By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — Several individuals and groups have been honored for their contributions to Cape Ann.
The Gloucester-based non-profit human services organization Action Inc. hosted the 2013 Community Action Awards ceremony recently at the Gloucester House Restaurant.
Presented were the Community Service Award to Harry Miller, on behalf of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society; the Volunteer of the Year Award to Suzanna South of Better Off Baby Showers, a Gloucester-based diaper bank; and the Public Service Award to co-honorees Sander Schultz of the Gloucester Fire Department and Lt. John McCarthy of the Gloucester Police Department.
Prior to presenting the awards, Action Inc. Executive Director Tim Riley recognized outgoing Action Board of Directors Chairperson Gretchen Wood of Manchester. The board then voted unanimously to instate new chairwoman Linda Giamanco.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Gretchen for her dedication and guidance. She was a steady hand during a very productive period of Action’s history,” said Riley. “I am also looking forward to working closely with Linda over the next few years. She has tremendous knowledge of the inner workings of the agency and, as a Gloucester native, she understands the community and its needs very well.”
Saint Vincent de Paul works with Action Inc. to provide rental arrearage assistance, help preventing or restoring utilities, and furniture, food, and other basic needs.
South started her non-profit operation, Better Off Baby Showers, when she recognized a need among economically disadvantaged new parents for basic supplies for their infants, particularly diapers. She approached Action to connect its clients with South’s coordination services and with donations not just of diapers, but of baby clothing, nursery furniture, and more.
Action, Inc. has worked closely with Schultz and McCarthy as co-members of the High Risk Task Force. This group was created two years ago as a collaborative initiative to coordinate services and responses to high risk residents.
“Both John and Sander go above and beyond in the name of public service to make Gloucester a better place for all of us,” said Action, Inc. Deputy Director Peggy Hegarty-Steck, who presented the award.
Steck reported that over the past two years, the High Risk Task Force has worked to reduce the number of ambulance calls to the Action Emergency Homeless Shelter by 65 percent. At the awards ceremony, she passed along a message from a local resident: “Please let the High Risk Task Force know they saved my life.”
The ceremony was also an opportunity to award the first Carol and Dick Ryan Scholarship Awards to Jason Burroughs, Jesse Roberts, and Eva Agosto-Baez. The Ryans were longtime supporters of Action Inc., and the scholarships were presented by their daughter.
Burroughs spoke at the event, as a former student in Action Inc.’s COMPASS Youth Program who went on to work at non-profit Cape Ann Art Haven while attending school at Montserrat College of Art. After receiving his award, he presented a surprise gift for Action: an original painting he had created of the Action Emergency Homeless Shelter.
Action Inc. provides access to public benefits and support services, energy conservation and savings programs, in-home care for elders and disabled adults, job training and education programs for adults and teens, housing assistance, and more.
Action Inc.’s main offices are at 180 Main St. in Gloucester and can be reached at 978-282-1000. You can also visit www.actioninc.org or on Facebook.