What do you do when you don’t make it in politics? You become a concerned citizen. That’s what Frank P. Perrucci did 44 years ago when he lost his bid for third ward council member. “I completely changed over from politics to civic work,” he says. He founded the Concerned Citizens of Bayonne, and it’s been going strong ever since.
Perrucci, who turned 87 in April, was born in Brooklyn and came to Bayonne when his father died and his mother met a gentleman from Bayonne. He was 14 years old. That pretty much makes him a Bayonne native.
He married Jean in1951. They have four kids—three of whom live in town—and seven grandchildren.
Perrucci was a laborer when he and Jean were first married and then worked for the county as director of community development. Jean worked in customer service at Maidenform for 34 years and is corresponding secretary for the Maidenform Retirees. Why are they so involved in charitable work?
“We looked around the community,” Perrucci says, “and saw that things had to be done. We wanted to be involved with children.”
The group sponsors the PAL basketball league, Bayonne Little League, after-school academic programs, and was instrumental in getting the ice rink built. “Anything that came up that related to youth, we got involved,” Perrucci says. The group gives a $1,000 scholarship to a Bayonne high-school student, and when a boy in town was bullied and beat up, the Concerned Citizens helped pay his medical bills.
But the group casts a wide charitable net.
“We spearheaded an earlier drive for an elected board of education, took a stand on the light rail, and opposed toxic sites,” Frank says. They started a group called BOATS—Bayonne Organization Against Toxic Sites.
Perrucci, who was in the merchant marines and served in World War II, is also very active with veterans’ groups.
He has no eyes to retire from the organization he started so many years ago. About 60 members come to each meeting. “We’re going strong, we have the attendance,” he says. “I would hate to give it up.”
The group’s motto is, “We care. Do You?”
Apparently, people in Bayonne do. “It’s like a family here,” Perrucci says. “Everybody knows each other. If something comes up, everybody tries to help.”—Kate Rounds