In 1975, Northern Ireland was still in the middle of a long period of political violence. People were dying and children were growing up scared. Protestant and Catholic families were insulating themselves against each other – fleeing integrated neighborhoods in search of segregated enclaves.
Into this drama enter Denis and Pat Mulcahy. Born in Rock Chapel, County Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, Denis and Pat emigrated to New York, where they joined the New York Police Force. Heartsick at the thought of so many young people growing up in a climate of hate and violence, they decided to do something to help the children. That summer they brought six children from Northern Ireland – three Protestants and three Catholics – to Greenwood Lake, New York, where they lived. Each year Project Children grew and now brings more than 600 children over and places them with host families in more than twenty states. The budget is close to a million dollars. None of it goes to salaries.
Denis Mulcahy, the founder of Project Children, doesn’t use the power of personality or the force of rhetoric to inspire others to join his cause. Denis Mulcahy leads by example. Over the past thirty-seven years he has quietly masterminded summer vacations in America for more than 22,000 children in Northern Ireland. He has given these children – Protestant and Catholics – a much needed break from the grim politics of their own country and an extraordinary chance to play together. He hasn’t done it all alone. Denis is quick to praise Project Children host families, area coordinators, fundraising volunteers, and benefactors. Denis considers himself simply one of the many. But Denis is truly the heart and soul of Project Children.
The Council of Irish Associations of Greater Bergen County is honored to recognize a man who has seen the struggle of young people losing their childhood in an atmosphere of violence and has devoted his time, talent, and resources to improving their lives and setting their example as a hope for the future of all people in the North of Ireland.
In January, 2010, an earthquake hits Haiti, leaving in its wake death, destruction and disease. In less than six weeks a concert is given with Irish entertainers to help raise funds for relief in Haiti. It was no surprise that the organizer of this concert was Sister Mary Trinity Kenny. Her answer to the suffering in this world is action. Sister Mary Trinity Kenny of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters is an inspiration to all of us.
Born and raised in Kilconnell, Ballinasloe, County Galway, she received her primary education in the village of Kilconnell and attended Secondary School at Mercy convent in Ballinasloe. While recovering from an operation in Galway Hospital Ireland, she received a calling from Almighty God to dedicate her life to helping others.
She entered the Missionary Franciscan Community at Bloomfield in Mullingar. A successful cyclist in her teens, her competitive spirit has endured throughout her life.
Sister arrived in the United States in July 1955 and was stationed for a short time in New York City. From there she was sent to Boston where she remained for many years. For health reasons she was transferred to Tenafly, New Jersey. After a convalescing period of several months, Sister received permission to assist Mother Margaret in the gift shop located on the Convent grounds in Tenafly. Thus the Missionary Franciscan Gift Shop emerged. Through the many years of operating the gift shop, Sister has been able to come in contact with many wonderful people who have assisted her with the many charitable activities she has fostered: The Walk for the Hungry and the Lenten Soup Suppers for the poor and needy are but a very few of the annual events organized by Sister. In addition, she organized many charitable events including concerts and other activities for the Missionary Franciscan Sisters Infirmary in Tenafly. Her drive and determination to help others in need in spite of her physical discomfort and personal sacrifice is the hallmark of her character which has impressed all of the people who have come to know and love Sister over the years.
Michael Maron joined the Holy Name Medical Center in 1987 as its Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 1991. In January 1997 he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer. Prior to his employment at Holy Name Hospital, Mr. Maron was employed as the Assistant Administrator and Chief Financial Officer of Pascack Valley Hospital, Westwood, New Jersey. Mr. Maron also previously served as the Director of Budget and Reimbursement at Pascack Valley Hospital and was the Internal Auditor and Financial Analyst for The Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, New Jersey.
Mr. Maron received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration (concentrating in accounting) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Services Administration from Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island. He also received his MBA from Columbia University Business School in New York. Mr. Maron is a member of the American College of Health Care Executives as well as the Board of Directors of New Jersey Hospital Association, and chairman of New Jersey Hospital Association’s HealthPAC Board of Directors. He is also on the board of the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey and the Chairman of its Healthcare Steering Committee.
