About the Honorees
2020 Veritas Honorees
Beverly Schunk Afonso ’65
Excellence in Humanitarian Philanthropy
Beverly received her BS degree in 1965 in Biology and later achieved an MS in Pathogenic MICROBiology from Rutgers University. While at Caldwell College she was awarded the coveted “C”-Pin and was Class VP for four years. She started her pharmaceutical career (Schering Plough, Warner-Lambert) as a microbiologist and moved up to Quality Assurance, where she was involved in launching new products at Wyeth.
She and her husband, Adrian, who was Senior Research Fellow at SGP, created The Afonso foundation that was initially directed to provide counseling for battered women in Goa. Eventually, the foundation helped ChildsPlay of India provide musical instruments for indigent children studying music. After Adrian died, Beverly met a zealous doctor in Goa who was trying to assist children with behavioral issues who were normally ostracized. With Foundation support,
Dr. Nandita DeSousa developed Sethu, the Hindu word for bridge, a group of physicians who diagnose behavioral issues and instruct teachers and parents in helping children with autism and hearing impairments. Beverly also directed Foundation support to Dr. Bosseut Afonso, a prominent surgeon in Goa, as he built a 250-bed state of the art hospital along American hospital lines.
Closer to home, Beverly has enjoyed identifying and experiencing small local nonprofits that struggle for funding. Her eyes light up when she talks about her visits to St. Peter’s Orphanage for Boys in Denville and Sound Start Babies in Mountain Lakes, which provides services for children with hearing impairments from birth to kindergarten.
Beverly has always supported Caldwell University with both time and treasure. She served on the Alumni Board and has endowed a scholarship for students and adult returning students pursuing Science. She has also served on the Oncology Community Advisory Board at Morristown Hospital, The Home Garden Club of Morristown and the Friends Board of the FrelinghuysEn Arboretum. She is grateful to Caldwell University which gave her an excellent
academic foundation, confidence, and support throughout her life so that she can carry on her philanthropic giving to help make the world a better place. Beverly has two children, Suzanne Afonso Smith and Eric Afonso, and four grandchildren. Her
nephew, Alec Schunk, will receive a Caldwell MA in Applied Behavioral Science in May 2020.
Sister Donna L. Ciangio, O.P. ’71
Excellence in Church Leadership
As a Sister of St. Dominic for over 50 years, Sister Donna has had a full and rich career. Currently, Sister is serving as Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Newark since her appointment by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, in 2018. As such, she is involved with implementing a vision of
the Church of Newark for the future with an emphasis on parish vitality and pastoral direction.
Sister Donna, Principal, and Founder of Church Leadership Consultation, an organization specializing in mission advancement and pastoral training and planning, has worked both nationally and internationally with dioceses and parishes to facilitate parish council and faith formation initiatives.
She has served as Director of Pastoral Services for the National Pastoral Life Center as well as Associate Director-U.S. Operations and Director-International Operations for RENEW International which supports evangelization efforts in more than 100 dioceses in the U.S., Canada and around the world.
Her involvement with the community of Dominican Sisters and Caldwell University sees her as a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Ministry Development and a member of the Board of Trustees for the University.
Sister shares her knowledge and expertise through books and articles that have been published in Today’s Parish, Liguorian, and Church Magazine. Her writing has appeared in publications of Crossroads, Paulist Press and St. Anthony Magazine.
Earning her B.A. in Fine Arts and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Caldwell University, Sister went on the receive an M.A. in Fine Arts from New York University and her Doctor of Ministry, with distinction, from Drew University.
She is the recipient of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Papa Award and Diocesan Awards from the Diocese of Malolos, Philippines and Archdiocese of Agana, Guam. She was also granted the Msgr. Thomas A. Kleissler award from Renew International.
Mary Ann Frigola Cox ’70
Excellence in Volunteer Leadership
Mary Ann Cox has lived her life in line with a message she heard years ago, “Love is giving of yourself for the good of another.” After graduating from Caldwell College in 1970 with a major in Spanish, Mary Ann taught Spanish for a few years before starting her family. In 1982 a move to Peachtree City, Georgia opened up a world of opportunity in which Mary Ann saw many needs, and her response was, “You see a need, and you work to fill it.”
Mary Ann’s first venture in the South was Girl Scouting. Having daughters, Mary Ann quickly learned the program was virtually non-existent in the area. Mary Ann worked to develop two units for the city, one in the south and one in the north. Mary Ann began their summer camp program as well as a “Date with Dad” annual dance, which at its peak drew over 700 girls and dads.
