CTI Local Heroes

Community Teamwork Inc held it’s Local Heroes award ceremony this evening to honor nine people or entities whose activities during the past year of made Greater Lowell a better community. Besides this year’s honorees, several dozen prior award recipients were present this evening. Together they all served as a tangible reminder of how just a few individuals going above and beyond the call of duty can make a huge difference in the life of a community. Here are this year’s award recipients from tonight’s program:

President’s Award Recipient, Lowell High School Junior Air Force ROTC, selected by CTI’s Board President Donald Washburn. CTI’s 2010 Local Heroes President’s Award goes to the student cadets of Lowell High School’s Junior Air Force ROTC, who have embraced the organization’s mission to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship by promoting community service, and instilling responsibility, character and self-discipline, while also providing instruction in air and space fundamentals. CTI will honor the ROTC cadets for the thousands of hours of community service they perform annually throughout the City of Lowell, while meeting high standards of academic excellence. Among their notable community service projects are park and recreation space restoration, neighborhood cleanups and shoveling for the elderly.

Marjorie McDermott Award Recipient – Frank O’Malley, Westford, MA. Francis “Frank” O’Malley is this year’s recipient of the Marjorie McDermott award for his exceptional compassion and service to “children of all ages”, including those with and without disabilities. His admirers describe Frank as “steady, devoted and deeply caring” and a “gentleman who persists in seeking justice for people and solutions to needs.” A father of a grown daughter with developmental disabilities, Frank has committed decades to advocacy and volunteerism, helping build community-based solutions for people with disabilities. Among the key organizations he has supported and influenced are LifeLinks, Inc., the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation, the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services and Community Teamwork, Inc.

State Senator Susan Tucker of Andover, MA, serving Lawrence, Andover, Dracut and Tewksbury. Senator Tucker’s work as a legislator is part of her lifelong commitment to advocacy and community service. She currently is the Chair of the Housing Committee, Vice Chair of the Telecommunications & Energy Committee, a member of Senate Ways and Means and formerly served as Chair of the Human Service and Elder Affairs Committee. She has been instrumental in passing legislation to address the foreclosure crisis and preserve affordable housing and has received many Legislative Leadership Awards for her work in fighting child abuse and for advocating for foster care children, the elderly, the disabled and the homeless.

Rebecca Duda of Dracut, MA. History teacher Rebecca Duda of Dracut’s Lakeview Junior High School has stretched the boundaries of creative education and community service by integrating her efforts to help restore the long forgotten Claypit Cemetery along Pawtucket Boulevard with her students’ eagerness to conduct their own primary research. Ms. Duda used Claypit Cemetery to teach the students how to use census records, vital records and other resources at the Dracut Historical Society to uncover the unique history of those buried there (the students’ essays and research can be viewed online at www.primaryresearch.org). As she enters her seventh year at Lakeview Junior High, Ms. Duda has also distinguished herself with numerous educator awards including the William Spratt Award for Outstanding Social Studies Teacher, the Milken National Outstanding Educator, and as a Distinguished Educator by her alma mater, Salem State University.

The Late Edward A. Fish of Braintree, MA, having served Greater Lowell and the Merrimack Valley. Edward Fish was a builder and philanthropist who developed more than $1 billion worth of real estate in New England and Florida over the past 40 years. What makes him special to Lowell was his commitment to build hundreds of units of high quality affordable and market rate housing beginning in the early 1970s, a time of decline and disinvestment in Lowell – but Mr. Fish saw Lowell’s promise and turned it into a reality. Among his notable developments are some of Lowell’s most recognizable and desirable properties including Ayers Lofts, Market Mills (housing seniors and people with disabilities) and the Renaissance on the River.

JoAnne McQuilkin of Tewksbury, MA. Joanne has devoted most of her adult life to serving children, young women and families through community service and volunteerism. Her friends, family and colleagues recount the untold hours she has given “help to create a better community, especially for low-income children and families.” For over 12 years, she has coordinated the Enterprise Bank Christmas Toy Drive, securing the donation of hundreds toys that are shared with agencies including CTI, Girls Inc., Lowell House and the Salvation Army, who distribute them to deserving children. “Her work over the past decade has probably touched thousands of children,” says Enterprise Bank’s Maryellen Fitzpatrick. Ms. McQuilkin also serves as Board President and classroom instructor for SuitAbility, Inc., CTI’s work entry and re-entry program for low-income women, where she helps young women build their careers and meet their personal and professional goals. JoAnne also has served the Today’s Girls/Tomorrow’s Leaders program at the Merrimack Valley United Way.

Stephen Greene of Lowell, MA. Stephen Greene is a volunteer, activist and organizer who successfully brings local residents together to address litter reduction, enhance beautification and better address solid waste management across the City of Lowell. With a professional background in environmental management and sustainable practices, he has directed his considerable expertise to help organizations such as Keep Lowell Beautiful to beautify and clean up the City and engage its residents, businesses and government to make Lowell a better place to live, work and visit. His work encompasses partnering and working with the City of Lowell, the National Park Service, Community Gardens Greenhouse and neighborhood groups. As a volunteer, Stephen is also very involved in Lowell’s solid waste and recycling programs and green building initiatives.

Ashley Toland of Tewksbury, MA. As a student of Tewksbury Memorial High School, Ashley Toland has earned numerous awards for academic, athletic and community service achievements including the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Individual Community Service Award. Among her long list of service projects, Ms. Toland has earned recognition for her organizational and planning skills, her understanding of technology to build an effective donation website and her willingness to ask the community to help low income children obtain school supplies and other essentials to begin the school year. A recent Lowell Sun article ran this headline: “Tewksbury teen’s school supplies drive exceeds goal for second straight year,” resulting in nearly 300 filled backpacks valued at over $10,000. Ms. Toland also volunteers at and fundraises for the Lowell Humane Society, E.C.H.O. – Earth, Culture and Humanity Organization, United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Salvation Army and the Wish Project.

Lowell Telecommunications Corporation (LTC). LTC is Lowell’s public access station where its members and volunteers produce nearly 3,000 hours of community-based programming that is aired on channels 8, 10 and 95. Among the most notable productions they have contributed to are the coverage of the annual Lowell Folk Festival and the Southeast Asian Water Festival. Executive Director Eleanor Pye is thrilled that this Local Heroes award will shine a spotlight on its members and volunteers who spend countless hours creating quality local programming for Lowell and its residents. Through their efforts and the support of LTC staff, LTC programming has expanded awareness of many areas of community life including arts and culture, business and commerce, ethnic and faith diversity, freedom of speech and open communication.