Annual event honors life of vibrant young woman

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  Steve Prisament/ Jim Crescenzo spreads out foundation papers while his wife, Margaret, looks on. Steve Prisament/ Jim Crescenzo spreads out foundation papers while his wife, Margaret, looks on.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – When it comes to the topic of keeping their daughter’s memory alive 13 years after her passing, Margaret and Jim Crescenzo have different ways of saying the same thing about the Italian Night dinner coming up in her honor.

“It’s more than a fundraiser,” Jim Crescenzo said Saturday, Jan. 26 with his wife seated across the room. “It’s a day of friendship and remembering our daughter, Jamie.”

His wife referred to the legacy of the girl who died in a freak accident before being able to finish her education and pursue a career in law enforcement.

“Jamie’s legacy is now our legacy,” Margaret Crescenzo said. “We wanted to continue the way that she gave to people – the way that she started in her life with people she knew and with perfect strangers.”

So the annual dinner which raises money for scholarships to the schools she attended and the things she believed in has meaning far beyond the Crescenzo family.

“She was always giving,” Jamie’s mother said. “She was always there for people, and I think because of that her friends, people that she worked with wanted to support something.”

Jim Crescenzo modified his wife’s wording.

“They wanted to continue something,” he said. “They don’t just support the dinner. They want to do it.”

Margaret Crescenzo agreed. She brought out a framed poem written by her sister-in-law and recited part of it.

“Jamie had a way about her that made others smile and feel special,

It was a gift that was given to her that she shared freely,”

“The lesson I learned from her life is to touch as many people as you can with love and kindness,

Not to feel guilty about what can’t be done,

Do what you can, say a prayer for what you can’t and get on with life.”

Margaret Crescenzo said what she and others got from Jamie were life lessons.

She referred to Jamie’s funeral and how many people attended.

“If 1,000 people come for a young person … We never expected that turnout,” she said. “Jamie touched that many people. That really was her legacy.”

Facebook, she said, has brought her daughter into a whole new age. Her husband uses the medium to communicate with friends and supporters.

“When we do these things it stirs her memories,” he said. “Our friends do things – the dinner, the golf tournament, scholarships and awards. It keeps her memory in the fore. They share stories.”

Brooke Tommi said on Crescenzo’s Facebook page that is home to the Remembering Jamie Foundation and a host of friends that there are no words good enough to describe Jamie as a person or a friend.

“I can only say that I was blessed to have her as such a good friend for as long as I did,” Tommi said. “And I will spend every day until we meet again missing her like crazy. She was one who always will be the true definition of a best friend and I am so thankful that she was mine.”

But Jamie was a typical kid, her parents said.

“She put fish in somebody’s car,” Jim Crescenzo said. “She put shaving cream on people’s windshields. They had fun. They never did anything malicious.”

His wife agreed, and savored memories of when Jamie worked at the CVS at Hamilton Mall.

“Guys would come out never knowing what she might have done to their vehicles,” she said.

Of the approximately 30 volunteers who help put on the dinner at the Elks Lodge on Somers Point-Mays Landing Road, 15 were friends of Jamie’s who have participated each year.

“They take their vacations around this,” Jim Crescenzo said. “It’s the opportunity to see and visit with Jamie’s friends and former co-workers. To the unknowing, it may seem like it will be a sad time. But instead it’s a happy day.”

Along with Jamie’s parents and friends, her three younger brothers, Jim, Joe and John, will participate in putting on the annual dinner.

Feb. 23 will be a celebration of life, he said – a reminder of a special young lady.

And his wife continued, first recalling the snowy road that took Jamie, just months before her 21st birthday.

“Her legacy began as a vision from friends and family, co-workers and schoolmates – all with a burning desire to continue Jamie’s work.”

She said in the past 13 years the Crescenzo family has heard many stories from those who knew Jamie.

“Their stories about Jamie impact on their lives,” Margaret Crescenzo said. “We have all been changed by many personal accounts of loss, birth, death, marriages – life has gone on.”

If You Go

The Remembering Jamie Foundation’s February “Italian Night” Dinner

4-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23

Egg Harbor Township Elks Lodge, Somers Point-Mays Landing Road

Dinner is $12, $5 for children

Tickets at the door or from:

Remembering Jamie Foundation, P.O. Box 370, Somers Point, NJ 08244

Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

Call (609) 653-2075



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