2019 Citizens Who Care Honorees
The Rotary Club of Andover thanks Daniel Doke Fine Art Portraits, North Reading, for donating the photography for Citizens Who Care and Educator & Student of the Year.  Thank you!
 

andover chroniclers

The Andover Chroniclers cable television producers have provided 19 years of uninterrupted service to the Andover community through half-hour and hour-long cable television programs about Andover and the Merrimack Valley.

Among the most memorable programs Andover Chroniclers have produced is “Answering the Call,” which started as a project to interview eight World War II veterans. The program took on a life of its own and Veterans Services Officer John Doherty organized a screening of the program at the Collins Center.

Other shows produced by the Chroniclers have covered the 50th anniversary of ABC of Andover, veterans, memorials, Andover Community Trust, and senior volunteers. Chroniclers recorded the Center at Punchard as they provided service and care to those impacted by the 2018 gas explosions.

The group has been all over the Merrimack Valley, from Medford, to Lowell, to New Hampshire. They featured a pilot for Angel Flights, which picks up patients from all over New England and transports them to hospitals for treatment. Chroniclers have covered the Royall House in Medford, where they shared the site’s history of slavery and learned the challenges of recording on location. They produced programs on Bread and Roses in Lawrence, where one of their crew was in charge of stopping street traffic during recording.

In 2006, Chroniclers produced a one-hour program, “Our Immigrant Heritage,” in which local senior immigrants were interviewed about their life experiences, how they settled into Andover, and how they adapted to the American lifestyle. “Our Immigrant Heritage” won a national award at the Hometown Video Contest 2007 in the Cultural & International Perspectives category, sponsored by the Alliance for Community Media.

It takes an average of 20 hours a month to produce a half-hour show with members of the team taking on different roles: director, producer, camera operator, stage manager, audio producer, and video editor. Training, support, equipment, and production expertise is provided by Wess Murphy and staff of Andover Cable TV. Andover Chroniclers is sponsored by the Center at Punchard, where the team does their video editing.

Chroniclers receiving this award are Champa Bilwakesh, Terry Crossfield, Sandra DiVincenzo, Nan James, Fred Hohn, Moe Murphy, Fred Snell, Skip Wilkins, and Ken Veznazian. They are inspired by the teamwork, camaraderie, a good technical challenge, and the opportunities to learn something new while giving back to the Andover community.

 

linda carpenter ardito

Growing up listening to her mother’s stories about serving as a WAVE in World War II inspired Linda Carpenter Ardito’s volunteer work. The story begins with her mother sneaking off and enlisting in the Navy during her lunch hour. From Andona and Clown Town, to the Eagle Tribune Santa Fund and teaching English as a Second Language, her mother’s idealism inspired Linda to give back, with children always at the center.

Home from college one summer looking for volunteer opportunities, Linda gravitated to the Head Start summer program in Lawrence, working with preschool children. That set the path for Linda’s career and volunteerism, starting first with her own children’s schools.

At Bancroft School, Linda was an instructor for the drug prevention program Project Charlie, talking with children about resisting substance abuse by building self esteem. As her children moved on to Pike School, so did Linda. First as room mother, then as President of the Parents’ Association. Later, as her children moved to attend Phillips Academy, Linda worked with the Parents’ Association there.

Linda then went back to school, to UMass Lowell, to earn a Masters Degree in Sociology. Her Masters thesis was on the human ecology and history of the Merrimack River – from native use of the river, to industrial use and pollution, to its current revival. Her plan was to go into the Lawrence schools and, through the program, inspire kids to become invested in their community and its history. To help instill a sense of pride and place.

Her work led to a career with the American Textile History Museum, first as an unpaid intern, then as Director of Education. When the museum relocated to Lowell, Linda saw her opportunity to bring her program to that city. She was, she says, not selling a field trip. She was bringing a prevention program to the city’s schools and to Girls Inc.

Now that Linda is retired, she has discovered what happens to busy, talented people....everyone wants them to get involved with their program.

Linda is completing her final term with the Andover Cultural Council. Her love of art is blooming through her co-presidency of the Andover Garden Club. The Club is devoted to the environmental health and beautification of Andover. They run programs on garden therapy through the Center at Punchard, and they hosted a successful Addison in Bloom exhibit and a Christmas House Tour. It was her Lowell Girls’ Inc. connections that brought her to the Board of Ironstone Farm where Linda is deeply involved with strategic planning and works on the annual Spirit of Giving event.

