Point Pleasant Couple Makes Habit of Giving Back
November 10, 2021
For Point Pleasant, New Jersey, residents Barry and Carol Anne Cawley Weshnak, a casual post-checkup chat with their primary care doctor spurred a generous gift to boost behavioral health and addiction services at Raritan Bay Medical Center.
The grandparents of three and trustees of the Morris and Clara Weshnak Family Foundation—named for Barry’s late parents—decided their latest pledge should recognize the stellar care they’ve received from Mayer Ezer, M.D., the internal medicine program director at Raritan Bay and a steadfast behavioral health advocate.
Over three years, the couple’s $300,000 donation will fund a nursing position dedicated to substance abuse services for patients and their families, as well as continuing education for staff on behavioral health and addiction care. “Like many, our family has had some addiction issues,” notes Barry, a real estate developer whose many charitable and civic affiliations include serving on K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital Committee as well as the Corporate Realty Board. “Dr. Ezer is a part of these clinical efforts for Raritan Bay, and for that reason, we very much wanted to be part of it.”
The Weshnaks’ prior gifts to Hackensack Meridian Health have focused on services for youth, including $350,000 toward the Pediatric Palliative Care Program at the Children’s Hospital. They also fund an annual pediatric nursing scholarship award, a nod to Carol’s longtime profession as a registered nurse.
“Because so many addiction issues affect younger people, we feel this gift is in line with our family foundation’s core mission: the health and education of children,” Barry says. “There’s a drug epidemic that’s not going away, and it’s adversely affecting the lives of numerous people, including many young people.”
This awareness aligns with Dr. Ezer’s passion for behavioral and addiction health, which he mentioned to the couple after a recent visit. He hopes the newly created substance abuse nursing position can educate staff members, including new physicians, “so they are more comfortable treating behavioral health and addiction issues,” says Dr. Ezer, also associate professor and vice chair of medicine at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. “By educating providers, it multiplies the Weshnaks’ gift.”
Melissa Magyar, executive director of the Raritan Bay Medical Center Foundation, says donors like the Weshnaks allow Hackensack Meridian Health to invest in different priorities across the network. “This gift will help us provide additional resources for patients as they’re on the road to finding additional support for treatment and recovery,” she says. “Having this community support certainly helps us make a difference.”
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