He makes a difference for homeless
Ray Chimileski, a Califon resident and member of S1. Luke’s R.C. Church in Washington Township, was among several people honored recently at the 2008 Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference ceremony held at Ramapo College.
The Berrie Foundation pays tribute to the state’s unsung heroes for acts of community service.
Investigating a rumor of three homeless Vietnam veterans living under a railroad trestle in Dover, Chimileski found a dozen men living under an outcropping of rock, without basic winter clothing.
That year, Operation Chillout was launched as an interfaith, grassroots coalition of volunteers dedicated to easing the burden of homeless people throughout northern New Jersey.
Last December, 60 Operation Chillout volunteers delivered 600 duffel bags to the homeless and 75 gift bags to battered women.
Chimileski is hoping to create a nonprofit organization to expand his work.
He was one of 19 finalists selected by a committee comprised of eminent business leaders and professionals from around the state. Cash awards of $2,500 each were presented to the finalists.
Established in 1997 by the late Russell Berrie and administered by Ramapo College of New Jersey, the Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference honors Garden State residents for their unselfish dedication to serving others.
The Russell Berrie Foundation — named in 2001 as the Outstanding Foundation by the Association for Fundraising Professionals (New Jersey Chapter) provided monetary awards of $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000 to the top three winners.
“Through this award, we honor the contributions of people who don’t seek recognition for what they do, yet generously give of themselves to make the world a better place,” said Angelica Berrie of Englewood, president of The Russell Berrie Foundation.
Angelica Berrie also serves as Worldwide Chair of Gilda’s Club, a free support community for men, women and children living with cancer, their families and friends.
She heads the Russell Berrie Foundation in its work to foster continUity and enrichment of Jewish communal life, support issues of health, either research or treatment, with emphasis on diabetes and humanism in medicine, and recognize individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others.
Russ Berrie founded Russ Berrie and Co. Inc. in 1963, and over 40 years built the business into one of the world’s premier gift companies. He also devoted energy and resources to numerous charitable causes.