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21st annual Volley For SERV raises $35K

With the common mission of supporting SERV’s 21st annual Volley For SERV Tennis Tournament fundraiser, area tennis players, honorees, SERV board members and staff, volunteers and special guests arrived at Cherry Valley Country Club in Skillman on June 20 to help raise money for SERV Foundation programs.

This year’s event saw an increase in tennis players and reception guests from recent years and an ever-present enthusiasm for this first-class tournament, as it is known in the tennis community.

Volley For SERV (VFS) raised $35,028, which includes $8,522 from the Super Cash Raffle, according to Keith V. Hamilton, Vice President of Community Relations. These funds will help support the work of The SERV Foundation, which includes the Scholarship Fund, the annual Recovery NJ Conference and many more special projects for our consumers recovering from and coping with severe mental illnesses and/or developmental disabilities.

Tournament play began at 10 a.m. with 74 players registered. The champions and finalists were:

Women’s A: Gwen Guidice & Louise Gengler / Regan Tuerff & Kim Vine.

Women’s B: Mother/daughter team Liz Christian & Brittany Christian / Yvonne Boyle & Nell Geiger.

Men’s A: Jim Coalitsas & Ben Branche / Dave Levi & Mac Kyle.

Men’s B: Charlie Villano & Tom Caruso / Ted Golfinopoulos & David Whiting.

Mixed B: Kim Vine & Steve Lin / Sena Camper & Barry Szaferman (honoree).

Pros: Jon Rubenstein & Matt Pierson / Ray Kaplan & Mike Ehrenberg.

All of the finals were called by VFS committee member Brad Werner, owner of Pennsbury Racquet & Athletic Club in Morrisville, Pa.

The champions from each division received plaques featuring photos of each team, which were presented during the evening reception by special guest presenter Jill Fonte, president of USTA Middle States.

During the reception, nearly 140 attendees strolled among the 53 silent auction baskets before sitting down to a sumptuous dinner of sushi, carved filet mignon and turkey, and exquisite desserts.

The presentation of awards to honorees began with a bittersweet remembrance of the late Lou Natale, Jr., a good friend of SERV who passed away in December 2010. Lou had participated in every Volley For SERV since its beginning 21 years ago, and was a steadfast supporter as an individual and through his company, Ritchie & Page Distribution Co. in Trenton.   Lou’s longtime friend Paul Kramer, who asked Charlie Villano and Don Loff to join him at the podium, gave a heartfelt speech about their friend and Lou’s love of tennis and philanthropy. Together, they presented a crystal Legacy Award to Lou’s wife Pat Natale and Lou’s son Chris Natale. They also announced the inauguration of the Lou Natale Players Award to be given that night and at future tournaments.

Receiving the Lou Natale Players award from SERV President and CEO Gary van Nostrand was Barry Szaferman, a managing partner in the law firm, Szaferman Lakind Blumstein & Blader in Lawrence. Barry has played in the VFS tournament for the last 15 years and has been a generous individual donor as well as a sponsor through his firm.

The first SERVice Award, recognizing a current or past SERV board member for his/her demonstrated leadership and commitment to the mission of SERV, was presented to Edith Savage-Jennings. Mrs. Savage-Jennings, a civil rights activist for seven decades, devoted 8 years to the board of the Center for Innovative Family Achievements (now SERV Achievement Centers) beginning one year after CIFA opened in 1987. She has many honors to her name, including being inducted into the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Sadly, she was unable to attend the ceremony because of the death of her husband, Donald Jennings, the day preceding the event. Her award was accepted by her friend, Pamela Sims Jones, a VFS committee member and chairperson of the N.J. Coretta Scott King Humanitarian Group, of which Mrs. Savage-Jennings is responsible for forming in Trenton.

The fourth award was given to Ann LoPrinzi, a tennis columnist for The Times of Trenton. Ann was presented a Media Award for the press coverage she has given Volley For SERV over the past two decades.

The evening’s festivities also included the drawing of the Super Cash Raffle tickets. The lucky first-place winner of $7,340 was Lawrenceville resident James Springer, who generously donated a portion of his winnings back to the SERV Foundation and to two other area charitable organizations. Mr. Springer is married to Judy Springer and they have two sons, Chris, a student at Notre Dame High School, and Gavin, a student at TCNJ. The second Cash Raffle prize of $1,835 went to Mark Dombroski.

With any successful fundraiser, committee members play a critical role. Those who donated their time to making VFS another first-rate event included VFS Chairman and SERV Foundation board member Ted Golfinopoulos; SERV Foundation Board Chairman Ward Bauman; board members Richard Anderson and Bill Rue Jr.; honorees Ann LoPrinzi, Edith Savage-Jennings and Barry Szaferman; Foundation staff members Keith V. Hamilton, Ida Doolan and Lisa Gerth; Beth Deitchman, Paul Kramer, Pamela Sims Jones, Brad Werner, Rick White and David Whiting. All were instrumental in securing sponsors, players, silent auction items and reception guests.

Many thanks to all our volunteers who helped the SERV Foundation staff with the numerous details before, during and after the event.