Otober 29, 2020 - Tri-County Scholarship Fund raised a record-breaking $2 million in scholarship funds through its 39th Annual Awards Celebration on October 26, the organization’s first virtual event, livestreamed to over 1,200 guests, friends and supporters. Fulfilling the mission of Tri-County, the scholarships will go to financially disadvantaged Kindergarten - 12th grade students in Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties so they can obtain quality, values-based educations at accredited private elementary and secondary schools.
This year's virtual gala honored three distinguished members of the New Jersey community. The Hall of Fame Award was presented to Mr. John Howard, Chairman and CEO of Truist Insurance Holdings who was introduced by Mr. Paul Krump, Vice Chair of Chubb Group, Global Underwriting and Claims. The Leadership Award was presented to Trish O’Keefe, President of Morristown Medical Center, who was introduced by Mr. Brian Gragnolati , CEO of Atlantic Heath System. The annual Making A Difference Award was presented to Bob and Sue Sameth, multi-decade supporters of Tri-County Scholarship Fund, who were introduced by Fr. Brian Sullivan, Pastor of the Church of Christ the King in New Vernon where the Sameths have been parishioners for 45 years.
The Most Reverend Kevin Sweeney, Bishop of Paterson, offered the evening’s invocation, and introduced the featured student speaker, Tri-County Scholarship recipient and Paterson resident, Guadalupe Aguilar, Mary Help of Christians Academy high school senior, and Senior Class President. After her moving speech, Guadalupe was presented with the new “Bishop Kevin Sweeney Tri-County Scholarship.”
Dozens of Tri-County students and their families tuned in to view the event celebrating the 56 Tri-County partner schools that all opened for the school year with safe social distancing and COVID health precautions.
Celebrity athlete appearances were made by past Tri-County Scholarship recipient, Tim Thomas, Paterson Catholic graduate, Villanova basketball star, and NBA star, by NY Jets Quarterback Sam Darnold, and by Jared Stroud, current # 8 midfielder on the NY Red Bulls soccer team.
“A highlight of the evening was the $100,000 challenge donation from an anonymous donor that was matched by donors texting their support from home, via their cell phones,” said Prudence Pigott, President of Tri-County Scholarship Fund. “The need for scholarships is particularly great this year, as the COVID pandemic has caused many inner-city families to lose their jobs and small businesses. We are thrilled and grateful to our outstanding event honorees and to our generous supporters who answered this need with their exceptional donations.”
Remarked honoree John Howard, “My wife Fran and I have been pleased to support this great cause and to witness the accomplishments of the Tri-County scholarship students as they go to college and careers.” John and Fran Howard, as well as 2020 honorees Bob and Sue Sameth, are Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, a 900 year old Catholic lay religious order dedicated to helping the poor and the sick. Honoree, Trish O’Keefe is a graduate of DePaul Catholic High School. O’Keefe and Morristown Medical Center have a long history of supporting Tri-County Scholarship Fund and introducing scholarship students to career opportunities in the healthcare field.
For the current school year Tri-County Scholarship Fund has awarded over 720 scholarships for financially disadvantaged Kindergarten – 12th grade students to attend 56 different partner schools. This includes $500,000 in Emergency scholarships for families hard hit by the COVID crisis. Over the past 39 years, $32 million has been raised by the organization to fund more than 33,000 scholarships awarded to needy children. Scholarship recipients have gone on to the top colleges in New Jersey and throughout the country.
"While Tri-County was able to fund scholarships for 720 students this school year, we have another 2,000 students still on the waiting list,” said Tri-County trustee and event Co-chair Marc Adee, CEO of Crum and Forster. “By helping one child at a time, we can create an enormous ripple effect, touching the family, the community, and improving the lives of generations to come."