HOWELL – The Howell Chamber of Commerce recently announced its 2019 community honorees including its Citizen of the Year award which went to Township Municipal Alliance Coordinator Christa Riddle.
“I feel honored to serve my community, especially when it comes to substance abuse prevention efforts and helping our youth live better lives. It is a true blessing when you get to pursue a career that aligns with your personal passion, heart, and soul, as I am lucky enough to do every day,” Riddle said.
Riddle added, “without collaboration across Howell Township and the encouragement and support of my family, friends, and dedicated colleagues, I would not be receiving this honor from the Howell Chamber of Commerce.”
She has been busy with recent Howell Municipal Alliance activities such as its 2nd annual “I Am Talented” teen music festival event held at Howell Day recently. The Alliance’s mission is to unite the community in efforts “to prevent substance abuse, underage drinking, alcoholism, tobacco use, teen vaping, and other at-risk behaviors through prevention awareness, education, and programs.”
Riddle said the Municipal Alliance also promotes mental well-being and reduction of the stigmas associated with substance use and mental health disorders.
Having served with the alliance for more than a decade as a volunteer and chairwoman, Riddle assumed the role of coordinator in August 2018. She owns a writing consulting business called All About Writing which was founded in 2007. She has been an active member of the Chamber of Commerce.
Riddle also volunteers as a member of the Howell Optimist Club where she serves as the youth essay/oratorical contest chairwoman. She also serves on the steering committee of the Stigma Free Zone of Monmouth County, having been appointed to the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse 2021-25 grant guidelines workshop committee.
Her work also includes membership in the Prevention Coalition of Monmouth County, and the Howell School District’s Strategic Planning Committee for 2019-24.
Riddle said she understands the struggles of those who suffer from addiction and issues of suicide as she has had family members who experienced such challenges. Her philosophy is that bringing awareness to those challenges early on in life will lead to better and more thought out decisions. “It is my life intention to pay this message forward,” Riddle said.
A native of Ocean Township, Riddle moved to Howell in 2003. She credited her son, Antony Riddle as her inspiration, pride and joy. She described him as a “kind-hearted human being, menswear designer, and young entrepreneur.”
She said she got her strong work ethic and devotion to community from the upbringing she received from her parents, Sandy and Gary Kessler. “My parents raised us with complete acceptance of ourselves and others, to live life with an open heart and an open mind. They always taught us that if you commit yourself to integrity, compassion, and kindness, you will always find true happiness and success while making the world a better place.”
Riddle is a highest degree recipient from Monmouth University with a Master of Arts in Teaching and has a magna cum laude bachelor’s degree from Drew University in English and writing. She is also a certified mindfulness teacher. Her personal interests away from work include mindfulness, yoga, nature walks, people-watching, young adult literature, writing, restorative justice, and youth mentoring.
Currently, Riddle is involved with the “I AM…” mindfulness and writing workshop” which is starting soon. “I am co-facilitating the monthly PAL workshop. I have been a writing tutor since I was 18 years old and have worked with students through the doctoral level.”
Riddle added, “the purpose is to give youth a relaxed, inviting environment to clear their heads and express themselves, free of the dictates of a specific writing assignment or school work. We want every youth to know they are valued and have potential.”
The Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 honorees include:
- Business of the Year: ProCare Rehabilitation, LLC, Steve Friedeman;
- Shining Star: Jeanna Ribon, Howell K-8 School District student assistance counselor and anti-bullying coordinator;
- Service Organization of the Year: Optimist Club of Howell, John Alliano;
- Making a Difference Award: Jason Rivera, CFC Loud ‘n’ Clear Foundation;
- Howell Ambassador for the Performing Arts: Joe Cantaffa, instructor, Howell High School Fine and Performing Arts magnet program; founder, creative director and arranger of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chorus;
- Shining Brightly Youth: Steven Sayegh, Monmouth County finalist, New Jersey Shout Down Drugs Competition.