Each year, New Jersey Monthly presents the Great Oak Awards to honor the state’s businesses for their work on behalf of social and charitable causes and nonprofits. The program, now in its fourth year, is an outgrowth of our annual Seeds of Hope program, which since 2004 has recognized the state’s most dedicated individual volunteers.
Why Great Oak Awards? The name is emblematic of the companies we salute. Sturdy and solid, deeply rooted in New Jersey, capable of impressive growth and able to change with the times—these companies are pillars of their communities. They are in it for the long haul. They are not just generous, but inventive and enterprising in the ways they give back.
How do we choose the best of these impressive enterprises? We use a multistep process culminating in a judging session by a panel of experts.
In the end, we arrived at 50 finalists. They are a diverse and remarkable group, from small contenders, such as a spa in Basking Ridge and a dental practice in Livingston, to midsized banks to giant pharmaceutical companies.
What’s next? Ten top honorees will be revealed September 13 at an awards dinner at the Park Chateau Estate & Gardens, East Brunswick.
In the meantime, check out our profiles of the 2017 finalists.*
Atlas Data Systems, LLC
Industry: Consulting services
NJ Employees: 24
Cash Giving: $53,000
Volunteer Hours: 650
Atlas partners with NPower New Jersey to provide veterans and disadvantaged youth with internship and employment opportunities. Among its philanthropic activities, Atlas employees ran food drives for the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation, which assists families caring for a child with cancer, and Meals With a Mission, an organization that serves the hungry in North Jersey.
Industry: Real estate
NJ Employees: 80
Volunteer Hours: 150
As part of Avison Young’s Annual Day of Giving, employees volunteered at a preschool and a home for senior citizens. A bowl-a-thon was held to support Employment Horizons, a nonprofit organization that provides job training and placement services for individuals with disabilities.
Bangz Salon & Wellness Spa
Industry: Salon & spa
NJ Employees: 50 full-time; 20 part-time
Cash Giving: $2,500
Volunteer Hours: 215
In 2016, Bangz Salon & Wellness Spa gave $13,000 of in-kind gift baskets and salon services to different charities. Stylists also provided makeovers to residents of the Essex County Battered Women’s Shelter in preparation for job interviews. Bangz raised over $2,100 in their yearly Alzheimer’s fundraiser and over $1,700 for breast cancer awareness.
NJ Employees: 6
Cash Giving: $2,500
Belmora Spa donated services and treatments in 2016 to churches, schools and charitable groups such as Integrity House, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center and Visiting Nurses Association. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Belmora Spa donated 10 percent of October sales to Sloan Kettering Cancer Research and Treatment Center and offered specific services for free to breast-cancer survivors.
The Bender Group
Industry: Public relations
NJ Employees: 8
Volunteer Hours: 100
Joining in with their clients’ efforts, Bender Group volunteers helped raise more than $20,000 for multiple charities in 2016. With their clients, the firm donated pet food to the ASPCA, cans of soup to City Harvest NYC and meals to Feeding America.
Englewood Cliffs Cadillac
NJ Employees: 100
Cash Giving: $100,000
Volunteer Hours: 30
In addition to supporting area school and recreation events, Englewood Cliffs Cadillac funds the annual fireworks displays for Tenafly and Englewood. The dealership donates to Giants of Generosity, which provides emergency relief funding to local families. Employees are encouraged to donate time and items to an annual toy drive.
Equity Prime Mortgage
Industry: Mortgage banking
NJ Employees: 40
Cash Giving: $24,400
Equity Prime collected $25 for every closed loan or mortgage in their Manahawkin office in 2016, which totaled $24,375, and contributed it to David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation of Manahawkin. Employees also volunteered locally, assisting with both a 5K fundraiser in Manahawkin and the Coquina Jam surfing contest in Beach Haven.
Flying Fish Brewing Co.
NJ Employees: 25 full-time; 10 part-time
Cash Giving: $7,000
Volunteer Hours: 500
To fulfill their vision of sustainability and community in 2016, Flying Fish Brewing raised funds for the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, the Nature Conservancy and many other organizations, with total proceeds over $300,000 and an additional $125,000 of in-kind giving. Flying Fish also supported ALS research by participating in the national Ales for ALS fundraiser and their own Tour de Fish bike race.
H2Ocean Restaurant & Raw Bar
Industry: Restaurant & catering
NJ Employees: 30 full-time; 15 part-time
Cash Giving: $25,000
Volunteer Hours: 500
The team at H2Ocean Restaurant & Raw Bar coordinated events in support of Operation Smile and raised enough money to fund 10 cleft-palate operations. They hosted a Buck-a-Shuck event to raise funds for local children with cancer. H2Ocean also supplies food to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and raises funds for Creature Comfort Pet Therapy.
Industry: Manufacturing & consumer goods
NJ Employees: 10
Cash Giving: $145,000
Volunteer Hours: 1,000
Through the Jetty Rock Foundation, Jetty’s team held numerous events in 2016, including the Coquina Jam surf contest, which raised more than $6,000 for local female cancer patients. Jetty employees also teach an entrepreneurship class for students at Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin. Another youth initiative of Jetty’s is an annual eco-trip to Barnegat Light for the Stafford Intermediate School’s sixth-grade class.
