The New Jersey Recreation and Park Association has chosen to bestow its 2018 Professional of the Year Award on Tom Mladenetz, executive director of Catholic Youth Organization of Mercer County. Mladenetz will receive the award during the NJRPA’s annual awards dinner March 6 in Atlantic City.
“It’s really a nice surprise and honor,” said Mladenetz. “I guess it shows I’ve been around a long time!”
Each year the NJRPA awards program seeks to honor and identify dedicated leaders, employees and volunteers in the field of parks and recreation, and to recognize the state’s outstanding recreation and park agencies for excellence in programming, publicity and facility design. The goal of the program is to focus state attention on the achievements of these businesses and individuals, recognizing their continuing efforts by both employees and volunteers.
Criteria for the individual awards, as per NJRPA, include high professional values, rendering contribution through outstanding service to the profession, distinctive service to the association and/or conspicuous service to their constituency on a national, state or local level.
This marks the first time a member of CYO Mercer has been selected for an award from NJRPA. Mladenetz was unaware of the nomination until after a representative of NJRPA came to a CYO Mercer board of trustees meeting in January and spoke to the board in his absence.
“I’m proud of the work that we do, and obviously this award is the reflection on the whole organization,” he said, as he extended appreciation to diocesan officials Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.; Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, diocesan Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia; Brenda Rascher, executive director of the diocesan Office of Catholic Social Services, among others. “It’s a nice compliment and recognition for the CYO, not just locally, but also on the statewide level.”
He also credited the CYO Mercer board of trustees and CYO staff members for their significant contributions.
“They’re the people I sit with throughout the year,” Mladenetz affimed. “I have a 24/7 job, but my family is very supportive, and I’ve got a great staff – I couldn’t do it without strong staff at all the facilities. I’m really blessed.”