2010 Hometown Hero Award Ceremony
The Eighth Annual Reminder Publications Hometown Hero Awards Ceremony
In Honor of Anne Bueno, Co-Founder, Reminder Publications, Inc.
Thursday, February 4th 2010.
Sponsored by Visual Changes, Robert Charles Photography & Reminder Publicaitons
2009 Award Recipients:
Nominated by Gail Manuel
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to nominate Allyson for this recognition. Allyson, a retired teacher from Kensington Avenue School in Springfield, apparently does not know the meaning of retirement. She and her husband George have been volunteering countless hours at Kensington for the last several years.
Because of Allyson, the arts are alive and well at our school. She arrives one hour before school begins three days a week to provide art experiences for our students. This Arts in the Morning Group is treated to a trip to New York City each spring where they see a Broadway play. This is made possible by various fundraising activities instigated by Allyson and George.
Allyson is also responsible for the Over the Top Ballroom Dance Project, which involves fifth grade students from all over the city. This experience provides adolescent students with a much-needed shot of self-esteem. As a culminating experience, these dancers get to participate in a dance-off at Symphony Hall in the spring.
Art experiences are virtually non-existent in the public schools, yet are so important. Allyson has a passion for providing outstanding experiences for our students. Kudos to you, Mrs. G.
Nominated by Gwen Page
Dr. Bryant Robinson has served his community for over 50 years. He has served as a teacher, a principal (William Deberry Elementary School), a deputy superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, and as interim superintendent of Springfield Schools. Dr. Bryant Robinson has spent his life helping others. He is a strong advocate for education and consistently encourages people of all ages to further their education. Many former students have shared their stories of success and how they were urged by Dr. Robinson to never give up.
Not only has Dr. Robinson served his community in the field of education, but he's also done so as a religious leader. He is the pastor of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ, which was burned down on Nov. 5, 2008 by arsonists. Bishop Robinson's determined faith gave strength not only to the congregants but to the community as well. "We will build again," he declared. This call of resolve has been the impetus to the rebuilding of the Macedonia Church.
Bishop Bryant Robinson's life is a living example of dedication, determination and love for all people.
Nominated by April Mosher
Carla Santia is a quiet hero. She does not look for recognition for what she does, but she volunteers her time to benefit many good causes. To those organizations that she supports, and to the people that benefit from her support, she would indeed be a hero.
To name a few: Carla is involved with the Ronald McDonald House. With her love of art, she's involved in the WGBY Art Auction. Best Buddies is an annual favorite, as Carla does their bike ride. She is involved with Best Buddies because she has a friend with a child that will need those services as the years progress, and she wants to make sure they are available. The arts always hold a special place for Carla, so she spends her summer weekends driving to Becket to volunteer as an usher at
Volunteers like Carla are a godsend. They help the bottom line of many non-profit organizations.
Carla, while being a good friend, was also my own personal hero, or should I say lifesaver. Years ago, when I was a single mom raising two boys, at one point one of my sons was in the hospital. Every week she would come to the hospital and I'd hand her an envelope with money and a list. When I got home that night, my grocery shopping had been done and the change would be on the counter.
As I said, Carla is a quiet hero. After knowing her all these years, even I probably don't know the half of what she does. I just know she does a lot of good in many directions.
Nominated by Nancy Cavanaugh
If you have never met Dot Lortie, you've never met the Pioneer Valley's most giving and kind woman. No matter what this Springfield resident and business owner is asked to give time to, the answer is always "Yes, no problem!"
As a realtor, Dot welcomes many new families to this area. Each and every person that she meets becomes special to her. Just ask any client of hers; she does it to please others. "Yes, no problem!" she says.
Dot has lived in Springfield for most of her married life, raising her two boys and educating them in Springfield schools. She loves her city and shows it so many ways, from holding a sign on a rainy election day to hosting a reception at her home to raise money for a local charity.
When the Tip-off Classic college basketball game first came to Springfield, there was Dot Thanksgiving morning decorating the Hall of Fame for the evening reception and she continued each year to make the festival special.
She heard the kids in Springfield needed school supplies; there she was with money to buy them. Many evenings she is out at committee meetings; the Historical Commission, the STCC Board of Directors, the women's club at her church, and the list goes on. It is always, "Yes, no problem!"
