Nine individuals to be honored at QSpot Community Awards
QSpot LGBT Community Center for 2019 will honor nine individuals. The awards will recognize extraordinary contributions to the LGBT community and QSpot. The Jubilee Dinner and Awards are on Saturday, June 1. The annual event will be at 6pm at the Riverview Waterfront Pavilion in Belmar. Proceeds from the event support QSpot LGBT Center in Ocean Grove.
The recipients of the QSpot Community Awards for 2019 are Dr. Carolyn Bradley, Bill Canacci, Joan Caputo, Joanne Demant, Abby Maisonave, Stephen Mandeville and Victor Aluise, Mark McSpirit, and Linda Phillips.
Dr. Carolyn Bradley, PhD, LCSW, LCADC
Dr. Carolyn Bradley has raised awareness of the needs of LGBT elders and efforts to improve the quality of their lives. She co-leads the LGBT Older Adult Project at Monmouth University’s School of Social Work. The Older Adult Project has examined how sexual orientation influences the aging experience. The Project has created a training curriculum on LGBT older adults, Buddy Program for LGBT Older Adults, and trainings for Adult Protective Service workers. The project partnered this year with Garden State Equality to assist in a statewide LGBT older adult needs assessment. Dr. Bradley is also an Associate Professor of Social Work at Monmouth University. Rev. Carolyn Bradley is also a Deacon at Trinity Episcopal Church in Asbury Park. What Carolyn enjoys the most, however, is spending time with family, especially her wife, Mickey. Mickey and Carolyn will celebrate 25 years of marriage in October. With her upcoming retirement in December, Carolyn looks forward to spending more time with Mickey, and opportunities for continued service to the LGBT community.
Bill Canacci is a regional features and entertainment editor for Gannett New Jersey. In December 2014, shortly after starting a new position, Bill began reaching out to the local LGBT community to share their stories online and in the newspaper. With Bill’s help, The Asbury Park Press has made significant strides reporting on local LGBT issues and organizations. Bill served on GLSEN Central New Jersey’s Board of Trustees from 2012 to 2018. GLSEN works to end discrimination, harassment and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in K-12 schools. Bill volunteered with the NJ Lesbian and Gay Coalition, a statewide LGBT advocacy group back in the day. He edited the group’s quarterly publication, News Jersey. In 2003, Bill, along with his dear friend Everett Kline (a staunch LGBT advocate) and Lisa Blum (who was working at HiTOPS in Princeton), produced an LGBT resource guide for New Jersey educators, counselors and administrators. The guide was for LGBT students who needed additional resources and support. An Ohio native, Bill started working for the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick in 1999 as a business writer/copy editor before moving to the features desk. In 2000, Bill created and edited Teen Scene, a section for high school students. Teen Scene was published weekly until 2008. It won more than 30 section and writing awards. Since 2001, Bill has written Broadway and off-Broadway reviews for Gannett NJ and the USA Today Network. In 2009, he was transferred to the copy desk of the Asbury Park Press, focusing on lifestyle and entertainment stories.
Joan Caputo was a founding member and President of Ocean Grove United for five years. The group forged friendships among the diverse people in Ocean Grove. Joan was also Vice-President of QSpot during the agency’s initial formation. Joan began her career as a junior high and high school math teacher. As a single parent, Joan decided that she needed to change professions so she attended the Chubb School eventually working for Chubb & Son for over 20 years. Joan worked in Information Technology. She is a founding member of the IT Women’s Council, a group that addressed gender disparities in high level positions. Joan was also a member of NOW. In the 1990s, working with other employees, Joan helped form GLEN – Gay and Lesbian Employee Network at Chubb. In 2007, after the Camp Meeting Association withdrew a permit for Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster to use the boardwalk for their Civil Union ceremony, Joan committed to “doing something.” Shortly after, Ocean Grove United was born. Joan has also been a member of the Ocean Grove Home Owners Association. Joan’s LGBT activism has spanned more than 30 years.
