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LB Aware honors local ‘champions’


Long Beach AWARE held its annual Breakfast of Champions fundraiser on Oct. 27 to honor community members that have shown a commitment to maintaining Long Beach as a healthy and safe community for families and children.

LB AWARE, a local organization dedicated to preventing substance abuse among young people, hosted more than 150 people at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park. The organization celebrated the efforts of several community members including Cliff Skudin, co-founder of Surf for All; Jeanine Sorensen, co-founder of Surf for All's Adaptive Surf Camp; Lorie Beard, Long Beach Middle School principal; Jannine Sandmeier, owner of Once Upon A Party LBNY; and Patricia Hincken, director of Addiction Recovery services at Northwell Health Zucker Hillside Hospital.

“We choose people who support our mission, which is to help maintain Long Beach’s healthy and safe community for families and children to grow and thrive,” said LB AWARE Executive Director Judi Vining.

Vining added that Skudin and Sorensen from Surf For All — a Long Beach-based non-profit that organizes surf outings and other events for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities — paved the way for individuals with disabilities to enjoy activities that are healthy and safe. They were honored with the Community Volunteers of the Year award.

Sandmeier, who received the Merchant of the Year award, helps the community through her business endeavors and personal work, Vining said. She also described her as an “unsung hero” of the community. Beard received the Rookie of the Year award for helping the community and going out of her way to implement new programs and sustain others.

Hincken, meanwhile, was presented with the Woman of the Year award. Vining said that without Hincken, LB AWARE wouldn’t exist. Vining added that Hincken saw the opportunity for her and others to be trained in addiction prevention while working together at the former Long Beach Medical Center. Hincken went on to help launch the Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking — now known as LB AWARE.

“Her quiet leadership, her vision and support made this all possible,” Vining said. “She is one of the unsung heroes of Long Beach.”

The breakfast, which began in 2016, raised more than $8,000 and will help fund the organization’s events like Teen Nite Out and Tween Nite Out, which promote safe substance-free activities for teens.

“We were so pleased with the turnout, the support, the atmosphere, which was warm and supportive — everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and enjoy being there to support us,” Vining said.

(Correction: Jeanine Sorensen is the Co-founder of Surf For All's Adaptive Surf Camp. We regret the error.)