Patriotic Essay Contest Hosted By St. Barnabas

A local student has the opportunity to meet the Honorable Thomas J. Ridge, first United States Secretary of Homeland Security, 43rd Pennsylvania Governor and a Vietnam veteran. The winner of St. Barnabas Charities Founder’s Day Essay Contest will present his or her essay to Ridge as well as the veterans living at St. Barnabas during the Welcoming Ceremony of St. Barnabas Charities 113th Founder’s Day celebration at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

The St. Barnabas Charities Founder’s Day Essay Contest is open to students in grades 9-12. The essay question is as follows:

The Department of Homeland Security was officially created following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; however, protecting the security of American citizens in the United States has always been a job of the military. Therefore, what would you say to a local veteran living at St. Barnabas about the role he or she played in protecting homeland security?

Each student may submit one original essay of 500 words or less to Megan Hoffman, Marketing Communications Coordinator of St. Barnabas Health System, at Deadline for essay submissions is April 8, 2013 at 5 p.m. Essays should be written using Microsoft Word with double spaced, size 12, Times New Roman font and include one inch margins. Essay submissions should include the student’s name, school, grade, age and contact information as well as an essay title. A panel of judges, not employed by St. Barnabas Health System, will choose the winning essay.

Festivities for St. Barnabas Charities’ Founder’s Day will begin Thursday, May 2 with a 10 a.m. Welcoming Ceremony at St. Barnabas Nursing Home, 5827 Meridian Road. Ridge will be greeted by William V. Day, president of St. Barnabas Health System, who will present him with a key to the St. Barnabas campus followed by a tour. During the ceremony the winner of the essay contest will read his or her essay on the topic of Homeland Security and Veterans to Ridge and an audience of United States Veterans living at St. Barnabas’ retirement communities, living assistance and nursing facilities.

That evening, Ridge will be the featured speaker at a fundraising dinner at the Marriott Pittsburgh North in Cranberry Twp.  The evening begins with a cocktail reception and silent auction at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 724-443-0700 ext. 5258 or by visiting  Proceeds benefit the St. Barnabas Free Care Fund, which in 2012 alone provided more than $4.5 million in free care to poor and low-income patients at St. Barnabas Nursing Home, Valencia Woods at St. Barnabas and The Arbors at St. Barnabas.

At the conclusion of the evening, Day will present Ridge with the Hance Award, named for St Barnabas founder Gouverneur P. Hance (1871-1954), the lay Episcopalian brother who founded St. Barnabas in 1900 as a refuge for incurably ill men and boys who could not afford their care.  Each year, the Hance Award is presented to a person of national acclaim who exemplifies Hance’s ideals of benevolence, patriotism and service to others.  Among the past Hance Award recipients are entertainer Debbie Reynolds, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, first lady Barbara Bush, astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin and President Gerald Ford.

Born in Pittsburgh’s Steel Valley, Ridge was raised in a working-class family. He earned a scholarship to Harvard University and after his first year of law school, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam. Known for his commitment to high standards and results, he was two-time governor of Pennsylvania and became the first Assistant to the President for Homeland Security following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. He went on to become the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. President George W. Bush stated “he had the strength, experience, and personal commitment and authority to accomplish this critical mission.” This engaging and dynamic leader with an extraordinary record of public service understands that teamwork is essential to overcoming obstacles and challenges.Ridge is also the founder and CEO of Ridge Global, a security consulting firm.

St. Barnabas Health System is Pennsylvania’s largest health care concern of its kind.  In its 113th year, St. Barnabas is like no other – diverse and expansive – meeting the needs of young retirees through those who require hospice. St. Barnabas’ spectrum of care includes four retirement communities, three living assistance facilities, two skilled nursing homes, and a community outpatient medical center. Providing $4.5 million in free care annually, St. Barnabas engages in innovative methods to raise money for its Free Care Fund such as The Jackie Evancho award in its Kean Quest Talent Search, The Kean Theatre, The Crystal Conservatories, Rudolph Auto Repair and Beautiful Buys.  For more information on St. Barnabas visit

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