Joanne Demant passed away after a short illness on March 22, 2019. Joanne identified with the struggles women alone face in life. Her most exceptional and unprecedented accomplishments were being the founder of “Feminine Connection.” It was a travel/social organization and “MerryMakers,” a social/dance organization. It was within these organizations that so many lives were touched by Joanne’s spirit and inspiration. Joanne had an interesting and varied business career. While with ESSO Co. in New York City, she worked in Public Relations and was the softball team captain. In 1957, Joanne was voted “Miss Jessie” – spokeswoman and representative for ESSO. This was followed with a radio/TV company in Atlanta, GA. She worked in educational sales for 3M for five years. Joanne’s interest and concern for others led her to Rockland County Mental Health Facility in Pomona, NY. As the vocational instructor and addictions counselor she helped clients troubled with drug and alcohol addictions. After retiring, she returned to the Mental Health to volunteer with drug and alcohol dependent residents in the arts programs.
Abby Maisonave served as President of PFLAG Jersey Shore from 2010-2017. PFLAG is the first and largest organization uniting families and allies with people who are lLGBT. From 2013-2017, Abby was also PFLAG’s North Atlantic Regional Director, overseeing PFLAG chapters in NJ, NY, and PA. Abby first became involved with PFLAG in 2004 when she sought support after learning that one of her children was gay. Through her involvement with PFLAG, Abby became an LGBT activist, public speaker and educator. Over the years, Abby has presented dozens of workshops on LGBTQ issues. Abby has trained medical professionals, teaching personnel, and spoken to high school and college students. Abby is perhaps best-known for her constant availability to those in need. She tirelessly is giving of her time. Abby was a 2012 recipient of a Humanitarian Award from the American Conference on Diversity, and the prestigious 2017 Carmel Tavadia Memorial Award which recognizes outstanding work and support of true family values by an individual or organization. Outside of PFLAG, Abby is mom to three children, aged 24, 26 & 30, and has a loving, wonderfully supportive partner, Stan. She vows to continue to educate, support and advocate on behalf of LGBT individuals and their families.
Stephen Mandeville and Victor Aluise
Stephen Mandeville and Victor Aluise are LGBT community members and advocates, Ocean Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Board Members, and Founders and CEOs of Comfort Zone Bath and Body, Comfort Zone Books, and The Emporium at Ocean Grove. Comfort Zone is one of the oldest retail business on Main Avenue in Ocean Grove. They are partners in love, life, and business for more than 25 years, Stephen and Victor started their life when they were both students at Columbia University. Stephen was an aspiring writer and managed one of the most popular bars in Manhattan. Victor began his career designing educational and entertainment software for companies such as Scholastic, Microsoft, and McGraw-Hill. Stephen spotted Ocean Grove as the ideal location for his retail business – largely because of the LGBT community. With the support of the LGTB community, Stephen’s business grew. He expanded the business to include books, music, and online sales. In 2009, the couple expanded again with The Emporium at Ocean Grove. The Emporium has participated in benefit fashion shows to fundraise for Jersey Shore Medical Center, Mary’s Place, Regency Hadassah, Jersey Shore Arts Center, and others.
Mark McSpirit was President of the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ from 2015–2017. The Pride Center is NJ’s oldest LGBT Community Center. Mark has been involved with the center since 2012. He joined the Board as Volunteer Coordinator in 2013. Mark transitioned to Vice President of Operations in 2017 and is currently a member of the Pride Center’s Advisory Board. During his term as President, Mark was instrumental in helping create the New Jersey Association of LGBT Community Centers, a group established to connect NJ’s LGBT centers and raise awareness. Mark has worked as a general management professional for 30 years. Mark was born and raised in a small town in upstate New York. Being from a small town, Mark wanted to ensure that no one would experience the loneliness and fear he faced growing up.
Linda Phillips is a 20-year resident of Asbury Park. For more than 23 years, she has been a member of Jersey Pride, Inc., the organization that produces the LGBT Pride festival in Asbury Park every June. Her long-standing commitment to her community has led to work on numerous peace and justice issues. Over the years, she has helped the former New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition, a New Brunswick LGBT community group, Slightly Older Lesbians, and More Than You Can Count, a lesbian organizing committee that presented speakers and music to the community. Linda also supported QSpot during the legal battle to protect their home.She established the GOFUNDME campaign which generated support for the agency. Linda is a co-founder of The Dialogue, a local group of diverse residents and friends of Asbury Park whose concern is to bridge the “diversity gap” that exists at the local and national level. Linda is an active member and Treasurer of the Monmouth County LGBTQ Democratic Caucus.