Hopatcong Seniors of the Year 2020 – Lola & John Scala - Celebration of a Lifetime of Service

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On Thursday, June 18, 2020, the Borough of Hopatcong continued the annual tradition of naming the Male and Female Seniors of the year, and for the first time a couple (Lola & John Scala) won the honor.

Scala VideoNormally the awards are given out at the Senior Picnic and attended by over 125 people. This year with the event canceled, the Chairperson of the Mayors Senior Advisory Committee Ida Brown arranged a small gathering under the helpful coordination and guideance of Cathy Millian Hopatcong Recreation Director who always gets things done.

“You are very deserving of this honor and we are thrilled that you will be recognized for all you have done for our community and the residents that have benefited from your compassion and dedication!” - Mayors Senior Advisory Committee Ida Brown

Service BkCelebration of a Lifetime of Service:

The small ceremony and follow-up parade past the Scola home honored a great couple that spent their life in service to the town, clubs, and organizations and particularly to Hopatcong School Athletics Programs where they were named #1 fans back in 2012.

Tribute to John Scala:

“John’s commitment to students, seniors, and his sense of community make him a wonderful choice to represent Hopatcong as our 2020 Male Senior of the Year. As his daughter, Karen shared with me, “He was the best “Mayor” Hopatcong never had!” - Mayors Senior Advisory Committee Ida Brown

John has been a resident of Hopatcong since 1964! He and his wife, Lola, were one of the very first residents to live on Holiday Drive. John and Lola have 3 children, John, Mark, and Karen. All were raised and attended school in Hopatcong. They have 7 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren!

John is a proud Veteran having served in the Navy reserves from 1953 to 1961.

                               John coached and oversaw the entire operation of the Hopatcong “EAGLES” (the original junior football league in town before The Hawks). John was the Team President and Coordinator from 1969-1978. To create a junior soccer program, John worked tirelessly to create a solid program. His efforts were so widely recognized that other towns began to contact him for information and direction so they could develop similar programs in their districts. The youth soccer programs were successful all over the area because of John. Also, John donated his time to the Hopatcong High School Drama Department building and designing sets for numerous shows and productions. He was a regular participant in fundraising activities

John has been a number one fan of the Hopatcong High School for decades. Although his last child graduated from Hopatcong High in 1980, John continued to volunteer and support athletic events for both boys and girls teams in Basketball, Football, Softball and Wrestling, concerts, plays, and all the activities that benefit the students and education in Hopatcong.

John was awarded his own Football Jersey with his name on it from the Hopatcong High Athletic Department for being their #1 fan. Students cheered for him. John was also recognized by the Hopatcong High School Wrestling team for his overwhelming support and was awarded a personalized team jacket!

John has handmade & donated many craft items over the years to benefit St. Jude’s Church and has donated his time and talent to craft fairs and events both in Hopatcong and beyond. John served on the board of the Ingram Cove Beach and was instrumental in the creation and construction of the club and its facilities. The beach club facilitated year-round activities for the residents of Holiday Drive as well as year-round lake access.

John was recognized as a “Hometown Hero” in the late ’70s for his selfless act as a Good Samaritan. On Thanksgiving night there was a serious traffic accident on Route 80. John, Lola and the children were in the car. John stopped and immediately jumped into action with another bystander to help the victims and render any aid they could while waiting for rescue personnel.

As they assisted, they were suddenly struck and seriously injured by a speeding motorist who ignored the traffic cones diverting drivers away from the crash site. John suffered major injuries including two broken legs, he needed a metal rod to repair one of his legs and other cuts and bruises.

Thankfully, he recovered, and John has never looked back at jumping in to help anyone in need! Years after the accident, he became a volunteer speaker in the elementary schools sharing his story and teaching kids to help others in need – step up to the plate and your actions will be appreciated more than words can express. John still has letters to this day from the kids he addressed and shared his story.

