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Beauty and the Geek

“Patti, I think Mikey has eyes for you.”

At her father’s pronouncement, Patti Macaluso did a very unladylike thing… she spit out her food as she burst into peals of laughter.

Mikey Scimeca was a family friend. The Scimecas lived on the same Brooklyn street as the Macalusos, and their families did everything together…picnics, trips to the beach, parties. Patti supposed Mikey was nice enough…for a geek. He was the same age as her older sister, and Mikey’s younger sister was the same age as Patti. It was natural that the four of them often did things together. Her father had to be wrong. Besides, Mikey wasn’t her type. Patti was popular, after all. She was the cool girl, with her teased hair and stylish clothes. Mikey wore loafers and horn-rimmed glasses…the very epitome of “not cool”.

So, when Mikey, at 17 and a high school graduate, asked Patti, who was only 14, if she wanted to go the movies on a Saturday, she said yes. She just had to check with the sisters.

“No, no,” Mikey said. “I meant just you and me.”

Oh, crap! Patti thought. Mikey just asked me out on a date!

Pat did agree to go on the date, and she remembers her sister waited behind the door when she came home. “Did he try to kiss you?” she asked.

Mike didn’t win Pat over on that first date, but eventually, it did happen. The more time she spent with him, the more she realized he was really someone she could be interested in romantically.

Mike went to college for a year after high school, and they continued to date. He didn’t enjoy the school he went to, so he started working instead, then decided to push up his draft. He went into the Army in November of 1962 and got out two years later. He proposed to Pat shortly thereafter.

While Mike was in the service, Pat went to college and got her associate’s degree. To save money so they could get married, Pat decided not to pursue her bachelor’s degree at that time but went to work.

With a big future ahead of them, Mike and Pat talked about where they wanted to live once they got married, and they decided on New Jersey, so that is where Mike looked for work.

EPSON MFP image

After they married in 1966, they moved to a little garden apartment in Parsippany. Once settled and working, they took turns going back to school. Mike got his bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson, then Pat got hers from William Paterson. Once she was done, Mike went back to FDU for his master’s degree.

Pat worked as an accountant, with an expertise in real estate management. Mike got into computer technology, working his way up over the years to vice president of information systems, and vice president of information technology in the retail industry. When the company he worked for was bought out, he became an independent consultant for fourteen years. Now, they are both retired, but Pat has her own business, a small jewelry company called Patti’s Pretties. She buys and specializes in different and unique jewelry, and does jewelry parties as well.

Pat and Mike became involved with CVCJ almost thirteen years ago, through church. They had their training on April 28, 2005. Together, they grocery shop for our care receivers. Mike also likes to bring people to the doctor. He has no problem sitting in the waiting room reading. After doing a fundraiser for CVCJ and raising over one thousand dollars for the organization, Pat was asked to be on the fundraising committee. Currently as a Board member, she spends a lot of time planning events with development director Linda Conroy.

Like many, the Scimecas like the flexibility of volunteering. At the time they became involved, Mike was still doing per diem consulting, so his schedule was somewhat fluid. More than the flexibility, Pat says volunteering with CVCJ has centered them. Since they don’t have any children, volunteering with the organization is a way to do something worthwhile, to improve and impact someone’s life and do something important.

They enjoy building special relationships with the people they help, but one care receiver, Emma, holds a special place in their hearts. “Emma was the most delightful, wonderful lady, who sadly passed away at the age of 103. She became a big part of our lives, and we visited her in the hospital when she was sick and met her family.”
Pat and Mike like to travel, and whenever they were going somewhere, Emma would say, “Where are you guys going? Just like Mary (her daughter), you’re always going somewhere!”

Some time after Emma passed away, Pat and Mike went on a cruise. While on the ship, there was a woman who looked familiar to Pat, but she couldn’t place where she knew the woman from. The Scimecas were at a loss to know how they knew each other. Eventually, Pat and the woman both realized where their paths had crossed…the woman was Mary, Emma’s daughter! The Scimecas and Mary still have a relationship to this day.

Photo: Pat & Mike, CVCJ volunteers, and care receiver, Emma

Relationships like these are the reward of volunteering for the Scimecas. Mike feels they are blessed to be at this point in their lives and still vertical…sometimes barely! And “it’s nice to be able to give back to people, sometimes the things they are in desperate need of.”

The Scimecas have been married for more than fifty years now. When asked about the success of their marriage, they agree it comes down to one key thing…thinking about the other person first. It’s important, according to Mike, to be supportive of each other. “We both worry about the other person and what their needs and wants are, and help them be fulfilled,” Mike says.

Pat agrees with that sentiment. In her words, it’s “caring for and loving each other, and making sure the other person is more important than yourself.”