NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Jaycees held their 46th annual Distinguished Service Awards Wednesday evening, April 5 at the Valley Regency in Clifton. The 2017 recipients are Lynn Zazzali, Sal Scarpelli, Linda Buset, John Monaco and Marianne Zurawski.
Nutley Jaycees Chairman Steven Clarke welcomed the honorees and crowd. Master of ceremonies Walt Smith, chairman of the Jaycees judges’ panel, thanked the committee as well as acknowledging present members and guests including, Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Julie Glazer, Board of Education President Daniel Carnicella, BOE trustees Fred Scalera, Debbie Russo, Brenda Sherman and Salvatore Ferraro; Township Attorney Alan Genitempo, John Brown of S.W. Brown & Son Funeral Home, Inc. and Barbara Hirsh former director of special education and community volunteer.
The Rev. David LeDuc of Vincent United Methodist Church gave the invocation before the dinner was served.
Brown presented the first award, Business Man of the Year to John Monaco, of Lyndhurst, owner of A Personal Touch Florist in Nutley, which recently celebrated its 30 year anniversary. The recipient of the award goes above and beyond running their business by contributing to the improvement of community life in Nutley.
Organizations Monaco has supported include, Nutley’s Thriving Survivors, Relay for Life, local Military groups, Phoenix Center as well as Nutley Public Schools and PTOs. Monaco also mentored special needs children at the Phoenix Center as well as a volunteer emergency medical technician for eight years.
Monaco explained the reasons why he chose Nutley to open his business. “My dad was raised in Nutley. Nutley is where I belong. For many years Nutley embraced me, I know my choice was right” he said. He spoke of how the business got its name that all he wanted to do was put a personal touch into his work. Monaco’s wife and children have helped him run the business. “[Diane] spent day in and day out at the store. We are family owned and operated,” he said.
When asked how he feels about the honor Monaco said, “I’m overwhelmed, honored, humbled, I’m still trying to believe it’s true.”
Hirsh presented the Civic Affairs Award to longtime volunteer, Nutleyite Linda Buset. Buset has contributed to various organizations including Spring Garden School PTO, where she served as president for three years, Habitat for Humanity, Mountainside Hospital, Clara Maass Medical Center, Relay for Life, Nutley Family Service Bureau, The Cody Foundation, The Scarpelli Civic Association, Nutley Historic Preservation Committee, Nutley Historical Society, The Kingsland Manor, VFW Auxiliary Post 493, and The Nutley Museum. Buset was also Vincent United Methodist Church Youth Group advisor for 10 years, raising funds for the Starfish Foundation and Children with AIDS. She is chair of The Nutley Chamber of Commerce publicity and media committee and recently participated in the Polar Plunge to raise money for The Special Olympics.
“I’m very honored, excited and happy, it’s unexpected,” she said of the accolade. “I’m surprised to be honored and introduced by Barbara Hirsh,” said Buset. “I hope in some microscopic way I was of some influence volunteering. It helps to be passionate about what skills you enjoy,” she said speaking of an incident Buset had working with Habitat for Humanity. “I accept this award on behalf of every single person who volunteers their time,” she said.
Scalera presented the Public Health and Safety award to Nutley Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad veteran Marianne Zurawski of Nutley. Zurawski has been involved with NVERS for 25 years putting in more than 20,000 riding hours and responding to over 2,400 emergency calls. She has served as vice-president of the squad for three consecutive terms and served as secretary for about 18 years. In 2009, she became a full time employee as assistant to the EMS coordinator then in 2014 promoted to office manager.
“Thank you to all the members of the rescue squad past and present, to all my family while I was on duty during holidays and parties,” she said. “Helping people in time of need, it’s a feeling of pride when a stranger comes up to you and thanks you and the squad for all you do,” she continued.
Andrew Garuto presented the Outstanding Young Adult award to Salvatore Scarpelli, son of Nutley Mayor Joseph Scarpelli and his wife Sue.
He is involved with many community activities promoting Nutley including volunteering with the Nutley Music Boosters, since 2005, a year after he graduated from Nutley High. Scarpelli has been the co-coordinator with volunteer programs such as RAKES program and co-chair of the Nutley Go-Green Committee. He has also assisted with the Scarpelli Civic Association, Nutley Farmer’s Market and represents Nutley on the Essex County Pedestrian Safety Committee.
“I never thought 18 years ago I would be receiving the same award as my dad did in 1999. Community service is in my blood, it’s a family trait carried down,” he said.
“I’m just the proud dad tonight,” said Mayor Scarpelli of his son’s honor in an interview. “It’s a great thing, he’s an up and coming star, my grandson,” added former Mayor Peter C. Scarpelli. “The Scarpellis have a long tradition of serving the Township of Nutley and I’m proud of following in their footsteps,” said Sal Scarpelli.
The final honor, Educator of the Year, was presented by Superintendent Glazer to John H. Walker Middle School seventh grade science teacher Lynn Zazzali. Zazzali has been teaching in Nutley since 2007 and she was the first to pilot the science program.
She is the group leader and mentor for the seventh grade Chestnut group. Zazzali incorporated music, art, physical education, and world languages when it was recommended that teachers develop cross-curricula assignment.
Outside the classroom she also assists with the Trout Club and and organizes the school's participation in park clean ups. She has also spearheaded the development of the outdoor classroom at Booth Park. Zazzali is aiming to be a Google Certified Educator.
“I’m truly honored to get this award. I want to teach children perseverance for problem serving. Teaching is to give them the tools they need to succeed in life,” she said.
“It really means so much to me. In my life it’s my family and education. I’m really honored by this,” she said when asked about the award.
Smith closed out the evening thanking all the honorees for their service to Nutley.