JEFFERSON – The Jefferson Township Chamber of Commerce, Thursday, honored three local residents and one business group at the chamber’s annual awards dinner at Casa Bianca in the
Oak Ridge section of the township.
Béla and Alice Szigethy were honored as Business Association of the Year as proprietors of multiple businesses around Lake Hopatcong, including Camp Six, Alice’s Restaurant, Main Lake Market, Lake Hopatcong Golf Club, this publication, Lake Hopatcong News, and the Lake Hopatcong Foundation which the Szigethy’s helped establish by
providing the seed money.
“This award was a complete surprise,” said Béla Szigethy, explaining that all of the businesses listed on the award were “designed to meet a need that was not being met in the community.”
“We’re looking to fill voids,” he said. “We love creating jobs, I think we’re over 100. Jobs create a stronger community,” he added.
Jack Kelly received the President’s Award for his outstanding effort and service as a volunteer for multiple groups and organizations throughout the township.
Kelly, along with his wife of 60 years, Rose, has resided in Jefferson for 57 years, and has given his time to so many organizations even he can’t list them all. Most recently he is involved with the Aaron Alonzo Committee, helping raise money for local Marine. Sgt. Aaron Alonzo, who lost both legs to an IED while on patrol in Afghanistan earlier this year. Kelly is a member and the historian of American Legion Post 423 in the Milton section of Jefferson and said he has always given his time to veterans and veteran causes, often visiting VA hospitals.
“Too many people think Memorial Day is the start of the summer season. It is a day we should remember the guys who lost their lives,” he said.
Kelly is also the chairman of the Wiegand Farm Golf Classic which helps raise funds for the Department for Persons with Disabilities located in the Oak Ridge section of Jefferson.
“You can’t quantify the number of volunteer hours or the number of people he has affected,” said Chris Brancato, director of development and public relations at DPD, who presented Kelly’s award.
Dan Papa, a history teacher and baseball coach at Jefferson Township High School, received the Educator of the Year award for an awareness campaign about human trafficking, Project Stay Gold, which he and his student began three years ago.
According to Papa, the human trafficking awareness program began with a group of eighth-grade students while Papa was teaching in the middle school. As it turned out both the students and Papa moved up to the high school together, transitioning the program with them. Since its inception, the students involved in the Project Stay Gold have presented their program to the Department of Health and Human Services in NYC, colleges and high schools throughout the state. They have also presented two years running at the Attorney General’s National Human Trafficking Day in Trenton. And, said Papa, the program recently received the New Jersey Education Association’s MLK Human Rights Award.
“This award is all about my students and their work,” said Papa.
Danielle Beniulis, 18, a senior at Jefferson Township High School received the Doris Roberts Business Scholarship.
Beniulis, who will graduate third in her class of 265 in June, impressed the crowd with her credentials. A scholar-athlete, Beniulis has yet to committee to a college, still undecided between Indiana University or Villanova, where she will major in business, specifically marketing, and run track.
“This awards means a lot. To represent Jefferson gives me confidence I can succeed in a bigger community,” said Beniulis.
Ray Fernandez, owner of Bridge Marina, was honored with the Jefferson Highlights Community Television President’s Award for Outstanding Service to the chamber. Accepting the award for Fernandez was Roni Dineen.