Love of children, art, history, and community has run through Linda’s career, retirement, and volunteer work as she gives back to the town of Andover.

 

Steven crowley, student of the year

Steven Crowley describes his greatest strength as his “ability to talk and connect with almost anyone!” Steven has the gift of making anyone he meets feel instantly welcome, at ease and included. This is most evident in his work with middle school kids at the Andover Youth Center. A stellar volunteer in their after school and summer programs, Steven was promoted to a paid employee. He is dedicated to empowering young people by giving them a space to feel welcomed and connected through fun, team building activities like volleyball, spikeball, ping-pong, Pokemon, cooking, and crafts. He describes the energy and enthusiasm he encounters everyday at the Youth Center.

A senior at Andover High School, Steven plans to student mechanical engineering at college. He wants to use his talents for analyzing situations and positive people skills in his future career.

In her nomination letter, Andover High School guidance counselor described Steven this way, “Steven is a confident and dynamic young man who lives each day with integrity…He is the epitome of an Andover Citizen Who Cares.”

 

Philip D'agati

Philip D’Agati was born and raised into volunteering through his life-long connection with St. Augustine’s Parish beginning with elementary school. St. Augustine’s, Central Catholic, and Merrimack College led to a Masters in History from Northeastern University, followed by a PhD in Political Science, and 15 years managing the university’s Model United Nations and United Arab Nations programs.

Philip started with St. Augustine’s music ministry in the 3rd grade, then became junior cantor as part of a small group that cantored masses for the school. He has been a part of the adult choir for the past 28 years.

In 2012, Philip brought a bell choir back to St. Augustine’s when he rediscovered bells used by a previous bell choir.  What started as a bell choir of one, became bigger when a few more people “accidentally said yes” when asked to join. Today the choir of seven plays for Christmas Eve, Palm Sunday, Easter Vigils, and special masses, with Philip writing the bell scores.

Philip has served in every ministry that has need. He now leads the Liturgical Arts and Environment Committee, which ensures that the sacred spaces of the church are appropriately adorned for the seasons and liturgical year. Philip wanted to move away from treating the altar as a stage and instead use that space and spaces around the church as places of inspiration. He stops by the church regularly to check on the candles, flowers, and other decorations, and helps decorate St. Joseph’s in Ballardvale as well.

Philip was encouraged to join the Knights of Columbus by fellow choir member Paul Dollard. It didn’t take long for Philip to take on an entry level officer position. That was followed quickly by Deputy Grand Knight and Grand Knight. What is typically a two-year term became a three-year term, and now potentially a four-year term.

His first year as Grand Knight was St. Augustine’s 150th anniversary year. The church didn’t have a statue of its patron saint, so under Philip’s leadership, the Knights located a statue which was installed and then blessed by the Cardinal at the 150th anniversary mass. As Grand Knight, Philip also coordinated the group’s annual Winter Warm Up dance as the anniversary gala.

His second year as Grand Knight, Philip focused on the life and well-being of the council and its programs. He organized the council’s programs into one Brotherhood Weekend when the Knights cleaned up the building, hosted their annual steak and lobster event, held a memorial mass, and a membership drive. Working with the Andover History Center, he located missing portraits of past Knights and created a new website to help preserve the council’s history.

 

Brian Feeney

Every day may not be good, but there is good in every day.”

Those who knew Colleen Ritzer, or know the foundation named in her honor, know this quote well. A gifted and dedicated teacher, loving daughter, sister, and friend, Colleen touched the lives of many people during her life. To honor her memory following her death in 2013, the community came together to form the Colleen Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

A life defined by perpetual happiness and light that can never be extinguished, her passing forged tight bonds throughout the community, in mourning, and in celebration of her legacy.”

In 2014, the first Step Up for Colleen 5k Walk/Run was held to honor her memory and raise scholarship funds to support the next generation of caring, compassionate teachers. Each year, more than 3,000 runners, walkers, volunteers, and supporters participate.  Thousands more people line the streets of Andover which are festooned with bright pink ribbons. This year, 2019, participation is anticipated to increase, adding to the over $138,000 raised.

