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Senator Menendez Applauds Mahwah Mom's Work on Youth Leadership Academies

Group President Carolyn Blake and the rest of the Mahwah Municipal Alliance recently wrapped its 8th annual YLA during which students broke a Guinness World Record.

Blake (right) with Mayor Bill Laforet.
Blake (right) with Mayor Bill Laforet.

A Mahwah mom who organizers say is "instrumental" in helping run the township's Municipal Alliance and two summertime student programs has gotten the attention of one of the state's senators. 

According to Mahwah Municipal Alliance officers, the volunteer group's President Carolyn Blake recently won a commendation from her work with the organization from Senator Robert Menendez.

In a note to Blake, Menendez congratulated her on "completing yet another successful year of leadership academies."

He went on to congratulate the police department, parents, community, and students on the Youth Leadership Academy, which wrapped last week, and the Junior Police Academy, both of which are run by the MMA every summer. 

"It is truly a community-wide commitment," Menendez said of the academies.

"To the graduates…I say 'congratulations,' and to the parents, police, and organizers, I say 'job well done.'

MMA members in the township also commended Blake's work.

"The township is very fortunate to have Ms. Blake lead the Mahwah Alliance," Police Chief Jim Batelli said. 

"Her contribution to the MMA has been instrumental to our success."

Mayor Bill Laforet, a longtime MMA member, read Menendez's letter from the senator at the YLA graduation ceremony. 

The recently concluded 8th annual Leadership Academy saw more than 250 students attend, and made headlines when the students broke a world record - the longest distance travelled on a slip and slide in one hour.  The students shattered the previous record of 103,650 feet by sliding continuously for 168,593 feet, or about 31.93 miles. 

"It was a tremendous accomplishment by our children and the second world record set in three years by students from the Leadership Academy, the first one being the world’s largest smiley face," Batelli said.

While the MMA members are quick to credit Blake with organizing many of the student opportunities offered by the MMA, she said she is the fortunate one.

"The Leadership Academy means so much to the children and teaches them valuable life lessons," Blake said. 

"I am fortunate to be a part of it.”

Andy Schmidt July 08, 2014 at 08:02 AM
Well deserved. I know, as a parent I am completely biased - but investing into our youth has the largest potential for a lasting return. Every year that I'm at one of Police or Junior Leadership Academies graduations I am in awe that we don't just have the usual few, dedicated, close-knit townspeople pursuing some distant goal - but that they manage to put together two major programs, involving many hundreds of kids, requiring extensive time commitment by them and the instructors (no to speak of the many months of preperations/negotiations/course development). I look at the cadre of police officers who already work full-time and then are willing to supervise and interact with OUR kids for 14+ hours each day - giving up the opportunity to earn substantial amount overtime. It takes a bunch of special people at the helm of the MMA and the PD to motivate THAT many others to put in THAT much effort, for that many months ,for that many years - into something that benefits OTHER people! Of course, I have to highlight the contribution and accomplishment of (retiring) Seargant Curtis, a bundle of energy and determination, whose brain child the YLA has been. There really aren't enough words to express my gratitude.

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