Two remarkable men. Two mission-driven organizations. A common thread of dedication, compassion and service to those most in need.
That was the theme of the Circle of Life Children’s Center’s inaugural Concert Gala Dinner on Nov. 16, 2016, where Monsignor William J. Linder was honored with the Humanitarian Award.
An elegant affair, the gala was held at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston and benefited children with life-threatening illnesses. Circle of Life Founder Dr. Jim Oleske, a pioneer in the field of pediatric AIDS treatment, is a longtime friend of Monsignor Linder and was honored that same evening with the Founder’s Award.
Oleske founded the Circle of Life in 2002 with the mission to provide a comprehensive program of palliative and end-of-life care for children with life-limiting illnesses and support for families. During the evening program, the Schorbel family recounted how Oleske stood by their side for more than two decades as their daughter, Lisa, received treatment from Oleske as she battled a rare and ultimately fatal disease.
“It’s not hard to think of Jim as the most important person in your life,” said Monsignor Linder, who first met the renowned physician when he was a medical student. “He’s spectacular.”
Samuel Varsano, executive director of the Circle of Life, also highlighted Monsignor Linder’s tremendous work serving a different type of need—impoverished families in Newark.
“Monsignor Linder, himself the founder of New Community Corporation, is an essential contributor to the economic and social well-being of families throughout Newark,” Varsano said.
The Circle of Life is a nonprofit organization in Elizabeth that, in addition to caring for sick children and their families, advocates to make palliative care an integrated part of both medical school curricula and local hospital offerings.
The gala featured musical performance from Ray Cetrell, the Symphonics and the Cameos, who entertained guests as they danced the night away.
For Monsignor Linder, being honored at the gala alongside Oleske—who has saved the lives of hundreds of children and compassionately cared for bereaved families—made receiving the Humanitarian Award a very special occasion.
“That’s the greatest honor I’ve gotten,” he said.