Maple Leaf Awards Celebrate Local Volunteers

Afternoon festivities spotlighted the three recipients' contributions to the community.

Local residents Janet Crane, Mark Mucci, and Irene Kosinski received accolades, plaques and citations Sunday afternoon at the 43rd Annual Maple Leaf Awards ceremony. Sponsored by the Maplewood Civic Association, the awards and brunch acknowledged their volunteer efforts and contributions to the Maplewood community.

Mary Devon O’Brien, President of the Association, opened the festivities at the Maplewood Woman’s Club by welcoming those in attendance and acknowledging the contributions of the honorees. Attendees were treated to a performance of the songs “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “What a Wonderful World” by singer Adrienne Bolden.

In a champagne toast to the honorees, O’Brien said, “Thanks for all your work and dedication. We are grateful for all that you do.”

The award presentations took place after an invocation by Reverend Chris Heckert, Senior Pastor of Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church, and a delicious brunch. Friend Sally Chew presented Janet Crane with her award. Although Crane jokingly expressed that she wasn’t a fan of public speaking, she shared her thanks for the award and her appreciation for family and friends. “I am proud to be a part of this community,” she said. “To my children. . .they have done nothing but give me pride. My husband has always been by my side and held my arm through all my endeavors.”

Janet began her volunteer efforts at Open Door Nursery School where she helped create an auction to fund the enhancement of the school playground. She also served as PTA Board President of Tuscan Elementary School from 2001 to 2003. She served as Maplewood Middle School (MMS) Home and School Association Board President from 2006 to 2008, and she is a current Columbia High School (CHS) HSA Board Member. Currently, Janet is the Chair of Project Graduation/Midnight Madness 2011 at Columbia High School.

Her love of sports led her to the role of fundraising chair of the Maplewood/Sout Orange Packers Football Association from 2007-2009. She also became a member of the CHS Alumni Association and was instrumental to the success of the “Ever Upward” campaign for the renovation of Underhill Field, now known as the Lynn V. Profeta Sports Complex. 

Roger Brauchli presented Mark Mucci with his award. “Mark has been loyal to every organization he’s ever worked with,” said Brauchli. “He’s a wonderful person to be around. He lives up to the ideals that the organizations he participates with exemplifies.”

Upon receiving his award, Mucci thanked his wife, children, and parents. “I could see by my parent’s example how important it is to be a part of the community,” he said.

“I also want to thank all the people who ever asked me to volunteer. Whether it was my pastors at St. Joseph’s asking me to become involved in religious activities or working with the scouts. It has enhanced me and prepared me for where I am now.”

One of the most significant volunteer roles Mark has is as a trustee of the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race. He has served there for the last several years as chair of the Community Coalition’s Interfaith Outreach Committee. Through discussion groups and community events, this outreach brings residents from different faith communities in the two towns together. In this role, Mucci has been involved in instituting and planning the community's annual Martin Luther King Jr. observance and Volunteer Fair, which is held at a different congregation each year in Maplewood and South Orange. 

For over 10 years, Mucci has volunteered with the Troop Committee for Boy Scout Troop 5 in Maplewood, where he is involved in various fundraising activities along with serving as Troop 5 Treasurer. Last year, Mark joined the Board for First Night Maplewood South Orange where he worked to help coordinate publicity throughout the year at local events, and on New Year's Eve.

Irene Kosinski, who was unable to attend the event, was acknowledged by Susan Newberry. “Irene feels that volunteering in her many capacities has been an honor,” Newberry said. “Among her many assets are her sharp intelligence and her love of teaching. She’s a true public historian.”

In addition to her volunteer efforts, Kosinski was a school teacher in Hillside for 36 years. At Durand-Hedden House and Garden, Irene served as an active volunteer from the start and became a Durand-Hedden trustee and vice president. Kosinski  remains a mainstay at events, school visits and exhibitions with her teaching and demonstrations of authentic Open Hearth Cooking.  She was also in charge of the Durand-Hedden Country Store.

When the Maplewood Town Hall murals needed to be repaired and restored, Kosinski became a member of the Maplewood Murals Committee and eventually its chairperson.

To close out the afternoon’s celebration, award recipients received citations from Mayor Vic DeLuca and members of the Township Committee. “We are honored to acknowledge today’s award winners,” said DeLuca. “Their work sets an example for others to follow.”


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