Mr. Maron is currently the chairman of the Catholic HealthCare Partnership of New Jersey, a consortium of all the Catholic hospitals in the State of New Jersey, and was recently appointed to the CRUDEM Foundation Board of Directors, which, under his guidance, oversees and funds the day-to-day operations of Hôpital Sacré Coeur, the largest hospital in Northern Haiti.
Mr. Maron is the former chairman of the Bergen Catholic Alumni Association and the former chairman of the Board of Directors for Bergen Catholic High School. He has also served on the Board of Directors for Horizon Healthcare Innovations – Horizon Blue Cross of New Jersey and St. Joseph’s School in Oradell. In addition, Mr. Maron served on the board of the Northern New Jersey Council, Boy Scouts of America.
It is often easy to overlook the big picture and concentrate on the individual acts of charity, compassion, and humanity of the doctor, nurse or hospital employee who goes beyond the job to serve those in need. The extra step at Holy Name Hospital is taken simply because Michael Maron takes the step himself and encourages others to do the same.
Mr. Maron, whose family originally emigrated from County Cork, Ireland, resides in Oradell with his wife, Diane, and four sons, Michael, Brendan, Kyle and Patrick.
Maureen Keating is Vice President and member of the Executive leadership team of the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at the Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Born in Teaneck, New Jersey, Maureen received her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and subsequently a Master’s degree in Administration. She currently resides in Manhattan. She is credentialed in the specialty area of Administration and is a graduate Healthcare Executive Fellow of the Healthcare Advisory Board, Washington, D.C. Essential to the success of Maureen and her seven siblings were the strong family values and ethics fostered by her parents who held education and service to others as strong priorities. Maureen’s pride in her Irish heritage and culture was fostered at a young age through her parents, the late Donald C. Keating who hailed from Darrynane, County Kerry, Ireland, and Henrietta (Curry) Keating from Knock, County Mayo, and their active involvement in various Irish American organizations.
Maureen joined Hackensack University Medical Center in 1986 as a Staff Nurse for the Maternal Child Health Service-Inpatient Pediatric Burn Unit. She has advanced through leadership roles, becoming the Administrator responsible for developing and reorganizing the Pediatric Services Lines and a multi-million-dollar facilities construction project. Maureen is currently Vice President and Executive of Operations at the Children’s Hospital, a “Hospital within a Hospital”.
Maureen finds inspiration in the words of Robert Kennedy: “It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope; and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest of walls of oppression and resistance.” Offering hope, a hand up with dignity to someone in need, and trying to leave something or someplace even a bit better than how it was found is the mission upon which Maureen, walking with her family, friends and colleagues, has built her life.
The Council of Irish Associations of Greater Bergen County is honored to recognize a woman who sees the daily struggle of young people faced with illness and disease and has devoted her life’s mission to healing and recovery. Her position of prominence in health care has given her the opportunity to share her mission on a national stage.
Award winners listed below by year
Our honoree for the 2014 Sister Trinity Kenny Humanitarian Award is Carmel Quinn. Carmel certainly is no stranger to the Irish community. She has captivated the American public for decades as a singer, comedienne, storyteller and humanitarian. She was born and educated in Dublin, Ireland, where she began performing locally in theatres, dance halls, and radio and throughout Ireland and Great Britain. In 1954, she came to the United States, where her rise to fame began when her name was submitted for an audition on the Talent Scouts Show. She won the audition and appeared as a regular guest on the Arthur Godfrey radio and TV programs for six years.
Following Godfrey, she became a frequent guest on many national television shows such as The Tonight Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, Merv Griffin, The Today Show, Live with Regis, and Dick Cavett, and was Mike Douglas’s first co-host. Viewers fell in love with her unique charm and talent, and she enjoyed great popularity across the United States. She has recorded numerous albums, which have earned accolades from every sector of America, including a Grammy nomination for “Patrick Muldoon and his Magic Balloon.” In addition, Carmel has brightened the stage in the lead role of productions such as “Wild Cat,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “The Boyfriend,” “The Sound of Music,” and as a member of The Irish Repertory Company, in which she has performed her two one-woman plays “Wait ’til I Tell You” and “That and a Cup of Tea.” She has performed at the White House for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and other world leaders.
