Hoboken’s Toni Tomarazzo was honored with the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award recently, with a ceremony held in front of the city’s food pantry yesterday.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Toni’s selfless dedication to address food insecurity in her community represents the very best New Jersey has to offer,” Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said in a statement.
“Along with her team of hundreds of volunteers and donors, Toni has made an indelible impact on the city of Hoboken and our state. I am grateful for Toni’s outstanding work with the Hoboken Food Pantry and am proud to honor her with the Jefferson Award.”
The HCC Board of Directors voted to recognize Tomarazzo’s efforts with a plaque to be installed on the sidewalk in front of the HFP. The HCC will be applying for a sidewalk plaque from the City of Hoboken.
According to the award’s website, “Honorees of the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award achieve measurable community impact and represent outstanding acts of public service, without the expectation of recognition or compensations. Recipients demonstrate unique vision, dedication and tenacity of heroic proportion and serve as inspiration for others.”
Dignitaries who attended the ceremony included Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-33), County Commissioner Anthony Romano (D-5), Councilwomen Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher, Hoboken Community Center Board President Kenneth Nilsen, and Hoboken Food Panty Director of Operations Chesleigh Meade.
“I could not think of a more deserving individual to be honored with the Jefferson Award than Toni Tomarazzo,” Bhalla said in a statement.
“Through Toni’s commitment and dedication, the Hoboken Food Pantry was a lifeline for residents facing food insecurity during a global pandemic.”
In less than two years, Tomarazzo has inspired over 350 engaged volunteers who worked 2,310 hours, and 1,300 partners and donors to support the HFP.
With their help, the organization has provided 18,445 bags to those in need. It also expanded its offerings to provide 100 families with non-food items such as diapers, toiletries and cleaning products biweekly.
“Toni is the most altruistic human we have ever had the privilege of knowing. If we all could be a fraction of the woman she is, imagine what our world would be like,” Fisher and Giattino added in a joint statement.
“The Jefferson awards were started by Jackie Kennedy Onassis in 1972 and are considered the Nobel Prize of volunteerism. When we saw the opportunity to nominate someone for this award, we knew it should be Toni.”
Tomarazzo and the HFP source items from the Community Food Bank of NJ, Hudson County, and other private and non-profit food resources. What the HFP is unable to use, she personally delivers to other area shelters and charitable organizations.
“The ability of the HFP to serve is due to the unwavering support provided by many individuals and organizations in our community. It has saved, for example, our senior citizens from choosing between medicine or food and has helped families keep nutritious food on the table,” she said.