ELIZABETH – A nursing student at Union County College and the Richmond Towers Senior Citizens Complex in Plainfield have been named the recipients of the inaugural Ann Baran Sponsorship Fund awards, established by the board of trustees of Community Access Unlimited (CAU) in Elizabeth to honor the former Union County manager, vice president of Trinitas Hospital and CAU board member.
The fund was established to honor and celebrate Baran’s life by supporting individuals and organizations that most closely embody her values and beliefs, including: trust, honesty and integrity; personal development; individual choice and responsibility; contribution to community; diversity; and collaboration and mentoring, according to its guidelines. The fund invests in individuals, groups and organizations seeking to strengthen themselves and their contributions to society.
Jacqueline Monroy of Rahway will receive a $5,000 scholarship for use in paying for her college tuition and related costs. Monroy is a sophomore at UCC and is enrolled in the school’s nursing program with plans to pursue a master’s degree in nursing and to focus on neo-natal care.
Monroy works a full-time job as a compliance officer at a home health care businesses and a part-time job as a volleyball coach for 14-year-old girls to pay for her tuition. The award will allow her to cut back on work hours, devote more time to her studies and move closer to her goal of helping others, she said.
“It’s a struggle for parents to see their kids in that situation,” she said of neo-natal intensive care. “I love kids, so to be able to help them at this most vulnerable time is amazing to me.”
Monroy, whose mother and aunt are nurses, heard her calling to nursing when she was playing volleyball, a player had a seizure and she reacted to minimize danger to the individual. Despite her demanding schedule, she remains passionate about athletics and committed to coaching.
“Being part of a team is the best part of being an athlete,” she said. “As young girls, they have the opportunity to grow and help each other. It helps them in so many aspects of their lives.”
The $1,500 award to the Richmond Towers Senior Complex was awarded to Hattie Williams, a complex resident, president of the residents association and a commissioner of the Plainfield Housing Authority. In coordination with the authority’s Self Sufficiency Program and its director, Eric Graham, Williams will establish a wellness/exercise program for complex residents.
“This program will give them something to look forward to each day,” said Williams, a retired nurse. “It will get them out of the sitting mode. Most have some form of disability.”
Williams also sees the program as part of larger effort to ensure that residents are fully aware of the variety of county services available to them.
“A lot of them have no family,” she said. “This program will teach them where to go (for services), to be self-sufficient.”
Williams knew Baran and is honored to be an inaugural recipient of an award named in her honor.
“I hope I can live up to what Ann did for her community and neighborhood,” she said. “Union County is very unique. It’s like a wheel. I envision all the services being the spokes. She was one of the people who kept the wheel lubricated.”
Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi is chairwoman of the Ann Baran Sponsorship Fund, which will fund the annual awards.
“Ann was a very dear friend, one of my best friends,” Rajoppi said.
“She had a fabulous sense of humor, a sense of fun you don’t always see in adults. She also has a great deal of insight and intellect. This fund will resonate her memory with people who knew her as well as with those who didn’t.”
“People live and die every day,” said Sid Blanchard, CAU executive director. “Only a few of us have the honor and privilege of our life’s work to have it continue after our death. Ann is one of those people. Our two inaugural recipients of this award also exemplify many of the traits that made Ann such an impactful person, such as mentoring and personal development.”
Baran was Union County manager from 1990 to 1997 and deputy county manager from 1988 to 1990. She also served as director of operations for the Gateway Institute for Regional Development at Kean University and vice president of community and government relations of Trinitas Hospital, now Trinitas Regional Medical Center.
She was a member of the CAU board of trustees and upon her death the board decided to ensure that Baran’s spirit remained alive through this fund.
The Ann Baran Sponsorship Fund was established in 2008 to honor Baran after her death in 2006 from cancer. The fund is financed by private donations.
Hattie Williams (second from left), president of the residents association at the Richmond Towers Senior Complex in Plainfield, and Jacqueline Monroy (center), a nursing student at Union County College, were the recipients of the inaugural Ann Baran Sponsorship Fund awards, established by the board of trustees of Community Access Unlimited (CAU) in Elizabeth to honor the former Union County manager. Williams and Monroy were congratulated by Sid Blanchard (left), CAU executive director; Joanne Rajoppi, Union County clerk; and Baran’s husband, Francis Baran.
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