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Alan Karpas and Martha Ackermann Named UNICO’S 2014 'Citizens of the Year'

Jackie Schatell

Monday, February 24, 2014 • 1:55am

LIVINGSTON, NJ – Alan Karpas and Martha Ackermann have been named Livingston UNICO’s 2014 Citizens of the Year for their dedication to the community through volunteerism. They will be honored at UNICO’s Awards Brunch on Sunday, March 9 at 10 a.m. at the Hanover Manor. 

For 59 years, UNICO, America’s largest Italian American service organization, has been recognizing local residents who have contributed to the wellbeing of Livingston and its citizens.

“Their dedication to volunteerism in our community exemplifies UNICO’s core belief of ‘Service above Self,’ which is the reason for their selection,” said President of Livingston’s UNICO, Al Branchi. “Their efforts have provided citizens with unrivaled public services in education, activities for the young and old, security, protection, EMT and firefighting services, and many others.”

Branchi added, “Individually, Karpas and Ackermann have served Livingston from their first days as residents—Alan for over 40 years and Martha for over 30. Both have an innate zeal for contributing to the betterment of their community and Livingston has greatly benefited for their efforts.”

A Little History

Although individually they have both been long-time volunteers, Karpas and Ackermann first met in 2006 when Alan reached out to Martha about working on the Safety Committee for the Vision 20/20 Committee, which is the long range planning committee for the town. Their first meeting was the beginning of their ‘partnership’ in volunteerism. Both have strong core beliefs in ‘safety’ for their ‘family and community,’ which they view as virtually one and the same.

Not long after, both were invited to a planning meeting for Healthy Community, Healthy Youth (HCHY). They became excited about the concept of keeping the youth and community safe and both eagerly accepted the opportunity to serve. In doing so, they helped established a 501 c.3 (tax deductible) organization, wrote by-laws, organized the advisory board, and during the entire seven years of HCHY’s existence, they have alternated as President and have always served on the Executive Board.

In addition to being founding members of HCHY, they are also very active with two of HCHY’s affiliate organizations— the Livingston Robotics Club and the Children’s Theatre of Livingston. Karpas helped shape the Livingston Robotics Club and serves as a trustee, and Ackermann is a founding member of the Children’s Theatre of Livingston. 

In addition, HCHY takes on the sole leadership of Youth Appreciation Week, and most recently, it launched and organized the Stuff the Bus Program to benefit C.H.O.W., the Livingston Food Bank.

“Together Karpas and Ackermann unselfishly give 200 percent to the community,” said Branchi.

About Alan Karpas

Karpas served in the Army until 1964. In 1970, he and his wife Margie moved to Livingston with their sons Michael and Peter, where they remained to raise a family and serve the community. Karpas worked in manufacturing and sold apparel as promotional products by putting logos on shirts and other items. His expertise in the workplace was to turn around troubled companies and start up new companies. He uses this expertise to help Livingston.

In 2003, Karpas met Mayor Steve Santola and was invited to help start up and later head up the Vision 20/20 committee.

“He has greatly expanded its reach in just 10 years,” said Branchi.

In addition to Vision 20/20, Karpas created the Livingston Express Shuttle and manages it for the Township. And, for six years he has served as the Vice President of the Administration Committee for the United Way of NJ.

About Martha Ackermann

Ackermann also has a long-standing history of commitment to the Township of Livingston. She has traveled the world extensively and has transferred her creative skills to volunteerism in the community.  Her husband, Bill, is often by her side assisting on many of her projects.

Ackermann said she moved to Livingston because of the school system's excellent reputation and that her proudest accomplishments are her children: Jeffrey, Jill and Christine—three proud graduates of the Livingston Public Schools who are now college students.

As a resident of Livingston since 1986, Ackerman has immersed herself in activities that involve children. She is employed at the Livingston High School, as an administrative assistant to the Curriculum Supervisors and can often be seen with her camera in tow as a freelance writer and photographer for the West Essex Tribune.

Ackermann has served as a co-chairperson of the PT Council’s Town-wide Safety Committee for more than seventeen years. She said that she has a passion for the safety of Livingston’s youth that has resulted in her working with a variety of organizations and municipal departments to ensure safety as a priority. 

In addition, Ackermann is a founding member, and is the current Secretary for the HCHY initiative of Livingston, a collaborative partnership between youth and adults creating a community where all young people thrive.  

She has also served on the Livingston Board of Education’s Long-Range Planning Committee’s Redistricting Subcommittee, is an active member of the School District Budget Task Force, and is past President of the PTA.

And, Ackermann is also a founding member and the Vice President of the Children’s Theatre of Livingston, a volunteer organization that allows children the opportunity of experiencing every aspect of the theatrical process—from acting and set design to lighting and backstage crew.

Ackermann also enhances her interest in the arts as a member of the Arts Council of Livingston, where she served as president for three years and is now the secretary. 

For brunch tickets or ad journal placements reach out to nsantinelli@aol.com or call (973) 740-0620. All funds raised will go to supporting scholarships for Livingston High School Seniors, and donations will also be made to the winners’ favorite charities.

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