Highland Lakes resident Peg Behnke was recognized as the 2022 Sussex County Senior of the Year for her work at Harvest House in Sussex Borough and continued community support. The award was given during the NJ State Fair and presented by U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-5). NJ State Senator Steve Oroho (R-24) and Assemblymen Parker Space (R-24) and Hal Wirths (R-24) were also present for the celebration, along with Sussex County Sheriff Mike Strada, County Clerk Jeff Parrott, and County Commissioners Herb Yardley and Jill Space.
Gottheimer presented Behnke with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol and a congressional certificate.
Gottheimer highlighted Peg Behnke’s dedicated service and leadership to our community, to the Harvest House Community Lunch Program, and to Our Lady of Fatima Church. Behnke, a Sussex County resident for 49 years, was one of the first faculty members at Vernon Township High School. She played an instrumental role in classroom set-up in the new home economics wing, as well as the development of the computer curriculum and labs. Behnke eventually became Glen Meadow Middle School’s coordinator for arts, special areas, foreign languages, and physical education. She taught for nearly four decades, and the New Jersey Department of Education has honored her contributions with a Governor’s Teaching Award.
Since 2005, Behnke has been a volunteer and Board of Trustees member of Harvest House Community Lunch Program in Sussex Borough. Today, Harvest House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in the rear of 37 Main Street, Sussex. It employs one part-time kitchen manager who, with the help of volunteers, serves 40 to 50 meals per day to the underserved population in the northern section of Sussex County, including seniors and veterans. It was initially established by 13 Vernon Township High School students as part of the school’s Hunger Project in 1997, under the direction of Fran Spielhagen. (For more information, visit harvesthousenj.org.)
“There is no greater responsibility than that we owe to those who have given so much to us. Sussex County seniors and volunteers make invaluable contributions to our North Jersey community, and I’m proud to be able to take today to celebrate with them and honor Peg Behnke in particular. Through her leadership, service, dedication, and kindness, Peg Behnke exemplifies Sussex County at its finest,” said Gottheimer.