The selfless and longstanding efforts of individuals and organizations who work to help those in need will be recognized during the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton’s 34th annual Guardian Angel Dinner Dance Sept. 21 in The Merion, 1301 Route 130 South, Cinnaminson.
The Guardian Angel Dinner Dance serves as Catholic Charities’ signature fundraising event and is a celebration of community partners who share the vision and support of the agency’s mission of eliminating poverty, trauma and adversity among the most vulnerable neighbors regardless of religious affiliation.
“It is the dedication of our honorees, sponsors, and supporters that makes what we do possible,” said Marlene Laó-Collins, executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton. “The Guardian Angel Dinner Dance is not only a celebration of these generous individuals, it is a testament to their devotion to our mission of promoting recovery, strengthening families, and reducing poverty.
“Proceeds from this event directly fund the services we provide in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties, and every thoughtful donation, no matter the size, supports the most vulnerable people in our communities,” she said.
The evening will include the presentation of awards to people and organizations in recognition of their work on behalf of the region’s most vulnerable citizens. The awards and recipients are:
Michael J. Herbert, current vice chair of Catholic Charities’ board of trustees, will receive the Richard J. Hughes, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton Humanitarian Award, which recognizes an outstanding leader who is committed to humanitarian causes; a devoted advocate of Catholic Charities and the betterment of humanity in general, and one who compassionately strives to improve the quality of life of people across all economic and social lines.
Herbert follows closely in his father’s footsteps in various ways including practicing municipal and land use law. He also gives of his time and expertise to support Catholic Charities. While his father served as president of the board of trustees from 2003 to 2004, the younger Herbert joined the Mercer County board in 2017 and currently serves as vice chair of the board of trustees.
Herbert is a shareholder at Parker McCay and he currently represents the Mercer County Board of County Commissioners, West Windsor and Plainsboro Township, Ewing Planning Board, Marlboro Planning Board, Robbinsville Land Use Board, and the East Brunswick Housing Authority. He has expertise in redevelopment and affordable housing and has many developer clients as well. Herbert serves as assistant counsel to the Diocese of Trenton. He is married to Christine Cofone and is the father of four daughters. He and his family attend Mass in Holy Cross Church, Rumson, and St. George Church, Titusville.
Two Light of Hope Awards will be presented in recognition of a person or organization in each of the four counties of the Diocese for their support and commitment to the work of Catholic Charities in their community.
Msgr. Dennis A. Apoldite, episcopal vicar of Mercer County and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton, is the Mercer County honoree. The award is being presented in recognition of the various collaborative relationships he and his parishioners have developed with numerous community organizations including El Centro, a Catholic Charities program that provides outreach to the Spanish-speaking community in the area.
Msgr. Apoldite has lifelong ties to Trenton. He was born and raised in the city’s Chambersburg section and he and his family belonged to St. Joachim Parish, where he was an altar server and a member of the Catholic Youth Organization. It was also at St. Joachim Parish and School where his vocation to the priesthood was largely fostered.
Now celebrating his 45th anniversary of his priestly ordination this year, Msgr. Apoldite said he can’t remember a time in his life when he didn’t want to be a priest.
He attended Mount St. Mary University and Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md., where he earned an undergraduate degree in social welfare and a master’s degree in theology. He was ordained May 20, 1978, in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, by Bishop George W. Ahr.
His parish assignments included serving as parochial vicar in the parishes of Our Lady of Sorrows (now part of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony), Hamilton; St. Ann, Lawrenceville; St. Veronica, Howell, and Sacred Heart, Trenton. As pastor, he served in Sacred Heart, Trenton; St. Mary, Middletown; St. Alphonsus, Hopewell, then returned to serve as pastor of Sacred Heart, Trenton, which merged with other area parishes – Divine Mercy and Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd, both in Trenton.
Other appointments he has held include being a member of the Council of Priests, chaplain of Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville; Catholic chaplain of the Trenton Police Department and New Jersey State Prison; director of Recruitment for Vocations for the Diocese; member of the Episcopal Council and secretary of the Mercer County CYO board of trustees.
Msgr. Apoldite was appointed episcopal vicar of Mercer County in July, 2021 and was named a Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor by Pope Francis in November 2021.
The Woman’s League of Mount Holly is the Light of Hope recipient for Burlington County.
The league’s service to the community dates back to 1903, when its nine founders set out to address the needs they saw around town. Now 120 years later, the group has 51 members who continue working diligently on making improvements and helping others. Members say their projects and causes are as varied as the women who belong to the organization.
Among the charities the league has assisted since 1982 is Catholic Charities’ Providence House Domestic Violence Services in Burlington which provides outreach to victims of domestic violence and their children. One example of outreach occurred during the pandemic, when the safe houses were full and survivors were being housed in alternative locations and the league donated more than 500 microwaveable meals and snacks.
The Woman’s League of Mount Holly is a Garden District member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs and also belongs to the national General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Dr. Eric Schwartz has been named this year’s Corporate Citizen of the Year Award recipient which recognizes a business that partners and supports Catholic Charities’ goals and mission. .
Dr. Schwartz, executive director of Capital Health’s Institute for Urban Care, has demonstrated his commitment to improving health care services for residents of the Trenton area by creating programs that serve the unique needs of the community. Catholic Charities has partnered with Dr. Schwartz in the For My Baby and Me program, a collaboration helping pregnant and postpartum women recover from addiction by providing medication-assisted treatment and counseling, in addition to wraparound services.
Dr. Schwartz is a board-certified primary care internal medicine specialist with an master of business administration in health care management from the Fox School of Business. In addition, he received a certificate in Managing Health Care Delivery from Harvard Business School and a medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Israel. Dr. Schwartz is married and has three daughters.
“Brandon” is this year’s Client Achievement Award recipient. The award honors a Catholic Charities client who has demonstrated great courage, persistence and hard work in overcoming hardship.
Brandon’ admits to having a life filled with ups and downs but his current outlook on life is upbeat and positive. He has a job he loves, he owns an apartment and he is an active member of his church.
In his early 20s, he faced a series of difficulties that left him homeless for two years in North Carolina. His path to recovery started with a call to his grandmother and a Greyhound bus ride to Trenton where he was enrolled in the Catholic Charities’ Partners in Recovery program, which specializes in helping individuals with psychiatric and co-occurring disorders. Through the program, Brandon received counseling, assistance in managing his mental health and support in finding a job. He has been employed by a janitorial company for the past seven years. Brandon also visits Partners in Recovery to provide encouragement to current participants and share his personal story.
Persons wishing to attend the GADD, sponsor a table, advertise in the event program, donate auction items or otherwise support Catholic Charities can contact Leslie Anne Alpaugh at 609-394-5181, ext. 1154 or email: [email protected].