Although he didn’t know Colleen, Brian Feeney has been touched by her life and legacy. Five years ago, seeking program sponsorships, Step Up for Colleen organizer and past Citizens Who Care honoree Nina Caron reached out to Century Bank where Brian works, and the Bank quickly became a sponsor. Nina then asked Brian if he would be interested in getting involved with Step Up for Colleen.  When he agreed, Brian knew it would be a different experience, but he didn’t know how different. “People know the story of how Colleen died, but her story of how she lived is life changing.” Century Bank’s TeamCentury is the largest participating Step Up for Colleen team, with Brian as Team Captain, or “Team Helper” as Brian likes to say.

The success of Step Up for Colleen is a testament to her life and the town of Andover itself. There is, Brian says, no better way to express the effect Colleen had on her community, here in Andover and in Danvers where she taught. Her life and message touched his own life. “It was my turn to give back,” Brian said, “Getting involved felt right. It felt real.” What better testament to Colleen and her positive message of kindness and hope.

 

ron hilbink

Ron Hilbink became involved with the international student exchange program, American Field Service, when he moved back to Minnesota after living in Europe. At a community fair, a lot like Andover Day, Ron stopped at an American Field Service booth where he left his name. The next day he got a call. The group was having a meeting the next night, would he be interested in joining them. By the end of the call, Ron was asked if he wanted to be president, which he did.
 

Ron stayed with American Field Service for years. There was always an AFS chapter wherever Ron and his wife moved. Over the years, the family hosted seven full-year exchange students, including two in Andover. Exchange students describe their AFS year as the most meaningful thing they ever did. Ron remains close to his AFS family, participating in weddings and visiting for significant events.

In 2005, the minister of the North Parish Church in North Andover planted the idea with her congregation that they needed to leave their building and get involved with the community, in particular, their neighbors in Lawrence.

And so Ron became a co-founder of the Lawrence chapter of Jericho Road, a nonprofit that matches professionals to volunteer opportunities with community organizations in Lawrence. Originally intended to be members of the North Parish Church, as the group grew they expanded beyond parishioners. An all volunteer effort, the group decided to try ten projects. That was a success, so with grant support they hired a part-time director. In 2015, the Lawrence chapter broke away from Jericho Road and rebranded itself as Community InRoads. Ron served on the Community InRoads board for nine years and was a professional consultant to 76 organizations.

Today Community InRoads has over 250 volunteers who have worked on over 800 projects in Lawrence and now in Haverhill, supported by a full-time staff of two. If a needed expertise is not in their database of volunteers, they will go find it. Community InRoads projects are time limited to keep volunteers engaged, although many stay on to serve on the boards of the nonprofit they advise. Community InRoads projects include marketing plans, strategic planning, website development, fundraising videos, technical and software training, and specialties like human resources and retail management.

Ron also served on the board of the Essex Art Center for seven years, serving four of those years as president.

 

stephanie maze hsu

Stephanie Maze Hsu is an educator and a Destination Imagination enthusiast. She is a DI Team Manager and Coach and a Tournament Appraiser. She is Andover’s DI Town Coordinator and sits on the Massachusetts Destination Imagination board. She also helped found Challenge Me Inc., which promotes and manages Andover’s Destination Imagination involvement.
 

Destination Imagination has been described as an academic sport. It is a worldwide extracurricular activity that teaches students skills in research, problem solving, and teamwork through team challenges. Kids love getting to use what they learn in school. DI is a STEAM program. Teams choose their challenge and their approach: engineering, technical, scientific, fine arts, improvisation, and community service. Their solution to their chosen challenge is presented as a story and performed as a skit at tournaments.

 

DI was brought to Andover by Dr. Eileen Woods at South School. Today Andover has 35-40 teams kindergarten through 12th grade, the largest membership in Massachusetts. In Andover there are six who serve on the Challenge Me Inc. board. There are 39 Destination Imagination teams, 74 managers, 45 tournament appraisers, 250 students, and 150 adult volunteers.

The DI commitment begins with one to two hours a week in October when the challenges are released. Closer to spring tournaments, the time commitment by students and adult volunteers increases. Stephanie’s team typically meets every day during February vacation week. In addition to working full time, Stephanie works 10-12 hours a week on Destination Imagination and Challenge Me.

Through DI challenges, Andover students have created a wind turbine that stored electricity, learned about beekeeping, and had an elementary school team create a drone that could drop a payload. The Challenge Me Inc.’s website was formatted by a DI student.

