In every community, there are programs that improve the lives of residents and the whole community, but the individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes often go unnoticed. They view their work as the duties of an active community member and shy away from the spotlight. But in many cases they are the star players and deserve recognition for all of the time and effort they unselfishly dedicate for the benefit of other residents and the community as a whole.
For each of the last 20 years, individuals who get that important work done in Codman Square and Four Corners have been honored by friends and neighbors at the Hidden Heroes/Sheroes Celebration. The event— launched by Reverend Dr. Bill Loesch— was held on Fri., Nov. 20, at the Great Hall in Codman Square, which was filled with friends from the neighborhood.
Annika Nielsen welcomed the honorees and guests warmly and introduced Bob Thornell, president of Four Corners Action Coalition and Candice Gartley, co-president of the Codman Square Neighborhood Council to present the program’s introductory remarks. The awards are presented in four categories. The Neighborhood Leadership Award recognizes community members who effectively improved the community through grassroots leadership. This year, the award went to Joyce Harvey and Larry Thornton. Joyce shares her time and resources with the Greater Four Corners Action Committee (GFCAC) and also serves as a member of the Greenwood Shalom Outreach Community, Inc. board of directors. Lawrence “Mr. Larry” Thornton is always present at community meetings and events and supports the United Neighborhood Association (UNA), Four Corners Main Street and GFCAC.
The Civic Leadership Award is presented to residents whose work to improve the community helped impact public policy. This year, Reverend Garvin C. Warden and Carol D’Lores Carter were presented with the award. Long-time resident and pastor of Greenwood Memorial United Methodist Church in Four Corners, Reverend Warden serves on the board of directors of the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition and The Codman Square Health Center. Writer, musician and artist, Carol Carter accepted her award with such delight.
“I am very proud and glad to be part of the neighborhood!” she exclaimed as she accepted her award. Her exuberant charm on stage is just as present at community events where she can be found face painting children and adults or as she teaches piano classes.
The Millennium Award is given to community members who uniquely improve the community that directly addresses the goals of the Millennium Ten Initative. This year’s recipients are Jeff and Andy Pollock of Silverbrook Farm, long-time participants in the successful Codman Square Farmers Market. Cynthia Loesch, Codman Square Neighborhood Council’s board vice president, said Silverbrook Farm was one of the first to answer the call and meet the strict guidelines for the farmers market.
Each year, two Breath of Life Dorchester (BOLD) teens are selected for the Youth Leadership Award and receive $1,500 scholarships as part of the award. The generosity of America’s Food Basket made it possible this year for three teens to be awarded with scholarships. BOLD teens Alley Pizarro, Aryana Blake and Andrue Winn received the 2015 Youth Leadership Award in recognition of positive change brought to the community and inspiring other youth to realize their full potential.
The shy and reserved Pizarro was nervous about being recognized for her work in the community. She is a student at Charlestown High School with plans to attend Bridgewater State and becoming a guidance counselor.
“It feels good to help someone stop smoking,” said Alley as she proudly shared her work in helping America’s Food Basket stop selling tobacco products.
An activist in her own right, Blake is also a young entrepreneur with an eco-friendly jewelry business —Project L.I.F.E.— that helps provide funding for books and food to the Goderich Waldorf School in Sierra Leone.
Winn attends and plays basketball at Charlestown High School. As a BOLD teen, he helped lobby for a city ordinance to restrict the use of tobacco products in public parks. Also through BOLD Teens, Andrue honed the skills needed to confidently speak in front of an audience.
The final and most heart-warming award for Special Giving was awarded to Lela and Tanya Bailey-Stewart. The Bailey-Stewart family was recently on the reality show “The Briefcase.” On the show, this loving American family joined by their nephews Milton and Jaden, selflessly put others before themselves by awarding another family they never met with most of the money in the briefcase. The simple beautiful act of humanity is just a small example of their compassion and the core values they live by every day.
Nominations for the 2016 Hidden Heroes/Sheroes Awards are currently being accepted and selections are made by the end of the summer. To nominate an individual or a group, please contact the Codman Square Neighborhood Council. Find them online at codmancouncil.wordpress.com.
Chanie Infante Louisma is involved in several community programs and writes about her experiences in Boston at her blog LifeByZen. You can connect with her on Twitter: @LifeByZen.