Marilyn Ryan was presented with the prestigious Jean Harris Award at a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Westfield. This award is given to a non- Rotarian who does exceptional service to the community. It is a District wide award. The Rotary District 7475 comprises of 77 clubs through 9 counties in northern New Jersey.

District Awards Chair David Breidinger, from the Rotary Club of Trenton, presented this award on June 7, 2022.

Past President and Rotary Club Foundation Chair Liz Ensslin nominated Marilyn because she has worked closely with her for many years through the Rotary’s food program to feed the hungry. Her remarks are as follows:

“Marilyn has dedicated her entire life to those in need. After earning a bachelor’s degree in education from Seton Hall University in South Orange, Marilyn embarked on a 20-year career as a teacher in the parochial school systems in both Elizabeth and Linden. She returned to school and became a licensed practical nurse, working in the Rahway Hospital Pediatrics Unit for the next 12 years.  In 1985, she assumed the position of Pastoral Associate at Parish Community of Saint Helen in Westfield. In this role Marilyn coordinates many Outreach Programs and Eucharistic Ministry.  Marilyn is the coordinator of the Helping Hands and Hearts Program, which is designed to provide temporary financial or material assistance to those in need in our community.  Marilyn serves on the advisory board of Sister Pat’s Camp for Kids with Cancer in New York and is an Emeritus Member of the Board of St. Joseph’s Social Center in Elizabeth.  What is most important to know about Marilyn is that she is truly one of the most selfless people we know. The poor, the hungry and those in need always come first.  She is the driver of our Soup Kitchens, Food Pantry, Service Auction and many other ministries.

When it comes to her work, Marilyn leads by example.  She empowers others to lead their ministries for the poor and disadvantaged, but she also never hesitates to roll up her sleeves, pack Thanksgiving Baskets or deliver gifts to the poor. Marilyn knows first-hand that to “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  Her legacy is not only the work she does herself but the work she supports and empowers others to do. While we think of Marilyn delivering to those in need, we also deeply value the support she provides to members of our community who are suffering from illness, grief or a family crisis. She has truly touched the hearts of many and taught us how to serve others and be an advocate for others less fortunate than ourselves.”

Many guests attended the meeting and gave Marilyn accolades for her dedicated service to the community and surrounding avenues.

The Rotary Club of Westfield meets the first three Tuesdays of the month at noon at Limani Restaurant on North Ave. Guests are always Welcome.  For information check the Rotary Club website at or contact secretary Michael Hart by email

Photo: left to right: District Awards Chair David Breidinger, Jean Harris Award recipient Marilyn Ryan, Rotary Club Foundation Chair Liz Ensslin.