Lakeland Hills Family YMCA holds awards dinner at annual meeting

Nicolas Limanov was honored as Citizen of the Year award for Parsippany and High School Educator of the Year award for Parsippany High School’s Briane DeGironimo

Council President Robert Peluso and Students showing support to Mrs. DeGironimo

PARSIPPANY — The Lakeland Hills Family YMCA held its annual meeting and awards dinner on Wednesday, May 11 at the Knoll Country Club West. All the honorees, their guests, and the community at large, were invited to attend the dinner, which packed the dining room.

The Lakeland Hills Family YMCA is proud to announce its annual award recipients, with a Citizen of the Year award for Parsippany to Nicolas Limanov and the high school Educator of the Year award for Parsippany High School’s own Briane DeGironimo.

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Parsippany is an integral part of the Ys community, not only recognizing Nicolas and Briane, but also was honored to have the Parsippany High School jazz ensemble play during the cocktail hour the night of their Awards Presentation.

Nicolas is a volunteer extraordinaire, actively participating in numerous Parsippany activities and organizations. He truly embodies the phrase “service about self” in everything he does. He is a first responder for the Parsippany Office of Emergency Management, which is under the umbrella of the Parsippany Police Department. He is a board member and participant with the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce. Nicolas is also an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Parsippany, and is the Chairman of “Touch a Truck,” which is one of the largest fundraiser for the club.

He is out in the cold shoveling snow for his elderly neighbors; he clears fire hydrants to help fellow first responders. While focusing on a career in criminal justice, he hopes to one day work in law enforcement.

From cooking at Homeless Solutions to saving lives, Nicolas does all this and still hasn’t turned the ripe old age of 21.

Most recently, Nicolas helped save an individual from a car fire, working with another Good Samaritan. He makes Parsippany a better place to live, and is more than deserving of the Lakeland Hills YMCAs Parsippany Citizen of the Year.

Briane DeGironimo is a math teacher at Parsippany High School by day, and a team track coach by afternoon and evening!

Briane is a talented and dedicated educator, teaching challenging courses including AP Statistics. She keeps her students focused and motivated, a task not easily achieved. After school, Briane is the Head Coach for the PHS Cross Country, Winter Track, and Spring Track teams. Under her watch, not only have all the teams improved on their record, they also have more students participating in these sports than ever before. Her commitment to the sports program and her dedication to her students has resulted in historic ways. The Girls’ Cross Country team and the Girls’ Winter Track team both won the first state sectional titles in the history of these programs at PHS.

Briane is a role model for her students, and for her student-athletes. She is always selfless and humble, and is the first one to volunteer for PHS extracurricular activities, including class coverage, dances, and even the dunk tank! Briane is that rare educator who always gives her best. She was selected as the Lakeland Hills YMCAs high school Educator of the Year, where only one educator in grades 9-12 is selected from all the high schools, both public and private, in ten Morris County communities served by Lakeland Hills Family YMCA.

Being chosen is quite an honor, and Briane has certainly done justice to earn the award.

In addition to Nicolas and Briane, Lakeland Hills Family YMCA awarded the following citizens their “Citizen of the Year Awards” from their other service area towns Brian Noodt – Boonton; Michael Petronino, Franky LePore, Vincent LaPore and Adobo (canine Citizen) – Boonton Township; Melissa Cooke  – Denville; Debra Casha – Kinnelon/Butler; Kim LoMonaco – Lincoln Park; Bill Olderman – Montville; Carol Herring – Mountain Lakes;  and Christopher Murphy – Pequannock.

These individuals have demonstrated outstanding community service and volunteerism. “The selflessness exhibited by these volunteers is consistent with social responsibility, which is one of the key underpinnings of our YMCA mission and we are looking forward to honoring them,”says Lakeland Hills YMCA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Viktor Joganow.

Boonton: Brian Noodt – Brian has been a volunteer with Boonton Main Street (BMS) since 2008 and is currently the Chair of the Design Committee, which works to beautify Main Street and the community of Boonton. He has devoted innumerable hours to BMS, leading projects such as Art Installations for First Fridays, championed the Vacant Window program to help with fundraising, and much more. Brian has provided spiritual support at Victoria Mews and Care One, both senior residences, the NJ Firemen’s Home, and more. He is a hospice volunteer with the Visiting Nurse Association of Northern NJ, and a past leader of organizations including Family Promise of Morris County and Rainbow Cafe Northern NJ. Brian is a passionate volunteer who will always go the extra mile!

