Published in the August 17, 2017 edition


NORTH READING – Towns have become increasingly dependent on volunteers in recent years for any number of needs, and in many places, volunteers aren’t always easy to come by. With that in mind, the town took time Friday to honor a number of residents who have distinguished themselves by their public service. North Reading’s third annual breakfast for volunteers at the O’Leary Senior Center, organized by the Community Impact Team, featured more than a half dozen awards given to some of the town’s good neighbors.

“The backbone of it all is the people who volunteer, and it’s not because you have to, it’s because you want,” Police Chief Mike Murphy told the gathering.

Superintendent Jon Bernard presented Claudia Brown, the district’s curriculum coordinator for physical education, health and wellness, with a Youth Advocate Award for what he called the many ways that she made caring for children manifest itself, including by being a leader for student activities. Brown thanked her students over the years as “the light that sort of guides everything I’ve done in the classroom.”

Selectman Andrew Schultz presented Marci Bailey, herself a former selectman as well as a library trustee and Community Impact Team member with an award for her years of service to the town. “I’ve gotten so much more back from volunteering than I could ever give,” said Bailey.

Youth Services Director Amy Luckiewicz presented two awards – one to Roy Walters of the North Reading Minit and Militia who has also helped raise considerable donations for the food pantry with the Masons, and who has also played a key role in the renovations of historic town buildings over the years. Walters received the Spirit of Volunteerism Award. Recent North Reading High School graduate Hannah Lydotes received the Youth Leadership Award for her strong advocacy of healthy decision making by young people.

Senior Center Director Mary Prenney presented a Spirit of Volunteerism Award to another local Mason and Minit and Militia member – Geoff Bemiss, citing his many contributions to the quality of life of the town’s seniors.

Rita Mullin presented Pat Fillmore of the Parks and Recreation Committee with an award, citing her formidable skills as a cook for Recreation breakfasts and other events, as well as her famiy’s years of service to North Reading.

Also, Michelle O’Connor, owner of Fit Revolution, received a Good Neighbor Award for her work with the Little School playground project, the Hornet Hustle, and more, including a donation of basketball hoops for the Hood School.

Finally, Janet Nicosia of the Martins Pond Reclamation Committee received a Good Neighbor Award, with Prenney noting that she had recently secured grant funds for a rain garden outside the senior center.

Along with the awards, the honorees each received citations from the Statehouse from Rep. Brad Jones. A representative from Senator Bruce Tarr also spoke to the gathering. Audience members were also updated on activities over the past year from Bernard, Luckiewicz and Rich Wallner on the K-12 Action Committee, the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, and the Advocates for Adults, Community and Team (ACT).