By Laurie GordonSPARTA - Kelly Bonventre, of Sparta, has been passionate about the NJ Sharing Network since she was 19 years old and read a poem, “To Remember Me” by Robert Test. Years later, she is still passionate about the Network and was just honored with the NJ Sharing Network Foundation's Spirit Award. Bonventre earned this award for having shown exemplary passion and dedication to the organization and going above and beyond her role supporting the New Jersey Sharing Network. The award was presented to her by the Foundation Board Chair, Phil Kolm. What started with that poem has extrapolated into years of support by Bonventre to the Network. “To me, that book put organ donation into such a beautiful light that it moved me to go to DMV the very next day to register to be an organ donor,” she said. “It touched my heart in such a deep place that I thought the best job in the world would be to be the person that gets to speak to families at the time they are losing a loved one and provide them with the opportunity to change the ultimate negative into the ultimate positive, that in the process of losing one life saving another.”Bonventre quickly learned that, at that time, one needed to be an Registered Nurse to be in that position, and so, nursing became her calling. “I believe nurses are angels among us and just not something I was cut out to do,” she said. Her passion for organ donation always remained stroong, and her family was aware that she was a registered organ donor and if something were to happen to her to take anything and everything they could to help someone else. Three-and-a-half years ago, she went for a job interview at The NJ Sharing Network with the poem in her wallet as it had been for years. Once hired, she hung it proudly in her office. Bonventre was hired as the Manager of Philanthropy and Foundation Programs. Being interested in the clinical side of The NJ Sharing Network's work, she decided to transfer over to our Hospital Development team in August of 2018 where she now serves as a Hospital Services Manager. She also manages the Sharing Network's Sussex Donate Life Group. “This is an active group of volunteers consisting of donor family members, transplant recipients and community advocates who help spread the word about and the importance of organ and tissue donation in the Sussex County area,” she said. The group meets every other month and anyone interested is invited to join.Bonventre said that there are so many impactful stories she's witnessed through the NJ Sharing Network. “I am continually inspired by our donor families and how they find comfort in knowing their loved ones live on through others,” she said. “The strength that gives them helps them in their healing and grieving process and gives them lives to celebrate not just a loss to mourn. I am always moved at how hard they work to honor their loved ones and to ensure that their memory lives on.”She said one of the most inspiring stories is that of Allison Ognibene. Ognibene is a lifelong Sparta resident and a double lung heart recipient who will soon be celebrating the 31st anniversary of her life saving transplant. Ognibene lost her father and two of her sisters to the same disease that necessitated her transplant.“To honor them and her donor, Allison lives life to the fullest each and every day and volunteers to help spread the message about organ donation,” Bonventre said. “She is a shining example that transplant works.”Working with the NJ Sharing Network means the world to Bonventre. She embodies the message of the poem in helping others see, receive a heart, receive lungs, and the many other transplants through The Sharing Network. “It allows me to touch people’s lives in such a positive way, it fills my heart and soul to work for a cause that I am so deeply passionate about.”For more information about the NJ Sharing Network visit njsharingnetwork.org.