Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hometown Heroes

Over the past couple of weeks you might have heard commercials running on this radio station for a last night’s Hometown Heroes Awards Gala at the Grenville Hotel and Restaurant in Bay Head, an event in which I served as Master of Ceremonies. Before last night I really did not know much about this grass-roots organization which was started about 2 ½ years ago by Michael Schwartz and Dawn DiStefano. What I can now tell you is the name is quite appropriate and in just a short time Hometown Heroes has made a significant impact on the lives of individuals and families in the shore area. Basically what they do is help those in need, often with little or no time to find a solution to a problem that at the time appears overwhelming. Those on the Board of Directors are often the ones to help or they may use their own network to provide families with financial assistance, counseling and advocacy when all other means have been exhausted.

The five individuals honored last night own or manage their own companies and when they were called on by Schwartz, who is the Executive Director they came through when needed the most. Whether it was providing housing and work for a single Mom, picking up the cost of a funeral, taking care of an elderly woman who did not have heat in her home or giving the organization itself office space these five individuals truly are deserving of being called “Hometown Heroes.” What was obvious to me was that while they were appreciative of last night’s recognition none of them were really comfortable for being singled out because they universally believe that giving back to others is what we should all strive to do.

With that said I was honored to pay tribute to:
Lisa Barna, who along with her husband owns the Aztec Ocean Resort in Seaside Heights…Marc DiCostanzo, the owner of Lakewood Funeral Home in Howell…
Mike Little, manager of Crossroads Realty…Jennifer Strueber, the CFO of Blue Ridge Heating & Cooling in Pine Beach and Bill White, owner of the White Pearl Hotel in Seaside Heights and Murph Construction.

Schwartz also paid special recognition to Millennium Radio Vice President Wendy Wesley who is a member of the Board of Directors and helped organize last night’s dinner at the Grenville. Adding to the evening were the comments of Chris Bennett, a former high school and college track star who now teaches and coaches at his alma mater, Christian Brothers Academy.

For information on Hometown Heroes you can call (732) 473-9400 or visit

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