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Four youths receive YMCA Malinowski award

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Four young employees at the various branches of the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and South Amboy (MEWSA) have demonstrated dedication and service to their community just like John G. Malinowski, a former Metuchen YMCA director, once did.

And for their service the youths — Gio Spataro, Jillian Dela Cruz, Sam Marshall and Samantha Brannigan — were recipients of the John Malinowski Youth Employee Award at the YMCA’s annual dinner held on May 2 at the Pines Manor in Edison.

The Malinowski Award is named after Malinowski, who dedicated his life to service within his community and to the younger generations. He joined the Metuchen Y in 1970 and retired in 1988. He was instrumental in spearheading community efforts to assist those in need. Malinowski passed away in 2016 at age 93.

The award is presented to one outstanding youth employee at each YMCA branch and the Child Care Services division who demonstrate outstanding job performance and initiative, often going above and beyond basic requirements of their position to get the job done, according to information provided by the Y.

“Being named a Malinowski award recipient is a great honor,” said Rose Cushing, president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of MEWSA. “These individuals demonstrate a strong commitment to the Y and exemplify the YMCA core values of honesty, respect, caring and responsibility, and serve as positive role models for other youth. They can be very proud of themselves.”

Gio is the recipient of the award for the South Amboy Y. He has worked at the Y since age 17, holding many different positions and recently obtaining his personal training certification.

“My five years at the Y has been very rewarding by giving me the chance to connect with so many people and having many stories to tell and making friendships that will last a lifetime,” he said.

Jillian is the recipient of the award for the Metuchen Y. She has been swimming at the Y for 16 years. She joined the swim team in 2003 and became a swimming instructor.

“My journey at the Y began when I was 5 years old and I took swim lessons there,” she said. “I knew at that point that the Y was going to be a big part of my life.”

Sam is the recipient of the award for the Edison Y. He began his career as a wellness staff member, which led to his personal training certification.

“I love that the Y brings people together and serves as a community center in the truest sense of the word, by bringing the community together,” he said.

Samantha is the recipient of the award for Child Care Services. She started as a teacher’s assistant at the Woodbridge Early Learning Center Preschool classroom in 2015 and worked her way up to become the administrative assistant for the program.

“Working at a Y Childcare Center gives me great joy and satisfaction by providing excellent childcare services to families who might not have had that chance otherwise,” she said.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

Jillian Dela Cruz
Sam Marshall
Samantha Brannigan
Giovanni Spataro
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