The Haddonfield Lions Club has named Jack (John E.) O’Malley its 2024 Citizen of the Year.
He will accept his award at the annual mayor’s breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 20 at Tavistock. The ticketed event will feature a state of the borough address by Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich, Commissioners Frank Troy and Kevin Roche. William G. Hansen Youth of the Year Awards will also be presented.
O’Malley, a longtime borough resident, also received a lifetime achievement award from the Haddonfield Alumni Society in November for his contributions to the town. He was the recipient of the 2014 Alfred E. Driscoll Award from the Haddonfield Civic Association, of which he is currently a board member.
“His dedication to the quality of life in Haddonfield is evident through his involvement in numerous organizations, including the Haddonfield Foundation, the Haddonfield Memorial High School athletic hall of fame and the civic association,” said 2019 Citizen of the Year Marie DiMatties.
O’Malley has help coach numerous youth sports teams including Little League; Pigtail softball; youth basketball, soccer and football; and Haddonfield boys’ and girls’ travel basketball.
Besides his service as president of the Haddonfield Foundation and member of the civic association, O’Malley is on the Haddonfield Recreation Council. He has also served on the board of education’s Community Budget Advisory Committee and the high-school’s athletic hall of fame committee, the youth soccer board and the youth basketball association board.
“Jack O’Malley is truly a Haddonfield person,” noted Joseph Murphy in his letter nominating O’Malley for the Citizen of the Year Award. “If a matter is important for Haddonfield, Jack can be counted on as a clear, positive voice.”
Jack Tarditi, former mayor and a member of the Haddonfield Lions Club, called O’Malley a “son of the borough,” noting that his parents also had a history of serving the town.
“His volunteering makes Haddonfield a special place to live, makes it a better town,” Tarditi said.
In reflecting on his impact in Haddonfield, O’Malley acknowledged his parents, whom he described as “die-hard volunteers while they were active in town,” and his wife, who has supported him throughout the years and encouraged his community service.
“She really, more than anybody, is the reason I’m getting recognized for this,” O’Malley acknowledged. “I couldn’t do this if she wasn’t really supportive in the mindset that she’s been.”
O’Malley feels that his coaching wasn’t just about the success of the teams, but about creating lasting and meaningful relationships.
“I said, ‘Here’s your test,'” O’Malley recalled of players. “When these kids come home five years, 10 years out of school, Thanksgiving weekend, do they want to give a big wave and say hi or do they want to put your hood up and duck you?”
In O’Malley’s experience, there have been mostly big hellos. He hopes to see more younger residents get involved in town.
“Lots of people have issues with something, but if you don’t like it, try to make a change,” he advised. “Try to make it better.”
O’Malley will be the 52nd recipient of the citizen’s award. A ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. For more information, visit www.haddonfieldlions.org