Jefferson Awards Recognize Excellence in Volunteerism

April 23, 2013

From the EMT to the T-ball coach, New Jersey is full of volunteers who spend countless hours helping to improve their communities.  The State of New Jersey, in fact, puts the number somewhere around 1.5 million, with these volunteers giving more than 170 million hours of their time each year.

While most volunteers do their work without care for honors or recognition, there is in fact an award for those who truly go above and beyond in serving the public good.

The New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service “honor(s) individual or group volunteer efforts that achieve measurable community impact and represent outstanding acts of public service without the expectation of recognition or compensation.”

The Community Foundation of New Jersey proudly works with its partners in the Governor’s Office on Volunteerism and the Star-Ledger to administer the program.

The award is actually the marriage of two previous programs.  Until four years ago, the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Volunteerism was separate and distinct from the National Jefferson Awards.  Now combined, the program maintains its local focus while heralding the achievements of the state’s top volunteers in Washington, DC.

In recent years, well over 1,000 New Jerseyans have been nominated for the awards each year.  Nominations may be made in categories ranging from emergency services and health care to education, the environment, or the arts.  With more than 20 categories in all, the program has honored men and women serving both at home and abroad, responding courageously in the wake of natural disasters, and empowering the next generation of citizens and volunteers.  This year will also include an award recognizing those who made a meaningful difference in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Four CFNJ staff members are among the roughly 30 judges who are reviewing nominations and rating them numerically.  Each of this year’s approximately 1,200 nominations is read by no less than three judges.

Winners will be recognized at a ceremony at the Newark Museum on June 4th.  A select few will also travel to Washington, DC in late June to represent New Jersey at the National Jefferson Awards.

In keeping with Thomas Jefferson’s vision for a nation of “informed and involved” citizens, the program effectively inspires and activates public service in communities across the country.  Just as importantly, it shines a light on the myriad ways in which New Jerseyans are lending a hand and making an impact.

For more information on the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service, visit their website by clicking here.