National Council of Jewish Women awards scholarships

The National Council of Jewish Women, Central Jersey Section, recently awarded the Francine Scheier Memorial Scholarship to four graduating high school seniors.

The award was established in 2003 to honor the memory of the founder of the Central  Jersey section of the organization, according to a press release.

Recipients are chosen based on scholastic excellence and community service. This year’s recipients of the award and some of their achievements are:

• Taia Rossi, Matawan Regional High School, Aberdeen Township: As an adoptee, Taia traveled to her orphanage to advocate for adoption and for adoptees’ histories to be
available to them. As someone who is well acquainted with cancer victims, she advocates for the Beauty Foundation for Cancer Care.

Taia is very active with the organization’s fundraising efforts and the funds she raised cover costs that are not covered by insurance, such as wigs, child care and transportation. Taia is involved with many other organizations and intends to continue her activities while in college. She states that she “always feels she has gained more from these opportunities than the people she had the privilege to help.”

• Frank Konze, Raritan High School, Hazlet: Frank’s life in scouting began when he was a 6-year-old Cub Scout and has continued throughout his school career as he assumed more and varied responsibilities in the organization and in the community.

He assisted in the construction of a community menorah for Hazlet to display during Hanukkah. His group made blankets for children in hospitals, they enhanced the Hazlet Recreation Center’s landscaping and trails. Frank was asked to participate in color guard for Hazlet’s Memorial Day and Sept. 11 ceremonies.

In October 2018, Frank became an Eagle Scout and his project benefited one of New Jersey’s three memorial home for veterans. His scouting career has imbued him with confidence and he realizes helping others “is the best thing you can do not only for them, but for yourself as well.”

• Katrina Henriques, Marlboro High School, Marlboro: Katrina was introduced to community service by joining the Girl Scouts. She has worked for Habitat for Humanity, the Open Door Food Pantry, Ronald McDonald House and CentraState Medical Center. Her most cherished activity, however, is her work with the Monmouth County SPCA. Besides helping the program’s many events, she has taken her devotion to the organization to the next level by creating the Peaceful Pet Project.

Katrina worked with the director, behaviorists and trainers to create interactive toys and behavior modification programs for abused, neglected and surrendered animals to become more adoptable. She speaks to groups throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties and teaches people how to make the toys.

In this process she generates awareness of the organization and helps it raise funds. Katrina was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and credits her teachers, therapists, doctors and family members for their efforts, which gave her the resources to overcome her disability and contribute so much.

• Madison Scardaville, Howell High School, Howell: Madison’s loss of her father to colon cancer when she was only 4 years old has affected her choices of organizations to which she contributes her time and efforts. She has been involved with Donations for Daddy, Fighting HARD (Having A Rare Disease) and Relay for Life, all of which give assistance to cancer patients and their families.

Madison lends her vocal abilities to these organizations to raise funds and to entertain members and their families. Her activities have made her aware of the way an illness affects not only an individual, but also that person’s family. She intends to continue to entertain for these organizations while she pursues a law degree at St. John’s University.

National Council of Jewish Women is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into social action. NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families, and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms, according to the press release.