Camden – Camden County honors 11 residents for actions that reflect the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..
Among the county’s 2022 Freedom Award recipients are leaders of nonprofit groups, entrepreneurs, and the mayors of Camden and Cheselhurst. One homage is given posthumously.
The awards, established by the county in 2001, will go to:
Mark Bodroj of Sicklerville, advocate for ending the suicide epidemic among military veterans.
Bodrug, who served two tours in Afghanistan with the Marines, composed memoirs and helped create a play that illustrates the extent of suicide among veterans.
Shirley Conroy From Collingswood, founder of the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Conroy, who died in October 2021, “dedicated the last years of her life to advocating for rationale reforms to make our neighborhoods safer and supporting the work of organizations working to address the problem of gun violence in Camden,” the county said in its award announcement.
Dave Cornwell From Clementon, CEO of Friends of Clementon Food Pantry.
His organization’s first auto show in November raised more than $5,000 and a large amount of food donations for a Clementon store, where customers can select products from displays on shelves and refrigerated units.
Greg Deshilds From Cherry Hill, Executive Director of PHL Diversity at the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
DeShields promotes multicultural conventions and tourism and “ensures that a multicultural community is an integral part” of the region’s hospitality community, according to the travel bureau.
Jamila Odom garnetMayor of Chiselhurst.
The first chaplain at First Baptist Church in Chisselhurst set up a ministry, Say Yes to Life, after her first husband was murdered in Camden in 2004. The county said he supports people who have had similar experiences and shows them that life goes on after a tragedy.
Value Lipa Martinez From Camden, he is a member of the Camden City School District Advisory Board for the state-run school district.
In addition to his role on the school board, Leyba-Martinez started the East Camden Youth Baseball League in 2019 which now has eight teams and a waiting list of thirty youngsters.
Diane Mackenzie Atco, who leads a group dedicated to helping young girls.
In 2011 McKenzie founded Rubies and Pearls, which has mentored more than 130 girls ages 5-18 through teaching, counseling, and other services.
Marla Myers From Cherry Hill, Executive Director of Samost Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Southern New Jersey.
Myers helps an estimated 10,000 people each year, with new initiatives including programs on suburban drug addiction and teen suicide prevention. I have also overseen the purchase, renovation and opening of a building providing family assistance and food pantry in Cherry Hill.
Nichelle Peace Camden, Vice Chair of the Camden Business Association.
The boycott announcement said Pace is an advocate for small businesses and businesses run by women, veterans and minorities. Among other accomplishments, it has launched a series of workshops and consultations to help small businesses with branding and digital marketing.
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Isis WilliamsMember of the Board of Directors of Haddon Township School.
Residents of West Collingswood Heights lead the Haddon Township Equity Initiative. The nonprofit hosted its first-ever Pride Parade this year as part of a three-day event that included a fair and a party.
Victor Karstarvin, Mayor of Camden.
The county announcement said Karstarfen was “investing in top centers, creating sporting and recreational opportunities, increasing access to a vaccine” and other initiatives.
Carstarphen, a former star and then coach of the Camden High School basketball team, was appointed mayor in March 2021 and is seeking election to a full term in this year’s general election.
The 2022 Medal of Freedom is expected to be presented to the county on February 24, and postponed from January 20 due to public health concerns.
Jim Walsh covers public safety, economic development, and other tunes for the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times, and The Daily Journal.
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