The perfect person for a "Hometown Hero" Award is Dot Lortie. You can't get anyone, anywhere, anymore giving and a true unsung hero for the city of Springfield than this wonderful woman!
Nominated by Susan Jay-Kaplan
Ellen's contribution to the communities of Western Massachusetts and beyond is remarkable in terms of achievement, impact and sustainability in our community.
Her efforts render her a true symbol of community citizenship and spirit.
Ellen is on numerous boards and is a member to many organizations in the Western Massachusetts community. Ellen is always available to serve with expertise and intelligence. She is not one to just sit on the board but is an active participant at all meetings and takes pride in being present for meetings and not just in name only.
Ellen, along with her husband Richard and sons Neal and Stephen, tutor and are advocates for a Somali family who reside in Springfield. Ellen tutors
the children every Wednesday and is also their advocate at their school. She has worked with Dr. Alan Ingram, Superintendent of the Springfield School Department, to aid the Somali students in Springfield and to help facilitate services for the children.
Ellen is always ready to stand up for the rights of children and their parents. She is thoughtful in her decision-making and in how she conducts her daily work and private life.
Ellen has worked on many committees in Western Massachusetts and always manages to attend meetings on time, give reports and follow through on what she offers to be involved in. Her degree of commitment is outstanding. Ellen is a loving wife, mother, daughter, friend and community activist.
Nominated by Jill Scibelli
My grandfather Fred Czupkiewicz is a World War II veteran and was a prisoner of war. He is 94 years old and is still very active. He helps people all the time. He has eight great grandchildren and five grandchildren. He is for sure a Hometown Hero.
Jim Hoar is dedicated to the veteran community. He has helped organize events for over 20 years. He helped raise over $20,000 for the World War II monument in Veterans Park. When it comes to helping, "no" is not in his vocabulary.
He helped raise funds for the Gold Star Memorial and participated in the Zany Revues to raise money for the War Memorial Building and the Flag Fund.
Nominated by Thomas W. O'Brien, Jr.
Principal, Boland Elementary School
James Nodurf, former mathematics teacher at Classical High School and assistant principal at Chestnut Junior High School and the High School of Commerce (where he mentored the current principal of Edward P. Boland Elementary School) has provided substantial support to students in grades four and five to excel in the area of mathematics as well as participating annually in our school's Read Aloud Program.
Jim has volunteered weekly during the past three years with small groups of students for whom he is able to share his passion and enthusiasm for math, which has resulted in his students achieving proficient and advanced status on our state's MCAS exam.
It is highly evident that his students regard him as a positive role model and an example for future success to which they can also aspire. He collaborates effectively with faculty and other volunteers and is considered to be a resource to them as well. He is considered by all to be much more than a tutor, but an integral member of our school's family.
Kenneth O'ConnorNominated by Nancy Laino
Mr. O'Connor is a business owner in Springfield and a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie #148 (St. James Avenue). He and the Fraternal Order of Eagles have supported the Washington Elementary School by providing new coats to the school every winter. Mr. O'Connor has been the driving force at the Eagles to collect new coats for the students of our school.
Every year for the last four years he out-does himself providing numerous coats for the children. We believe these coat collections have helped increase our attendance over the years.
Mr. O'Connor actively raises monies for many charities, the AIDS Walk, Breast Cancer Awareness, and many other charities. He is a very modest man who wants to stay in the background, but I feel it is time he and the Eagles should be recognized for the many children's lives he touches with his unselfish devotion to keep our students warm every winter.
Lu Juana Hood
Nominated by Renay I. Jihad
|Lu Juana Hood|
Ms. Hood is the co-founder of the Pan-African Historical Museum (PAHMUSA) located in downtown Springfield at Tower Square. For nearly 20 years, she has used this venue to educate the people of all ages and from all walks of life about the history and contributions of people of color.
She has also taken her quest to Africa, hosting countless tours to West Africa, in particular. Recipients of her volunteer efforts learn about the lesser-known and under-exposed history of African-Americans and the great contributions these people have made to the fiber of culture, including the arts, science, health, education, politics and more.
