LINDEN, NJ — Donald J. Givens was named Linden’s 40th annual Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year by the town’s Department of Public Property and Community Service. He was chosen as the recipient of the award for demonstrating outstanding service to the community. Each year, the town selects a lifelong resident of Linden to be awarded with this honor. The recipient is bestowed with the award for their service to the community and their fellow seniors.
Givens received the award at a ceremony held on May 6 at 1 p.m. that took place at John T. Gregorio Recreation Center. All residents of Linden were invited to attend the ceremony free of charge. Surrounded by friends and family, Givens proudly received the award bestowed upon him. The philanthropic contributions made by the recipient during this past year, were celebrated by all; even his pastor came to speak about Givens and his contributions to the Linden community.
“His pastor attended the event and spoke a few words about him,” said Megan Martin of John T. Gregorio Recreation Center in Linden. “He was surrounded by friends and family. The mayor and freeholders spoke on his behalf. We took photos, and he received several awards. We celebrated with cake and coffee.”
Born in 1934, Givens was raised as a lifelong resident of Linden. He graduated from Linden High School with great pride. He left home to serve in the United States Air Force for four years. When he returned, he married his longtime sweetheart, Geneva Davis. Together they had three sons, and they were blessed with five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. They were married for 51 years, until his wife passed away in 2006.
Givens worked as a Senior Research Technician for Exxon Chemical Center when he retired. He is currently serving as clinician for the USA American Boxing New Jersey Association. He’s also the first African American to fill the position. Givens is an inspiration to people of all ages, as he is still quite active even in his retired years.
At the ripe age of 81, Givens enjoys spending his time with young people. He teaches boxing and karate to teens and young adults in addition to coaching football. He loves to see them learn and grow. Although there is a large gap between their ages, the love of sports is enough to bring them together. It also allows Givens the chance to spread his wealth of knowledge and passion for sports to the community.
“There is no greater satisfaction than watching a child develop into a well-rounded individual who gets their education and goes onto bigger and better things in life,” said Givens in a recent press release. “I get the chance to work with young people all the time, and I teach them new skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.”
And his students feel his enthusiasm, too.
“From the moment I stepped into the gym Coach G. embraced me like family, at least that’s how he made me feel,” said Jabez Williams of Linden. “He has such a vast knowledge of the sport of boxing that he shares freely with anyone who exhibits any interest. He’s so precise with his movements and direct in his instructions. Coach G. would, from time to time, tap me in the head when my chin was exposed but always made sure after every day of training to tell me I did a good job. He showed me that he believed in me, all the while exercising the ability to know just how hard to push me and when to pull back. Still, to this very day, I carry a love of the sport that rivals none, and I’m someday hoping to get to train with him again. I’d like to congratulate him on receiving the award for Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year. He’s a great coach and an even greater man.”
Having served as both president and vice president of the New Jersey Association of USA Boxing, president of Third World Inc., president of the Fourth Ward Democratic Club and board member of the Linden Police Athletic League, Givens has proven both his leadership ability and dedication to community service. By being the first African American to fill his current position of clinician, he’s also making important progress toward equality. Givens is an inspiration to all people and acts as living proof that it’s never too late to make a difference.