Proceeds from the Jimmy Straine Invitational have been put to good use over the years, thanks to your generous support of this event.
New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project
For several years, the Jimmy Straine Invitational made donations to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project. This organization was dedicated to providing free health programs for rescue workers who selflessly gave so much of their time – and, ultimately for some, their lives – to the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Our own JSI musician, Greg Parr, a retired New York City Firefighter, was a participant in the program long before we became involved. It is with deep satisfaction that we were able to provide support to several rescue workers who turned their lives and health around because of their participation in the program.
In 2016, we added another charity to our roster of recipients – Stephy’s Place, A Support Center for Grief and Loss located in Red Bank, NJ. Founded by Sheila Martello, who lost her husband on September 11th, and her New Life Support Group friends (including Trish), Stephy’s Place provides a safe space for people who are grieving and suffering from the loss of a loved one. With free weekly peer support groups and meditation, guests find themselves surrounded by others who “get it”. Stephy’s Place has offered much healing to many and is completely donation run. The Jimmy Straine Invitational is honored to make another donation to Stephy’s Place this year thanks to the kindness of our participants.
Please check out their website at www.stephysplace.org.
The Carolyn Sullivan Memorial Foundation
The Carolyn Sullivan Memorial Foundation was established in 2010 in loving memory of Carolyn Sullivan, a beautiful eight-year-old girl who was tragically taken before her time as a result of a brain tumor. The Foundation was started not only to keep Carolyn’s memory alive, but to bring a measure of comfort and support to others suffering childhood cancers, other diseases and tragedies. It is the Foundation’s mission to offer financial assistance to these families. We want to show love, friendship and support to our friends and neighbors who face difficult times. To date, the Foundation has helped 49 families within Rockland County, Orange County and Bergen County NJ.
You can view their website at www.carolynsullivanmf.com
Support for Family
Tragically, over the years, there have been many families close to the Jimmy Straine Invitational family who have lost a parent, just as Finn and Charlie did in 2001. Through the JSI we have been able to provide some financial support/donations to “our” families to help ease the burden of raising children as a widowed parent. Andrew McTiernan, Tom Preston and Mark Brackin.
Jimmy Straine Memorial Scholarship at CBA
In 2016, a four-year scholarship was established at Christian Brothers Academy, the high school that Jimmy’s sons, Finn and Charlie attend, as well as their cousin, Dugan (Mike’s son). The Jimmy Straine Memorial Scholarship will provide $5,000 to a deserving young man who would like to attend CBA, but is experiencing financial difficulty due to the loss of a parent. CBA has provided Jimmy’s sons and nephew an excellent academic environment while also strengthening their faith and service to others. The “Brotherhood” of CBA provides the boys with many strong role models while forming friendships with their peers that will last a lifetime. This is our expression of gratitude to Christian Brothers Academy for helping to provide guidance and love to the Straine boys and paying it forward.
Jimmy Straine Memorial Scholarship at Watchung Hills
2020 – Aaron Marmalejos
The 2020 James J. Straine, Jr. Scholarship was proudly awarded to Aaron Marmalejos and he has provided an update.
Hello, my name is Aaron Marmolejos and I had the honor of receiving the James J. Straine Jr. Memorial Scholarship for the 2020-21 school year. I am currently a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a dual degree in statistics and computer science. Although I have not gotten the traditional college experience in this odd year, I am grateful for the opportunity to attend. I am enjoying learning new things with the hopes of one day becoming a software engineer or data scientist. Most importantly, I am thankful for this scholarship, as it has been a great help for both my family and me.
2019 – Michael E. Sullivan
The 2019 James J. Straine, Jr. Scholarship was proudly awarded to Michael Sullivan of Warren, NJ.
