TOMS RIVER – It was a gathering of celebration and thanks at the Toms River Center of the Ocean County Vocational Technical School where a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the center’s new nursing lab.
The event proved an opportunity to thank the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation for its generosity. Education-Consultant and former OCVTS Asst. Superintendent Nancy Weber-Loeffert said the Foundation donated more than $1 million for the state-of-the-art facility at the center located on Old Freehold Road.
Cassandra Grom, a senior at OCVTS in the second-year clinical program was among the nurses present for the event and who will benefit from the enhancements.
“For a while I had been lost as to what I wanted to do. I had moved from North Jersey to Manchester and became interested in medicine and this program. I think what they have done is great,” she said.
Haley Ingenico, Brick, is also a senior in her second year in the program. “I knew this is what I wanted to do but it is hard to go into the medical field and to go to college; you start off straight into debt. Now everyone can see this new medical building and they can see another option.
“It looks a lot better but it’s not just a physical change. It provides a positive environment and brings out a positive feeling. It is a phenomenal nursing lab. They’ve been working and expanding this for a while and we’ve been watching it,” Ingenico said.
OCVTS Toms River Center Principal Lillian Zabattieri introduced Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari who serves as liaison to OCVTS.
“Today is a great day for us in Ocean County. We offer opportunity here. One of the things we always stress in this county is that if you apply yourself and work hard you will succeed.”
Vicari thank thanked the Hovnanians for their donation adding that they had a desire to elevate the look of the facility and have people see it and be aware of what OCVTS offered to students.
The freeholder also noted that the Grunin Foundation had also approached OCVTS regarding expanding its programs to include the arts. Jeremy Grunin was among the guests at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“We want our students to attain the American dream. We are making a difference and we are doing good things for the future of Ocean County,” Vicari added.
Ben Giovine, the district director for the office of Rep. Andy Kim, (D-3rd District) presented a plaque during the ceremony thanking those responsible for the new addition.
OCVTS Acting Superintendent Karen Homiek also thanked the Hovnanians. “Thanks to your philanthropic generosity, you made this dream a reality. What was dull and uninviting is now new and exciting.”
Homiek described the new nursing lab saying it provides “a real life setting for the clinical experience.”
Hirair and Anna Hovnanian’s daughter Edele Hovnanian said “we give a lot of grants away but this one was very important. I think this vocation has not gotten the recognition it needs. This is a calling not a compromise.”
Also in attendance were Freeholder Director Virginia Haines, Freeholder Gary Quinn, Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy and various staff members of OCVTS.
The OCVTS culinary academy provided lunch for the event and the OCVTS Performing Arts Academy Vocal Ensemble sang the national anthem directed by Mary Kenny, who serves as the PAA’s vocal instructor.
Following the ribbon cutting, the event concluded with “God Bless America” performed by the OCVTS PAA. Tours of the new nursing lab took place afterward.