NJ Gives at Third Annual Great Oak Awards

10 companies honored for exceptional support of worthy causes at the Great Oak Awards.

Representatives of the winning companies at the 2016 Great Oak Awards, front, from left : Kevin O’Connor (Document Solutions), Pat Hartpence (NJM Insurance Group), Acela Roselle (Boiling Springs Savings Bank) and Adrian David (Bristol-Myers Squibb). Center, from left: Cyndi Bruce (KPMG), Laurene O’Donnell (Ericcson), Eileen Martin (Document Solutions), Alan Sobel (Sobel & Co.) and Marilyn Schlossbach (Marilyn Schlossbach Group). Rear: Judith Lagano (NRG) and Bruce Jacobs (Jacobs Levy Equity Management).
Representatives of the winning companies at the 2016 Great Oak Awards, front, from left : Kevin O’Connor (Document Solutions), Pat Hartpence (NJM Insurance Group), Acela Roselle (Boiling Springs Savings Bank) and Adrian David (Bristol-Myers Squibb). Center, from left: Cyndi Bruce (KPMG), Laurene O’Donnell (Ericsson), Eileen Martin (Document Solutions), Alan Sobel (Sobel & Co.) and Marilyn Schlossbach (Marilyn Schlossbach Group). Rear: Judith Lagano (NRG) and Bruce Jacobs (Jacobs Levy Equity Management).
Photo by John O'Boyle

Philanthropy is blossoming in the Garden State, with companies of all sizes strengthening their communities through charitable work. New Jersey Monthly honored 10 companies for their support of worthy causes at the third annual Great Oak Awards dinner on September 19 at the Palace at Somerset Park.

The Great Oak Awards honor businesses with strong Jersey roots and a deep commitment to charitable institutions and social causes. Readers nominated companies for the awards, and a panel of expert judges chose this year’s honorees from a pool of 66 finalists.

Each finalist was assigned to a category based on the size of its full-time New Jersey workforce.

Document Solutions in Kenilworth, Jacobs Levy Equity Management in Florham Park, and Marilyn Schlossbach Group/Food for Thought by the Sea in Asbury Park were the winners among the small companies. Boiling Springs Savings Bank in Rutherford, NRG Energy in Princeton, and Sobel & Co. in Livingston took top honors in the medium-company category. Bristol-Myers Squibb in Lawrenceville, Ericsson in Piscataway, KPMG in Montvale, and NJM Insurance Group in West Trenton were the large-company winners.

Document Solutions donated more than $60,000 worth of goods and printing services to charitable organizations in 2015. “We live here, we pay taxes here, our children are a part of the community here,” said IT project manager Melvin Montalvo. “If you’re not giving back to that community, you’re not growing.”

Jacobs Levy Equity Management is dedicated to supporting local arts organizations, as well as medical and education efforts. “With these programs, we can help foster creativity in young children and a proclivity in the arts, and allow them to express themselves and help with their self realization,” said principal and co-founder Bruce Jacobs.

Marilyn Schlossbach Group operates numerous hospitality establishments in the Shore area and focuses on providing the Asbury Park area with food, resources and hospitality training, employing many young people from the community. “I’ve learned through my career and through Sandy, the community is your extended family,” Schlossbach said. “You need to lift those around you in order to lift your staff and yourself.”

Boiling Springs Savings Bank donated to 137 qualifying organizations last year. They partnered with Oasis, a haven for women and children, to create the American Bankers Association Bank Teller Certification Program, which provides courses and resources to women in need.

NRG Energy hosts an annual Global Giving Week dedicated to volunteering and created FIRST, a stem-oriented mentoring program for students. “It’s a humbling experience for people doing the work to see the need in the community,” said Diane Brown, Positive NRG coordinator. “It’s also an opportunity for team members to build relationships with the community and each other.”

Sobel & Co. gives back through food drives, golf outings, galas and more. Each employee is granted five days for pro bono services each year for area nonprofits.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has a $1.3 million giving program in New Jersey, specifically for the locations where employees live and work. “The most rewarding part is interacting with the community, finding out where their priorities are and being able to better support them,” said Lisa McCormick Lavery, director of public affairs.

Ericsson was cited for Big Sweep, a unique initiative led by 63 volunteers, who cleaned out 400,000 square feet of office space and donated 90 tons of office supplies to nonprofits, including schools in New Jersey and overseas. “Organizations are so appreciative, especially schools that don’t have the budget for these types of supplies,” said Liz Holcomb, director/software engineer.

KPMG’s INVOLVE program organized various efforts such as the KPMG Family for Literacy, which provides new books to children in need.

NJM Insurance pledged $250,000 to the opening of the HomeFront Family Campus, a space for homeless people in Lawrenceville. Pat Harpence, assistant vice president of corporate giving, said the company was “trying to have a positive impact on the organizations and individuals in the state of New Jersey.”

Berkeley College was the presenting sponsor of the event; marketing partners were Atlantic Stewardship Bank, Bank of America, New Jersey Natural Gas and New Jersey Sharing Network.

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