Today, Congressman Josh Gottheimer hosted the inaugural Hometown Heroes Awards Ceremony at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. During this event, Gottheimer presented awards to 19 of New Jersey’s Fifth District’s standout neighbors, friends, coworkers, and individuals who have volunteered, served, or worked to help others in North Jersey.
Each of these awardees were nominated by fellow neighbors, coworkers, friends, families, and others in their community.
According to Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), “Today’s awardees are bound by a shared sense of duty – to their families, their communities, and their country. They put the needs of others ahead of their own, and are committed to bettering the lives of other Jersey residents, especially those who need a helping hand the most. They are our veterans, our firefighters, our first responders, our educators, and our family – our brothers and sisters and our sons and daughters. None of these people stood up because they sought recognition, they did it because they wanted to do what was right.”
Continued Gottheimer, “That’s what Jersey Values are all about. Getting the backs of others. It’s what makes New Jersey such a special place to live. On behalf of the Fifth District, I couldn't be more proud to honor these Hometown Heroes today.”
Video of the ceremony can be found HERE.
Below Congressman Josh Gottheiemer (NJ-5) celebrates with the Fifth Distict’s Hometown Heroes. From left to right: Nick Magarelli, Irina Tesoriero, Wendy Loszyinski, Mary Ann Uzzi, Izzy Infield, Joyce Mortorano, Angelae Wilkerson, Sergeant Marc Abate, Argine Safari, Jeanne Martin, Sterling Blake, Congressman Josh Gottheimer, Shannon Lazare, Dong Joo Lee, Ethan Sandlofer, Manny Gonzalez, Mary Ellen Vichiconti, Evan Kutzin, Becky Carlson, Sergeant Brian Joyce, and Teaneck Holy Name Hospital President and CEO Michael Maron.
Below are the biographies of the Hometown Heroes Award Recipients.
Izzy Infield, Bergenfield
As Captain of the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corp, Izzy drives our first responders and EMT's to wherever they need to be to save lives and help people. He also serves as a the Bergenfield Fire Department Firefighter and Treasurer. Izzy is everywhere protecting our community.
Irina Cytowicz Tesoriero and Wendy Loszyinski, Bergenfield
Irina and Wendy founded the Bergenfield Lou Harris Challenger Program, volunteering endless hours to special needs children to promote stigma-free environments. Irene and Wendy teach soccer fundamentals and develop effective youth social communication. The Lou Harris Challenger Program continues to grow to this day and we are very grateful.
Brian Joyce, Dumont
Dumont Police Sergeant Brian Joyce has been a member of the Volunteer Fire Department for 25 years and gives his time to the Boards of Dumont Little League, Soccer, and Basketball. He manages to coach Boys & Girls Basketball, softball and baseball, and participate in the Adopt-a-Cop program, and he protects our towns from crime and terror and saves lives. He is a role model for our youth and an everyday hero for his community. We are grateful for his service.
Evan Kutzin, Emerson
Evan is a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey who joined the Old Tappan Fire Department just weeks before the events of 9/11. He also serves as a Human Law Enforcement Officer for the Bergen County Society for Prevention of Cruelty of Animals and as a board member of the Bergen County Prosecutors Animal Cruelty Task Force.
Nick Magarelli, Fair Lawn
Nick is the Special Police Chief in Fair Lawn. He also serves as the Director of Veterans Affairs in Fair Lawn and has created programming to benefit and honor local veterans. We thank Nick for his service and the leadership he has given to the Fair Lawn Police Force and for wearing blue to protect us and our families.
Sterling Blake, Hackettstown
Don’t let his age fool you. Sterling showed us his heroism when, at 8-years old, he had the ability to think on his feet and act quickly and decisively, performing the Heimlich maneuver on his 22-month old brother when he was choking on a quarter. Additionally, Sterling’s father, Ben Blake is a Marine who served in Iraq and is currently a patrolman with the Washington Township Department. We thank him for his Service to our community and country as well—certainly an example for all of us, including Sterling.
Dong Joo Lee, Harrington Park
Navy Lieutenant Dong Joo Lee of Harrington Park is a former EMT who currently serves with the U.S. Navy JAG as a prosecutor Operational Staff Judge Advocate, advising special forces on rules of engagement. Dong is so dedicated to his community that he turned his own Bachelor Party into community service event.
Jeanne Martin, Haworth
Jeanne serves as the Executive Director of Meals on Wheels North Jersey, where she goes above and beyond providing meals to those in need, identifying clients' other difficulties and providing links to corresponding services. In her spare time, Jeanne donates to New Jersey Recovery Advocates on its Board of Directors.
Shannon Lazare, Mahwah
Shannon Lazare is Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager with M&T Bank, covering the Northern Bergen County and NJ Territory. Shannon provides business owners with the tools to be able to grow and sustain their businesses through good and tough economic times, providing them with customized solutions for their businesses, based on their individual needs. Shannon has more than 15 years of banking experience, a Bachelor’s of Science and Business Administration from West Virginia University and an MBA in Management from Montclair State University.
Argine Safari, Montvale
Argine is an award-winning educator and musician. Argine is now a music teacher at Pascack Valley High School and the New Jersey’s 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year. She has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden and has studied at Juilliard and Westminster Choir College.
Becky Carlson, Newton
Becky is the Executive Director of the Center for Prevention and Counseling, dedicating her time to providing services for individuals in need. Helping develop the Sussex County Community Law Enforcement Addiction Recovery (C.L.E.A.R) model, Becky is on the front lines working across Sussex County to fight the opioid epidemic. She works every day with law enforcement, health experts, and community groups to tackle this challenge head on – and has made a noticeable impact against an awful disease.
