Local business leaders were praised for making a community impact over the last two years at the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s (MCRCC) annual Community Leaders of Distinction awards ceremony on May 25.
This year’s virtual ceremony honored five individuals for their contributions that have made a difference and improved the quality of life for the communities in Middlesex County. Those honored this year include Carla Scaturro of the Scaturro Insurance Agency; Michael Valentin of Johnson & Johnson; Sherrie Wells of the Hugs for Brady Foundation; and Michael and Barbara Blackwell, longtime residents of New Brunswick.
“I always say that every day, everywhere, someone is making a difference and these individuals have certainly been making a difference in our county, not only as business leaders but as great community partners,” said Lina Llona, MCRCC president. “It is an honor to recognize these individuals for their hard work and dedication to Middlesex County.”
Wells was honored for the Hugs for Brady Foundation, a non-profit she started in 2010 with a mission to eradicate pediatric cancer. A few years ago, the foundation opened The Hugs for Brady Foundation Pediatric Cancer Research Lab at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, pledging $500,000 to its research. The foundation, which just celebrated its 10-year anniversary, has raised more than $5 million to date.
Scaturro was singled out for her work with the Judd Elementary School in North Brunswick, which is among the agency’s many community endeavors. Scaturro was an important part of bringing sensory pathways to the school, which are hallways outfitted with decals on the floor and walls to stimulate activity for all students.
The Blackwells have been lifelong New Brunswick residents, serving as pillars in the community through their jobs and volunteer work. As former Superintendent of Recreation for the Hub City, Mike spent many years coaching youth sports. He now serves as President of the Rotary Club of New Brunswick. Barbara has worked for Rutgers University for almost 10 years, most recently transitioning to program coordinator for Off-Campus Living & Community Partnerships. She was also influential in starting the Student Food Pantry on campus.
Valentine was praised for his volunteer work with Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company. As Senior Community Liaison, he has been involved with SBP which, as part of its Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, rebuilds homes in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, where there is still a tremendous need even years after Sandy. Valentine has over 25 years of experience working in public health, with an emphasis on Infectious Disease.
Attendees enjoyed a virtual presentation at the event that outlined each honoree’s commitment to Middlesex County, followed by networking opportunities after the ceremony. This event was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, a longtime MCRCC member.