2018 – Julia Grieco
The 2018 James J. Straine, Jr. Scholarship was proudly awarded to Julia Grieco of Stirling, NJ. Julia did well academically and was active at Watchung Hills. She is involved in her church, St. Vincent de Paul in both service projects in Appalachia as well as an ongoing program for teens at the church. Julia wrote about how important it is to her to live a purposeful life by helping people each day. She told us her greatest contribution was to her smallest community, her family, as the oldest of seven children she is a role model to her younger siblings. This reminded us of Jimmy as he was our greatest role model growing up. Julia is attending Seton Hall University majoring in Occupational Therapy where we are sure she will continue making a positive impact to those around her.
2017 – Jeremiah Sullivan
The 2017 James J. Straine, Jr. Scholarship was awarded to Jeremiah Sullivan. While in high school Jeremiah was involved in many clubs and was active in his church, St. Vincent de Paul. His compassion for others and dedication to service made him a clear winner for the scholarship.
Jeremiah’s first year at Allegheny has been busy, fun, and successful. He is on the Dean’s List and is currently considering a double major in economics and chemistry. His extracurricular activities include the Bonner Leader Program, a community service group, and the Outing Club, an outdoor adventure club.
2016 – Kyle Andersen
Kyle Andersen of Warren is the recipient of the 2016 James J. Straine, Jr. Memorial Scholarship. Many things about Kyle impressed us, among them his strong academic record and volunteer resume. Kyle was a member of Student Government all four years and was elected the Vice President of the school his senior year. He was a peer leader and attended New Jersey Boys State. All of this while remaining on honor roll, working and playing club soccer, golf and recreation basketball. Like Jimmy, Kyle is a friend to all and one of his teachers said in her recommendation that Kyle was always talking to different kids and always seemed to be connecting with the right ones. Kyle and his family spend their summers at the New Jersey shore. The basketball courts at the Warren Municipal grounds are dedicated to Kyle’s Dad who sadly passed away in 2010. Those basketball courts were a favorite spot for pick up games and shooting practice through the years for our family and friends. We congratulate Kyle and wish him well at Penn State University and beyond.
2015 – Brian Beckert
It was a joy to give the 2015 James J. Straine, Jr. Memorial Scholarship to Brian Beckert of Watchung.
Brian is an extraordinary young man and a good friend of the golf outing said to us, “If you had 1,000 applicants you could not have picked a better kid.” Brian achieved the prestigious role of Eagle Scout after spending most of his youth in scouting activities. He also taught CCD for all four years in high school and his goal when he started was to get the kids to look forward to coming to CCD each Sunday as he helped them prepare to make their confirmation. Like the rest of his family, he is involved in track and volunteered as a Distance Coach at his middle school in a way to give back to a sport he loves. We all remembered how much Jimmy enjoyed coaching a little league baseball team while in high school. Brian loves to sail and also took flying lessons. We know his Dad is looking down on Brian and his family and is so very proud of each of them. The fact that he is now attending Fairfield University was just icing on the cake of our selection.
Best of luck to Brian in what we all know is a bright future.
2014 – Aidan Sullivan
The Straine Family is proud to announce that the 2014 winner is Aidan Sullivan of Warren, New Jersey.
We were impressed with Aidan’s academic achievements, volunteer work and his athletic tenacity. Aidan is an honor roll student who attended Boy’s State where his interest in the relationship between government and business was sparked. Aidan volunteered throughout his years at Watchung Hills, most notably at the Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside.
Aidan also worked hard on the football field, enjoying the recent success of Warriors, and is so happy to see the stands filled on Friday nights with students and families. In each of his letters of recommendation, his teachers and coaches noted that Aidan was one of the kindest student athletes they have encountered. Aidan is going to continue his football career at Muhlenberg College this fall. We congratulate Aidan and wish him much success in the future.
2013 – Patrick Sullivan
We are so happy to award this year’s James J. Straine, Jr. Memorial Scholarship to Patrick Sullivan. Patrick will be attending Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland this fall. Patrick is a remarkable student and young man. His passion for learning and desire to help others is extraordinary. One of Jimmy’s favorite places to go when we were growing up was The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Whenever our relatives would come visit us in New Jersey this is where we would take them. When we saw that that is where Patrick completed his Eagle Scout project to restore The Great Swamp after the damages of Hurricane Sandy we knew we had our winner! We wish Patrick much success in his very bright future!
