2009 Seeds of Hope Winners

New Jersey Monthly, the state’s leading consumer magazine, reaffirms its commitment to the spirit of volunteerism as it announces the 2009 class of its Garden State Seeds of Hope award honorees.

The awards, which honor a variety of volunteers, recognize the contributions of a selfless group of people committed to volunteer efforts that benefit people in New Jersey.

A luncheon will be held at 11:30 AM on September 22nd at Crystal Plaza in Livingston to honor all the Garden State Seeds of Hope award recipients. The program is co-sponsored by PNC Wealth Management, Reno’s Appliance, and Crystal Plaza. Anyone interested in attending can call Beth Bressman, New Jersey Monthly’s Promotions Director, for more information. All proceeds from the luncheon will be donated to the honorees’ causes.

“The Garden State Seeds of Hope Awards recognize the actions of people committed to improving the quality of life for all New Jerseyans,” says Kate S. Tomlinson, Publisher of New Jersey Monthly.

“I look forward to sharing the honorees’ stories in the September issue of the magazine.” Tomlinson continues. “I would be remiss if I didn’t commend our panel of judges on managing so gracefully through the thankless job of considering the nominations of many worthy candidates.”

The 2009 of Garden State Seeds of Hope honorees are:

Fighting Parkinson’s Disease with Music

Bob Benjamin, founder of Light Of Day Foundation, has created a grassroots organization that has raised more than a $1,000,000 to help find a cure for degenerative neuromuscular diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Benjamin himself was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 12 years ago. In addition to raising money, the organization also raises awareness through approximately 20 fundraising concerts and events in Europe, Canada and the U.S. The long list of musical participants includes New Jersey’s very own Bruce Springsteen.


Making a Difference in the Newark Arts Scene and Beyond

Leonard and Arlene Lieberman are considered by many to be the first citizens of the arts in Newark. A founding member of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center Board of Trustees, Leonard has served the institution in many capacities. Arlene began her more than 20-year association with The Newark Museum as a member and volunteer. She served as its Vice President and its first female President and currently chairs the Board of Trustees. This couple is truly committed to promoting Newark’s renaissance and the arts.


Addressing the Needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Dr. Laura McKirdy of Far Hills has changed the lives of thousands of deaf and hard of hearing children and their families as co-founder of The Lake Drive Foundation in Mountain Lakes. She also co-founded the Lake Drive Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and the Sound Start Early Intervention Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children. Families throughout Northern and Central NJ depend on this organization and the experienced professionals who help children fulfill their potential.


Gardening That Feeds the Hungry More Than 5,000 Pounds of Produce

Ernie Cottrill of Warren developed and runs Wagner Farm Arboretum Foundation’s Giving Garden to help feed people in need. Last year, they donated more than 5,000 pounds of fresh produce to area food shelters. He is now involving local schoolchildren, by bringing seeds to elementary schools and teaching the children how to plant and care for the seeds. The children then visit the garden, plant their seedlings, and help take care of them.


Helping Women One House at Time

Bridgewater’s Kathy Tanaka is the driving force behind Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity’s highly successful Women Build program. She helps empower women to learn construction skills and to help those in need of a home.  She has motivated, advised and inspired more than 450 women, ensuring that every woman knows she has made a meaningful contribution to the life of a woman in need.


The members of the judging panel are: Elizabeth G. Christopherson of the Rita Allen Foundation in Princeton, Becky Dembo of Partnership in Philanthropy in Chatham, Marion C. O’Neill of PSEG in Newark, and Liz Thomas of Thomas/Boyd Communications in Moorestown.


New Jersey Monthly is the state’s only general-interest magazine with independently-verified circulation. For more information about the magazine or the Garden State Seeds of Hope program, contact Beth Bressman, the magazine’s promotions director, at 973-993-4912.

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