The 13th Annual Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club Community Awards Dinner will be held on March 8 at Lucien’s Distinctive Catering in Berlin. Rubab Sameer Sarfraz and Bill Walenda will be honored as Voorhees Citizens of the Year. Deputy Mayor Michelle Nocito will be honored as the Voorhees Business Person of the Year. Diya Shyam will be honored as the Selfless Student of the Year.
Rubab Sameer Sarfraz has been a Voorhees resident since 2013 and is an active member of the Pakistan American Society of South Jersey, having served as an Executive Committee member. She is also a member of the Pakistan American Congress and, through these associations, has worked tirelessly to support those in need. For the past five years, Rubab has been instrumental in raising donations for the homeless in Camden County and, through her involvement with the Pakistan American Society of South Jersey, has connected with outreach programs for people in need, primarily in Camden County.
Bill Walenda, his wife, Kelly, and their three children have lived in Voorhees since 1996. Bill and Kelly have coached youth soccer, basketball and baseball. Bill owns gyms in both New Jersey and Illinois. Six years ago, Bill began helping at Hope United Methodist Church Food Pantry, providing meals to almost 50 families monthly.He hoped to increase the number of families helped and his efforts included shopping for food, record keeping, ordering food from the Food Bank of South Jersey, receiving food deliveries and stocking shelves. With the onset of the COVID pandemic, the food needs for many families became dire and the Hope United Methodist Food Pantry was serving close to 420 families monthly. During the month of November 2021, the Food Pantry distributed over 25,000 pounds of food to needy families. During this time of need, Bill and the other volunteers were also providing companionship, support and love while always treating the people they served with dignity,respect and friendliness.
Michelle Nocito and her husband Jason have been residents of Voorhees Township for over 17 years. Michelle is a Principal Partner at CapWealth and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, having served as past Vice President for PNC Services and as a Managing Director at Ameriprise. Michelle is passionate about collaborating with women and helping them pursue financial strength and independence. She recognizesthe realities they face such as gender gaps, lower wages and career brakes. In 2021, Michelle created a department known as Ms. Money within her firm to create a community for women by women, forging a path to provide maximum choices and opportunities in life.
Michelle’s career and experience extend well beyond her work as a financial planner. She is beginning her third term as a Committeeperson for the Township of Voorhees, having served as Public Safety Director and Deputy Mayor. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Planning Officials and the Voorhees Soccer Association. She previously served as the PFA Co-President for E.T. Hamilton School, liaison to the Voorhees Diversity Committee and on the Board of the Voorhees Swim Club. Michelle is also an adjunct professor at Rowan University.
Michelle is the proud parent of two children and five dogs.
Diya Shyam is a Junior at Eastern Regional High School andexcels academically while being involved in Girls Varsity Soccer, Interact and Spike Ball Club. She also volunteers with special needs athletes.
Diya focuses her time promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at school. She is the student representative to the Voorhees Cultural Diversity Committee where she brings a wealth of information that helps the Committee better understand issues with high school students. She has worked to become a bridge from the Voorhees Diversity Committee to Eastern Regional High School students. She assisted with the planning and organizing of a DEI Summit by researching and selecting many of the speakers for the summit. Dahlia believes that learning about DEI issues will prepare high school students for college and adulthood.
The Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club has worked passionately and tirelessly since its inception in 2002 for the Voorhees Community. The group has donated thousands of dollars in scholarships to local high school students. They have also donated hundreds of food baskets and countless backpacks filled with school supplies to needy Voorhees families. The Club has provided meals for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House and is a fixture at Voorhees Community events, particularly the Halloween Festival. The Club organizes and sponsors our annual Spring Egg Hunt.
The Voorhees Breakfast Rotary Club meets every Thursday at 7:15 a.m. at the Voorhees Diner on Route 73. For more information about the Club, or to get tickets for the Awards Dinner, visit voorheesbreakfastrotary.org.
On behalf of the residents of Voorhees and the Township Committee, congratulations to Rubab Sameer Sarfraz, Bill Walenda, Michelle Nocito and Diya Shyam, who embody the Rotary Motto of “Service Above Self.”