2012 – Kaitlyn Andersen
The 2012 James J. Straine Memorial scholarship was easily awarded to Kaitlyn Andersen. A wonderfully talented young lady, Kaitlyn is accomplished in the academic arena as well as in the sports/dance world. An honor roll student all through high school, Kaitlyn also became involved in student government by serving as Class Vice President and President in addition to being selected as New Jersey Girls’ State Representative in 11th grade. Kaitlyn lettered in Field Hockey and Lacrosse and captained the Girls’ Lacrosse Team her senior year. She was also involved in many other programs such as the school chorus, Nike/Interact Club, Homecoming Court, Relay for Life, teaching dance and coaching basketball for first and second grade children for Warren Youth Basketball Association. Optimism, faith and a positive outlook are what embody Kaitlyn’s perspective on life. She has faced ragedy in her life, losing her father in 2010, yet she keeps her spirit high and honors her father’s memory with the quote “If you believe, you will achieve”; something her dad told her years ago and what keeps her going. Kaitlyn believes in helping others through laughter and hope. She believes that is the cure for everything and anything. Kaitlyn participates on the Gotta Dance’s Dynamite Dance team where they perform at various venues such as the Bridgewater Mall (maybe you’ve seen her? ), Ellis Island, NYC parades and Hershey Park. Her favorite venue is one where she can see how much the audience enjoys the show – and that is at the nursing homes. The response they receive from the residents puts a smile on everyone’s face and that, she believes, may change someone’s entire outlook on life.
2011 – Rosalie Minovich
I have recently finished up my freshman year at The Pennsylvania State University. After adjusting to the college life, not to mention workload, I am proud to say I made Dean’s List this past semester! I am still planning on majoring in Accounting; in fact, I will be applying to Penn State’s MAcc program (Master of Accountancy) this fall. It is a great program to get into.. Keeping my fingers crossed! In addition, I have joined a business fraternity and just finished pledging this past semester. You are currently talking to a new member of Phi Chi Theta. I held Philanthropy Chair for my pledge class and I was also voted Historian of the whole brotherhood for this upcoming fall. Why not document all the fun you’re having in college, right? Moreover, I have become a Smeal Student Mentor; basically, I provide a group of ten students or so, information and guidance on their first year at school, and answer any questions they may have. It has been a crazy year, but I’m loving every minute of college! I can’t thank you and your family enough for the scholarship. It definitely took away some stress when the tuition bill came around the corner. I am truly grateful.
Good hearing from you!
2010 – Patrick Reilly
This year, the Straine family takes great pleasure in awarding the James J. Straine, Jr. Memorial Scholarship to Patrick Reilly, a graduating senior at Watchung Hills Regional High School. Patrick embodies so many of the qualities that we felt were key to winning this scholarship. His priorities are in the right place – family, faith, friends and service – and of course, sports. The middle of three boys, Patrick grew up in Stirling and is a parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Stirling, New Jersey. He attended St. Vincent’s Grammar School and remained close to his “St. Vinnie’s Boys” even after many of them went on to different high schools. He was very active in the BOLD youth ministry group, participating in a yearly trip to Appalachia to help families repair their homes. Patrick brought that level of service and fundraising to high school when he and some friends founded the “Lumberjack Club” where they established pancake breakfasts, scavenger hunts and bike races. Like Jimmy, Patrick loves basketball and has played hundreds of games over the years. When his younger brother was in 8th grade and the head basketball coach quit, Patrick approached the athletic director and asked if he could be the coach. Although it was a kind and generous gesture, the AD told him the coach had to be an adult. So, unwilling to give up, Patrick reached out to the parents in his brother’s class and told them of his plan – if an adult could stay in the gym to supervise, maybe he could still coach. One of the team mothers came forward and said that she’d be happy to sit in the gym and handle all of the paperwork if Patrick were allowed to coach the team. The team was formed and Patrick spent many hours and months coaching the boys and bringing them to victory. That enlightening experience made Patrick realize he wanted to bring the fun to others in sports. Starting this fall, Patrick will be a freshman at Kutztown University majoring in Sports Management. Way to go Patrick! After reading Patrick’s scholarship application essay, you finish with a big smile on your face and know that Jimmy would be so proud to have this fine young man receive a scholarship in his name. We are thrilled to award this scholarship to Patrick Reilly and wish him well in his future endeavors. Thanks to everyone for helping Patrick achieve his dream.
