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New Jersey Monthly Magazine
Best Of Jersey
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Best Of Jersey: Benefactors

Posted March 10, 2008

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Retired factory worker Paul Navone, 78, has never earned more than $11 an hour, yet last January he donated $1 million to Cumberland County College and then another million to Richland’s St. Augustine College Preparatory School. Navone doesn’t own a phone or a television. He never married or had children. He drives an ’88 Isuzu SUV, and most of his clothes come from thrift shops.

Frugal spending habits coupled with diligent saving and investing allowed Navone to amass his undisclosed fortune. At 16, Navone started his first factory job at Wheaton Glass in Millville, earning 75 cents an hour. At 21, he joined the Army and was shipped off to work at the base post office in West Germany. When he returned, Navone continued his factory work and lived with his sister until he had enough money to buy his first house, a two-family unit. He lived on one side and rented the other, which allowed him to save his wages from work and live off the rent money. Eventually Navone bought a second property, and then a third, accumulating savings all the while.

Last year, Navone approached his broker, R. Douglas Smithson, senior vice president for investments at Wachovia Securities in Vineland, and said he wanted to draw up a will and do something positive for the community.

Navone’s name will now grace the walls of Cumberland County College’s newly refurbished Healthcare Education Center, while St. Augustine’s Olympic-size pool will be known as the Navone Pool.

Crowned Head 
Cynthia DeSouza smiled as she sat proudly in her motorized wheelchair holding a bouquet of flowers and wearing the crown of Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey 2008. DeSouza, 56, of Newark, who suffers from a motor neuron disease, came to the pageant at the College of New Jersey February 16th to “represent women of my age, women from where I live, women in wheelchairs, and to offer support to the other contestants.”

As part of the responsibilities that come with her new title, DeSouza will travel throughout the state speaking on her two themes—increasing public awareness of people with disabilities and increasing public access for the disabled. She will also represent New Jersey at the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant in December.

South Jersey Advocate
When Debra P. DiLorenzo took over the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey in 1994, it had a paltry 900 members. Now the chamber—the largest in its region—has over 1,700 members and sponsors 150 events and meetings a year. Under DiLorenzo’s leadership, the CCSNJ advocates the interests of South Jersey businesses, not just in Trenton, but in Philadelphia as well. She’s helped put a very important and growing part of the state front and center.
 
Greatest Gateway
The Save Ellis Island project raises funds to restore abandoned historical buildings on the island. The Garden State owns more than 22 of the island’s acres, and hopes to establish the Ellis Island Institute and Conference Center as a forum for civic engagement and learning on immigration, diversity, and health.

Cycling for a Cause
After being treated at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick for stage-four non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Warren Township resident Scott Glickman turned his enthusiasm for cycling into fundraising for cancer research. The third Century for a Cure 100-mile bike ride raised $100,000 this year, nearly doubling its purse and participants since its inception. Ride on!


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