The Exchange Club of Ocean City has chosen local community volunteers Jim and Debby Jenkins Dalfonso as recipients of the 53rd Annual Golden Deeds Award. The honor will be formally presented during a dinner to be held at Greate Bay Country Club on Monday June 4th.
Each year since 1966, the Exchange Club of Ocean City has chosen a worthy Cape May County or Atlantic County individual or group exemplifying dedication and service to children, community and country. Honorees must demonstrate unselfish service to worthwhile causes for public good.
“Volunteer efforts are very important to our community and should not go unnoticed,” said Exchange Club President Jerry Kanefsky. “The Book of Golden Deeds Award recognizes dedicated volunteers who give endless hours of time and talent toward making our community a better place to live. We are proud to add Jim’s and Debby’s name to our list of honorees.”
Jim Dalfonso is a graduate of the prestigious Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Upon moving to the South Jersey area in 1993, he became involved in the local arts community as a performer, producer, and, ultimately, as the Chairman of the Theater Collaborative of South Jersey, the non-profit organization tasked with renovating, reopening, and running the Gateway Playhouse. He was named Community Person of the Year by Somers Point.
Debby Jenkins Dalfonso, a life-long resident of Ocean City, holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where she was a proud member of The Singing Hoosiers. She recently received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Debby was Miss Cape May County 1993, and 4th runner-up to Miss New Jersey. For eleven years, she and husband Jim produced the Miss Ocean City Scholarship Pageant, helping to provide more than $100,000 in scholarships to contestants. Debby volunteered at the regional American Cancer Society and produced the annual telethon for Channel-40 TV.
The duo helped form The Shaken Not Stirred Players, and its musical revue, Broadway By Request, in which audience members pick Broadway songs at random and the troupe performs the shows in whatever order emerges. Over the years, the show has been presented to raise funds for many Exchange Club charitable organizations. The show has been performed at The Gateway Playhouse, as well as at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.
Jim and Debby’s community involvement with The Gateway Playhouse has been a successful labor of love since the nearly 100-year old building, badly in need of repair, was shuttered in 2006. With Jim as Chairman and Debby as a Director, The Theater Collaborative of South Jersey bought the property in 2008 and began refurbishing and restoring its history of live theater and music.
The group worked tirelessly to win grants from the Pepsi Refresh Program, Shore Medical Center, the NJ Economic Development Authority, the New Jersey Historic Trust, and the City of Somers Point, along with two Hurricane Sandy grants. Under Jim’s leadership, the board of directors raised a total of over $1.3 million in community contributions, including an anonymous $100,000 private bequest.
In August of 2017, the Dalfonso’s efforts were rewarded, when the Gateway re-opened as a year-round playhouse for musicals, plays and concerts. A gala ribbon-cutting ceremony preceded performances by Andrea McArdle, the original Annie on Broadway. Since then, the Playhouse has been welcoming sold out crowds to musicals, plays, and concerts.
Now, Jim and Debby’s roles at The Gateway have changed from an emphasis on construction management to once again thinking about performing, along with continued fundraising efforts to maintain and guarantee the Gateway’s continued development.
By day, Jim can be found as an Interior Finish Specialist at ERCO Interior Systems in Somers Point. Since 1998, Debby has taught vocal music, piano, and music theory at Middle Township High School, and has directed more than 30 musicals at schools and in local theatres. She continues to perform professionally, as a member of Actor’s Equity Association.
The Book of Golden Deeds Dinner, which is open-to-the-public, will be held at Greate Bay Country Club on Monday June 4th beginning at 6:00 PM.
Tickets are priced at $40 each and are available at the Exchange Club website: www.ocxc.org or by contacting Ed Price at (609) 705-5700 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.