WEST LONG BRANCH: Education is a most important asset for young people building toward the future, as they become responsible citizens, said Latino American Association of Monmouth County President Violeta Peters, introducing the 23rd annual Award Banquet held at Branches in West Long Branch on Oct. 14.
Honored at the event were individuals and organizations recognized in the communities as they "Go above and beyond on a daily basis", providing services that enrich the lives of others. Ms. Peters said the Honorees have consistently demonstrated hard work and determination that make a difference to others around them. Through positive qualities they make a difference to the community at large.
Important to the Association is the support and encouragement it gives to the students receiving the financial awards and maintaining their Latino culture, the traditions of family and community they bring through the generations.
Among attendees were Freeholders Tom Arnone, Serena DiMaso and Sherriff Shaun Golden, Long Branch Public Safety Director Jayson Roebuck and Long Brach School Superintendent Dr. Michael Salvatore.
Jayson Corley, Athletic Director at Long Branch High School, a graduate of LBHs where he was a noted achiever on the football field.
Detective Michael Dekker, Long Branch Police Department, where he has served since 2002, complementing his service excellence with his commitment to youth activities.
Honorable Anthony J. Mellaci, Superior Court Judge formerly assigned to the Family Court before retiring from the bench in 2016, having risen to Presiding Criminal Judge during his career.
Mariella Flores, Coordinator of the Youth program at Mother of mercy Parish in Asbury Park, promoting education and acceptance of the challenge of preparing for one's future.
Honoree Dr. Anthony Lombardi, a noted plastic surgeon practicing in the county.
Yikxsi Lombardi, who came to the U.S. as a child of 8, , who graduated Ocean Township High, went on to Brookdale Community College, and further to the Harrison Career Institute, and now is a Medical Assistant at the Lombardi Center in Eatontown. She and the doctor were married in 2005.
Students receiving scholarship awards are (photo, L to R): Yarita Ortega, Genesis Sanchez, Miguel Valdez, Javier Veliz, Rebecca Gonzalez, Alvarino Aquino, and Jason Corley, and also (not in photo) Adonis Linares-Valesquez , Wendy Galdamez and Edwin Castillo.
The program commenced with greetings from Joseph M. Ferraina; the Flag Salute led by Monomyth County Sheriff Shaun Golden; the National Anthem led by Gloria Santos; and invocation by Rev. Caroline Bennett who closed the gathering with a prayer that followed remarks by Dr. Eddie Santiago. The awards were presented by Jennie Nieves, Scholarship Committee Chair.
During the evening the Long Branch High School Dancers performed for the guests. They had posed earlier in the evening for a photo with several attendees from the Long Branch School system, the Long Branch Police and the county sheriff's department, a showing of working together that is so important.
The LAA Awards Banquet Committee (photo) took a moment out of the busy evening to sit for a photo of the hard working group just as diner was being served.