Community Helps Celebrate Local Leaders & Pandemic Heroes
Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore raised over $155,000 to provide leadership programs for girls in need at its annual Women of Distinction & Community Partners Gala on May 26 at Eagle Oaks Golf & Country Club.
More than 200 supporters attended the charitable event, celebrating nine community leaders and generating funds to ensure that area girls have the opportunity to learn and grow in Girl Scout programs, regardless of ability to pay.
“Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore is beyond grateful for the community’s generous support and enthusiastic response to this year’s gala,” said Eileen Higgins, chief executive officer of the nonprofit, which serves approximately 9,000 girls in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
“We are thankful to be able to provide families financial support for summer camp and other Girl Scout leadership programs to help their girls move boldly forward from the isolating and challenging pandemic,” Higgins said.
In a year marked by virtual fundraisers and events due to the coronavirus, Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore was the first nonprofit in the region to host an in-person gala this spring in accordance with safety protocols.
The event featured a video presentation of awards to community role models who exemplify “the Girl Scout leadership traits of courage, confidence and character,” said Teri O’Connor, chair of the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Board of Directors.
In recognition of their extraordinary response to the community’s safety during the pandemic, the Monmouth County and Ocean County health departments were honored with the “Unsung Hero” award. Accepting the award on behalf of the Monmouth County Health Department was Deputy Director Jeryl Krautle. Representing the Ocean County Health Department were Public Health Coordinator/Health Officer Dan Regenye and Director of Emergency Preparedness and Planning Dr. Mukesh Roy.
Honored with the Women of Distinction award were: Bahiyyah Abdullah, chief mission officer for Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore and president of the Toms River Area Branch of the NAACP; Nancy Barone, vice president of Development, Volunteer, and Guest Services at CentraState Healthcare System; Christine Buteas, chief government affairs officer of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and executive director of NEW JOBS; and Denice Gaffney, vice president of the Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus Foundation.
Kenneth J. Malagiere, executive director of the Ocean County College Foundation and owner of Narcissus Florals, was honored as this year’s Man Enough to be a Girl Scout. David Indursky, president of ENCON, received the Community Partner Award.
Twenty-one businesses and individuals sponsored the event, led by Silver Sponsors: Aspire Technology, ENCON, and RWJ Barnabas Health (Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, Community Medical Center and Monmouth Medical Center Long Branch). Underwriters were the Grunin Foundation, Converge One, PriceWaterhouse Coopers LLP, New Jersey Dental Association and SAP.
Gala co-chairs were Paige Baran, an attorney with Hiering, Dupignac, Stanzione & Dunn, and Thomas Hayes, director of customer and community relations at New Jersey Natural Gas.