Mental Health Association Dinner to Feature Community Awards Winners

May 3, 2012
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SHREWSBURY – Six area residents will be honored with special awards during the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County’s annual dinner. The dinner will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 16 at the Channel Club, 1 Channel Drive, Monmouth Beach.

The six honorees are: Dr. Sajjad A. Zaidi; Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Shawn Althouse; Howell detective Eric S. Rice; Ginger Mulligan; Joseph McCarthy; and Bonnie Jean Krecz.

Dr. Sajjad Zaidi will receive the association’s Tony Dowling Child Advocacy Award for his long-term efforts working with Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Monmouth Medical Center. He and Dowling worked side by side when the unit was begun in 1992 until Dowling passed away in 1999.

Zaidi has been responsible for managing the Monmouth Medical Center Children’s Crisis Intervention Service staff and operations; establishing an in-patient service for adolescents, including day and overnight hospitalization; and supervising multidisciplinary staff in various settings. He is the clinical assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Drexel School of Medicine and the site director for psychiatry to provide supervision and training of medical students on rotation and pediatric residents at Monmouth Medical Center for Drexel University School of Medicine and Physicians Assistants Program from UMDNJ and Seton Hall. In addition, he has a private practice of child and adolescent psychiatry and is a consulting psychiatrist to schools and to different community services.

Capt. Shawn Althouse and Eric S. Rice will be receiving the Humanitarian Award.

Althouse recently was promoted and assigned to administration and programs in the sheriff’s office. He has served as a corrections officer since 1988. As administrative lieutenant he was in charge of programs and services at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution. He coordinated tours, presentations, and programs. He also oversaw the social services, religious services, and inmate recreation departments. He also acted as liaison to and oversaw private vendors providing educational, commissary, and medical/mental health services to the inmates. He received the merit award from the Garden State Law Enforcement Officers Association for outstanding and dedicated service of which he is a founding member and, has been decorated for service above and beyond the call of duty more than once.

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Rice has served for 17 years as an outstanding juvenile officer in Howell. He has worked with hundreds of families with juveniles in crisis and other behavioral issues, working closely with the Mental Health Associa­tion’s Family Crisis Inter­vention Unit. He is the primary investigator for child abuse and sexual assault and the only non-county prosecutor’s office detective certified to conduct forensic interviews on children younger than 13. Rice is a member and past president of the Monmouth County Juvenile Officer’s Associ­ation, a member of the Monmouth County Traumatic Loss Coalition, and a board of trustee member of the Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center. He also volunteered for 27 years as a firefighter with the Middletown Township Fire Department.

Ginger Mulligan will be awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award. For 23 years she has served the Mental Health Associ­ation of Mon­mouth County as executive director, and currently volunteers her time with MHA in program development and grant writing. She is a founding board of trustee member and past chairman of Collier Services Board of Directors. She has been a member since its inception and volunteer with the Monmouth County Human Services Ad­visory Council. She serves as a volunteer for Mental Health Association of New Jersey Child Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, Mental Health Association of Monmouth County Child Advocacy Committee, and is co-chair of United Way of Monmouth County Health Impact Subcommittee. She has received numerous advocacy awards, most recently the Family Based Services Association of NJ Partnership Award and ASAH Legacy of Caring Award.

Joseph McCarthy will be honored with the Philanthropy Award. McCarthy is a retired vice president of Chase Manhattan Bank Corporation and holds an MBA degree from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He has served on the MHA Board of Directors as an officer for nine years and currently is serving as treasurer on the board of Affordable Housing Alliance. He also serves on the Sustainable Jersey Committee and the Oceanport Planning Board.

The Monarch Award, given to someone for overcoming personal adversity to achieve and pursue his or her dreams, will be given to Bonnie Jean Krecz of Keyport. Krecz, a Collier High School graduate, is attending Brookdale Community College where she is majoring in political science and psychology. In the summer she “pays it forward” by working at the Kateri Summer Program mentoring young campers with compassion and understanding. She is hoping to relocate to St. Augustine, Fla., and attend Flagler University to pursue a degree in social work.

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George Whitelaw, New Foundation board president for the MHA of Monmouth County, will be recognized along with the installation of new board members: Colleen Daly, Atlantic Highlands; Mark Firth, West Long Branch; Marybeth Kopek, Oceanport; Lori Krikorian, Rumson; Donna Loftus, Little Silver, and Justine Robertson, Rumson.

The keynote speaker for the May 16 dinner will be Jennifer Velez, commissioner of the state Department of Human Services. The Department of Human Services has the largest budget in state government with more than 15,000 employees. Approximately 75 percent of them serve as direct care workers in state-run developmental centers and psychiatric hospitals.

Velez works in partnership with the Christie Administration on initiatives including: Medicaid reform; advancing supported placement of individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness in the community; creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities; and sustaining the safety-net of services made available for N.J.’s low income individuals and families.

Velez was named first assistant child advocate in the state Office of the Child Advocate when it was created in September 2003. Previously, she served as senior associate counsel and assembly liaison in the Office of Governor’s Counsel for three administrations.

Bell Sponsor tickets for the May 16 dinner are $225 for two tickets, Monarch Sponsor tickets are $100 and individual tickets are $75 per person. Attendees are asked to RSVP online at or by calling the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County at 732-542-6422, Ext 108. Checks should be mailed to 119 Avenue at the Common, Suite 5, Shrewsbury, NJ 07702.

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