Hometown Heroes awards honor the ‘quiet power of service’

Newton. U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer honored Mike Richards, Kyle Sander, Julia Decker, Kyle Wilson, Laura Mickley, Allen Meisenkothen, Tony Gallopo, and Brian Ford.

Newton /
| 16 Jul 2021 | 08:22

U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) honored local first responders, veterans, students, life-saving bystanders, volunteers, Scouts, community leaders, and residents during his Fifth District Hometown Heroes Ceremony, held July 9 at the Hackensack Performing Arts Center.

Awards were presented to more than 60 Fifth District residents to recognize their dedication to improving the lives of their neighbors.

“We are lucky to have so many unsung heroes in our communities, whose quiet power of service goes on every day without the recognition they truly deserve,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “They just do it because they care.”

The Hometown Heroes were all nominated by community leaders, including elected officials, nonprofit and faith leaders, friends, family members, first responders, and neighbors.

“These individuals come from all walks of life, but they all share an idea that is particularly special: they embody our Jersey values and make our community such a special place to live, work, and raise a family,” Gottheimer said.

The honorees from Sussex County are:

● Mike Richards and Kyle Sander of Frankford, the Sussex County Fairgrounds manager and groundskeeper, respectively, who served as the backbone for their community’s vaccination site by shoveling snow and caring for volunteers. Their efforts ensured that their neighbors were able to receive these life-saving shots.

Julia Decker of Green Township, a junior at Newton High School who partnered with Love Without Boundaries to raise money for orphaned and vulnerable children suffering from cleft lip or palate in China and Cambodia. After an anonymous donor sponsored her lip repair surgery when she was a three-and-a-half, Julia was motivated to give back.

Kyle Wilson of Lafayette, a dedicated, live-saving medical practitioner who serves as the Assistant Manager at the Emergency Department of Newton medical Center and as a mobile intensive care nurse for Hunterdon Medical Center and Atlantic Mobile Health.

Laura Mickley of Montague, the director of Norwescap Child and Family Resources Services who has been on the front lines of child care for 16 years, providing invaluable support to families and providers across northern New Jersey. Throughout the pandemic, she stepped up to address the emerging needs of her community by providing essential childcare to frontline workers who had to put their lives on the line for all of us.

Allen Meisenkothen of Michela Sales & Madison Sales in Sussex Borough, who noticed smoke at a nearby home and called 911, knowing there was an elderly wheelchair-bound resident inside. Allen ran into the home to rescue the elderly resident, wheeled them outside, and then ran back inside to save the resident’s dog as well.

● Tony Gallopo of Newton (posthumous), a Navy veteran who served as vice commander of the New Jersey American Legion and Commander of Post 86 in Newton, was instrumental in the fight to open the Northwestern Jersey community’s first Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic, boosting in-person psychiatric care at the clinic, and ensuring local veterans could access the care they deserved.

Brian Ford of Newton — has served as a recovery coach at the Center for Prevention and Counseling since 2017, where he works with individuals seeking treatment and recovery support — following his own struggle with addiction. Throughout his career, he’s worked in law enforcement, addiction counseling, and as a wellness coach.