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Inspirational women in our communities driving change and leading by example

Dining With a Smile

Nourishment for your body and soul

Sorriso Kitchen has become a beloved place to dine in Chatham. Sorriso, which means “smile” in Italian, was chosen for the way their son, 19-year-old LJ, makes people feel.

“LJ came to us with Down Syndrome, and as a parent with a child with special needs you always worry about their future,” says Karen Coccari Bellas, who owns the restaurant along with her husband, Jimmy Bellas. “So we wanted to open a little place close to home where he could work and be safe.”

They then started to think about how they could help other children with special needs. “We’re offering up this solution for an employment future for our son, but what about all the families that can’t open a business for their children?” she said. “We thought, let’s put together a program where we can bring in disabled children and help train them to work in the service industry.”

The program is a great success, and both the parents and community love what they do. “During COVID, we had a lot of support,” says Karen. “We were receiving anonymous donations saying we don’t want to see you folks fail. We would find little painted rocks outside with inspiring messages such as Stay Strong, and Smile.”

So stop by Sorriso Kitchen, and get ready to smile!

A Mission to Serve

Showing Up and Supporting Communities

A busy attorney, Larisa Holderied is also the current president of the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills. When she first joined, the League had just celebrated its centennial in 2013.

“I have learned through my time volunteering in service that this is my purpose, that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing in life,” she says. “I also love leadership and empowering other women to be the best version of themselves. We have a very clear mission to develop the potential of women and to be better community and civic leaders.”

The League serves the community in a number of ways, including providing underserved families Thanksgiving meals and bestowing grants to other service organizations. It also helps provide school age children with essential needs.

“We work with and through a network of community partners that are the direct service providers to families in our area,” says Larisa. “There is tremendous need in our communities. If we as a society and we as a League want to lift people up, we have to be standing side by side with them and helping them move forward.”

“We show up and help,” she says. “That’s who we are.”

To show your support or to become a member, go to http://www.jlosh.org/.

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