BY JOE MARVILLI
In his 83 years, Joseph Mattone Sr. has contributed to or led a nearly countless number of endeavors to improve the lives of those in his community.
As the chairman and CEO of the Board of the Mattone Group, Mattone Sr. is using his success to give back to those who need a hand to better themselves. While a large portion of his philanthropic efforts center on education, he has given to and joined causes that benefit several different fields.
Mattone said that he first realized that he wanted to contribute to his community when his career got off the ground, he made some money and wanted to give back.
“I started to see there was a big dropout rate among students from high school. I felt the value of education was so essential to anyone wanting to improve and benefit their lifestyle,” he said. “It just grew from one worthy cause and charity to another.”
This desire to help others achieve academically came from Mattone’s own education. The youngest of nine children, he attended Stuyvesant High School, St. John’s Prep and St. John’s College and Law School.
His experiences at St. John’s and the financial leg up he received from the administration and his siblings formed the catalyst for his own generosity towards education.
“What St. John’s provided me was an opportunity to continue my education. They gave me a scholarship for that time because I just didn’t have the money to finish it,” he said. “I went over to the college from the prep and I was able to eke out the tuition then from the generosity of my brothers and sisters.”
Mattone’s education would lead to his success with the Mattone Group, where he has been involved with the development of more than 70 properties. Many of these projects are based in Queens, not only providing new amenities, but creating hundreds of jobs.
Among the big changes the Mattone Group brought to Queens was the creation of Jamaica Center, a shopping center that attracted big-name tenants to the neighborhood for the first time in decades. Other retail and food options the company created in the Borough include three new restaurants near Queens Center Mall, a Pathmark supermarket in Springfield Gardens and a Home Depot in Jamaica.
The Mattone Group did not solely create commercial properties though. The company bought vacant land that used to be the site of a former Catholic Youth Organization summer camp. On that land, it built 110 one-family homes, one of the largest developments in Queens’ history.
Outside of the company, Mattone is involved in several philanthropic activities. He is a longtime member of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, part of the Board of Directors for St. John’s alumni association and he used to be president of the Board of Directors for Cerebral Palsy of Queens, which is known today as Queens Centers for Progress.
“I was president for two years. I saw the need for help for those poor kids that were disabled,” he said. “I worked with them for a couple of years and felt very gratified for being given the opportunity to help these kids.”
One of Mattone’s biggest efforts to help children came from his role in founding Futures in Education 25 years ago. This organization is dedicated to ensuring that a Catholic education continues to be a viable option for current and future generations of students from Queens and Brooklyn. It does this by providing financial assistance to those students who are most in need, through endowments and fundraising programs.
All of these contributions are a fraction of the work Mattone has done for Queens. However, he said his greatest moments in philanthropy come from seeing and hearing about the positive effect he had on individuals.
“Those personal satisfactions when you get letters from people, saying you did this, you did that,” he said. “You get those things that sometimes show you where the roses bloom. It’s nice to get those one-on-ones.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.