2009 – Laura Hausheer
The Straine Family is proud to announce that the 2009 winner is Laura Hausheer from Millington. Laura is an accomplished athlete and began fencing during her freshman year. She was awarded Most Improved for the 2006 to 2007 season and went on to letter from her sophomore through senior seasons, winning Best Sabre each of those years. Laura also took the Silver Medal in the 2008 New Jersey State Championships. Academically, Laura took advanced placement courses at Watchung Hills and made the Honor Roll several times. She participated in a four year interactive classroom program and spent a semester interning as an art teacher for a third grade class, where she says she “learned a lot about multiplication, bloody noses and Pokemon.” She also worked as a lifeguard and waitress in order to save money for college expenses. Laura is also active in her church, having participated in mission trips to poverty stricken areas for the past four years where she has helped to run children’s camps, repair houses and build basketball courts (Jimmy would have loved that!). Laura will attend the College of St. Mary’s in Maryland and follow their 5 year masters program in Education with a concentration in Art and a minor in Social Work. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have her as this year’s recipient of the memorial scholarship.
UPDATE from Laura – 5/2012
Hello, This is laura hausheer, winner of the 2009 scholarship award! I still feel so honored to be a recipient of this award and I am excited to be back in touch with you all to let you know what I have been up to! I will be graduating from St. Marys College of Maryland this spring (next week actually), one year early (I finished my undergraduate degree in three years for financial reasons). I double majored in Art Studio, and English and minored in Educational Studies. I studied abroad my sophomore year first for a semester in Alba, Italy looking closely at art, and then for a semester in Oxford, England where I had the pleasure of attending Oxford University for a semester and concentrated on my English coursework. While abroad I became interested in running- and ran the Edinburgh half marathon in Scotland. Upon my return to the States, I made the varsity cross country team at my college and ran with them this past fall season and continued on to run two additional half marathons- the Annapolis half marathon in the fall, and the Ocean City half marathon this spring. For my year long senior project I wrote, illustrated, and self-published a children’s book, Hats Off To Charli which you can find at the following link: http://www.blurb.com/books/3104377. All of the illustrations in this book I made by paper cutting, a process where I begin with a blank piece of paper, and use exacto knives and scissors to create my picture. It is an extremely time consuming process, but very rewarding in the end. I hope to continue producing children’s books in the future and am looking into working with a “real” publisher. I have been accepted into the graduate program here at St. Marys College, and will be going on this coming year to obtain my masters of teaching in Elementary Education. I am also planning on working as hard as I can this summer to save up money so that I can become a certified yoga teacher. My dream is to bring creative movement and art into elementary school classrooms. I will be graduating with my masters degree in June of 2013 and potentially returning to NJ in my search for a job that will allow me to use my wonderful background education! I literally could not be where I am today with out your support, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
2008 – Brandon Lipke
Brandon was a popular student at Watchung Hills, the captain of the hockey team and demonstrated exceptional leadership skills both on the playing field and in the classroom. Brandon will be attending Jimmy’s alma mater, his self-proclaimed “Harvard of the South” East Carolina University, where he looks forward to playing Pirate hockey.
