Mercer Street Friends Announces 2022 Leadership Awards Honorees

TRENTON, NJ (May 31, 2022) – Mercer Street Friends, committed to nourishing minds and bodies and empowering families and communities in Trenton and throughout Mercer County, will recognize community leaders on June 14, 2022 at the 2nd annual Mercer Street Friends Leadership Awards Celebration. The awards will be presented at the organization’s Food Bank in Ewing, New Jersey and will recognize individuals and organizations who have demonstrated tremendous leadership through service to our community.

“I am excited to announce that former Chairman and CEO of Investors Bank, Kevin Cummings, will accept the Corporate Leadership and Public Service Award for his lifelong commitment to serving our community and his dedicated statewide leadership. He will be joined by The Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, which will receive the Philanthropic Leadership Award for its efforts to help feed the Greater Mercer community for more than 25 years through its Crisis Ministry Program,” said Bernie Flynn, Mercer Street Friends Chief Executive Officer. “The Generational Leadership Award recipients will be Drew Paglia and Heather Paglia of 5Help Foundation, which was established to provide emergency assistance in response to the hardship caused by the pandemic and has inspired a nationwide movement, $5 at a time. Barbara and David Fraser, former leaders of Mercer Street Friends and lifelong, dedicated public servants, will be presented the Robert M. Appelbaum Service Award.” Learn about the Mercer Street Friends 2022 Leadership Awards Honorees below.

2022 Corporate Leadership and Public Service Award: Kevin Cummings

During Kevin Cummings’ 14 year tenure as CEO of Investors Bank, he demonstrated how to achieve success at a large regional bank, while also committing himself and his colleagues to positively impacting communities throughout New Jersey. He serves on the boards of The Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children, St. Benedict’s Preparatory School, The Federal Home Loan Bank of NY (FHLBNY), New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA), The Community Foundation of New Jersey (CFNJ), and Kevin is Chairman of Greater Trenton, an independent 501(c)(3) whose core mission is to revitalize the capital city, embrace diversity, and build equity for every current and future Trentonian. Established in 2015, Greater Trenton utilizes private funding and a network of collaborative relationships to facilitate economic revitalization. Kevin has been instrumental in cultivating strategic partnerships and engaging the community. He intends to continue his service to the Trenton community following his recent retirement as Chairman and CEO of Investors Bank in April.

“Building community and valuing inclusion is at the heart of what we do for the City of Trenton. Mercer Street Friends is a wonderful example of an organization responding to the needs of their neighbors in Trenton. I am honored to receive the 2022 Corporate Leadership and Public Service Award,” said Kevin Cummings, former Chairman and CEO of Investors Bank.

2022 Philanthropic Leadership Award: The Corella & Bertram F. Bonner Foundation

The Bonner Foundation has earned national renown as the largest privately-funded, service-based college scholarship program in the country, engaging more than 3,000 students annually across more than 65 campuses. The program is designed to enrich the experience of Bonner Scholars and also transform the campus and community in which they serve and learn. Since 1990, the program has graduated over 18,000 alumni who continue to make a social impact around the world. The Bonner Foundation’s core values are civic engagement, community building, diversity, international perspective, social justice, spiritual exploration, and wellness. With a focus on sustaining communities, Mr. and Mrs. Bonner created the Crisis Ministry Program that provides funding to food banks and food pantries. The Crisis Ministry Program grants funding annually to religious and community-based hunger relief programs. The mission of the Crisis Ministry Program is to serve the food insecure while also encouraging grantees to actively address the causes of hunger in economically and socially disadvantaged communities, primarily in New Jersey. Mercer Street Friends is a grateful recipient of the Crisis Ministry Grant that has enabled Mercer Street Friends Food Bank to grow the Community Food Bag program. A long-time supporter, The Bonner Foundation has invested in Mercer Street Friends’ mission to nourish minds and bodies through distributing nutritious food to families and communities.

