Pass it Along honors its volunteers

Service group also awards scholarships


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  • The reception hall at the Lake Mohawk Country Club was packed and buzzing for the Pass it Along recognition celebration Photos by Amy Shewchuk




  • Pass It Along Scholarship Recipients Left to Right: Robby Russo, Jaida White, Victoria Montesano, Landon Nalavany, Madelyn McEllen, Jamie Rennie, GianLuca Bivona, Daniel Baker and Tyler McGinnis.




BY AMY SHEWCHUK

— The ballroom of Lake Mohawk Country Club was alive with pride and recognition for young adults as well as organizations and volunteers that have come together to make a difference in the world.

Pass It Along is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Sparta whose mission is to build confident, resilient, compassionate teenagers through self-discovery, volunteerism and leadership.

The Volunteer Recognition Celebration honors the hard work done by adult and teen volunteers throughout 2016-17 and was sponsored by Lake Mohawk Country Club.

“This night is a way for us to say thank you again to all of our volunteers, sponsors, community partners, nonprofit organizations and everyone who makes it possible to pass it along throughout the year,” said Kathy Rathbone, PIA Director of Programs. “We work to be the change in our community, and it’s important for all of us to come together to celebrate!”

The evening began with a video introduction to the Pass It Along organization, followed by program and ambassador leader recognition which included organizations and their volunteers such as SCARC, Cooking with a Mission, Knit & Crochet for a Cause, Hardyston Gardens, O.S.C.A.R., Tilly’s Kids, Empty Bowls and more.

Cathy Parker received the “Silent Hero” Award for her program with “Ryan’s Cases for Smiles” which meets every Wednesday at the Sparta Methodist Church. Ryan’s Cases for Smiles is a National Organization that was founded in 2007 “to bring comfort and support to young patients and their families by creating and distributing whimsical pillow cases that give children an emotional boost and to remind them they are not defined by their illness.”

Parker headed up the Northern New Jersey division with Pass It Along. She has been program leader for 14 years and is also a Sparta resident.

“We wanted to honor her for her amazing work and spirit,” said Karen Baldini, program manager at PIA. “Every month she delivers over 100 pillowcases to local children’s hospitals, it’s a really great program and she is truly dedicated to it.”

Guest speaker Dani Dellamo graduated Sparta High School in 2017 is an alumnus of Pass It Along and has come back to volunteer for “Compadres” which is part of a program of the Center for Prevention for Low-Income families. In “Compadres”, peer mentors assist children with school projects, homework, read books and participate in group educational structured activities. “From Dani’s experience with Pass It Along she wanted to give back to the community. She is attending college for child psychology and plans on working with children,” said Baldini. “The whole night was about how they have been inspired by their experience with Pass It Along and where they are taking it with them.”

Scholarships were awarded to ten high school seniors who were selected based on their involvement with Pass It Along’s leadership and volunteer opportunities. Scholarship winners have started their own volunteer programs, lead their Pass It Along High School Club and more. The scholarships were sponsored by The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey, Brazill Brothers & Associates, Thorlabs and Lakeland Bank. The recipients were: Robby Russo, Jaida White, Victoria Montesano, Landon Nalavany, Madelyn McEllen, Jamie Rennie, GianLuca Bivona, Daniel Baker and Tyler McGinnis.

Junior members who were mentored by the recipients presented the scholarships to the graduating teens, each of them speaking from the heart about their experiences with the scholarship recipients and their own experience and journey with Pass It Along.

“One of my favorite parts of this night for me is that the the recipients are introduced by someone close to them who is younger and looks up to them, and they say ‘I’m Presenting you with this scholarship because you have changed me.’ They are giving a personal story of somebody that is connected to them,” said Jenn Poquette, another Pass It Along alumnus who returned from Montclair College as an intern and is now a program manager.

The next big event coming up is Pass It Along Day, which will be Saturday, May 19. The event is in its 17th year and has grown to become one of the largest one-day service events in Northern New Jersey. Volunteers of all ages participate in community service projects to help nonprofit agencies throughout Sussex, Warren and Morris counties. Projects include painting, landscaping, minor structural repairs, planting gardens and more. Stokes Forests, SCARC, Family Promise, Cooking with a Mission and Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice are just a few organizations that volunteers would be helping. For more information on Pass It Along Day email Kathy@passitalong.org For more information on their programs, visit www.passitalong.org or visit their Facebook Page @PassItAlong



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