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Care Plus NJ, Inc.

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Courage Awards Gala Provides a Night of Celebration and Hope, Along with a Few Tears

The Venetian in Garfield provided an elegant backdrop for the guests and honorees at the Care Plus Foundation 14th Annual Courage Awards Gala. Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler, Bergen County Freeholder David Ganz, HOMECorp, and scholarship recipients were honored at the fundraiser which raised over $100,000.

Paramus, NJ, June 16, 2012 --( It was hard to find a dry eye 14th Annual Courage Awards Gala presented by the Care Plus Foundation on Tuesday night. Honorees, scholarship recipients, and special guests each played a role in sharing stories of lives turned around, and celebrated the successes of those that that help and were helped.

The Venetian in Garfield provided an elegant backdrop for the guests and honorees, including Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler, Bergen County Freeholder David Ganz, and Homes of Montclair Ecumenical Corp (HOMECorp). From the meet and greet reception with Miss America, to a duet featuring 13-year old client Samira Chapman and Kaeppeler, and an appearance by Paramus-native and NY Knicks announcer Spero Dedes, guests were treated to a night that will not soon be forgotten.

Over $100,000 was raised through the generosity of supporters who enjoyed prizes that included over $20,000 in diamond jewelry donated by Devon Fine Jewelry of Wyckoff, a silent auction, tricky tray, and a 50/50 cash raffle.

Miss America mingled with guests, graciously posing for photos and engaging in conversation. She was described as, “a humble and down-to-earth, genuinely nice person.”

“Last night's Courage Awards Gala was pure magic! Every person who attended left with a renewed feeling of hope and inspiration,” stated Mary Ann Uzzi, chairperson of the Foundation. “Our hearts were touched by the personal story of one of our scholarship recipients, as well as the touching duet with Samira and Laura. The humble acceptance comments from our honorees certainly spoke to the plights of those affected by mental illness and the good work being done on their behalf.”

One of the nine Bernard Dubnick Scholarship recipients, Virginia Araoz, shared her story of a life that few can imagine, and how she had the courage to seek help. “I want people to know that it is OK to seek help for mental health issues. It is not weakness, but self-awareness and desire to improve.” She will be attending Seton Hall University.

Joe Masciandaro, president and CEO of Care Plus NJ, Inc. who introduced Freeholder Ganz, noted he was a “long-time friend and supporter of Care Plus, and of people in need throughout Bergen County.” Masciandaro also shared, “In a time during which we hear the public discourse, even over the most obvious social needs, it is most important to recognize an individual whose public and private careers are marked by his dedication to the good of the public, and by compassion for the less fortunate.”

Board member Gunter Hecht summed up the event by saying, “Joe (Masciandaro) always said, ‘we created this out of nothing.’ Look what ‘nothing’ has become. The Gala is a way to raise funds to support our clients, to educate those who are not aware, and to counter the stigma of mental illness…while having a good time as well.”

The Courage Awards Gala, now in its 14th year, honors and celebrates individuals, groups, and corporations who work tirelessly on behalf of others facing the daily and life-long challenges of mental illness and substance abuse. It represents the organization’s largest fundraising event.

Photos from the event can be seen at the Foundation’s Facebook page:

About Care Plus Foundation
The Care Plus Foundation – a supporting arm of Care Plus NJ – was created with a mission to decrease the stigma of mental illness and pave the way to accessibility of care for those looking to seek help. As a 501c(3) non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible in accordance with Federal and State regulations.
Contact Information
Care Plus NJ, Inc.
Caryl Felicetta

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