“Mercer Street Friends has been one of our grant recipients for many years and their work impacts thousands throughout the County. Throughout the pandemic they have been steadfast in their response to hunger and we are honored to receive the 2022 Philanthropic Leadership Award,” said Robert Hackett, President of The Bonner Foundation.

2022 Generational Leadership Award: Drew Paglia & Heather Paglia – 5Help Foundation

Drew Paglia and Heather Paglia are teen siblings who co-founded 5Help Foundation in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic to support seniors, small businesses, and frontline heroes $5 at a time. 5Help Foundation’s mission has expanded to assisting others in need including veterans, individuals with disabilities, kids and families, and the homeless. Their giving spirits have touched thousands of lives and the 5Help movement has garnered national attention to establish chapters across the country. Drew and Heather have empowered teens to make a difference one step at a time. With more than 800 volunteers behind them, Drew and Heather have raised over $300,000 and collected and distributed over 40,000 pounds of food and clothes. In one of their initiatives, 5Help Foundation led a drive that provided Mercer Street Friends with food, book bags, pull-ups, baby wipes, and adult incontinence products for distribution into the community.

Drew and Heather reflect on their work, “when we saw the impact we were having helping seniors, small businesses, and frontline heroes we knew we couldn’t stop there. We wanted to expand our reach and we were able to help so many people through the drive for Mercer Street Friends. We are excited to receive the 2022 Generational Leadership Award. It is great that we have the opportunity to assist those in need.”

2022 Robert M. Appelbaum Service Award: Barbara & David Fraser

Barbara and David Fraser have been devoted supporters of Mercer Street Friends for over two decades. They both have served on the Board of Trustees where Barbara, an accomplished corporate and financial services lawyer, was Chair and continued to serve on the Governance Committee following the end of her term as Trustee. David, who is a member of the Newtown Meeting, also served on the Finance Committee. Barbara and David have deepened their commitment to service by including Mercer Street Friends in their estate plans to become Stewards of the Mission. David started his career of public service at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) where he led the team that identified Legionnaires’ Disease. Barbara earned her law degree from Emory and accepted a job offer from the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. and would continue on to work for Drinker Biddle & Reath, Merrill Lynch Asset Management and Oppenheimer Funds, Inc. During their time in Washington D.C., David would be introduced to a Swarthmore alumnus who eventually nominated David for the role of the 12th President of Swarthmore College. After nine years with Swarthmore, the Frasers left for France where David was head of health, education and housing programs of the Aga Khan Secretariat. Currently, David consults on higher education internationally and Barbara volunteers for a K-12 school for children with special needs and they are avid textile collectors with two books published on the subject.

Barbara and David shared, “it is an honor to be receiving the 2022 Robert M. Appelbaum Service Award, named for one of the founders of Mercer Street Friends and a longtime supporter.  We are privileged to have worked with the dedicated staff and volunteers at Mercer Street Friends who have made significant contributions to Trenton and the greater Mercer County area.”

This signature event, honoring community leaders, will also raise philanthropic support directed to Mercer Street Friends.

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ABOUT MERCER STREET FRIENDS

As a Quaker-affiliated, nonsectarian 501(c)(3) organization, Mercer Street Friends is dedicated to nourishing minds and bodies, empowering families and communities by providing comprehensive programs to address poverty and the physical and emotional trauma it creates for children, families and the community. Our work is focused on three critical areas: food, families, and education.

  1. Food Insecurity
    • Food Bank
  2. Family
    • Parent & Family Engagement
  3. Education
    • Preschool
    • Community Schools
    • Adult Education

Mercer Street Friends Values:

  1. Mercer Street Friends believes that by investing in education, a child will obtain the academic, emotional and social skills to thrive and succeed in a career and throughout all areas of their lives.
  2. Mercer Street Friends believes that providing services and resources to families who have experienced trauma is vital to social, emotional and physical health of individuals and the strength of the overall community.
  3. Food insecurity and hunger can lead to a host of physical and emotional issues including malnutrition, problems with physical development, and mental wellbeing.

Media Inquiries should be directed to:
Kira Williams, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]