Mayor of Leominster presents community service awards to deserving recipients
LEOMINSTER – Several city residents received community service awards at the dedication ceremony Monday night at City Hall from unsung heroes recognized for their contribution to the common good, including longtime volunteer Val Brennan in emergency management, which was instrumental in leading an effort. during the pandemic that resulted in the delivery of more than a million meals to students in public schools.
“(Val) has been a partner during the pandemic,” Mazzarella said before presenting him with the annual James Lanciani award to the emergency management shelter manager and food security coordinator, noting his dedication to helping survivors of the fires and the homeless, often behind the scenes.
Brennan, who was visibly moved as she walked to the front of the auditorium to receive the award, said she was “thrilled to win” the award.
“The fact that the award was presented to me by Mayor Dean Mazzarella on his inauguration night is an added honor,” she said. “This award is a direct reflection of the hard work, dedication and support of the team of volunteers who work alongside me.
Mazzarella said the award was created in Lanciani’s name when the former director of emergency management and director of veterans services several years ago retired from city council to honor the very community member involved and active.
“Jim was everywhere and did everything,” Mazzarella said. “He’s helping everyone and is the first guy to raise his hand to help.”
When it comes to selecting the person worthy of this year’s award, Mazzarella said Brennan was the obvious choice.
“We have a lot of people doing a lot of wonderful things, but Val was this person who really led the effort,” Mazzarella said. “She is there to help provide heat, food for the homeless and more, day and night.”
Steve Smith and his wife Cynthia, residents of the city for 33 years, were the first called to receive one of the community service awards for their role in organizing and providing a display of festive and free lights to Sholan Farms over the past three years, a gift to the community.
“It’s quite an honor,” said Steve Smith, vice president of Friend of Sholan Farms. “We didn’t do it to be recognized, we did it because it seemed like the right thing to do and it’s something that interests me.”
He said that although it takes two days to install the 3,400 lights, the effort is made year round by a team that includes their son Jeffery Smith when it comes to creating new accessories, selecting music and “bring it all together”.
“It was a nice surprise, we feel honored,” said Cynthia Smith. “We love the community and we love Sholan Farms. We wanted to do something for people, we are very grateful.
Next was Nick Preville, a second-generation born and raised resident, who Mazzarella says took charge of lighting lights in the new park at the corner of Laurel and Mechanic streets, near Sainte-Cécile Church. , offering some holiday cheer. .
“There is a great sense of community there,” Preville said of his neighborhood. “I wanted to give back to my neighborhood, my neighbors are all so awesome. “
Preville said he was inspired to replicate some of the downtown holiday cheer in his area after helping a neighbor install his Christmas lights. He decided to buy lamps through his family business, Turf Tender Lawn Care LLC, and hang them along the park fence.
“The city has invested a lot of money in the park, and it’s really cool,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place. They did a great job. There is a walking path and a playground in the lower part. The lights were a nice touch.
Besides the lights, Preville also bought large flower pots from his business and set them up around the neighborhood, which were quickly adopted by neighborhood residents after filling them with his cousin.
“The Spanish American Center took the two pots in front of them, and all the neighbors came out to water them,” he said.
Preville said he didn’t expect to receive the award and like the other recipients, he was just happy to do so.
“I was humbled and honored,” he said. “I coordinated the projects, but it became all the neighbors who got together.”
City Hall staffer Brad Bocash was recognized for his work throughout the year in restoring dozens of Christmas sculptures of the late and beloved Louis Charpentier. Carpenter, who was known as “Mr. Christmas,” created hundreds of Styrofoam sculptures that he would display on his lawn each holiday season and Bocash was inspired to help preserve that legacy.
“I feel honored to be recognized by the city and the mayor,” said Bocash. “The immense appreciation people have shown me and how the next generation can now enjoy Louis’ sculptures would have been reward enough. “
Last but not least was father and son duo Jeff and Tyler Yalian, who were honored for their work with Christmas on Tolman, an annual free holiday show in which they dedicate hours and hours of work as well as l money out of their pocket, all for the sake of the larger community. They also held an annual Halloween exhibit and this year there were 169 festive inflatables in the Christmas exhibit.
“Receiving a mayor’s award is truly a lesson in humility,” said Tyler Yalian. “We are making this exhibition primarily for the community. For our family, receiving recognition means a lot to us as it shows that the community appreciates and appreciates this exhibition just as much as we do, as well as the city of Leominster and the mayor, who frequent the exhibition throughout the season and support and appreciate it too.
“Without this support it would not be possible to do it,” he said. “We love to see children enjoy the magic of lights, walk through the display and the joy on their faces. We love the way he brings families together and for some, he takes generations back year after year. That’s what matters most to us and that’s what Christmas really is about Tolman. “
Mazzarella said he had “lost count” of how long they had awarded the community service awards, which were added to the dedication ceremony a few years ago, “to recognize people who do things that help the community and make a difference “.
When asked how they select the people who will receive the awards, he said they “keep a list of what people do”.
“Sometimes it’s just small things, sometimes it’s big things. What a difference people can make.