DawnandandSarahRed Bank Regional student Sarah Vates (left) accepted a Caring Award from RBR guidance counselor Dawn Kaszuba at a March 20 event sponsored by the Monmouth County Guidance Director’s Association. The senior from Holmdel won the award for her work in spearheading Cinderella’s Closet, a nonprofit that provides prom clothes for teens from low income households. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Red Bank Regional High School’s Guidance Director Dawn Kaszuba and her peers look forward each year to a special event held at Brookdale Community College. As President of the Monmouth County Guidance Director’s Association (MCGDA), she has the pleasure of honoring the community service stars in Monmouth County’s high schools. Thirty-four students were so honored on March 20, where a video in their own words signified why each student was selected to receive the MCGDA Caring Award.

The recipients were each chosen by the Guidance Directors in their respective high schools. Kaszuba, who also serves as President of the Monmouth County Guidance Director’s Association, which sponsors the Caring Award, was pleased to present the honor to RBR student Sarah Vates. The senior from Holmdel won the award for her work with Cinderella’s Closet, a charity that provides teenagers with affordable clothing and accessories to attend prom.

Sarah has spearheaded Cinderella’s Closet for several years. Its mission is to bring affordable prom clothes to those who might otherwise not be able to participate in this high school milestone event. She stated in her video, “What makes this activity so special is the look on the girl’s face when she finds that perfect prom dress, or the swagger of the young man when he finds that perfect suit.”

CaringAwardRecipientsThirty four high school students form Monmouth County were honored at the Monmouth County Guidance Director’s Association special Caring Award ceremony held at Brookdale Community College in March.  The students represented the stars in their community for their extraordinary dedication to community service.

The students, hailing from schools all over the county, sponsored clothing and food drives for Superstorm Sandy victims; performed 26 acts of kindness in their schools in honor of the victims of Newtown; worked with special Olympics, volunteered as EMS cadets, cleaned rivers and streams; went on missions to build schools and homes in Central American or the rural US, to name just a few of their collective service.

Some of the missions are highly personal. Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School student Brigitte Fitzsimmons’ father died of cancer, and she has devoted herself to raising funds to help find a cure for the disease by working with Relay for Life. Similarly, Alexandra Barton of Howell High School lost her beloved baby brother to cancer and has been raising money for the precious bone marrow transplants that helped extend his life.

Lauren D’Augusta of Middletown High School North grew up with her older autistic brother in a family that championed the rights of the autistic. So Lauren and her friends frequented special “teas” to help her brother and his friends practice their social skills. She organized a “polar bear plunge” to raise money for autistic programs, and even tilled the soil alongside young autistic adults in a framing project at a Middletown park providing them with life skills.

Across town, her peer Aisha Bhoori started “Dreamers without Borders” at Middletown High School South to help the refugees of Afghanistan and Tibet. She also founded a chapter of Amnesty International at her high school.

Mrs. Kaszuba told the audience of guidance counselors, directors, students and their parents, “The Caring Award program has two certainties for me—that I would leave with a sore throat from trying to hold back tears, and that I would be even more certain that our future was in good hands.”

The Monmouth County Guidance Director Association also awarded five $750 scholarships to seven lucky random winners at the 2014 Caring Award ceremony. They were Tracey Vollbrecht, Marine Academy of Science and Technology H.S.; Alexandra Barton, Howell H.S., Chelsea Merker, Henry Hudson Regional H.S.; Jaquel Williams, Academy Charter, and Joyce Pegler, Manasquan High School.