Project Self-Sufficiency honors graduates

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  • From left, Scholarship Awards were presented to Andrew Amati, Kayla Bross, Sandra Zaruba, Kelly White, Yolanda Dones and Lois De Luccio at Project Self-Sufficiency’s annual Celebration of Literacy.



The 12th annual Celebration of Literacy was held recently at Project Self-Sufficiency to honor agency participants who had impressive academic achievements, as well as those who had completed significant steps towards economic self-sufficiency during the past year.

Several participants also were awarded scholarships in recognition of their success. New Jersey Department of Children & Families Commissioner Allison Blake served as the event’s keynote speaker. Presentations were also given by members of the Sussex County Board of Freeholders, George Graham, Dennis Mudrick and Freeholder Director, Richard Vohden.

“It’s an honor to celebrate this special moment with this evening’s graduates,” said New Jersey Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake. “Their courage, hard work, and perseverance is inspiring and I know that today represents just the first of many achievements these graduates will attain as they move on to lead productive and successful lives.”

Six agency participants were singled out for special recognition during the event. Both Andrew Amati and Kayla Bross were chosen to receive the Ruth Ann Duffy Williams Scholarship, named in honor of the esteemed Sussex County educator who spent her career as a teacher and principal at the Branchville and Frankford Elementary Schools. The scholarship is bestowed upon an individual or individuals under the age of 25 who have demonstrated exceptional drive and academic potential during the previous academic year.

Agency participant Kelly White received the Connie Koeppel Award, given in honor of the late Sussex County educator and spiritual leader who, along with her husband Keith, founded the Loving Arms crisis shelter for pregnant girls and women, and who worked tirelessly on behalf of those experiencing hunger in our area. The award is bestowed annually to a young woman who is newly parenting and who is actively striving to provide a stable, loving and economically self-sufficient home for her family.

The Dot Dedrick Award was given to Lois De Luccio in memory of the ardent Project Self-Sufficiency supporter who spearheaded fundraising projects on behalf of the agency’s food pantry, Back-to-School Fair, and Season of Hope Toy Drive, both as an individual and through her membership in the Sparta Women’s Club. The award is given to an agency participant who is actively engaged in giving back to the community through acts of volunteerism.

Project Self-Sufficiency participant Sandra Zaruba was selected to receive the Richard Illingworth Scholarship, in honor of the former Leadership Council member and Human Resources professional who devoted countless hours to assisting participants in the agency’s Career Center. The scholarship is given to an agency participant who has tenaciously pursued education and employment during the past year.

Agency participant Yolanda Dones received the Jessica Heaney Brown award in recognition the young aspiring student whose dream of attending college was tragically cut short. The award is bestowed annually upon a mother who has overcome substance abuse or is actively in recovery and wants to further her education.

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