Mary Ann Uzzi, Paramus
Mary Ann heads the Paramus Stigma Free Zone. She is also a Trustee of Care Plus New Jersey, a mental health advocacy center, and a longtime noted mental health advocate. Mary Ann represents the entrepreneurial spirit shown in many of the awardees today. And we are grateful for her service on the front lines of health care.
Mark Abate, River Edge
Sergeant Abate exhibited exceptional heroism when he performed two Narcan saves to individuals who overdosed in a span of just over two weeks. Sergeant Abate has now revived eight people with CPR or a defibrillator during his distinguished police career. Thank you, Sergeant Abate, for your remarkable service and leadership and for getting our backs.
Ethan Sandlofer, Upper Saddle River
Despite being 10-years old, Ethan started “E’s Battle Buddies,” a child’s spinning fundraiser for rare cancers in honor of his late mother. He has since raised over $180,000 and just recently presented $90,000 to the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck
Holy Name Medical Center has exhibited a commitment to hiring veterans and creating positive work environments for our nation’s heroes, who choose to make a career out of life-saving work every day. Accepting the award on behalf of Holy Name Medical Center was Manny Gonzalez, Vice President of Human Resources and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Angelae Wilkerson, Teaneck
Angelae Wilkerson is a long-time Teaneck EMT and Community Advocate. Among her many community services, Angelae has counseled sexual assault victims, volunteered for Teaneck’s Helping Hands Food Pantry, and has served as President of the ambulance corps.
Mary Ellen Vichiconti, Vernon
Mary Ellen sits on the Recreation and Beautification committees and has worked to promote positive change in the community of Vernon, including a recent restructuring of the town government. A noted public servant, we thank Mary Ellen for her support with the tourism industry in Vernon – a wonderful place to live and visit. Mary Ellen is helping others find this gem of a New Jersey town.
Joyce Mortorano, Wyckoff
Joyce is a Youth Children's Services volunteer. Each December she organizes a drive to provide individual presents for 100 underprivileged children. This year she is hoping to reach more than the 100 she was able to help last year. We support her in her efforts and thank her for all she does.
Below are Congressman Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.
Today is a special day. We are here for the inaugural Fifth District Hometown Heroes Awards. We stand here to honor a few of our standout neighbors, friends, coworkers, and individuals who have volunteered, served, or worked to help others in North Jersey. We are lucky to have so many unsung heroes in our communities, whose quiet power of service goes on every day without the due recognition they deserve. Today is their day.
It’s always important to thank others. During the holiday season we can take the extra time to appreciate those that make New Jersey such an incredible place to live, raise a family, work, and spend time. Today’s Hometown Heroes are what make North Jersey just so special.
That’s why these awardees have been nominated by their neighbors, co-workers, friends, families, and others in their community.
From helping veterans to protecting our communities, to helping the less fortunate, these outstanding individuals come from all walks of life and all over New Jersey's Fifth Congressional District, from Alpine to Hackensack, from Paramus to Hackettstown.
Along with Holy Name, today’s awardees are bound by a shared sense of duty – to their families, their communities, and their country. They put the needs of others ahead of their own, and are committed to bettering the lives of other Jersey residents, especially those who need a helping hand the most. They are our firefighters, our first responders, and our educators – our brothers and sisters and our sons and daughters. None of these people stood up because they sought recognition, they did it because they wanted to do what was right.
They did it because of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told us, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” That’s what Jersey Values are all about. Getting the backs of others. It’s what makes New Jersey such a special place to live. On behalf of the Fifth District, I couldn't be more proud to honor them today.
When you think about what it means to be a hero, many ideas come to mind.
Many of us think of the brave men and women of our military, who put their lives on the line everyday to keep our families safe and protect the freedoms we hold dear. Others think of the law enforcement officers and first responders – some of whom are being honored here today – protecting us every day from criminals and lone-wolf terrorists.
I know everyone here and across the region shares my heartfelt thanks for the valiantry of these heroes.
And as many brave men and women on the front lines will tell you, there are countless others who also stand up when people need it most. The doctors, nurses, teachers, local leaders, and volunteers, who save lives and dedicate themselves to helping the elderly and sick and to strengthen our communities. There are heroes among all of us, far and wide and big and small.
Looking at this group of awardees today really hits that point home. Heroes go above and beyond the call of duty.
When I think about my heroes, I think about my mom, who is courageously fighting an awful disease after years in the classroom and raising a family. I think about my grandfather, a World War II Captain, who embodied the greatest generation and the patriotism that gave them the courage to run into harm’s way.
That service and unyielding respect for the freedoms and values of our country were why he always told me, “complain but with a solution.” I use that advice to shape my work in Congress and in the Fifth District. The challenges facing our country and state aren’t Democratic issues or Republican issues. It’s all about what’s good for New Jersey and our country. That’s what my grandfather’s advice and his service was all about. I respect the freedoms he fought to protect, which is why his advice still shapes my work today.
Our awardees likely didn't even recognize their heroic moments as they were, or are, taking place. They simply refused to shy away from a challenge or a moment to help others in need. They offered solutions to daunting problems.
That’s the common thread that links our first class of Hometown Heroes. And I can’t wait to meet the next class!
For every single hero today, and to the countless others across the Fifth District, I want to thank you. I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you. You embody Jersey values. Please keep being a shining example for our North Jersey community. New Jersey is lucky to call you its own and again I want to thank you and wish you a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and happy New Year! Thank you and God bless you.