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Princeton Family YMCA's Ninth Annual Centennial Awards October 27

Six to be lauded for their commitment to developing youth on Thursday evening, October 27th at the YMCA.


PRINCETON -   On Tuesday evening, October 27, 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm in the Princeton Family YMCA's Dodge Gymnasium, the YMCA will honor five individuals and one institution for their commitment to youth development in the Princeton region and beyond, as part of the ninth annual Centennial Awards program.  Each year, the Y selects a theme that corresponds to one of its three areas of focus:  youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. 


This year's reception will recognize the work of a Princeton University sociologist and researcher; the creator of a scholarship foundation that funds Pell grant eligible student's tuition; a long-time dedicated high school social worker; a Princeton resident and youth group leader committed to engaging neighborhood youth; a Montgomery resident committed to mentoring and equitable educational opportunities, and lastly an institution providing equal opportunities and safe athletic programming and spaces for children with special needs.


"The Y is a leading voice on youth development.  To bring about meaningful change, we know that individuals need ongoing encouragement and tools," said Prashanth "PJ" Jayachandran, YMCA board member and co-chair of this year's Centennial Awards.  He added, "The YMCA is one of the organizations that, day-in and day-out, provides resources we all need and we work to make sure every child has what they need to achieve their very best."


"We are truly honored to highlight the good works of these terrific people who have dedicated their lives to developing youth – and look forward to promoting a larger conversation of what our community can do to make sure that each child has the same access to opportunities and resources in our area," adds Cameron Manning, a fellow board member and co-chair of this year's event. 


The awards presentation is conducted entirely by young people involved with YMCA programs.  The teens serve as the program's moderators and present the awards.  Before the event, each presenter interviews his or her honoree and learns about his work, passions, and accomplishments that have shaped his or her character.  This year's presenters are Lucynda Amo, age 14, Princeton; Nicholas Borghi, age 17, Dayton; Evelyn Kirby, age 11, Lawrence; Tazee Mahjied, age 14, Trenton; Kimberly Rojas, age 16, Princeton; and Sophia Sharpless, age 17, Montgomery. 


The event provides a lively night for a good cause.  "There's really nothing quite like this event," Ms. Manning explains, "because our young presenters bring such a unique perspective.  By talking one-on-one in advance with their respective honoree, each presenter gains a bit of insight into what motivates a successful adult to do what she or he does.  And more often than not, our honorees learn a few things about themselves in the conversation.  There is lots of learning and surprises for everyone."


The evening features an open bar, a buffet of heavy hors d'ouevres catered by Mediterra and the Terra Momo Bread Co., and a silent auction, co-chaired by Nikki Sciotto of Morristown and Ruth Wells of Princeton, which offers a variety of fun and interesting items.  Sponsorship opportunities are still available.  Individual tickets are available for $135 each.  For more information, please contact Denise Soto, Development and Communications Director at 609-497-9622 x209 or visit the website at


The 2016 honorees are:


Robert O. Carr, Princeton

Creator and founder of the Give Something Back Foundation

YMCA Presenter:  Lucynda Amo, Princeton High School


Thomas J. Espenshade, Princeton

Princeton University sociologist, educator and researcher

YMCA Presenter: Sophia Sharpless, Montgomery High School


Tonie Forbes, Esq, Montgomery

Community advocate, mentor to youth and attorney

Tazee Mahjied: Princeton Day School


Lenora Keel
Social Worker, Princeton High School

YMCA Presenter: Kimberly Rojas, Princeton High School


Joanne Parker

Youth Leader with the First Baptist Church of Princeton

YMCA Presenter:  Evelyn Kirby, John Witherspoon Middle School


Princeton Special Sports

A volunteer-driven organization providing children with opportunities to play youth sports in an environment tailored to their special needs and abilities

YMCA Presenter: Nicholas Borghi, South Brunswick School


About the Y

The Y is one of the nation's leading nonprofit strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  Across the U.S., 2,687 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation's health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

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