Mary Ann and her husband joined Holy Trinity Catholic Church where they needed help with religious education. Mary Ann began in a volunteer role, was later the Elementary Coordinator, and ultimately became the Director of Religious Education. During this time Mary Ann saw the parish grow from 700 to 2,600 families. A Vacation Bible School program was initiated under Mary Ann’s lead, in partnership with the local Lutheran Church. Also in partnership with other local churches, Mary Ann began a Stephens Ministry program, sending trained individuals to provide confidential care to individuals experiencing difficult times. When her third daughter was three years old and the parish needed a preschool, Mary Ann founded it. She also began the parish Giving Tree which provides hundreds of families with gifts at Christmas time. Life Teen was the first parish program for teens, of course, initiated by Mary Ann. Today this program brings teens on mission trips to Mexico and Central America.
About halfway through Mary Ann’s more than 30 years with the Church, when the community began to grow with immigrants who lacked resources, Mary Ann again stepped in. She began an Outreach Ministry, primarily serving the Hispanic immigrant community. It included transporting people to and from appointments and assistance in finding work, homes, and other resources. Ultimately this service to others evolved into Mary Ann taking the role of Director of Social Ministries at the Church.
The Clothes Less Traveled, a nonprofit thrift store founded by Mary Ann and a partner, grew by finding use and a new purpose for the unwanted items of those in the relatively affluent community and has donated more than $6.5 million to other local charitable organizations.
In 2003, while sitting in a doctor’s office, Mary Ann read an article about a free clinic in a nearby town. Through her social outreach work, she had been taking those in need of her own doctors but knew this was not sustainable and as not enough to satisfy a growing need. Together with Dr. Betsy Horton, Mary Ann founded the Fayette C.A.R.E. Clinic, a clinic that provides medical and dental services to the low-income, uninsured of the county. The clinic, built on the
the foundation of “compassion and respect for everyone,” has brought together medical professionals and the underserved, and now operates 4 full days per week.
Most recently, Mary Ann found an opportunity to serve some of the immigrant population in a new way. She has partnered with a group of lawyers who provide legal representation to those in detention centers, awaiting their day in court. Mary Ann travels to the centers to provide translation services.
Mary Ann’s daughter Katie said, “If everyone she has helped along the way pays a little of that kindness forward, the impact would go way beyond just the community.” Those words should echo throughout our world today.
As Mary Ann reached her 70th birthday on April 1, 2018, she decided it was time to retire. She certainly deserved to have more time to spend with family, including six grandchildren. This does not exclude her personal concern for the plight of the undocumented and mentally ill. She maintains a keen interest in safe housing, jobs, and healthcare for these groups. Mary Ann continues to say, “Giving of yourself is an act of the will. That is what I have lived by.”
Shawn McCray ’90
Excellence in Inspiring Youth
Shawn McCray’s mission is teaching basketball to Newark’s youth, but he does more than that. He has been devoted to his players for the last thirty years. He understands their hardships, what they face on a daily basis and provides the support so missing in their lives. He doesn’t just make it easy for them though. As reported in Chalkbeat (August 2018), he demands their full attention, holds them to high standards and sees his job as teaching the skills of the game and also of life, that is, self-discipline, communication with others, and the ability to rebound when the going gets tough.
Shawn was born and raised in the 1970s in Newark’s Central Ward. He was an outstanding high school basketball player and went on to play at Keystone Junior College in Pennsylvania. He then transferred to Caldwell University where he received his sociology degree in May 1990.
As also reported in an interview with Chalkbeat (August 2018), Shawn was a member of a local Newark gang known as the Zoo Crew. After losing many friends, to jail and death, Shawn was determined to make a change for himself and his community. Shawn put the gang’s name to better use, starting the Zoo Crew Summer Basketball League, and made his way back to his alma mater, Central High School, in Newark.
Founding the Zoo Crew Summer Basketball League was natural to Shawn as he had coached his first team when he was only 16. His devotion to his players and the lessons he and they have absorbed on and off the court resulted in unexpected recognition for the team, which was the subject of a YouTube original documentary series, called “Best Shot,” produced by LeBron James and also featuring Jason Williams, both former NBA standouts.
It all started with eight teams in 1998 and has now grown to 75. Shawn does it all — he finds potential teams, organizes hundreds of games across age divisions, finds a way to pay the referees, and maintains the public parks.
Thanks to him, dozens of players have gone on to become college students and solid citizens, some have come back to their city as role models for other troubled kids, but some have not made it. He worries about them all. He does all this while working as the varsity boys coach at Central High and a full-time substitute teacher in the Newark schools, as well as an author of a recent book entitled “One foot in and one foot out.” Shawn is a true model of the Veritas award.