NUTLEY, NJ - Nutleyite Barbara Carrino was honored in May with the Nutley 2017 Dr. Virginius D. Mattia Memorial Award for Distinguished Community Service. The 45th annual award ceremony in member of the late president of Hoffman-LaRoche Inc. was held at Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville. The Rev. Jill Fenske was the master of ceremony.

Carrino attends and volunteers a lot of her time at Vincent United Methodist Church.  According to the event program she spearheaded the church’s care pantry in 2001 and the care kitchen in 2010; both of which are available to anyone who needs assistance.  Carrino also is a part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County. Throughout the year the IHN program takes in two to five homeless families in area churches for one week at time. Carrino also helped put together the after-school program at Franklin Reformed Church in 1991 where she was a member.

“I’m just astonished and love that many people are here,” said Mark Boffa, committee president and grandson of the late Dr. Virginius D. Mattia. “It’s often very difficult for the committee to make a choice. Nutley is a very giving community.  She [Barbara Carrino] has opened her heart to those around her. She opened up programs to strangers, who not only on Sundays but Monday through Saturdays to give of herself,” he added.

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Anthony J. Iannarone, vice president and one of the four remaining original members of the committee, explained they always look for different volunteers to honor. “This woman qualifies for all she done for the needy and poor. She represents Dr. Mattia’s volunteering ideas,” he said.

Fenske, secretary for the trustees said the committee nominated the honoree.  Fenske, pastor of Franklin Reformed church, knew Carrino from when she was a member. “It’s always a pleasure to gather in the Nutley community to honor those who give of themselves. The things she does are always amazing.  She looks out for people on the edges. She started the afterschool program for latchkey kids. Always heading the care kitchen and care pantry [at Vincent United Methodist Church],” she said.

Fenske told the story of when the church’s after-school program needed transportation. “Barbara went out with her personal credit card and bought a van,” she said.

 “We don’t get a chance to honor people like Barbara, we get too busy with work,” said Boffa during the welcome speech.

The Rev. David LeDuc of Vincent United Methodist Church gave the invocation. “She is a leader who treats everyone with care. People gravitate to her. Because of this I nominated Barbara to this award; it took two pages to do so,” he said. He went on explaining the care pantry and care kitchen, both she founded. “We are here to honor your lifetime of great service and sure thank you,” he added.

Mayor Joseph P. Scarpell, who was last year’s recipient, presented the award to Carrino.   

Carrino felt a little overwhelmed about the honor. “[I’m] very honored and appreciative, I did not expect it. [The] Rev. Fenske from Franklin Reformed Church called me to let me know about the honor,” she said. “It’s truly humbling and very overwhelming. People ask me, why you do what you do? At first I don’t know, just do it, but I began thinking when I was a pre-teen, a minister in the mid-’60s involved in youth groups was very compassionate and not judgmental,” she said.  Carrino explained her mother’s influence on her. Her mother would cook extra for dinner and have Carrino bring it to a neighbor.

“Nutley is a town filled with caring and compassionate people. Mr. John Kelly, allowed us to secure a loan for a school bus. He saw a need and helped. That’s what Nutley is: Cub Scouts, Daisy Troops, Nutley High School, everyone in town is doing good. Nutley is an amazing village of caring people,” Carrino added.

A lot of the volunteers who help her are from the local churches. “How grateful I am for those volunteers, hundreds of volunteers,” she said.  “I share this with all the volunteers,” she added.

Scholarship honoree

Nutley High School senior Kathyrn Plummer also was honored at the evening’s event as the scholarship recipient. Plummer will be attending Caldwell University in the fall of 2017 where she will student elementary education with a focus on special education.

Plummer said she was shocked when she learned of her honor. “I’m very happy I was chosen for my volunteer work. I have been volunteering as long as I remember.  I love helping people,” she said. “I’m very proud of her and she worked very hard to get where she is and will continue to do so,” said her mother Bobbi-Jean Plummer.

Plummer spends her volunteer time since 2010 helping raise puppies and begin their training for the Eyes of Hope program.  In 2013 she became a teacher’s assistant for St. Mary’s Catechism classes in Nutley. She also gives of her time serving meals at the VUMC Care Kitchen.  In 2014 she spent four hours a day helping sixth graders as a teacher’s assistant for the summer school program.

In both 2014 and 2015 she helped manage games at the township’s Fourth of July event. At NHS she belonged to the Set Design Club and the Gay Straight Alliance. In 2015 Plummer became a volunteer with the Nutley Free Public Library, which later turned into a paid part-time job.

“I thank Nutley. I made friends and memories and it opened so much opportunity to me in this community,” said Plummer.

Fenske closed the evening with a prayer.