Published July 11, 2019
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
NORTH READING — Two women who worked behind the scenes on behalf of the town’s youth were recognized for their years of service by the Select Board recently.
Though they may not have planned to be the longest serving members of the Youth Services Committee when the 11-member board was authorized by Town Meeting in October 2006, that’s exactly what happened. Both Kathy Dardeno and Judy Hall were appointed to serve on the committee in March of 2007 and continued to serve through December 31, 2018.
Dardeno and Hall were both founding members of the North Reading Youth Services Support Association (NRYSSA), a private 501(c)(3) charitable foundation created in January of 2006 with the goal of privately funding the salary of a youth services director and appropriate programming specific to this age group.
Through their involvement with both organizations they helped to lay the groundwork for what would become the vibrant Youth Services Department that the town’s tweens and teens benefit from today and which eventually became a town position. The post is currently headed by Jennifer (Ramsey) Ford who grew up in North Reading and has strong ties here. Ford’s predecessor was Amy Luckiewicz who now serves as the town’s Drug-Free Communities Grant Coordinator and is also active with the Community Impact Team (CIT).
When NRYSSA was formed its Board of Directors was headed by Mark Hall, who served as its president and is Judy’s husband. Dardeno served as its treasurer while Giles Norton was vice president and Joanne Pawlowski served as clerk. Also serving on the board at that time were Judy Hall, Christine Fisher and Claudia Crocker according to records at Town Hall.
At the meeting last month, state Sen. Bruce Tarr brought a citation from the State Senate and also brought along greetings and a citation from the House of Representatives initiated by state Rep. Brad Jones who could not attend the board meeting.
Select Board Chairwoman Kate Manupelli said, “These two ladies were instrumental in beginning of what we now know as our Youth Services Committee; they are very dedicated to our youth population in the town.”
She added that due to their years of fundraising with a focus on the town’s youth, today North Reading has a “wonderful” youth services coordinator and youth services director.
“We have seen a lot of positive change and a positive investment in our youth in this town as a direct result of what the two of you have done,” Manupelli said. “We wanted to honor and commend you.”
Sen. Tarr said both he and Jones also appreciated their efforts on behalf of the town’s youth. “You have been there from the very start of a movement that has been extremely productive on behalf of youth in North Reading,” he said.
Tarr added, “One of the hallmarks of this community is how it cares for its citizens of all ages, but with regard with the modern effort to help young people in the community, Kathy and Judy, you two have been the moving forces behind that. To first create a non-profit and then having that nonprofit actually morph into a town agency – that alone is something that is remarkable, rather than have it go the other way!”