Destination Imagination encourages community service and teaches kids to give back. High school students give back by coaching younger students. Four have received scholarship awards from Massachusetts Destination Imagination. Some have continued with DI through college. DI and Challenge Me Inc. alums are engineers, art therapists, museum curators, teachers, nurses - all professions that require the skills learned through DI. Many parents of DI students say it helped make their kids the people they are today. It shapes them and gives them hope for the future.

As an educator, Stephanie saw the power Destination Imagination had to shape the lives of her own children. Through the team challenges, they learned to be leaders and followers on the same project. In high school and college, they saw that other students and colleagues didn’t have the teamwork and communication skills they learned through DI. It’s a gift she gave to her own children and continues to give to the children who are a part of Challenge Me Inc. and Destination Imagination.

 

Bernadette lionetta

Some stories that play out on the larger community stage start as very personal. That is true for Bernadette Lionetta and her family.

Two of Bernadette’s three children were born premature and had early intervention with the Professional Center for Child Development. When Bernadette’s son William did not speak, he was diagnosed with a hearing impairment. Over time they learned that William could hear but couldn’t speak, so his diagnosis changed to Autism and Bernadette’s volunteer work began.

Volunteering with the Professional Center led to music therapy and then to hippotherapy with the horses at Ironstone Farm. Advocating for her son and others who needed these therapies, Bernadette called the Massachusetts State House every day to talk with senators, representatives, anyone who could help.

Bernadette introduced a Best Buddies chapter to Doherty Middle School. Best Buddies International creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

She brought “Kids on the Block” to Andover schools. Kids on the Block is a troupe of puppets, with and without disabilities, designed to teach children about differences and similarities in people. Through Kids on the Block children and adults learn an attitude of understanding, warmth and sensitivity that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

Bernadette sat on Andover’s Commission on Disabilities for 15 years where she was an advocate for residents with disabilities.

After her two daughters joined the Treble Chorus of New England, William’s musical ability and perfect pitch was revealed. Ever the advocate, Bernadette approached Treble Chorus about starting a program for people with disabilities, and in 2012 My Own Voice launched. With support from the Service Club of Andover, My Own Voice started with four kids and 8 mentors.

Today the group has over 50 participants, who represent a full range of ages and abilities, including some participants who are nonverbal and participate through movement.  All are welcome, all are treated with respect. They have sung the National Anthem at Fenway Park, the State House, at Service Club events, and they perform every year at the Andover branch of Enterprise Bank during Holiday Happenings.

My Own Voice music is directed by a husband and wife team. Volunteers and mentors are high school students, community members, and family. The group gathers at West Parish Church on Tuesday nights. For many, My Own Voice is the highlight of their week. The program is so successful that the music departments of Harvard and Temple Universities are seeking to replicate the program.

Bernadette references Don Quixote who was always on a quest. For Bernadette, that quest is to always make a difference in her community.

 

leslie seaton malis

The joy and creativity of arts and culture have been a part of Leslie Seaton Malis’ entire life.  With an early background in ballet and dance, Leslie moved into arts administration with the Boston Ballet and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities before moving to Andover in the 1980s. Leslie serves on the Andover Cultural Council, the Andover Poet Laureate Committee, and is a founding member of the Andover Arts and Cultural Alliance.

The 1980s were a heady time for the arts and culture in Massachusetts. Michael Dukakis was Governor and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities was filled staffed with the “wild children of Beacon Hill.” Together they created and promoted amazing arts events across Massachusetts, introducing legislators and the public to the likes of Luciano Pavoratti and Rudolph Nureyev, bringing people together around arts and culture.

Moving from Boston to the deep country of Andover in 1987 was an eye opener. No sidewalks, no playgrounds, no street lights. The day after moving to Andover, she woke up thinking, “What have I done?” The answer was: continue to do the work she had always done to promote the arts in her community.

As her son grew up, Leslie worked with Andover elementary and middle school PTO cultural councils. She co-ran events like West Elementary writers’ event that are still going on today. She worked with the high school drama guild, and with a Temple Emanuel arts group that worked with seniors.  She served on the boards of the Merrimack Valley Jewish Federation and the New England Classical Singers, where she was their “first non-singing Board member.” Leslie served on the Board of the chamber music group Mistral.