Maplecrest Ford Lincoln
NJ Employees: 100 full-time; 35 part-time
Cash Giving: $35,000
Volunteer Hours: 200
In addition to matching employee-raised funds to various organizations, Maplecrest Ford Lincoln launched their Maplecrest Moves Charities program in 2016. The program provides transportation and support for local charities and organizations, which minimizes operational costs for the charities and allows more resources to be devoted to families in need.
Metrographics Printing and Computer Services
NJ Employees: 13 full-time; 2 part-time
Cash Giving: $20,000
Volunteer Hours: 50
Metrographics provided in-kind and cash giving to numerous New Jersey charities in 2016, including NJ Sharing Network, Special Olympics and Steve Adubato’s Stand & Deliver. The company also hosted its annual holiday party for children along with the Cheer Me Up foundation.
Morris Animal Inn
Industry: Pet services
NJ Employees: 60
Cash Giving: $24,800
Volunteer Hours: 160
The Morris Animal Inn provides housing for homeless beagles through Lab to Leash and raises funds to help bring U.S. war dogs back from overseas. The company participates in the Jersey Cares coat drive, and employees volunteer with organizations such as FOWA in Wayne and Eleventh Hour Rescue in Randolph.
Industry: Accounting, finance, business advisory
NJ Employees: 95
Cash Giving: $250,000
Volunteer Hours: 3,100
Employees at Nisivoccia donated tax and financial-planning presentations that inlcuded one-on-one consultations at local organizations. The firm also provided supplies for the Mount Olive Food Pantry and participated in a gift drive for children at the Homeless Solutions shelter in Morristown.
NJ Employees: 8 full-time; 3 part-time
Cash Giving: $19,400
Volunteer Hours: 412
The OpDecision team helped raise more than $275,000 for the Legacy Treatment Foundation through the foundation’s 2016 golf outing and Monte Carlo night. Employees also volunteered at the You Matter Family Fun Run and Walk in Sewell by creating marketing flyers and managing race registrations and water stations. In December, OpDecision adopted two local families battling cancer through Bringing Hope Home, providing the families with holiday gifts and covering their utility bills.
NJ Employees: 48
Cash Giving: $9,770
Volunteer Hours: 400
PamTen has worked extensively with the Support Organization for Kids in Need (SOFKIN), founded by president and CEO Chaya Pamula, which provides shelter, health care and education to homeless children in India. The entire Princeton office also volunteered for the United Way of Mercer County’s Strike Out for Hunger by packing healthy breakfasts for local children.
Industry: IT consulting services
NJ Employees: 20 full-time; 2 part-time
Cash Giving: $1,000
Volunteer Hours: 30
Process Stream sponsored Santa’s All Stars in 2016. The initiative collected more than 3,000 gifts for children in hospitals, shelters and orphanages. The company also held internal fundraising drives in support of local nonprofits, matching donations made by employees and contractors.
The S3 Agency
NJ Employees: 22
Volunteer Hours: 2,400
The S3 Agency provided nearly $300,000 of in-kind advertising and marketing services to the Turtle Back Zoo in 2016, which included the new website and TV commercial for the zoo. Also in 2016, S3 launched S FREE to allow smaller organizations a chance to apply for S3’s in-kind services. The first grantee of S FREE was the Congenital Heart Defect Coalition of Butler, which received branded marketing collateral from S3.
The Silverstrom Group
Industry: Dental care
NJ Employees: 16 full-time; 3 part-time
Cash Giving: $52,000
Volunteer Hours: 130
In partnership with the American Cancer Society, the Silverstrom Group presents the Smiles for Life award to a cancer survivor each year. A $25,000 cosmetic smile makeover, the award combats the oral effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The practice administers four nonacademic scholarships each year to graduating seniors from Livingston High School that recognize character and perserverance in the face of adversity, and also supports sports programs at Livingston High School.
SPHERE Technology Solutions
NJ Employees: 31
Cash Giving: $5,000
Volunteer Hours: 400
SPHERE continued their annual Craft Beer Festival in 2016, adding whiskey to the tasting lineup, and raised $15,000 for the Liberty Humane Society. The festival was the largest fundraising effort conducted by an outside group for the Liberty Humane Society and allowed the nonprofit to continue serving Hudson County through animal care and adoption services.
St. Jacques Marketing
Industry: Digital marketing
NJ Employees: 15 full-time; 2 part-time
St. Jacques Marketing is committed to combating hunger in their community, managing the Chefs’ Community Table food drive in partnership with the Market Street Mission and six Morristown restaurants. Their 2016 drive, which involved patrons donating meals from their favorite restaurants, raised more than 500 meals for the mission, equating to about a $10,000 benefit for the shelter.
The Wireless Experience
NJ Employees: 77 full-time; 2 part-time
Cash Giving: $20,000
Volunteer Hours: 250
Wireless Experience encourages its employees to volunteer by documenting their efforts on a company website. The company helped raise more than $25,000 for POAC Autism Services through a softball tournament in 2016 and also donated more than 1,000 new toys to Stafford Township families in need.