Newarkers presented with Jefferson Awards
Dozens of Newarkers were honored Wednesday evening for their work on various community service initiatives.
Part of the Jefferson Awards program, the ceremony took place at Home Grown Café.
Mayor Polly Sierer honored five people – Joe Charma, Charlie Emerson, Richard Gays, John Hornor and Gene Niland – all of whom have served the community for decades.
Charma has played in integral role in the growth of the Downtown Newark Partnership. He has served as a volunteer since the inception of the DNP and is a longtime member, and current chair, of the Design Committee. As a recently retired engineer by trade, with a strong interest in the arts, Charma shares his knowledge and abilities whenever needed. Through his leadership of the Design Committee, he has safeguarded the preservation of Newark’s history, while ensuring newly constructed buildings are interesting and attractive – adding to rather than detracting from the existing streetscape.
Emerson, who retired earlier this year as director of the Newark Parks and Recreation Department, oversaw the establishment and creation of many activities and events, including the Newark Community Band, Thanksgiving Day Breakfast, Winterfest, the Newark Community Garden and the fireworks display on July 4. His impact on the design, construction and rehabilitation of numerous parks and facilities for the commu- nity, including the James F. Hall and Pomeroy trails and two skateboard facilities, will be beneficial for generations to come.
Gays’ decades-long service touches the lives of the most vulnerable people in the community, whether through the Newark Area Welfare Committee, Hope Dining Room, The Newark Empowerment Center, Code Purple or the Newark Senior Center. He reaches out to countless people and offers what he can, be it material resources, food, time or attention. His service can be characterized not in grand gestures of deeds of heroism, but in daily acts of service to his family, friends and community. His passion and greatest pleasure is helping others by recognizing a need and fulfilling it in any way that he can. His service is a quiet generosity.
Horner has served as chair of the Hope Dining Room’s Board of Directors for 15 years. In addition, he coordinates more than 20 groups involved with the preparation and serving of the lunches and supervises the work of two employees. He has personally enabled Hope Dining room to carry out its mission of serving meals with dignity to those in need in the Newark area. Hope Dining Room, the Newark area’s only “soup kitchen,” serves 60 to 100 lunches a day to hungry people in Newark.
Niland joined Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Company in 1977 as a firefighter and EMT. He served the citizens and visitors of Newark until the age of 74, making him the oldest EMT in the State of Delaware. He served on the Aetna’s Board of Directors for 22 years and also was instrumental in creating the emergency operations plan for the city of Newark. He is considered a mentor and father figure to many Aetna members.
Wednesday’s ceremony also honored 19 groups and individuals as part of the Jefferson Awards LEAD360 Challenge, which is open to school kids and university students. The projects engaged 19,889 volunteers, contributed 118,401 hours of service and impacted 44,935 lives.
A project completed by Gallaher Elementary School students took the top honor in the Newark area and went on to be a national finalist.
As part of the “Got Milk Bottles?” initiative, the students set out to recycle the milk bottles used in the school cafeteria. After interviewing the principal and custodians about what happens to the trash, they established a dedicated recycling bin for milk bottles and raised awareness at an assembly.
They have successfully launched a new program, which includes a small decorated garbage can. The students pour out the remaining milk from their plastic bottles and and throw the bottles in the dedicated receptacle to be recycled.
Mayor Polly Sierer honors a student group from Gallaher Elementary School.