contentsMadison NJ Chamberads

Vintage Madison

By John Morris

Volunteerism in Madison comes in many happy varieties. A very flavorful variety thrives in the Madison business community. The leaders of this community include the dedicated people who have owned and operated businesses in our town for years.

I’m focusing on just three business owners. They are a representative sample of how outstanding people serve our town in creative and lasting ways within and above the sphere of commerce. Their volunteerism is inspired by the desire and the need to do right by their neighbors. Their efforts are inspiring.

Carmine Toto Jr. is the proprietor of C. Toto & Sons, Inc. of 74 Keep Street. A family business, it has specialized in painting and contracting since his father, Carmine Sr. came to Madison from Italy in 1934. Now including the efforts of Carmine III, the three-generation business today focuses on the historic restoration of buildings and churches in addition to private homes.

A former president of the Madison Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Forum Club, Carmine Jr. is the longtime chair of Madison Christmas Committee, which produces our town’s annual Christmas Parade. Under Carmine’s leadership the committee also maintains and installs a Santa’s Village on the grounds of the train station.

Michael Odell, CPA, is a principal of Odell & Critchley, P.C., a certified public accounting firm at 333 Main Street. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving Michael is the main attraction at the Christmas Parade due to the joy he brings to the red and white costume he wears. Michael is Santa Claus at the parade and it’s a role he inherited from his father Bill Odell, who had been Santa for decades.

A former two-term treasurer of the Madison Chamber of Commerce, in his free time Michael volunteers his expertise to many community organizations that affect Madison and beyond, which include the Rotary Club of Madison, the Rotary Foundation of Madison and the Taste of Madison.

The Taste of Madison has no greater supporter than Judy Mullins, who with her husband Dennis owns and operates the landmark restaurant Poor Herbie’s at 13 Waverly Place. Poor Herbie’s is in the heart of downtown where the parking is always free. At Poor Herbie’s the motto is, “Come for the food, stay for the fun.”

Judy has been a founding and sustaining member and leader of several of Madison’s most vital non profit organizations. These include the Friends of the Madison Shade Trees, the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts, and the Madison Arts & Culture Alliance. Judy is a longtime member and former chair of the Madison Planning Board.

In addition to the personal efforts cited above, many volunteers in our business community are organized and represented by the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, Inc., an independent business league, and the Madison Downtown Development Commission, an entity of the Borough of Madison. Although the Chamber and DDC have different missions, which do overlap in healthy ways, both organizations work to maintain and enhance Madison as a great place to live, work and visit through programs, events, education and advocacy. Both organizations are led and managed by volunteers and their very own professional colleagues. All of them serve Madison as a whole.

Madison’s hearty type volunteerism is rooted in fruitful collaboration and the wonderful, lasting progress it creates. Represented here by Judy, Michael and Carmine, Madison’s business people are always among the first to support and to participate in volunteerism due to the benefits it creates for all concerned.

John Morris is the president of Stewart-Morris Awards, Gifts & Flags and the president of the Madison Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Morris is the fourth generation in his family to own a business in Madison, NJ.

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