Boonton Township: Michael (Mikey) Petronino, Francis (Frankie) Lepore, Vincent Lepore, and Adobo – What is the definition of “hero?” These young men, both human and canine, most certainly are heroes. On a hiking trip on December 20, 2015, Chris Petronino went on a hike to Split Rock Reservoir with his son Mikey and Mikey’s friends Frankie and Vincent Lepore, along with Mikey’s dog, Adobo. Unexpectedly encountering a black bear, Chris was injured and trapped in a cave. The boys quick thinking, calm demeanor, and smart actions helped Chris survive his injuries and allowed first responders to locate them and bring them all back to safety. Mikey, Frankie, Vincent, and Adobo distracted the bear, called 911, built a signal fire, and helped first responders bring them to Chris’ location. All three boys are members of the Boy Scouts, and Chris is a Scoutmaster.

Denville: Melissa Cooke – Melissa has a lengthy list of volunteer activities not only in Denville but throughout Morris County and the tristate area. Here are just a few: Outgoing President of the Denville Chamber of Commerce; trainer for Guide Dogs for the Blind and Gold Coast Equine Therapy, Volunteer for the NY Historical Society, PAWS (Pets are Wonderful Support), Therapy Dogs International, Himalayan Foundation, and American Heart Association Red Dress Initiative. Melissa is a tireless volunteer and member of numerous organizations in Denville: Centennial Committee, Holiday Parade Committee, Local Assistance Board, Economic Development Committee, PRIDE Council, Discover Denville website, and the Green Team. There’s more: Supporter of the Jersey Battered Women’s Service, Preserve Greystone committee, and Habitat for Humanity. Melissa also utilizes her retail store, Restyle Renew Consignment in Denville, to hold fundraisers by giving a portion of sales to multiple organizations, including Denville Social Services, Denville Animal Rescue, The Seeing Eye, Dress for Success, and more.

Kinnelon: Debra Eckert-Casha – A volunteer for many organizations, you may know Debra in her professional capacity as a lawyer with a practice in Montville. After a Kinnelon High School student began a program in 2002 to solicit donations from neighbors and friends to deliver turkeys for those in need, Debra expanded the program and recruited other students. Called Turkeys 4U, Debra was not content with just fundraising or creating community service. Debra helped teach student volunteers business management and succession strategy, ensuring Turkeys 4U longevity and viability. Debra, along with students and other volunteers, has helped raise over $200,000 to deliver 160,000+ pounds of turkey to food banks and individual homes to feed those in need in Morris and Passaic Counties. Debra has been a chairperson and/or member of organizations as diverse as the Morris County Bar Association, Morris County Women’s Club, NJ Economic Development Authority, NJ State Board of Education, Smoke Rise Tennis Club, volunteer mediator for the Morris County Superior Court, member of the Lakeland Hills YMCA Board of Directors, and an advisory board Member of Lakeland Bank.

Lincoln Park: Kim Lo Monaco – A testament to Kim’s commitment to community service is the length of her nominee’s application: Three pages of information on Kim’s philanthropy. Kim has dedicated herself to making a difference in the lives of children in the Lincoln Park community. She volunteers with many organizations,
including the Lincoln Park Police Athletic League (PAL), the Girl Scouts of America, the Lincoln Park Schools PTO, and the United Counties (heerleading League (UCCL). Kim’s leadership at UCCL resulted in fundraising success, enabling the purchase of new uniforms and equipment for the participants. She was instrumental in organizing a drive to help the UCCL families in need after the community was devastated in 2011 by flooding from Hurricane Irene. From serving on the Lincoln Park PAL board to being active with the Lincoln Park Schools PTO, Kim has been a role model in so many ways. As one parent said to Kim, “You have flawlessly executed teamwork, camaraderie, loyalty, and best of all, family.” We’re glad to share Kim’s story with the rest of our community – we certainly need more like her!