2007 – Noah Quinlan
The Straine Family is proud to announce that the 2007 winner of the James J. Straine, Jr. Memorial Scholarship is Noah Quinlan, who was presented the $5,000 award by the family on June 19th at the Senior Awards ceremony at Watchung Hills Regional High School in Warren, New Jersey. Noah is a strong student-athlete who has demonstrated his ability to overcome adversity and also enjoys giving back to the community in a variety of ways. In the essay that accompanied his application for the scholarship, Noah wrote about having lost his Uncle on September 11th and how clearly he remembered the agonizing days following the attacks. He decided then and there that he would make each day count for the rest of his life. Noah became an avid soccer player, suffered a knee injury and went through five surgeries before his freshman year that required a full year of physical therapy. He trained hard during his rehabilitation and went on to play four years on the Watchung Hills men’s soccer team, being elected captain by his teammates for his senior season. His athletic accolades include being awarded the Watchung Optimist Club Soccer Athlete of the Year and the Aaron C. Karol Defensive Award, which is presented annually to a Watchung Hills player in honor of alumnus “AK”, who was killed tragically in the Seton Hall dormitory fire in January of 2000. Noah also coached a middle school boy’s soccer team and made a lasting impression on the kids, reminding us of Jimmy and Scott Saxon’s youth coaching adventures. He also served as a Basketball and Soccer camp counselor. Academically, Noah is a member of the National Honor Society, was recognized as a National Merit Commended Student and is the Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholar. He also participated in the National Student Leader Conference and was an active member of the Watchung Hills community during his four years there. His community service activities include membership in the Nike Club and serving as a 4-H Seeing Eye Puppy Raiser. Noah’s teachers and coaches describe him as self directed, intelligent, kind and cheerful. His soccer coach added, “I recommend Noah without reservation and consider him to be one of the finest young men to have played for me.” We think Jimmy would be very proud of Noah’s fine accomplishments. .
Noah will be attending the Honors College at the University of Vermont this fall.
2006 – Daniel Chu
The Straine family takes pride in announcing that the recipient of the 2006 James J. Straine, Jr. Memorial Scholarship is Dan Chu. Dan’s application received many accolades. He was an exceptional student and athlete at Watchung Hills. Dan played basketball for Gene McAteer, who is a friend of the Straine family. Gene told us that Dan is a great kid who brought enthusiasm to the basketball court each day. He was loyal to his team and always gave 110% both at practice and on game day. Gene also said that many of Dan’s attributes – especially his dedication to his family, loyalty to his friends and funny and caring personality – mirrored Jimmy. Among his many achievements while attending Watchung Hills, Dan initiated and coordinated the “Big Hearts, Big Strides” Walk, raising over $50,000 for two quadriplegic students, served as a member of the All School Council and was the Student Leader to coordinate the school’s relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina victims, all while taking Honors / AP classes and earning honor roll status each semester. He also pursued the study of martial arts and attained the level of 2nd degree Black Belt. Mr. Battiato, an English teacher at Watchung Hills who wrote Dan’s recommendation for the scholarship, said “Dan is a rare and special individual for his age. I admire him, as I did Jimmy when he was in my class, for his altruism and dignity. I cannot think of a more worthy candidate.”
Dan will be attending University of Maryland in the fall of 2006.
UPDATE from Daniel 5/2012
Being awarded the Jimmy Straine Jr. Memorial Scholarship was an exceptional moment in my life as a young 24 year old. 6 years ago, I still remember being awarded the scholarship in the company of the family and friends who loved Jimmy so dearly. It was an honor to be chosen as a recipient and to be in the company of people who believed that I had the potential to live a life of purpose and dedication to my work and friends that I knew Jimmy lived, solely through the stories of his loved ones. Since 2006, I have graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education where I served as Philanthropy Chairman for the Alpha Tau Omega Leadership Fraternity. In that position I had the honor of giving back to the community by planning a silent auction to raise over $20,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as well as mentor young inner city students as a Big Brother. I was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in London where I met lifelong friends that I still speak to today. Since graduation, I have moved to New York City to live, where I have worked as a teacher at an inner city second chance high school in the Bronx for underprivileged, overaged, students, and currently work as a 6th grade math teacher at Mahalia Jackson College Preparatory Academy in West Harlem. I will be pursuing my Master’s Degree in Education starting next year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Straine family for believing in me 6 years ago and helping to assist me in achieving my goals as a young post-graduate. Good luck to this year’s recipient. I wish you all the best in college and beyond!
