Jean Colarusso was born in West Pittston, Pa. and grew up in a family that instilled religious values and community service. After graduating from Marywood College in 1957, she worked in the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital as a medical technologist. There she met her future husband and medical student, Cal Colarusso. The couple married in 1960.
In June of 1973 Jean moved to La Jolla, California from Philadelphia with her physician husband and their three children, Mike, Mary Ann and Tom.
In 1982 Anita Figueredo M.D., Jean Colarusso, and Mary Rupp founded Friends of the Poor. These women, driven by their passion for service and their frustration with poverty worked on and completed many projects among the poor communities in Mexico and San Diego.
In 1998 Jean met a Nigerian priest who told her of some of his needs as an administrator of a boys’ boarding school in his country. He needed additional classrooms and a way to feed the children. Within a few months Jean provided the money to allow the boys to make bricks for a larger school and start a pig farm for food and extra revenue.
Also in 1998, the Bishop of the Diocese of Issle-Uku made a visit to San Diego and asked Jean to help him finish a Cathedral that had been started 20 years before and was abandoned because of a lack of funds. Accepting the assignment, Jean took on the completion of the cathedral which was the size of a football field. In 2004 the building was completed enough to host the installation of a new Bishop. During her visit in January of 2006, Jean was able to see the completion of the project.
In January of 2004, while on her second visit to Nigeria, Jean conceived the idea of building an orphanage for the many children who lost their parents through HIV. Bishop Obot of the Diocese of Idah agreed and donated the land for the complex. In less than a year, on December 23rd, 2005, the first orphan was admitted to the newly completed Holy Family Children's Center.The center consisted of an administration building, separate kitchen and protective wall around the entire complex. The orphanage can provide a safe haven for up to 100 children.
In January 2006, on her fourth trip to Nigeria, Jean agreed to build an Aids/HIV Clinic and Hospice in Minna, an area with the highest rate of Aids infection in all of Africa.
In January 2007, on Jean's fifth trip to Nigeria, the Aids/HIV Clinic and Hospice was dedicated. There was also a groundbreaking ceremony For the Dr. William Kupiec Academy for Girls.
In 2008, work continued on the girls school in Idah and a Teen Center was added to the Aids/HIV Clinic and Hospice in Minna.
2009 saw the dedication and expansion of the Teen Center along with the addition of an 18 bed ward to the Aids/HIV Clinic and Hospice
In September 2009, the first class of 7th grade girls were admitted to the Dr. William Kupiec Academy for Girls.
for more see:
The Gift of Giving in the SanDiego Union
Living Legacy Award and Presentation