After a one-year interruption due to COVID, the Haddonfield Civic Association returned with its annual town dinner on June 3, a livestreamed event from Inkwood Books.
And, appropriately, the tone and tenor of the evening was a healthy nod to how the pandemic altered that undertaking, as well as other ways of life and commitment to service in the borough and beyond.
A prime example is Lisa Hurly, who was chosen as the 2021 Alfred E. Driscoll Community Service Award winner. She had actually been selected for the honor last year, but COVID concerns nixed any kind of in person ceremony.
Tongue firmly in cheek, event emcee Jack O’Malley graciously thanked Hurly for “stickingaround another year” so she could be properly celebrated.
A native of Queens, Hurly arrived in South Jersey to attend then Glassboro State College. She landed in Haddonfield 17 years ago at the recommendation of husband Steve’s old college roommate Keith Schwab.
The family arrived while Hurly was pregnant with her third child and purchased their home from Janet Lyons. She introduced them to Dr. Ronald Librizzi, who later saved Hurly’s life during childbirth. Children are central to Hurly’s care and concern, and her volunteer work has focused on helping children: five of her own and others throughout the area.
A dynamic presence, Hurly has spent countless hours coaching soccer and baseball, served on the Haddonfield Soccer Board, lent her time to numerous school activities and acted as a team parent for a variety of youth sports. Hurley
also has focused much of her life on helping families in need, organizing and hosting fundraisers for those facing medical crises or hard times, often at her family’s personal expense.
No single undertaking has drawn Hurly’s time, effort and passion like her creation of Help Women and Children Now, established shortly after she settled in the borough. The nonprofit was created in 2006 to honor her son, Stephen Michael Hurly, who passed away at just five weeks old from a combination of heart disease and premature birth.
“Selfishly, in retrospect, I did it to ease the pain of loss and to help make something positive,” Hurly admitted. “What it gave me was so much more in comparison. Here began my introduction to the magnitude of kindness in this town.”
Four years ago, Hurly decided to bestow responsibility for Help Women and Children Now on an all-student board from Haddonfield Memorial High School that now runs the organization.
“Give them a chance and they excel; let them shine instead of us, and they will. This is such an easy town to do good in,” Hurly noted.
Through her vision and that of the board, the leaders are responsible for all organizational decisions and continue to plan and host events. In the first year under student leadership, Help Women and Children Now raised over $60,000.
“I am truly humbled by this award,” Hurly acknowledged. “I truly believe that we should all do things for the good. Not because you are asked, but because you want to and expect nothing in return. I say thank you to the Haddonfield Civic Association, and all those involved, so much for this.”
Sullivan Norton, a dedicated supporter of Broad Street Ministries who planned and executed two service projects in the winter dedicated to the nonprofit, won the Bradshaw Literary Award. The Villanova bound Bulldawg penned an essay about the challenges of remaining civic minded during the pandemic.
“Like many teenagers, I went from being overscheduled to suddenly having a lot of down time,” he explained. “First, it felt like a welcoming break. But I quickly realized that I needed to keep moving, and being stuck inside was not for me.”
Nina Tan was selected as the Quanci Visual Arts Award recipient for her drawing of one young woman’s reactions to the positive and negative messages social-media outlets have spread about Asian Americans while living through the pandemic.
“Articles headlining the news alerting us to these hate crimes have completely overwhelmed me and many others in my community, and sent us into a spiral of shock and despair,” Tan said through a statement describing the philosophy behind her art. “This piece juxtaposes the emotions created simply by checking your phone every moment.”
Anna Chung, winner of the Kaufman Performing Arts award for engagement with civic affairs and the performing arts, opened the broadcast with a brief musical interlude. Chung, who relayed a simple thank you, was due to receive a $500 scholarship on Senior Awards Night.
For more information about those honored at the dinner, visit: https://haddonfieldcivic.com/annual-town-dinner/. Full video of the event can be found on the HCA’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avGxrzCAZQs.