The community turned out in force to recognize five local citizens for their outstanding service to the community during the Bank of Fairfield’s (BOF) Community Spirit Award Ceremony on Tuesday, March 13th. The awards were presented during a pancake breakfast ceremony at Chip’s Family Restaurant. BOF 1st Vice President Bob Hojnacki co-presented the awards with Chip’s co-owner Georgie Chatzopoulos
Bob Hojnacki described the objective of the Community Spirit Award as an effort to recognize, “people who make a difference in our community. We wanted to highlight some of those people and their important accomplishments.” Winners were chosen from the categories of government/legislator, volunteer, youth volunteer, education and non-profits.
The winner in the Volunteer category was Ellen Redgate. Ellen has served at Operation Hope for more than 20 years, working tirelessly to ensure that struggling town residents have a safe and respectful place to get food and basic household items while maintaining their dignity.
Samantha Strelzer was selected in the Youth Volunteer category. An 8th grader at Fairfield Woods Middle School, Samantha sold 4,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to support soldiers abroad and local veterans, improved the lives of children in Bridgeport through reading and literacy programs. Samantha has spearheaded an effort over the last two years to collect animal toys, food and blankets for the Fairfield Animal Shelter. This summer, she will represent her class in a “People to People” program, meeting government officials and performing community service in France, Italy and Greece.
In the Education category, Sr. Maureen Ulatowski was recognized for her dedicated service as a staff member for more than 10 years at St. Catherine Academy (students with multiple disabilities including intellectual and other developmental disorders). She is known for her positive outlook and exceptional fundraising efforts, particularly on behalf of the Duckie Derby on the Mill River that benefits St. Catherine Academy each spring.
In the Not-for-Profit category, Donna Twist received an award for her leadership as Executive Director of the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center. The Center is the first cancer care facility in the state with a one-stop coordination of care that offers a rapid diagnosis to women who do not have the ability to pay. The Center has been an innovator in breast care in CT and a model for breast care centers nationwide.
Representative Tony Hwang was recognized in the Government/Legislator category. Hwang was cited for his tremendous support and activism on behalf of the community and its’ non-profit organizations. Rep. Hwang was also cited for his efforts to help residents and his constituents with constant communication during and after Tropical Storm Irene.
Rep. Hwang in accepting his award said “to be considered amongst such tremendous honorees, who have given so much of their time and skills to our community, is a tremendous honor and I am extremely grateful.” Hwang added, “Volunteerism and community spirit can be contagious. If we reach out and connect with someone else to volunteer – we all can make a difference together. When you share your time and skills, the reward and intrinsic satisfaction you receive, will far out-weight the effort.”