Although now homebound, John continues to share his love for Hopatcong with stories and history. When visitors stop by and spend a short time with John, they come away rejuvenated at the strong

Tribute to Lola Scala:

“I feel Lola is a candidate we should consider bestowing the award of Senior of the Year. She represents a non-stop commitment to our community – a true love for our town and its residents and she is a dedicated cheerleader for anyone wishing to know the history and pride of Hopatcong. Lola’s commitment to students, seniors and her sense of community make her a wonderful choice to represent Hopatcong as our 2020 Female Senior of the Year.”  - Mayors Senior Advisory Committee Ida Brown

Lola has been a resident of Hopatcong since 1964! It was Lola’s uncle who built the tract of homes that exist as Holiday Drive today.

                               Lola was the Hopatcong High School District Nurse from 1969-1998. She served at the High School, the Administration Building when it housed the Kindergarten classes and at Durban Avenue School. In the mid ’70s, well into her nursing career, Lola returned to school at night to obtain her BA in health Education to enhance her RN degree.

Lola’s concern for others in the community was highlighted when a retired teacher from Hopatcong High, Mr. Laufenberg, had a wife suffering from cancer. She needed regular injections at home. Lola stepped right in and volunteered to regularly go to the house and administer the injections so the family would have peace of mind. Lola continued this until Mrs. Laufenberg lost her battle.

In the late 1960’s Lola volunteered as the Den Mother to Cub Scouts Pak #88 – she donated her time & space in her basement for several years to this program. She also volunteered with “Project Headstart” during the summer months. She would pick up underprivileged children from their homes, drive them to Durban Avenue School to participate in programs and field trips, and then bring them home.

Lola was a Hopatcong “EAGLES” (the original junior football league in town before The Hawks). midget football Cheerleading Supervisor and Coach between 1969-1978. Lola organized the refreshment stand for both the practices and on game days, so players and fans were fed and hydrated.

Lola has been a number one fan of the Hopatcong High School for decades. While her son Mark was a player on the Hopatcong Soccer Team from 1976-1979, Lola was an ardent supporter and NEVER missed a game. She was awarded the “1979” Fan of the Year at the awards banquet. Although her last child graduated from Hopatcong High in 1980, she has continued to volunteer and support athletic events for both boys and girls teams in Basketball, Football, Softball and Wrestling, concerts, plays, and all the activities that benefit the students and education in Hopatcong. Lola was awarded her own Football Jersey with her name on it from the Hopatcong High Athletic Department for being their #1 fan.

As an original homeowner on Holiday Drive, Lola fostered neighborhood alliances by organizing “Block Parties”. She brought the neighbors together to meet one another and created friendships that still exist today. She was so determined to keep the community spirit alive for the residents both on her street and the surrounding roads that she convinced the Hopatcong Police Department to shut off Holiday Drive from traffic once a year every summer to make the event safe and fun for all! She kept the block party going for years.

Lola served on the board of the Ingram Cove Beach and was instrumental in the creation and construction of the club and its facilities. The beach club facilitated year-round activities for the residents of Holiday Drive as well as year-round lake access.

Lola has done volunteer work for St. Jude’s Church for over 35 + years. She participates in fundraising projects and church events. She is seen weekly at the church selling the Shop Rite Cards that provide extra money to the church.

Lola has volunteered to drive her “Red Mustang Convertible” in all the parades and special events in town – whenever she is called to help, she does not know the word “no”! Lola is a long time member of the Hopatcong Seniors and has served as Vice President and speaker assist.

Lola has recently become involved with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation and is participating in their fundraising and educational activities! Lola’s many hours of volunteerism and dedication is exceptional. She is truly a compassionate and unique individual.

As a full time, caregiver for her husband John, Lola still manages to participate in the activities and clubs for which she is passionate. Her positive attitude keeps her emotionally and mentally focused as she knows John is loved and well cared for under her tutelage.

Join us in congratulating the first couple in history that have won the Hopatcong Seniors of the Year 2020


 

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