Penelope Bustamante represents NJ at Jefferson Awards National Ceremony

June 25, 2019

The Community Foundation of New Jersey is proud to administer the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service in partnership with the New Jersey Governor’s Office on Volunteerism and the Star-Ledger (learn more about the partnership here), and we are especially proud of this year’s honoree who recently represented the Garden State at the national awards ceremony in Washington, DC.

For Penny Bustamante, volunteering is a regular part of life, but for her 50th birthday, she took volunteerism to the extreme. To celebrate the blessings in her life and give back to the community, Penny embarked on a 52-week charity marathon. She volunteered with a different charity and rendered a different kind of service each week for 52 weeks. She ran 5Ks and walked 39 miles, she helped build wells in El Salvador, worked on the reservation with Native Americans of the Blackfeet tribe, coordinated hurricane relief and provided assistance with disaffected youth in Appalachia. Penny worked with the homeless, the Special Olympics, and with food banks. She documented her journey online for other to follow and recruited others to join her in each of her endeavors.

Penny’s 52 weeks of service represent a remarkable commitment, even more so because of her many years of prior service and her continued efforts on behalf of those less fortunate.


Each year, the administrators of the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service choose an honoree who will represent all of New Jersey’s volunteers at the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony held in Washington, DC. Honorees from across America participate in the National Ceremony, representing their peers and sharing their stories of service and volunteerism. Our 2018 delegate, Ingrid Johnson of Newark, was further distinguished when she was awarded the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis National Grassroots Jefferson Award.

To learn more, visit