While she has received many awards over the years for her accomplishments in the entertainment industry, including being the second woman to be awarded the John F. Kennedy Award for excellence in her field, Carmel is also recognized as a wonderful humanitarian. She has donated her time and many talents to raise badly needed funds for many worthy causes. Her annual shows at Carnegie Hall were completely sold out for 25 consecutive years, with the entire proceeds of each show going to a variety of charities in Ireland. She has continued to perform many shows for charitable causes throughout the years, and has also helped raise badly needed funds for public television with her appearances. Many of her fundraising performances were conducted in the NY/NJ area.
One of her favorite charities is St. Margaret’s School in the Bronx. This school is in a very poor neighborhood and in dire need of funds to keep operating. Carmel has performed shows specifically for St. Margaret’s School, with the entire proceeds of each show going directly to the school. She also has performed concerts for the Missionary Franciscan Sisters. One such performance was for the Building Fund for the Sisters Infirmary in Tenafly. As usual, the concert was a huge success, both socially and financially.
Each year for 25 years, Sister Trinity Kenny conducted Lenten Soup Suppers to raise funds for charitable causes. Carmel donated her time to perform shows in many of the Soup Suppers, which were extremely successful.
Carmel has also performed fundraising concerts for Holy Name Hospital and the SMA Fathers in Tenafly, as well as her own parish in Leonia. She has devoted a great deal of time at Eva’s Kitchen in Paterson, as well.
The Council of Irish Associations of Greater Bergen County is proud to honor such a distinguished humanitarian, Mrs. Carmel Quinn.
Born in Jersey City to immigrants from County Donegal, John Hughes was instilled with the virtue of service early in his life by both his parents and his mentor, Rev. A.T. O’Brien O.P., and has devoted himself to a number of causes throughout a long and active charitable career.
John Hughes has been the Project Children area coordinator for Northern New Jersey for more than 35 years. During that time, he has raised more than $250,000 and visited more than 250 host families who agreed to host the more than 700 children from Northern Ireland who have come for a six-week holiday to see how both Catholic and Protestant children can have fun and be kids regardless of religion. Every year, he holds a massive pizza party for all of the newly-arrived children so that everyone can get to know one another and see firsthand that they can form strong friendships despite their differences.
As the founding President of Archbishop J. J. Hughes Passaic County AOH Division 16 and a member of the Knights of Columbus, he has contributed much to local philanthropic efforts, and currently serves as a Pro-Life Chairman for both organizations. He has worked with a number of veterans’ groups, and in 2010 established a highly successful Tank Pull for the Wounded Warrior fundraiser through the Knights of Columbus; he continues to chair the event, which has at least 25 teams participating each year, and has raised more than $900,000 to date for our veterans.
Growing up, John Hughes always talked about networking and knowing the right people. Having established many connections, he has used them to help more than 40 couples become families through adoption. Additionally, he has chaired the NJAOH Baby Bottle Project that raises money for women’s shelters that house expectant mothers.
John Hughes enjoyed a successful business career with PSE&G for many years; now retired, he works as a consultant for the international firm of Power Industry consultants. He recently celebrated fifty years of marriage with his wife Joan and is the proud father of Catherine, Sean, William, and his “adopted” Belfast-born Project Children son Colm Hamill.
Norman Saunders was born in New York City and was the youngest of four to parents Elizabeth and Norman Saunders. His great-grandparents immigrated to New York City from County Cork, Ireland, and resided in Jersey City where they owned a successful floral and landscaping business that worked on estates all over the tri-state area. Growing up in a family-oriented home in Closter, NJ, Norman’s parents were known for their endless commitment to service and helping others, a value instilled in Norman from a young age. He is also a proud member of the Knights of Columbus Saint John’s Council 1345. Norman currently resides in Cresskill with his wife Claire and his two daughters, Megan and Erin.
Norman has been in Law Enforcement for over 30 years and is currently a Lieutenant with Cresskill Police Department, a career where he strives to help others in his work. During his time with law enforcement, he served as Treasurer of the Cresskill PBA 180 and has received numerous decorations for his achievements throughout his career. Norman is a graduate of the New York City Police Department Counterterrorism School following September 11, 2001.
For the past seven years, Norman has devoted a majority of his time with the American Special Children’s Pilgrimage Group, serving as Group Leader the past four years. While serving as the Group Leader of the American Special Children’s Pilgrimage Group, Norman has helped raise close to $400,000 used to bring children with physical and mental disabilities to Lourdes, France, on an Easter pilgrimage each year. Over these past seven years, over 70 children with special needs have traveled as part of the organization at no expense to the family, which provides their parents a well-earned respite. Norman is also a member of the European Pilgrimage Trust Group where he works closely with group leaders and clergy from all over the world.
