NUTLEY, NJ - The 47th annual Dr. Virginius D. Mattia Award for Distinguished Community Service was presented to the owners of Nutley Park ShopRite and Belleville ShopRite, David Infusino and Vincent LoCurcio III on May 1 at Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville. This year’s Mattia Scholarship was awarded to Evan Harzer, who will graduate from Nutley High School in June.
The award is in memory of former Hoffmann-La Roche president who died in 1971 at the age of 49. He served as president from 1965-1971.
According to the press release, most residents have attended charity events in the township in which ShopRite donated food for that evening, such as Relay for Life in which they supply dinner and staff, but one of the things that sets Infusino and LoCurcio apart is their practice of employing residents who may otherwise face challenges getting hired.
The grandson of Mattia, Mark Boffa, committee president, welcomed the crowd. “It all reflects what you value as a community,” he said.
Officials in attendance included Nutley Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli, Commissioners Thomas J. Evans and Alphonse Petracco; Board of Education President Daniel Carnicella, BOE Vice-President Charles W. Kucinski, Nutley Municipal Attorney Alan Genitempo, the Rev. Pamela Bakal of Grace Episcopal Church in Nutley; and Barbara Hirsh, former director of special education and community volunteer.
The Rev. Jill Fenske secretary of the board of trustees was the master of ceremonies. Fenske, who is the pastor at Franklin Reformed Church in Nutley, also gave the benediction. Fenske said “Step through door that lead to careers and opportunities. Sometimes they lead you to meet people and those are great opportunities,” she said.
Fenske spoke about the honorees and their giving to the community. She said Infusino and LoCurcio are always very helpful to the churches in town.
“Climb a mountain… Learn that you live best when you serve others,” she added.
Anthony Iannarone, vice president, spoke about the honorees and their family. “I remember when Vinnie’s father was stocking the cans himself,” he said. “They do so much for Nutley, the Nutley Social Center, I like to call it, you can’t get out of there without meeting five people you know,” he continued.
Scarpelli said, “Three words come to mind, family …love…and legacy.” He also added friendship to that.
Distinguished Community Service honorees
Infusino and LoCurcio graduated from Nutley High School in 1971 and 1974, respectively. They follow the family traditions of community service and charity work. Their fathers, Thomas Infusino and Vincent LoCurcio Jr. received the same honor in 1993 and 1994. They live by the motto which appears on the front of Nutley ShopRite, “We live here, we work here; we give here.”
The business partners were also past recipients of the John V. Kelly Humanitarian award and Nutley Jaycees Businessmen of the Year in 2001. LoCurcio was grand marshal of the Nutley-Belleville Columbus Day Parade in 1992.
Infusino is past board member of the Nutley Chapter of the American Red Cross and former board member of St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center.
LoCurcio was the vice president of the Nutley Chamber of Commerce, past board member of the former Nutley Chapter of the American Red Cross and served as the co-chair of Nutley’s 100th Anniversary Committee, as well as a contributor to the commemorative centennial book.
The two were both chairmen of the Nutley Family Service Bureau Charity Ball. LoCurcio is still an active member of the NFSB’s fundraising committee.
According to the Mattia program, the two gave millions of dollars to local charities. Through the Partners in Caring Program more than $300,000 was donated to local food programs including NFSB’s food pantry, Holy Family Nursey School and Vincent United Methodist Church’s soup kitchen.
Through the Infusino/LoCurcio ShopRite Fund they provide extra income for the library to purchase books. They also contributed to may organizations including the Nutley Historical Society, Kingsland Manor Trust, the Van Riper Preservation Committee, Nutley Little Theater and Nutley Chamber of Commerce.
Evan Harzer was presented the 2019 Mattia Scholarship Award by Nancy Shaulis, treasurer and a member of the board of trustees. The scholarship was a one-time gift of $3,000. The scholarship is presented to an outstanding senior with a versatile background.
Harzer will be attending Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts in the fall and anticipates going to law school after college.
At NHS, Harzer earned a 3.625 grade point average taking advanced placement and honor level courses. He was inducted into the Latin Honor Society and National Honor Society of High Scholars.
He is a percussionist in the NHS music program and performed with the NHS Raider Marching Band in the Gator Bowl in Florida, the high school wind ensemble and NHS Jazz Lab. He also performed with Jazz House Kid’s at venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and the Montclair Jazz Festival.
Harzer was selected as delegate to the American Legion Boys State Convention. In, NHS he is part of the Botany Club, Environmental Club and the Key Club.
Evans has been part of the Boy Scouts of America for 12 years. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout on April 1. He was assistant patrol leader and attended the scout’s junior leadership training seminar.
As his Eagle Scout project he painted the vestibule and downstairs entrance of St. Paul’s Congregational Church. He was an assistant to the Rev. Cynthia F. Reynolds, where he maintained the church grounds and gardens, repaired the church sign and volunteered at church events.
He was also a volunteer at the Meadowlands YMCA Family Festival, Multi-Cultural Festival, as well as, summer camp play productions and health fairs.