Ms. Hood left no stones unturned. She also made sure Springfield was captured. Hosting walking tours of the Freedom Trail enables youngsters to witness a part of history first hand.
As a 25-year teacher of reading I know the impact real-world connections can make on students. Ms. Hood's impact locally must finally be recognized.
Michael J. Flynn
Nominated by Christina Cronin
|Michael J. Flynn|
I am happy to nominate Mr. Michael J. Flynn for this award.
Mike is a valued member of our community. He has done so much to help our region, Wilbraham and Hampden in particular. He is the kind of guy you never have to ask to help. He just offers. We often see the scouts holding holiday plant sales on the premises of Hampden Engineering, his family business. Any way he can help the community he does.
Mike was instrumental in the development of the new Minnechaug High School and was one of the leaders/chief advocates of the project. He continues to serve on the facilities committee and is working to help shape what the school will look like and be outfitted with in terms of technology.
Mike never asks for any credit or acknowledgment. He is a very selfless man.
Parish of St. Cecilia'sAccepting on their behalf
Kit and Tom Loper
Nominated by James Ziemba
Kit and Tom have been providing joy to hundreds of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last five years. They have organized the packages for troops for the last five years with the help of the parish of St. Cecilia's in Wilbraham.
To date they have sent over 1,200 "care packages" to our men and women serving over seas in the battlefields. With the average weight of each box around eight pounds, that means they have sent approximately 9,600 pounds of candy, toiletries, toys, snacks and you name it if it will fit in the postal box.
The best part is that they do not have any of their children serving in any of the Armed Forces.
Truly Hometown Heroes for us in Wilbraham.
Nominated by Claudia Kapinos
My mom is one of the most unselfish people I know. She never has a lack of time, enthusiasm and caring to volunteer for so many special causes in her life. Her heart is the biggest of anyone I have ever met. She has a passion for living life and because of this, so many fortunate people have benefited in so many ways.
Her commitment to The Association For Community Living and her dedication to the children of inmates at the women's jail is just a small part of where she shares her love and time.
She is a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother who never runs out of love and time for her family, her church and her community.
She is my inspiration. I have been truly blessed to have this lady as my mom. If I can be half the woman my mom is I will have lived a full and satisfying life.
Nominated by Rose Morace
I would like to nominate Rick Bowe for the Hometown Hero Award, as Rick exemplifies the American spirit as a true hero. Actions speak louder than words when it comes to describing Rick Bowe. In an unassuming manner, Rick has dedicated himself to country, hometown, work, family and friends.
It is a sacrifice to give up one's daily life and leave family and friends to serve our country. Rick has done this by serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on two occasions. While in Iraq, Rick was injured. Presently, he continues to serve as a military police officer for one weekend per month serving with the Massachusetts Emergency Team under the auspices of Federal Emergency Management Agency. Rick has won the Bronze Star for Valor in Iraq and has it on his license plate. Also, he has received four Army metals for his service in Iraq.
As a result of his dedication to the Town of Southwick, Rick has served on school councils for over 10 years at the high school and middle school levels. In spite of a demanding schedule, he has made time to serve the youth of his town by coaching soccer. In addition, he has taught Sunday school at his church. When bone marrow was needed, Rick donated two times.
Rick takes pride in his work as a mail carrier in West Springfield. His service to others is evident in his ability to be caring, compassionate and willing to assist others in times of need. For a period of 10 years, Rick has served as president of the West Springfield Letter Carrier's Union.
As a husband, father and son, Rick is a wonderful family man. He and his wife Brenda have two children in college Jared is presently a student at Holyoke Community College and Kelsey is a student at the University of Vermont. Kendra is a student at Southwick-Tolland Regional High School. His mother, Joan Bowe, was widowed at a young age. She is a much respected, retired Longmeadow teacher. Rick makes certain that his mother's needs are a priority by his many visits, calls and outings with her. His mother describes him as the best son anyone could ever wish for as he has brought her much joy and pride.
For many reasons, I have nominated Rick Bowe for the Hometown Hero award. However, his unyielding devotion and dedication to his country, hometown, work, family and friends make him an outstanding candidate for this award.