TCA President Mike Knowles, left, takes a photo with business owner Paul Pennacchi for a social-distanced check presentation.  Rose O’Connor photo.
TCA President Mike Knowles, left, takes a photo with business owner Paul Pennacchi for a social-distanced check presentation. Rose O’Connor photo.
For local businessman Paul Pennacchi, the seeds of philanthropy were planted at an early age by his father, Anthony.

“I remember my father saying, ‘There are two types of people in this world: givers and takers. Which one are you going to be?’ That stuck with me my whole life, and from that point on, I always tried to make a difference in someone’s life,” Pennacchi said.

As president of A. Pennacchi & Sons Masonry Restoration Company, Hamilton, he has certainly worked over the years to make a difference in Mercer County and beyond.

In addition to serving as head of the family business, founded by his father in 1947, Pennacchi is also a member and signatory contractor with Bricklayers Union Local 5 and 6 of New Jersey and Local 1 of Philadelphia. The business has restored religious, historical and government structures, many in the Diocese of Trenton, and has expanded into Bryn Mawr, Pa., and New York City.

While the business has extended, Pennacchi’s heart remains close to the community from which he hails. “You never forget your roots. You always remember the people and places that have changed your life,” he said.

As a result, he has devoted much of his time to supporting local organizations, including but not limited to the Knights of Columbus, the Mercer County CYO, Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, and parishes in the Diocese of Trenton.

He recently worked with the Mercer County Police and Fireman’s Foundation for Families, a board in which he operates as a member of the Chairman’s Advisory Committee, to raise funds for a Hamilton West High School graduate whose mother died protecting her daughter when their house collapsed in July 2018. 

The young woman plans to attend the University of Virginia in the fall.

Pennacchi and his wife, Rosina, are parishioners of St. Paul Parish, Princeton, but he jokes that he “feels as though he belongs to every parish” since his business has serviced many churches in the Diocese. During the holidays, he donates the Christmas decorations for Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Trenton, the faith community his family belonged to during his youth.

Pennacchi has also been a longtime supporter of Trenton Catholic Academy, formerly known as McCorristin Catholic High School, from where he graduated in 1985. “It was such a great experience,” he said of his alma mater.  “I loved my teachers and my time there. I am more than happy to help the school.”

This past May, Pennacchi donated funding for billboards in Hamilton and Trenton congratulating TCA’s Upper and Lower School graduates. For the 2020-2021 school year, he is “adopting a student” – funding a full scholarship for an Upper School student, an educational opportunity he believes sets the foundation for future success.

“These students are our future,” he said. “The kids at TCA are wonderful kids. They’re polite and well-mannered. They want a bright future and work hard to make the world a better place.”

Pennacchi notes the importance of giving back to the community, and stresses that donating isn’t only about money – one’s time is needed, too, especially during COVID-19. “Take a few moments out of the day to try and make someone’s life better,” he advised.

Michael Knowles, TCA president, extended appreciation to Pennacchi and all the school’s benefactors.

“Paul lives the mission of service to others. We are grateful that he continues to give back to the school community that made a difference in his life,” Knowles said. “Sister Dorothy Payne, our late president, always said, ‘We are here for systemic change.’ Paul is a change agent and truly a blessing to TCA.”