The Source Reception Honors Community Partners that Heed the Call to Serve
At the Sixteenth Annual Source Foundation Awards Reception, Red Bank Regional High School (RBR) Source Director Suzanne Keller introduced her School-based Youth Service Program’s mission as, “Removing all obstacles that impede a student’s success.” Several community members were recognized at the June 2 event for doing just that. Motivational Speaker Matthew Stevens was honored for his work with Source Clinician’ Sean Macon’s Boys 2 Men program in inspiring father and son relationships and a dress for success motivational program.
Three other community volunteers, Jessica Kostenblatt of the Monmouth County Mental Health Organization, Monmouth University student Gianna Cusanelli, and RBR alumnus Luke Roskowinski, shared the same Community Partnership awards for answering a sudden need that developed in the RBR community. Several years ago the press was inundated with articles on the plight of Central American refugees particularly many children seeking asylum from their violence-torn nations. Some made their way to New Jersey and eventually RBR.
Bi-lingual Source Clinician Marisol Mondaca explains, “We had an increase in students from South America, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. They had a great desire to learn more English quickly. While some county programs were available for adults, nothing was available for children. So we developed a weekly program for thirty students with the assistance of three special community volunteers. Their hearts are humongous and they were motivated by just wanting to make this happen.”
Integral to the program’s success were RBR International Baccalaureate student tutors. The program was conducted in the Red Bank Community for an eight week period from March through May. The peer tutors: Adrian Hernandez, Jose Perez and Manny Sanchez were honored with Community Service Awards.
Long-time community philanthropists Rick and Mary Jane Kroon of Rumson were present as the winners of this year’s Andrew Kroon Memorial Scholarships were awarded to RBR graduating seniors Wendy Galdamez, Manual Sandoval Valverde and Javier Veliz. All three will attend Brookdale Community College and pursue their dreams which would not have been possible without the scholarship money. The Kroons have also expanded their generosity to fund scholarships for graduating seniors who transfer to four-year colleges. Two of those graduates, RBR alumni Diana Escalona and Jocelyn Rojas returned to their alma mater for the Source Reception.
Diana Escalona who founded the Dreamers Plus Club on the Brookdale campus which won the schools Global Citizenship award, formally thanked the Kroon Family and Suzanne Keller for making a difference in their lives adding, “If not for this scholarship we would not be able to continue our education and we worked so hard to finish in two years.” She then addressed this year’s scholarship recipients stating, “Please try hard not to let your family (and everyone) down, and you have to try your hardest for them.”
Jocelyn Rojas assisted Diana in making the Dreamers Club a success at Brookdale, in addition to holding two part-time jobs and an internship at the YMCA. She told the enraptured audience, “I want to thank you for everything. The opportunity we received is so amazing. In addition to the scholarship, is all the support that comes with it. It is extremely hard to be the only one in your family who knows about college. I learned a lot of things in college…I learned what I can overcome. I learned what I can do to help others as well. I hope we can increase the number of Latino kids that go to college and show them that it is possible.”
In all, $40,000 in scholarship money was awarded during the reception. In addition to the aforementioned scholarships, The Source Foundation Scholarship Awards were presented to Gianna Apreza, Julie Coker, Jazmin Graham, Emma Craven and Cecilia Gunderson. Aliyyah Muhammad was awarded The Bleamer-Cerbone Scholarship Award. The Latino American Association of Monmouth County presented its scholarship awards to Edwin Castillo, Wendy Galdamez, Yartiza Oretga, Miguel Valdez and Javier Veliz. During the past three years RBR has kept the memory of two students enshrined through their memorial scholarships. Samantha Reynolds was awarded The Riyadh’na Farrow Memorial Scholarship while three students, Dominique Bryan, Aliyyah Muhammad and Samantha Reynolds, received the Albert Martin Memorial Scholarship.