By Marion Filler
Cornerstone Family Programs has had many names since 1813. But volunteers always have been the foundation of the Morristown nonprofit’s charitable works.
On Saturday, Cornerstone will honor two volunteers who have a special appreciation for its programs.
Former Board Chair Hector Mislavsky and his wife Judy Martinez, who will be feted at the April 13, 2019, gala at the Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, have served in various capacities since 2006. But they became intimately aware of the organization before that.
“Initially, we were exposed to Cornerstone about 20 years ago, when Judy’s mom moved in with us rather suddenly because of her dementia,” Mislavsky recounted.
“Judy was looking for help, and she found the Madison Adult Day Care Center, which was then part of the Family Service of Morris County,” as Cornerstone was known at the time. “They were exceptionally welcoming and that was our first exposure to the organization.”
One of Mislavsky’s partners at Pricewaterhouse was a longtime Cornerstone board member and invited him to join. It was his first time on a board, and he chaired it from 2016 until last year.
Over that span, Martinez has volunteered on numerous Cornerstone programs, including its gala committees and Friends of the Blind.
“They are role models of generosity and commitment to the community in which we all live,” said current board Chairperson Ann Stachenfeld, who credited the couple with recruiting many talented volunteers over the years.
Cornerstone Director of Development Gwenn DellaPelle described Mislavsky’s volunteer ethic as “absolutely incredible.”
“Hector and Judy have taken a very strong lead in giving back to the community,” DellaPelle said.
During Mislavsky’s tenure on the board, Cornerstone rebranded itself, built and sold headquarters on Elm Street, and merged with another beloved nonprofit, the Morristown Neighborhood House, which has helped immigrants and working families since the late 19th century.
“Judy and I came from very, very, modest backgrounds,” said Mislavsky, who emigrated from Argentina as a child. “Had we lived in Morristown when we were growing up, we probably would have been participants at the Neighborhood House.”
Martinez has been active in programs at Morristown High School and demonstrated a deep commitment to Friends of the Blind, DellaPelle said. “She has assisted her clients regularly for years with daily tasks such as grocery shopping, doctor appointments and paying bills” and staying organized.
The Morris Township couple are parents of a grown daughter and a son who passed away. Mislavsky, who recently retired, plans to stay involved with Cornerstone via its
Growth and Innovation Committee. Martinez also intends to keep volunteering.
Transwestern, a commercial real estate company that has worked with Cornerstone, also will be honored at Saturday’s black-tie affair.
In addition to Friends of the Blind, Cornerstone runs an adult daycare center at Morris View Healthcare Center; Operation Sisterhood, to help female veterans acclimate and find jobs; and pre-school and after-school programs for approximately 170 children.
“We serve 450 meals a day,” DellaPelle said. “It’s often the only hot meal of the day, because many parents work two and three jobs. This is truly a godsend for them.” Cornerstone also offers tutoring, a computer lab, and STEM center.