Marie Fucetola likes to keep busy.
"I'm out almost every night," she said of the meetings she attends and activities she helps coordinate. "I'm not married, and I don't have any kids, but I Iove to get involved with people."
The Hammonton native spent 37 years as a teacher, most of them teaching math in her hometown middle school. She also taught adult education classes at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital.
In 2005, she retired and took on a new job as full-time volunteer. On April 11, the Hammonton Lions Club will honor her as its 2014 Citizen of the Year at a dinner at Tomasello Winery, an honor that pleases her and embarrasses her just a little.
"I really enjoy what I do," she said. "You meet all different people in the different groups."
Those groups include the Hammonton Education Foundation, where she is a trustee and served for years as fundraising chairwoman, helping to raise more than $40,000 with the Blueberry Bush Initiative, a "giving tree" that plays off the city's dominant role in blueberry farming.
Fucetola's niece, Leigh Anne Fucetola, a chemical engineer, died of cancer in 2002 at age 29. Fucetola is treasurer of a fund that awards two scholarships in her niece's name each year to females who graduate from St. Joseph High School, in Hammonton or Leigh Anne's alma mater, Paul VI High School, and plan to study engineering in college.
Recipients receive $1,000 scholarships each year for up to five years.
"College is so expensive now, even just the books," Fucetola said. "And we've had really good recipients."
Fucetola is also a charter member and treasurer of the Hammonton Cancer Foundation and helps plan the annual cancer walk and dinner that raise money for the South Jersey Cancer Fund, which helps cancer patients pay bills not covered by insurance.
She is on the Parish Council of St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Church, is vice president of the St. Vincent dePaul Society and heads the Christmas Bazaar and Giving Tree fundraisers. She is also the Parish Center receptionist one day per week.
Fucetola said her volunteer work has shown her how much need there is in the community, and at 67, she is happy to have the time to help others.
"My life has been good," she said," and now I want to give back. This keeps me going. If someone needs help, I'm there."
Contact Diane D'Amico:
If you go
The Hammonton Lions Club Citizen of the Year dinner honoring Marie Fucetola will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 11 at Tomasello Winery, 225 N. White Horse Pike, Hammonton. Tickets are $40. Call 609-576-9602, 609-561-7866, 601-561-8585 or 609-561-7012.