Meet The Spinnaker Honorees

By Lori Draz

O10ALL(1)The Journal publications are enormously proud that we and owner/publisher Louis Francis Mercatanti have been chosen to receive the prestigious Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce (EMACC) Spinnaker Award for Community Service. We are equally honored to be among the company of such influential honorees. As we look forward to the awards event, to be held on January 26, 2017 at The Shadowbrook at Shrewsbury, we thought you’d like to get to know the other honorees a little better. Each month, leading up to the awards, we’ll profile two of our fellow honorees. If you would like more information on the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, or for tickets and sponsorship opportunities for the Spinnaker Awards, which will feature live entertainment, hors d’oeuvres, open bar (beer and wine), a silent auction to benefit the EMACC education scholarship fund, and a plated sit-down dinner, call the chamber at (732) 741-0055 or visit

First, meet the honoree for Volunteer of the Year, awarded to an individual who provides exemplary service to the community: Toby Stark.

Mr. Stark, owner of the Stark Associates Insurance Agency, has been committed to volunteerism since he was a small child. His favorite memories include helping his father at various Lions Club events all through his childhood. In fact, he has never stopped his work with the Lions and in 2009, he became the president of the Eatontown Lions Club; the youngest person elected president since its inception in 1948. He has chaired the very successful Lions Club charity golf outing since 2006, helping to raise money for the Fisher House, the Captain James Gurbisz Foundation, and local community projects. “Of course, I’ll be out there selling Christmas trees, too,” he said. “It wouldn’t feel like Christmas to me without being a part of the Lions Club’s annual tree sale.”

Mr. Stark attended school in Eatontown and graduated from Monmouth Regional High School in 1999. He graduated Catawba College in 2003 with a B.S. in information technology and has owned Stark Associates Insurance Agency in Tinton Falls since 2009. In addition to his work with the Lions Club, he has also been active with other business organizations. He served on the EMACC Board of Directors from 2007-2014 and is the co-chair of that group’s “nine and dine” golf outing. He is secretary of the board of directors for the Monmouth-Ocean Development Council, where he is actively engaged with the legislative committee. He is also the current president of the New Jersey Association of Underwriters. And just in case there was any time left in his busy schedule, he just joined the Base of Commanders at Lakehurst to volunteer to give back to the men and women of the armed forces.

Mr. Stark’s warm smile and can-do attitude have inspired many, and he hopes that more people will get out and join the vital civic groups that do so much. He explained, “I think that people, especially younger people, don’t know what they’re missing by not being more involved. The benefits are amazing, not just in what you can do for others, but in the great life lessons you can learn from the diverse ages and backgrounds you meet when you’re a part of an organization. It’s like having an extended family of people with big hearts. I know time is so precious, but even a few hours a month will reap such great rewards. I am so happy to have been chosen volunteer of the year and I can’t wait to meet next year’s honoree.”

Mr. Stark shares his life with his two-year-old son, Andrew, a dog named Charlie, and his girlfriend, Stephanie Rott. An avid sportsman, he enjoys running, going to the gym, and cycling. If you’d like to connect for a little inspiration and advice, you can call him at (732) 747-0411 or email

Next, meet the Corporate Good Neighbor, the award given to a business with 50 or more employees whose culture motivates employees to be personally involved as good Samaritans to make eastern Monmouth a better place to live: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices NJ Properties.

Since 1954, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties has been an independently owned and operated full-service real estate brokerage company. The 650 agents of their 20 offices believe in living the core values of integrity, success, excellence, dependability, and energy. They are dedicated to giving back by helping organizations like The Sunshine Kids, a non-profit group dedicated to providing a variety of programs and events for kids receiving cancer treatment.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties entered the marketplace on June 24, 2014 after 14 years of operations as Prudential New Jersey Properties, a residential and commercial real estate brokerage firm ranked among the nation’s top 100 brokers and the top 20 Prudential Real Estate Affiliates.

As a full-service brokerage, they provide residential, commercial, new homes, luxury properties, and relocation services, combined with a comprehensive menu of mortgage, title, home warranty, and insurance products.

Some of the ownership team, including chairman and CEO William Keleher, chief operating officer Steve Janett, and general sales manager Christopher Brown, continuously set the example for their offices, staff, and agents, with their primary focus on The Sunshine Kids Foundation. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties adopted the foundation as a network-wide charity in the spring of 1991. Since then, Prudential Real Estate and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Affiliates, along with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties and other network members across the U.S. and Canada, have embraced The Sunshine Kids with heartfelt enthusiasm. Thousands of brokers and agents have put smiles on the faces of young cancer patients by raising dollars to fund quality group activities and emotional support for kids who are receiving cancer treatments in hospitals across North America.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties presented a check to the kids for $132,000 in 2014, with $52,000 of that total raised from their golf outing. In 2015, they raised $135,000 and this year’s fundraising goal is $150,000. This year, the Rumson office hosted some exciting events, including an area and mansion tour on Classic Boat Rides, A Day at Monmouth Race Track, and painting parties. Karolyn Wray, broker/office manager, is also a supporter of Kick Cancer OverBoard, a local non-profit that gives cruises to families going through cancer. She also serves as a director for the Monmouth County Association of Realtors and is in her fourth year on the Fort Hancock Federal Advisory Committee. She shared, “We are honored that the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce has selected us this year and we continue to be proud sponsors of the Sunshine Kids and all they do for the children facing childhood cancer.” For more information, please contact Karolyn Wray at (732) 224-1500 or