Susan Holland, a special education teacher at Manchester Township Middle School, has had her share of bad times this past year. Her home in the Silverton section of Toms River was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy and she lost her husband, John, in February, leaving her a single mom with four children. Last week, Holland was called down to the school office for a surprise that brightened her day. Nina Anuario, Vice President of OceanFirst Bank and President of the Ocean County Vocational Technical School Board of Education, presented her with a $5,000 storm relief grant from the Toms River Police Foundation.
Holland was selected for the grant through a series of coincidental connections. Her son, Griffin, is a student at OCVTS Performing Arts Academy, which is her connection to Anuario. Through her business connections, Anuario received a call from the Toms River Police Foundation's president, Lucy Greene, asking her to help find deserving people in need of a grant. Holland's good friend, Steve Brennan, Business Administrator at Pinelands High School, learned about the grant from Anuario and recommended Holland.
Anuario said the foundation members asked her to present the check to Holland. "When I got the call and they told me the number, I got chills," she said. "Of course, it could never come close to anything you lost but it's a step."
Holland was moved to tears as she accepted the check. She said she has been amazed at the support she has received not only from friends, family and colleagues but also from strangers. "I am so grateful. I can honestly feel it, people praying for me and worrying about me. Thank you just doesn't seem like enough."
Manchester Superintendent of Schools, David Trethaway, said, "I can't think of anyone who is more deserving. Sue is always there for everyone else here in the district and the community and it's great that someone is giving back to her."