Leslie believes in the power of arts and culture, in its ability to make a difference in people’s lives. Through all those years bringing arts to the schools, she saw marginal, struggling, shy, and troubled kids have amazing experiences that changed their lives, brought them out of their shells, and gave them new focus. “If you bring kids up in the arts, it becomes as natural as breathing, a part of their lives.” The arts enrich our lives and our community. It is one of the intangibles that people look for when looking for a community to call home.

Andover is experiencing a growing civic awareness. The town is more diverse than it was when Leslie moved to town in the 1980s. There’s a new energy and focus. From poetry to music and theater to public art and dance, the arts, Leslie says, can bring the community together and help us embrace change.

 

Liz Roos, educator of the year

Liz Roos came to West Elementary school in 1985 and taught 5th and 6th grades for 11 years. Then in 1996, she was tapped for a one-year stint as Assistant Principal. That one year turned into 24 because Liz saw that she could take what she did in the classroom and apply it to the whole school.

A hallmark of West El are their “High Five” guiding principles: caring about classmates and community; working well with others; making big problems smaller; being in control of body and words; and knowing when to ask for help. Students record their High Five actions and get to share what they did with the community.

Over the years, Liz and her team of teachers, students, and parents initiated programs to build the West El community. One of the best-known is WERAWC – West Elementary Readers’ and Writers’ Conference – which has been running now for 24 years. WERAWC was started as a way to give a big school a small school feel, to bring the community together by creating a common language throughout the school. The first week of March, WERAWC brings in 10-15 storytellers and writers who work with students throughout the week-long program. Each WERAWC has a theme: tenacity, science, animals, international connections, the list goes on.

West El students participate in service learning projects. They plan the annual three-day walk to school which, in addition to building community by walking together, also raises funds and donations for those in need. Students have walked to school carrying blankets for MSCPA, canned goods for Neighbors in Need, and Quarters for Kenya to support the Beverly School of Kenya.

Liz and West El have a long-term relationship with the Rotary Club of Andover. Rotary Readers are paired with a K through 3rd grade classroom and visit that class each month, giving students and their Rotary Readers the opportunity to get to know each other. Liz also adopted Rotary’s tradition of sharing Happy Bucks at her staff meetings, where staff donate bucks to share happy news. Donations have been used to purchase gift cards for West El families who were impacted by the 2018 gas explosions.

Even as she retires, Liz is planning to stay on with the team that is overseeing the planning and construction of a new building which will be home to the amazing West Elementary School community.

 

dr. katrin schneck

Dr. Katrin Schneck and her husband immigrated to the United States from their home countries of Germany and The Democratic Republic of Congo. As immigrants with very different experiences coming to America, social justice and working in an immigrant community is central to their work and lives.

Dr. Schneck has been a family physician with Greater Lawrence Family Health Center for 15 years, where she treats patients of all ages - from babies to seniors. Good health, she says, includes so much more than a prescription. Good health includes the environment, food, and reading as well. Reading and literacy can change the health of children and adults.

Dr. Schneck brought Reach Out and Read to the Health Center. Founded in 1986, Reach Out and Read incorporates books into children’s well child pediatric visits from age 6 months to 5 years.  At GLFHC, children receive a new book at their well child visits and gently used books at other visits. As part of a vibrant, multicultural city, most GLFHC patients are Spanish speakers, so books are language appropriate in addition to being age appropriate. Often the books children receive at GLFHC  are the only books in the house.

New and gently used books are donated. Barnes and Noble has a donation program available for customers at check out. Gently used books are gathered during book drives and at book sales at the North Andover Library. People generously give books as well. Dr. Schneck loves that part of volunteering to bring Reach Out and Read to her patients.

Two years ago Dr. Schneck brought the Greater Boston Food Bank’s Mobile Food Market to GLFHC community. Lawrence is a food desert, with little access to fresh produce in the city. Once a month a Mobile Food Mart is set up, farmers’ market style, at GLFHC where community members can receive 20 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables. The Mobile Food Mart is organized by the entire GLFHC community - health care providers, clerical and janitorial staff - everyone helps.

In Andover, Dr. Schneck brought her prescription for good health to Faith Lutheran Church. Through Prescription to Feel Better, also known as Wellness Wednesdays, Dr. Schneck hands participants a prescription to eat, sleep, move, and take personal care. Through the group, she encourages participants to ask what they can do to help them feel better.

Good health is a lifestyle decision one can make for the rest of their life. With Dr. Katrin Schneck’s help, many in Lawrence and Andover have access to the tools to help them do just that.