(Paramus, NJ) June 13, 2012 – People who give of their time and talent make all the difference in the lives of vulnerable children. For Children’s Aid and Family Services, volunteers help in countless ways, from teaching taekwondo to children in foster care to repairing bicycles for children living in group homes. The agency recently honored some of its outstanding volunteers.
The honorees include Marsha and Ted Burke of Glen Rock, Elizabeth Crimmins of Ridgewood, Nicholas Diaz of Maywood, Sal Garcia of Elizabeth, Cheryl Glick of Montvale, Lucretia Holmes-Smith of Paterson, Soobean Jo of Cresskill, Leslie Lafrano of Paramus, Jillian and Natalie Luftman of Glen Rock, Mary Beth Lyons of Ridgewood, John Mills of Ridgewood, Gail Stamatopoulos of Westwood, and Stephanie Tormey of Millington.
Marsha and Ted Burke have three birth children and an adopted son. They were foster parents of babies with medical needs before adopting their son. The Burkes are committed to finding families for adopted children. Mr. Burke donates his time producing videos of children waiting to be adopted which are featured on www.cafsnj.org. Many families thinking about adopting view the videos before taking the first step and contacting Children’s Aid and Family Services. Mr. Burke has also produced a television PSA promoting Children’s Aid and Family Services.
Elizabeth Crimmins is a 3rd grader at Sommerville Elementary School in Ridgewood. She had a birthday party and asked her friends to bring diapers and formula for Children’s Aid and Family Services’ Baby Basics program in lieu of birthday presents. Her donations helped low-income families.
Nicholas Diaz, a student at Hackensack High School, is committed to helping his peers stay safe. He is chairperson for the Bergen County Prevention Coalition Youth Task Force (BCPCYTF) and a member of Steering Out Alcohol Responsibly (SOAR).
Sal Garcia, a real estate developer in Elizabeth, made the holidays special for one of Children’s Aid and Family Services’ foster mothers. He read about her in the newspaper and was moved to help. He surprised her and her foster children with a free dinner at her favorite restaurant during the holidays. He bought presents for each of the foster children and arranged for a friend to don a Santa suit and hand them out.
Cheryl Glick is a volunteer mentor to a former foster child. A mentor serves a vital role to a child in foster care, who often has difficulty trusting adults. Ms. Glick has become a trusted friend and confidant to the young woman she mentors. She helped her prepare for college, assisted her in finding a part-time job and stays in close touch with her.
Lucretia Holmes-Smith has donated her talents as a licensed hair stylist to the foster children in the care of Children’s Aid and Family Services. She braids and styles the children’s hair. She also trains foster parents on how to properly care for the skin and hair of children with diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Soobean Jo is in the ninth grade at The Bergen County Academies. She has studied Taekwondo for several years and is third-degree black belt. She teaches Taekwondo to children in foster care, helping them to improve their confidence and coordination.
Leslie Lafrano and her certified therapy dog, Max, visit one of the agency’s therapeutic group homes for children in foster care on a regular basis. The children play and interact with Max as part of their group therapy.
Jillian and Natalie Luftman are in second grade and kindergarten, respectively, atColeman Elementary School in Glen Rock. They led supply drives for foster children living in Children’s Aid and Family Services’ group homes and young adults turning 18 and “aging out” of foster care.
Mary Beth Lyons of Ridgewood has been volunteering at The Depot craft and gift shop for 24 years. The Depot, located at 22 Prospect Street in Midland Park, is the largest all-volunteer women’s exchange in the country. Its proceeds benefit Children’s Aid and Family Services. Ms. Lyons has served as co-director, secretary, volunteer chair and is currently hospitality chair of The Depot.
John Mills is manager of the Ridgewood Cycle Shop. For the past several years, he has routinely repaired and maintained foster children’s bicycles without charge. Over the years, Mr. Mills has also donated bicycle helmets, bicycles, and snow saucers to the foster children. Andrew McKinnon, the owner of Ridgewood Cycle Shop, has supported all of these efforts.
Gail Stamatopoulos has been leading the Giving Tree holiday drive at St. Andrews Church in Westwood, which benefits the foster children in the care of Children’s Aid and Family Services. She has helped collect and provide presents for over 80 children during the past five years.
Stephanie Tormey is a volunteer yoga instructor for the foster children in the agency’s care. She meets with them weekly and teaches them breathing techniques and posture discipline.
“On behalf of Children’s Aid and Family Services, I thank all of these individuals for their generous contributions of time and talent to the agency and the children and families we serve,” says Bob Jones, Ph.D., president & CEO. “They, and all the other volunteers who help in countless ways, make the work we do possible.”
Children’s Aid and Family Services is one of the leading nonprofit human services organizations serving northern New Jersey. The agency is fully accredited and has served the community for more than 110 years. Its mission is to preserve, protect and, when needed, provide families. Motivated by compassion for vulnerable children, young adults, frail elderly and their families, it provides high-quality and innovative services that meet their social, educational and emotional needs.
For more information on Children’s Aid and Family Services, call 201.261.2800 or visit www.cafsnj.org.