Bridgeton Chamber of Commerce Announces 2020 Community Hero Selections

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Assignment Editor

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

BRIDGETON, N.J. — Bridgeton’s Chamber of Commerce announced its list of 2020 Community Hero award winners on Tuesday.

Dr. Robin Weinstein won this year’s Gary F. Simmerman Community Leadership Award, and Hopewell Mayor Bruce Hankins won the Francis Sharp Lifetime Achievement Award. All of this year’s winners will be honored at the Chamber’s awards celebration on December 1.

“The Chamber will join with the community to honor individuals, groups of individuals, organizations and businesses who have selflessly worked to sustain and strengthen people and other organizations by demonstrating their ‘Hometown Heart,’” the Chamber said in an email to its members. “Their service, character, courage, and achievements will be honored, not just to thank them, but to inspire others to support their efforts and to become community heroes themselves.”

Weinstein is the founder and President of the M25 Initiative, a nonprofit that aims to empower Cumberland County individuals and organizations to help feed the hungry, end poverty, re-instill a sense of community, reduce crime, and transform people’s lives. He’s also the co-founder of the Cumberland County Housing First Collaborative and a founding pastor of the Bethany Grace Community Church in Bridgeton.

The M25 Initiative has supported people in Cumberland County throughout the coronavirus pandemic by awarding grants to local organizations.

“This award’s namesake, Gary Simmerman, passed away earlier this year. Robin exemplifies the strong community leadership that Gary was known for throughout his life,” the Chamber said.

Elsewhere, Hankins is completing his 33rd year on the Hopewell Township Committee and his 13th as Mayor. As Mayor, he’s led many different community projects — including the Hopewell Park and Hopewell Business Park. Hankins also serves as treasurer of Bridgeton Troop 1 of the Boy Scouts of America, and he also supports a number of other different charitable initiatives in and around the region.

In addition to his mayoral duties, Hankins owns local business H.H. Hankins & Bro in Bridgeton, which has been in operation since 1972. He is now the second member of his family to win the award, joining his brother, Brent.

“His lifetime of business and community leadership and his commitment to his family, have been guided by high ethical standards, strong faith and a sincere concern for his community,” the Chamber said.

Below is the full list of award winners:

  • Angelina Edwards and Martha Price, Manna From Heaven
  • Rylee Howerton, Madison Stiles and Queens 4 a Cause
  • Chris Hannah & Cole, the Deaf Dog – The Team Cole Project
  • Marco Cruz
  • Betty Shrouder
  • Millie Irizarry Sanchez
  • CompleteCare Health Network
  • Inspira Health
  • Cumberland County Government and Health Departments
  • The Heroes Foundation and Pepi Dragotta
  • The Salvation Army Bridgeton Corps and Lt. Melissa Lowell
  • Golden Pigeon Restaurant
  • Innovation Foods

You can find detailed information about all of this year’s award winners on the Bridgeton Chamber of Commerce’s website.

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