May 6, 2010
On Tuesday, Marilyn Fantino celebrated her 78th birthday, and Friday she will travel to Washington D.C. to be honored with a volunteer award. Sunday, Fantino and her three sons will celebrate Mother's Day, but for now, she's this week's hero.
"I always tell my children I'm 78 outside, 19 in my heart," said Fantino.
Fantino is described as a force to be reckoned with, however you would never know that just by looking at her. Whether its spending time with her grandchildren or volunteering with the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA), Fantino is always on the move.
"I bought a car when I retired, it has 225,000 miles on it, all put on by me, so I move. I wanted to do something that brought meaning to my life," said Fantino.
Fantino is a retired Albemarle County English teacher who never stopped working. She started the Food Bag Program in 2000, partnering with the Jefferson Area Food Bank to ensure that seniors had well-balanced meals to make. An undertaking that was recognized with the JABA "Volunteer of the Year" Award in 2009.
"She doesn't have to pick up this food every month and make it a personal mission to pack it and make sure to get to where it's going, but she does," said Becky Calvert, of JABA.
Friday in Washington D.C., Fantino will be one of twenty-six people over the age of 50 to receive the MetLife Foundation "Older Volunteers Enrich America" Award.
"The exciting thing about this award is not the award itself, but it's the fact that we get some money for our program. That's what we're excited about," said Fantino.
This week's hero is satisfying her hunger to help by feeding fellow seniors.