On a beautiful Oct. 14 evening, more than 350 Lunch Break supporters and friends came together at the newly opened Park Loft at Fort Monmouth to honor some of Lunch Break’s devoted benefactors at the 2022 Fall Gala “Renew the Promise of Hope.”
The glittering evening was hosted by area favorite actress and producer Siobhan Fallon Hogan, who is well-known for her roles in films and TV including “Men in Black,” “Forrest Gump” and “Seinfeld.”
The gala committee, co-chaired by Mimi Keenan and Tina Pflaster, coordinated the fall harvest theme as a symbolic nod to Lunch Break’s nutritious food service programs.
The evening of dining and dancing included music from the NJ Symphony Players and DJ Tay, along with the culinary creations of Park Loft Chef Thomas Schoborg. There was also an exciting live auction with wonderful items like get-away jaunts to Vermont and Costa Rica; dinner in a trendy Manhattan restaurant; tickets to the Metropolitan Opera and to Charlie Puth at the Count Basie Center for Arts and Education. Guests also supported vital Lunch Break programs as part of the “Make A Difference” sponsorships.
The evening also included compelling testimonials from clients such as Christina Lane and Amanda Yuhas – each of whom was facing homelessness, financial burdens and other challenging circumstances – and received temporary housing, guidance and life skills, and financial and employment counseling from Lunch Break’s Life Skills and Family Promise of Monmouth County programs.
“My husband, Peter, organized the first Lunch Break Gala in 2009, and I am so honored to host this fall’s event. Lunch Break is a fantastic place that serves the community in a loving and much-needed fashion. It is a class-act organization helping those in need learn the skills to make better lives for themselves,” said Fallon Hogan. “They’re purely doing God’s work!”
This year’s honorees included Jeremy Grunin, president of the Grunin Foundation and the Grunin Group; Dr. Thomas and Bonnie Johnson; Jamie Giovinazzo, founder of Eat Clean Bro, and Paul Sansone Jr., owner of Sansone Jr.’s 66 Automall.
Grunin received the Norma Todd Service Award. For more than 10 years as president of the Grunin Foundation, Jeremy has been a proactive grant-maker focused on economic growth at the central Jersey Shore. The Grunin Foundation supports organizations that implement projects in the arts, education and healthcare, initiatives that must drive economic excellence, have a measurable impact. Over the years, the foundation has supported Lunch Break resource center through operational and capital assistance.
Dr. Thomas and Bonnie Johnson received the Heart to Hand Award. Tom and Bonnie Johnson have more than a decade-long affiliation with Lunch Break. Bonnie joined the Board of Trustees in 2011 and chaired the first-ever capital fundraising campaign. Tom become the Budgeting and Expense monitor. They have since applied their wisdom and experience in the current capital campaign. The longtime Red Bank residents continuously improve the services Lunch Break offers to the community.
Jamie Giovinazzo, founder of Eat Clean Bro, is the recipient of the Corporate Platinum Partner Award. Giovinazzo’s mission for Eat Clean Bro is improving people’s health and happiness by giving them nutritious eating options. Thanks to their delicious fresh, never frozen meals, Eat Clean Bro is one of the most successful, privately owned, meal-prep companies in the country. Each month, Eat Clean Bro donates thousands of meals to local food banks, including Lunch Break, and Giovinazzo is often seen behind the grill cooking for friends and serving meals at company-sponsored events.
Paul Sansone Jr., owner, Sansone Jr’s 66 Automall, received the Corporate Platinum Partner Award. Sansone has been a major New Jersey auto dealerships for nearly four decades. He created the “Hope for a Ride” program. Sansone’s 66 Automall partners with local nonprofit organizations, such as Lunch Break and has donated nearly 50 vehicles to local families and individuals in need of reliable transportation. In a recent pay-it-forward moment, one “Hope for a Ride” recipient, who became able to afford a new vehicle for herself, donated her “Hope” car to another person in need. Sansone’s dealerships also participate in the “Basket Brigade,” which contributes hundreds of meals to families in need during the holiday season. His wife of 30 years, Christine, is the dealership’s TV and radio spokesperson.
Proceeds from the gala will be used to sustain the food, clothing, outreach, mentoring Life Skills and Family Promise programs and services critical to so many individuals and families in the community who continue to be impacted by the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Executive Director Gwendolyn O. Love sincerely thanks all the honorees and Fallon Hogan along with the many supporters, organizations and businesses, the board, volunteers and staff for all they do to ensure Lunch Break remains an invaluable resource for our food- and financially insecure community members.
Lunch Break is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit and accepts donations online at LunchBreak.org or at its headquarters, 121 Drs. James Parker Blvd. in Red Bank. Follow Lunch Break on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Photos courtesy of Suzanne Vreeland Photography