Montville: William (Bill) Olderman – Bill has been quietly volunteering for many organizations for a lengthy number of years. Now that the secret is out of the bag, it’s easy to see that community service and giving back to others is just part of Bill’s DNA. He has been a loyal and tireless volunteer with The Rose House, a developmental and intellectual disabilities nonprofit, helping individuals pursue full and active lives by providing living and learning opportunities. Bill gives much of his time to the Mental Health Association of Morris County (MHAMC), volunteering on the Marketing and Communications Team, their Food for Thought Celebration Team, the MHAMC Donor Cultivation Committee, and serving as a board member. He is always searching for ways to ensure people living with mental illness in Morris County get the services they need. He is able to forge partnerships with other organizations to help the cause, which is how he came to be a volunteer on the Community Service Committee of the Lakeland Hills Family YMCA. Bill is an active member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce as well as Habitat for Humanity.

Mountain Lakes: Carol Herring – Carol’s information on volunteering could earn her a spot on “Amazing Race.” Her community service has taken her from New York, to Virginia, to New Jersey, then back again to Virginia, home to Mountain Lakes, and philanthropic “visits” in Nicaragua with the North Country Mission of Hope. Carol’s earliest taste of volunteering was with the Big Brother, Big Sister program. She has been a part of organizations and nonprofits too long a list to provide, but here’s a few: Junior Achievement, Christ the King Church, Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center, Garden Club of Mountain Lakes, Girl Scouts of America, Suburban Cultural Education Enrichment Program (SCEEP), the Lakeland Hills Family YMCA, and most recently, the North Country Mission of Hope (NCMH). Carol is a current board member of the NCMH, and has traveled to South America numerous times and sponsored children for an education. She is head of grant writing and the feeding program as well as distribution compliance and monitoring and evaluation of grants. Carol’s advocacy for NCMH was instrumental in connecting our Y with the Mission of Hope, allowing for a mission trip this past winter.

Parsippany: Nicolas Limanov – Three days after announcing Nicolas was our Parsippany Citizen of the Year, he helped pull a victim out of a burning car in Parsippany, and less than a minute later the car exploded. He once again demonstrated his propensity to put others before himself, always. Nicolas is actively involved as a first responder and member of the Parsippany Office of Emergency Management. He serves on all three divisions: Community Emergency Response, Communications, and Hazmat. He is an associate member of the Italian American Police Society, and a part-time Housing Manager at Homeless Solutions in Morristown. Not only is Nicolas a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Parsippany, he chairs the “Touch-a-Truck” event, one of the Club’s biggest fundraisers. He is a board member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce and chair of its Scholarship Committee. Active in numerous community service clubs, Nicolas started a program a few winters ago called Hydrant Heroes. He and other volunteers shovel near fire hydrants to clear them for emergencies, as well as shovel the homes of seniors and handicapped residents. Nicolas does all this, and still hasn’t turned 21.

Pequannock: Christopher Murphy – Christopher is another one of our young Citizens of the Year (Just 19!). He is an active volunteer with the Pequannock Township First Aid Squad and its Fire Department. He decided to attend a local college (William Paterson University) as opposed to leaving the area so that he could continue to volunteer for the First Aid Squad and Fire Department. Here are two examples of Chris’ passion for helping others; let’s set the scene: It’s August 2015, a blistering hot day with an outside temperature of 95 degrees. Chris responds to a fire at a home in town. With temperatures hovering over 1,000 degrees in the home’s attic, the location of the fire, Chris does not hesitate to enter the burning residence. When water was introduced to the fire, it created steam, and the steam passed through his protective clothing. Suffering second and third degree steam burns, Chris was treated at Saint Barnabas Burn Center but still has scars and residual sensitivity to his neck. Now let’s move on to this past February. Two separate structures are burning in Pequannock on Valentine’s Day. The temperature and wind chill are well below zero degrees. Chris’ fire gear and gloves are frozen to his body. He still bravely put his own safety aside to come to the aide of his fellow residents. That is the epitome of selflessness; this is another hero we have in our midst.

The Lakeland Hills Family YMCA, a community organization located in Mountain Lakes, serves the towns of Parsippany, Boonton, Boonton Township, Denville, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Montville, Mountain Lakes, Pequannock, and Riverdale. With a mission to strengthen the foundations of community, the Y recognizes individuals, groups, and corporations for their commitment to giving back to others.