Citizen’s Appreciation Park in Gloucester Township was bustling during the early morning of Oct. 9. Every seat was filled and some people stood as the seventh annual Citizens Appreciation Ceremony was about to begin.
“We built this park several years ago to recognize individuals who give so much back to our community and really serve our community; individuals like you,” Mayor David Mayer said. “Whether you’re a volunteer fireman, a coach, you serve on one of our boards, we thank you for your service, to our community for what you did and what you are continuing to do to make a difference.
“ … It is our hope that this park sparks others to service,” the mayor added. “We hope that they will see your example and will want to give back to our Gloucester Township community.”
The appreciation ceremony began eight years ago as a way to celebrate citizens for their service and it has continued to bestow recognition on organizations and volunteers of all kinds. This year, 25 residents were recognized for service in their organizations and clubs.
Mike Williams, an award recipient from the Gloucester Township Stallions, has been involved with the youth football and cheerleading organization since his kids were young.
“I’ve been the president, the vice president, recording secretary, trustee and a head coach for a long time,” he said.
Williams is now a football coach and mentor for boys ages 7 and 8. As he grew up, he watched his father be involved with the athletics association as well.
“ … I can’t imagine not doing it,” he added. “I always say, if somebody did that for me when I was a kid, I try to show up and give back for what was done for me and hope I can inspire a couple of them to do the same when they get older.”
Another award recipient, Joshua Scarborough, has been involved with Boy Scouts for the last 10 years, beginning with middle school. While he has since moved on from Boy Scouts, the former den chief and Eagle Scout considers the Scouts program a good bedrock to learn about civil service and being a good neighbor.
“Civil service is the building block of community,” Scarborough noted. “It is how we both nurture ourselves and the people around us, and it is one of the most important things a community can have.”
Joeylynn Collins accepted the award on behalf of her late husband, Derrin Collins, who passed away in September. He spent 25 years coaching and volunteering as a trainer at the Timber Birch Athletic Association, starting when his own kids played soccer and continuing long after they stopped.
“He loved working with the kids,” his wife recalled. “He gave them life skills on and off the field. When he passed, kids he had when they were 5 years old still showed up. It was overwhelming.”
Following is a full list of residents honored can be found below:
- Joshua Scarborough from Boy Scout Troop 54 and 77
- David Stec from Highland Youth Soccer Club
- Mary Jo Dintino, for National Night Out
- Rachel Honrych of the Women’s Club of Broadmoor
- Joanne Carr from Timberbirch Women’s Club
- Barbara Toohey, Diane O’Mara, Harry Nerozzi and Carol Kemble from Gloucester Township Girls Athletic Association
- David Gruen from Dave Gruen Photography,
- Mike Williams from the Gloucester Township Stallions
- Robert Irvine from the Gloucester Township Historic Committee
- Patti Rutter from Cholmer-Trace VFW Post 8714-Glendora,
- Brian Burns from the Gloucester Township Green Team,
- Jason Grafflus from Glendora Girls Softball
- Anthony Santanello from American Legion Post 281
- Crystal Steiner from Glendora School PTG
- Stephanie Roberts from Blackwood Lake Advisory Committee
- George V. Hill III from Gloucester Township/Pine Hill Rotary.
- The late Darrin Collins from Timber Birch Athletic Association
- Jonathan Woodcock from Kiwanis Club of GT/Blackwood,
- Police volunteer Kevin Davis
- Ben Zanghi and Brad Morris from Blackwood Kiwanis Little League
- Mark Blanchini from American Legion Baseball.
“You and all of the others whose names are up here in these plaques are truly role models in our community,” Mayer said. “Thank you for being a role model and taking on that role and responsibility.”