Morris Plains Resident Honored By Congress For Service
By Jason Cohen
Since she was a child, Morris Plains resident Stephanie Quinton has loved to help people and felt it was more important to give than receive. On June 17, Quinton was one of the 267 recipients of the Congressional Award Gold Medal, Congress’ highest award for youth.
This annual event honors individuals that have dedicated hundreds of hours of service to their communities. The awards were presented in the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill.
Quinton said it was nice to be recognized for her hard work.
“Obviously it was great to be honored,” Quinton said. “I’m still in shock. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet what it really means to be honored. It does make you feel good that other people notice. It’s that little push to keep me going.”
She attended the event with her mother, Lisa Pessolano; her grandmother, Ninetta Pappas; her half- sister, Avaleigh Quinton, five; her sister, Kristyn Quinton, 21; and her half- brother, Chase Quinton, nine. She said her family was proud of her, and her mom and grandma could not stop bragging to their friends and posting pictures of Quinton on social media.
Quinton, 25, who is a graduate student at Rutgers University, learned about giving back when she joined the girl scouts at the age of six. Girl scouts is in her blood, as her mother was a member and her grandma was her troop leader.
She did girl scouts for 12 years and bonded with the girls in her troop, learning about leadership and valuable life skills.
“We never flaunted that we were in the girl scouts, but we stayed in it,” she said.
She participated in numerous activities, such as helping sort food and donations after 9/11 and collecting stuffed animals for children in 2008. Also, in 2008, she received the gold medal, the highest award for a girl scout. She is also the leader of Troop 96207 in Leonia, in which her sister, Avaleigh, is a member.
“We’re still in a society which is male dominated,” Quinton said. Girl scouts has empowered me to say I can do anything I want to do.”
She also completed more than 400 hours of community service through Alpha Phi Omega, Phi Sigma Sigma at the College of New Jersey. This included planning a 5K, assisting at a soup kitchen and participating in Relay for Life. She served as vice president of fundraising for the American University Dance Marathon and for Alpha Phi Omega, raising more than $7,500, collectively and planning a Rock-A-Thon for Phi Sigma Sigma, raising more than $1,000.
After graduating from TCNJ in 2012, it was difficult finding a job, she said. However, in Sept. 2013, she became a field executive at the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey, where she recruits girls to join the organization and informs parents about the benefits of girl scouts. To go from loving girl scouts as a child and to now be working for them is a dream come true, Quinton said.
“It feels very rewarding that I’m the person that’s recruiting a girl in kindergarten who will have the opportunity to be a girl scout,” Quinton said.