NEW CANAAN, Conn -- Scratch the surface of a local charity event and you'll no doubt find Pj Marcella behind it.
The New Canaan mom is on the board and very active with The Tiny Miracles Foundation , an organization dedicated to helping Fairfield County families with premature babies. She's also among one of the founding families that helped fund Waveny Parks Special Needs Fitness Path from the proceeds raised from the Annual “ All Out For Autism ” 5k Walk/Run. Money raised goes towards supplying playground equipment that is accessible for children of all disabilities to enjoy. Their next event, an annual 5K walk/run, will be held Friday, August 26.
She's also very involved in special education and sits on the Parents Advisory Council for Special Education currently representing the West School Special Education Community.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Marcella, who owns a waste/recycling management company called Blue Earth Partners, also does mentoring of area families that have children with special needs, and hosts monthly networking meetings with a group called Womens Networking Group of Fairfield County (held at the New Canaan Library), which helps women in transition.
She said giving back is important to her, especially because she knows firsthand how hard life with a special needs child can be. Her son, Johnny, was born 31 weeks premature 12 years ago at Norwalk Hospital and the women from Tiny Miracles, then just a fledging organization, were there for her.
"I don't know how I would have gotten through it without their support," she said. "I always said to myself that one day, when I'm able, I'll give back and hopefully pay it forward."
When Johnny was three, she called the Tiny Miracles women and said, "I'm ready. What can I do to help? I want to help others like you helped me."
And when her son was diagnosed with autism around the same time, she steeped up her efforts to help other families dealing with children with autism. She has since chaired and volunteered and co-chaired countless of events and committees.
Marcella is now busy gearing up for a Shannon Elizabeth event known as Animal Avengers which works to protect elephants and rhinos against poaching in Africa. It is being held Sunday, April 17 at 2 p.m. at the Arthur Murray Grande Ballroom in Greenwich.
"I won't lie and say that it's not difficult but I’m very passionate about philanthropy and giving back," she said.