Congratulations to the 2021 Award for Excellence Honorees 👏👏👏
This year, the theme for our award is USR Community Champions. These honorees have made a significant, positive, and visible impact in our community for many years. They demonstrate exceptional public service to the Upper Saddle River community through their volunteerism and serve as role models for the children of the USR School District that the foundation ultimately serves.
Kelli, a lifelong resident of Upper Saddle River, has dedicated her time to many local organizations over the years. She is Treasurer of the USR Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, holds leadership positions in the Saddle River Valley Junior Woman’s Club, Northern Highlands Home and School Association, and is a former leader in the USR PTO. Kelli has also volunteered at The Church of the Presentation for almost twenty years in the children's programs and funeral ministry. To keep our community of first-responders safe while performing their jobs, Kelli worked tirelessly to find personal protective equipment donations for the USR Fire, Police, and Volunteer Ambulance departments early in the pandemic when supplies were scarce. Throughout 2020, Kelli delivered meals and clothes to the homeless in New York City, organized meals for the frontline healthcare workers at our local hospitals, provided gifts for nurses, and aided in raising money for Oasis--A Haven for Women and Children.
Melissa, a senior at Northern Highlands Regional High School, volunteers in several community service organizations. As a Junior Trustee on the Upper Saddle River Historical Society, she created a 360-degree virtual tour for visitors to tour the museum remotely. This effort to make the museum more accessible filled an essential need during its pandemic closure. Melissa is a student representative on the USRA Coalition focusing on mental health and anti-drug initiatives. She has been a youth ambassador for the Tyler Clementi Foundation for the past three years and founded the #Day1 Representatives, whose mission is to implement anti-bullying efforts through school assemblies. The #Day1 Representatives started as a student board representing 20 Bergen County high schools and has since expanded state-wide. Melissa has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and has received her Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award.
USR Cares was formed in 2015 when an Upper Saddle River family found itself in crisis and an informal group of volunteers stepped up to help. USR Cares continues to help residents through difficult times and has been working to develop additional programming to engage and connect with the senior population of Upper Saddle River. USR Cares’s outreach in this area has extended to well over 100 households. The Project Sunshine/Senior Cheer Baskets began in 2020 with its first of many monthly deliveries of Cheer Baskets. The baskets have included tea, cookies, freshly baked bread, and plants. Most importantly, they have included details and contact information for anyone needing assistance during the pandemic, and personal delivery from a caring volunteer. Their goal is to develop rapport and goodwill so that our seniors will feel comfortable calling on the volunteers for support. USR Cares volunteers offer grocery and other errand and shopping services and are currently helping to secure vaccination appointments for those who have requested assistance.
Congratulations to Kelli, Melissa, and USR Cares!