Mary Porcello

Category: Lifetime Service
Nominator: Joe Vitale

What was their service?

Mary has spent her life serving others.  She and her husband used to manage a motel that the County often used to help people in need, often at the lowest point in their life.  She didn’t just collect a check from the County in exchange for the room – she guided each and every person through the maze of programs available to them – from housing to food stamps to health care.  She helped people get their lives back on track.  Those who were unwilling were invited to leave to make room for someone who was ready for a fresh start.

What motivated them to serve/volunteer? 

Mary’s love and belief in God.  An excerpt from the overview of “Then Came Tuesday Remembering 9/11”- by Mary Porcello: “The time has come for we the people to stand up.  Not in violence or boycotting, rather lifting each other up.  There is plenty of reason to complain, but much more reason to rejoice.” Her faith in God and in her neighbors is inspiring.

What did they achieve/how did they make a difference? 

The motel Mary and her husband managed closed.  At the site, Mary worked with the property owner to develop an apartment building that is 100% affordable housing.  Recognizing the devastating impact addiction has had on the community, Mary worked for many years with the same developer to open a residential treatment facility at the old South Amboy Hospital building.  In her effort to help people get back on track she recognized that adults with children need affordable, quality child care solutions if they are to be expected to be available to work – her church developed a pre-school.  Mary is an Elder at the First Presbyterian Church in South Amboy.  She also helped her church establish a food pantry.  Mary volunteers at the pantry frequently, but during covid19 she has been there every single day making sure the needs of her community are met.  Each Christmas, her home is overtaken by gifts as she matches the generous donations of our community with families in need.  Mary helped coordinate relief efforts during every natural and man made disaster for as long as I can remember.  Mary has lived an amazing life dedicated to service.  She recognizes the need in the community and she addresses it – no fanfare – she just gets it done.