2005 – Kaitlin Beckert
The 2005 recipient of the James J. Straine, Jr. Memorial Scholarship was Kaitlin Beckert. Kaitlin is the eldest daughter of Nancy and the late Bob Beckert, Watchung Hills Class of 1976, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident while on a business trip in Dallas on February 5, 2004, which also happened to be Jimmy’s birthday. Despite enduring such personal tragedy, Kaitlin was recognized as mature and responsible, a natural leader and role model for all student-athletes. Kaitlin excelled in cross-country and indoor and outdoor track, having earned 11 varsity letters during her high school career and captained each of her teams. Admired and respected by her peers as well as her teachers and coaches, Kaitlin assumes responsibility easily, gracefully and collaboratively. Her ready smile, affable nature and friendly demeanor are appreciated by all in the Watchung Hills community. Kaitlin reflects all of the attributes that made Jimmy a beloved member of the Watchung Hills family.
Kaitlin continues to make her family and the Watchung Hills community proud as she attends Loyola of Baltimore.
2004 – Spenser Brenn
The Straine family had the honor to award the first scholarship in Jimmy’s name to Spenser Brenn of Warren Township. Spenser demonstrated behavior that was grounded in strong ethical principles and received enthusiastic recommendations from his teachers. He excelled both academically and athletically, demonstrating leadership as a captain of the football and baseball teams at Watchung Hills. Spenser was also named Offensive Player of the Year on the Warrior baseball team in 2004. Watching Hills alumni and former New York Giant veteran Billy Ard, who served as one of Spenser’s football coaches since 8th grade, said of our choice, “Spenser is a GREAT kid and he always has a smile on his face.” We know that would make Jimmy proud.
Spenser went on to attend Rowan University.
UPDATE from Spenser Brenn – 5/2012
Finding out that I was recipient of the Jimmy Straine Scholarship was a wonderful feeling immediately. Then once I found out more about the scholarship and the charity I was even more honored to have been chosen and thought of having the characteristics that were necessary to deserve this award. The historic and tragic events of September 11th is something I will never forget, from the placing myself in the exact desk where I was the moment the news hit our schools that morning. It was intense how impactful those events were for individuals in my class, school, community as well as the nation. Little did I know that I was going to have a closer connection with someone who’s life was prematurely taken from them as well as a relationship with their family and this great organization that has been given birth because of the events that occurred. Before receiving this award and honor I made the subconscious decision to live my life one moment at a time and make the best of every situation and challenge thrown my way. It was not until I read about Jimmy and heard about him and the wonderful man that he was that I truly understood the importance of understanding that you and only you have control over your actions. It is because of individuals like Jimmy and so many others that goals and conquests are achieved and conquered. Their impact and leadership through example instill the ideas and desire to make positive decisions and do all you can to make negatives positives. This scholarship is just one way that a negative was turned into a positive; the negative events of September 11th has given birth to this great foundation. I just want to take this opportunity to thank you once again for the recognition. I can only hope that my approach to life and my ideas of “lead by example” are truly having an impact on young and older people alike.
As for what I am doing now, I have returned to Watchung Hills Regional High School and am in my 3rd teaching Health and Physical Education as well as coaching Football, Baseball and Strength & Conditioning. I had such a positive experience here and I feel the desire and obligation to help (in any way that I can) develop young minds and individuals into thriving members of society. I understand that both the academic world and athletic world are important for individuals to flourish. I fully believe it is possible for people to be both a success in the competitive world of sports as well as the competitive world of academics and that they have a direct effect on each other. I could go on for pages, but I will end it right there. If there is anything else you need please do not hesitate to ask.
Once again, thank you!!!