. 1159.
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For more information: Dana DiFilippo, Catholic Charities communications, firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 394-5181, ext. 1153.
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