It was a day to honor senior citizens.
The 37th Annual Senior Essex County Outstanding Senior Citizen Awards featured four Newark seniors, two Bloomfield seniors and one each from Montclair and Roseland at a luncheon.
More than 200 Essex County senior citizens filled the Chandelier Restaurant in Belleville last week to see members of the county's various senior clubs recognized for dedication and commitment, according to county officials.
Each honoree was escorted in to praise by county officials, and each shared a dance as part of the festivities. A band played songs and the women wore corsages given by the county, then the seniors were treated to lunch.
The women and men interviewed all agreed that giving back to their fellow seniors was reward enough, and each received effusive praise from officials. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said, "We talk about putting Essex County first, and we also put seniors first."
"Volunteering is so important in making Essex County the best county there is," said Patricia Sebold, Essex County Freeholder Vice President.
As the eight honorees lined up for their individual introductions at the luncheon, they joked about being introduced in the proper order and could be heard talking about the highlights of their clubs' year.
The honorees each told the story of his or her club and the depth of the involvement and dedication:
- Jean Goardano of Bloomfield is a member of the Belleville Park Monday Club. She was called a "contentious" member of the club for more than eight years, and said she is happy to volunteer for all affairs.
- Eufemia Santos of Montclair is a member of the Belleville Park Thursday Club. She was called "a caring individual," well-liked by the members, and said she enjoys interacting with everyone.
- Constantino "Buddy" Melillo of Newark is a member of the Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossom Club. He is said to have earned his nickname by being "very dependable, and is "a very young 88-years-young," officials said.
- Lucy Garau of Newark is a member of the Independence Park Monday Club. She was thanked for taking over bingo games and Atlantic City trips when someone fell ill and lauded for her "pleasing personality."
- Evelyn Maresca of Newark is a member of the Independence Park Friday Club. She was called "congenial, pleasant and caring," and said she takes special pride in working with seniors from Rome Street in Newark.
- Fransisca Bonilla of Newark is a member of the North Ward Center Casa Israel. Mention of her Puerto Rican ancestry, 16 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren drew applause from the crowd, and she is especially well-known for her cooking.
- Kenneth Scheutz of Roseland is a member of the Roseland Senior Citizens. He has lived a half century in Roseland and served his community on the Board of Adjustment. He is known for displaying model ships he has built.
- Beverly D. Monahan of Bloomfield is a member of the Watsessing Park Tuesday Club. She was recognized for "great attitude" and going beyond her duties to help others.