ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – They came from the Police Department, the fire department, the Fire Auxiliary, the Lions Club, the Historical Society, the Yacht Club. They came from the neighborhood and from the nursing home where she was administrator decades ago. They came from St. Agnes Church and Borough Hall. They included relatives as well, together with the Chief of Police and the newest police department captain, as well as representatives of every rank in the department. Three mayors who all served after the first lady mayor of the borough were also on hand…..Fred Rast, Randy LeGrice and current Mayor Loretta Gluckstein. They were all at the Care One Care Center yesterday afternoon to celebrate the 97th birthday of a well loved lady, Helen Marchetti. And there were many more than all of that, numbering just over 40 persons lucky enough to spend an hour or two with the former Mayor, who recently became a resident of Care One. And there were dozens more who wanted to attend and sent all their best wishes and hundreds of birthday wishes on Facebook.
The gala event was hosted by Ms. Marchetti’s niece, Barbara Kornek, who came up from her Florida home for the event, as well as the Ladies Auxiliary of the fire department, all in cooperation with a kind and generous staff at Care One under the direction of Activities Director Karen Cohen. There were gift cards overflowing on the table, together with a tri-panel Memory Board of Photos designed by Ms. Kornek to highlight some of the people in attendance at the event at various times during the past several decades in a variety of activities, events, and charitable activities in which the Atlantic Highlands native has been involved in during the 97 years since she was born at 99 Center Avenue, the same house where she lived for almost every year of her life.
“ I feel the same way everyone else does,” said Jimmie R. King, MSN,RN LNHA, administrator at Care One. “Celebrating Helen’s 97th birthday is newsworthy. She dedicated her life to Atlantic Highlands and has been very influential in changing a lot of lives for the better (mine included).”
The administrator had started his career in the nursing and administrative nursing career as an aide at the now closed Atlantic Highlands Nursing Home in Middletown when Ms. Marchetti was administrator there.
Mrs. Kornek managed to coordinate all aspects of the surprise celebration without her aunt’s knowledge, something which was obvious when the guest of honor was wheeled into the main dining room to applause and shots of congratulations from the waiting crowd. After catching her breath, smiling broadly, and bedecked with Birthday décor, Mrs. Marchetti managed to thank everyone and said, “I don’t know what I can say. I am speechless. And you all know that that’s not me.”
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And when it was all over, the former Mayor, happy, tired, overwhelmed with the happiness of the afternoon, reminded everyone she’s still the feisty Irish Mayor who liked things run in her fashion, all for the good of the town she loves so much. “Ok, “ she said, “it’s time to go home.”
Then Helen Mount Marchetti, nonagenarian plus seven, smiled happily and headed back to her room at Care One and the team of nurses and aides eager to welcome her back to their care.