• This Is Rutherford

Fifth Salute to Heroes

By Kim Bogosian and Jennifer Ersalesi

Photo credit: Kim Bogosian


This past Sunday, June 14th, a caravan of over fifty vehicles, including fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars participated in the fifth Salute to Heroes parade, which honors First Responders in the borough of Rutherford.

Carmen Addeo and Mayor Frank Nunziato

Carmen Addeo was nominated by fellow Ambulance Corps member Jennifer Capoano. Carmen is currently serving as the President of the Rutherford First-Aid Volunteer Ambulance Corps. For many years, Carmen has dedicated a lot of her time to providing emergency medical services to the town.

Deborah Espinosa (photographed above with Councilman Ray Guzman and Robert Robinson) was nominated by fellow Front Line Hero Robert Robinson. Deborah is an Emergency Room Charge Nurse at Hackensack University Medical Center and works with Robert Robinson. Deborah was on the front line of the pandemic. She treated patients and used her leadership skills to assist the ER team. Robinson explained, “Debbie’s unwavering commitment and compassion to these patients was exemplary and she is the definition of a true warrior during this crisis.”

Jillian Rogers and Councilman Tom Mullahey

Jillian Rogers was nominated by her husband Corey. After getting her Masters in HR and working for a non-profit in NYC, Jillian decided to pursue a career as a Registered Nurse. She took classes in the evenings after work, quit her job, and got into a 1-year accelerated nursing program. Jillian began working as a nurse with the Neuro ICU at NYU Langone in 2019 and one year later ended up working in the COVID ICU during this pandemic. In February as COVID-19 was becoming a growing concern, Jillian and her husband still went on their honeymoon to Thailand wearing face masks during two twenty-hour flights. Once they returned, COVID-19 had become a pandemic and after returning home Jillian returned to work at the hospital in the COVID ICU. In her role at the hospital, Jillian cared for critically ill COVID-19 patients and became what her husband calls, “a night shift hero”. Jillian’s husband also explained, “I will say that all of the support from the community, restaurants, and everyone around Jillian has made this horrible situation much more bearable and we are both so incredibly thankful.”

Councilman Mark Goldsack, Derek Correa and his son

Derek Correa was nominated by his wife Meredith. Derek is an ICU nurse in New York City. Since mid-March, he has been treating COVID-19 patients. In addition to working long, tiring hours as a nurse, he has also been juggling homeschooling and childcare for their three children, ages 6, 5 and 2 on his days off so Meredith can focus on her work. Even with very little rest, he has not complained and has selflessly cared for others.

Matt Ziemkiewicz (photographed above with Robert Robinson and Councilwoman Stephanie McGowan) was nominated by his wife Colleen. Matt has been working tirelessly for the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) since the pandemic began. He is also a member of the Rutherford OEM. To read more about Matt’s work as a first responder, click here.

Marley Polche was nominated by her husband Pedro. Marley works at NYU Langone in Manhattan as a Physician’s Assistant and has been caring for COVID-19 patients in both the Emergency Room and the Intensive Care Unit. When the cases of COVID-19 were increasing rapidly, Marley worked longs hours and sometimes overnight shifts, while still finding time to be a mom to her toddlers. Sadly, Marley also lost both of her grandparents due to COVID-19. “During this difficult time she still finds a way to remain strong and be the rock of this family,” explained Pedro.


The Borough will continue with this program on Sundays and is currently accepting nominations of Rutherford residents who are a positive force in the fight against COVID-19. If you know a local hero who you believe should be recognized with a Sunday Surprise Salute caravan, please send your reasoning and your contact information to jbagnuolo@rutherfordboronj.com.