The Citizens for Independent Living have honored two South Brunswick residents for their dedication to community service with the annual Barry Indik Memorial Award. The award honors individuals who have shown outstanding dedication, service and friendship to the South Brunswick community.
This year's honorees are Ellen Gambatese, wife of South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese, for her work with the South Brunswick Public Library and the community development block grant program, among other volunteer projects; and Jamie Rainey, a resident and member of CIL who's being honored for her extensive volunteer work with the rescue squad and senior citizens in town.
"(Gambatese) has done so much for South Brunswick with her service to the library and as part of the block grant committee," said CIL President Jessie Parker. "Jamie does a lot of work with seniors and with the Monmouth Junction First Aid Squad. The type of service they've both given to South Brunswick makes us all proud, and we're also proud to be able to recognize one of our CIL members."
The CIL began in 1984 as a community-based, non-profit organization with the mission of empowering developmentally disabled adults to live independent, productive lives in the community. One of CIL’s primary goals was housing, and it developed a clear direction through the efforts, energy and expertise of the late Dr. Indik. The award is a tribute to his work to improve the lives of all people in South Brunswick.
"Barry Indik was a man who involved himself in the community," said CIL Director Linda King. "He participated and gave of his time and expertise. The Barry Indik Award symbolizes the essence of everyone’s ability and obligation to be involved and give back to the community in which you live."
Gambatese said she is humbled and grateful to receive the annual recognition for service to South Brunswick.
"Having a son myself who is a traumatic brain injury victim and who has limited capacity, I think the CIL is an excellent opportunity for these individuals to flower," she said. "Who can't help but be impressed by an organization like the CIL? I'm being acknowledged by an organization like this, when it's me who admires them. They're acknowledging me for my efforts, but I acknowledge what an exceptional project they've undertaken and have been very successful at."
Gambatese credited all of the people who have been involved in her various community service projects, from the block grant program for organizations that serve low-income, disabled and senior groups; to her work sending aid to D’Iberville, Mississippi, a town devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
"It's quite an honor, but I wouldn't have been able to do any of this if it weren't for the people who helped me," she said. "None of these things have been done in isolation. There was always a great team behind me, so this award is just as much for them as it is for me."
The Indik Award to Rainey represents a chance for the CIL to honor a person who best exemplifies what the mission of the group is all about.
"(Jamie) gives back not only to the CIL community, but to the community of South Brunswick," King said. "We first met Jamie many years ago. She was a friend of one of the residents at CIL Woods who had been diagnosed with cancer. Jamie arrived every night to nurse and care for her friend, often spending the night helping her go to the bathroom, getting her meals, comforting her when she could not move. It was through her efforts that the resident could remain in her home surrounded by her friends up until the last days of her life.
"Shorty after the death of her friend, Jamie moved into CIL Woods. She has a developmental disability, but that has not hampered her ability nor desire to be of service to her community."
Rainey has been a member of the Monmouth Junction Rescue Squad for the last nine years, is one of the first people to respond to any call and always shows up day or night to assist in any way she can, King said.
"The squad can count on her to always be there when needed and do any job that might be assigned," she added.
Rainey is also an active volunteer at the Oak Woods Senior Community. King said that Rainey visits with the residents to assist them with laundry, running errands and helping with everyday tasks. Rainey is currently working with the social worker at Oak Woods to set up training and to assist residents with the newly installed Nintendo Wii game.
"(Jamie) greets every senior with a smile and a genuine offer of help," King said. "Jamie demonstrates that regardless of our situation in life, it is important for everyone to be involved and give back to the community. She sets an example for all people to treat everyone with dignity and acknowledgement of their value regardless of their situation or 'disability.'"
The awards will be presented at CIL’s Annual Independence Ball on Saturday, November 5, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Princeton. The event is also the biggest fundraiser of the year for the CIL, which relies on community donations to fund its programs.
Tickets for the event are $60, and can be purchased by calling the CIL at 732-355-0620. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.