Norman’s dedication and devotion to service is a value which he is emanating to his children.
George McKenna is one of four children raised on the South Side of Chicago by his widowed mother and her parents. His grandfather on his father's side came from Enniskillen, in County Fermanagh. He was an engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad until he lost his job by falling asleep at the throttle. His grandparents on his mother's side, the Norton side, came from the Midwest, Illinois and Iowa, though both their parents came from Ireland. George had some old relatives on the McKenna side who insisted that the McKennas came from “the lords and ladies of Ireland” and that their land was taken by the English. But a more studious relative checked the genealogical records and could find only “porters,” “laborers,” and “servants” among the family’s ancestors.
George is a former professor of Political Science at City College of New York who wrote and edited several books on American government and American political culture. Some of the books he has written, edited, and co-edited are American Populism (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1974), The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism (Yale, 2007), American Politics: Ideals and Realities (McGraw-Hill, 1976), A Guide to The Constitution: That Delicate Balance (Random House, 1974), The Drama of Democracy (McGraw-Hill, 1998), and Taking Sides (McGraw-Hill, 18th edition, 1998).
George retired in 2002, and since then, he has been volunteering at the Office of Concern Food Pantry in Englewood, New Jersey, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization sponsored by St. Cecilia’s Church, but is independent functionally and financially. The Office of Concern was started in 1980 to help a few families who were displaced by a fire. From that beginning it has become the largest single-location food pantry in Bergen County.
George currently serves as the Director of the Office of Concern Food Pantry. He and his wife Sylvia currently reside in Tenafly, New Jersey, and recently celebrated 53 years of marriage. They have three children and six grandchildren, the latter ranging in age from 9 to 18. They all live within 40 minutes of their home.
Kathy Walsh is the President/CEO of The Arc of Bergen and Passaic Counties. The Arc is a private, not-for-profit organization serving over 1,300 individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy here in Bergen and Passaic Counties.
Kathy has spent the past 35-plus years fighting for individuals with disabilities to ensure that they have the same rights and opportunities as any other citizen and to secure the services and supports they need to live happy and successful lives in the community. Starting with babies who are just diagnosed, and continuing through the school years and on into adulthood, Kathy has spearheaded The Arc’s development of programs and services which help individuals and their families each step of the way.
In addition to her work at The Arc, Kathy has been a volunteer for Camp Fatima of New Jersey for over 40 years, spending at least one week of her vacation time every summer to volunteer at their overnight camp for children with disabilities.
Kathy serves on numerous Boards, task forces and committees throughout the State, all focused on expanding opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. She currently serves as chair of the executive organization for all the Arcs in NJ, and represents the disability community on the Bergen County Workforce Investment Board and the Bergen County Human Services Advisory Council as well as serving on the executive committee of ACCSES NJ.
Kathy has been honored with local, state and national awards for professional excellence including the Distinguished Alumni Award from William Paterson University and the Professional Excellence Award from The National Conference of Executives of The Arc. She has also been named one of the Distinguished Women of Hudson County.
Kathy is a certified teacher in special education and elementary education and a certified social worker.
The Council of Irish Associations of Greater Bergen County is honored to present an annual award to an outstanding individual whose dedication to neighbor serves as a shining light to all those who search for the answer to the question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The award recipient has plainly answered that question, “Yes, I am.”
The Irish experience in America was born out of a desire to live in freedom with self-determination. From the slow trickle of the colonial period to the deluge that began with the Great Hunger of the 1840s, the Irish experience was steeped in tragedy and want. These experiences of the past have given to the Irish People an understanding of the frailties of the human condition and the powerlessness of people when up against natural forces and great human conflicts.
The long traditions established by the Irish in America addressing the need of her people are a milestone in the charitable behavior of the world. Through both religious and secular institutions, the Irish have the needs of others as a conscious thought spearheading their journey through life. Through this award, the Council brings recognition to an individual who represents the best in the Irish tradition of helping those in need. Their work to help their fellow man should serve as a guide for all those who continue to seek an answer to the same question and cause them to answer “Yes, I am.”