Local residents are once again acknowledged and thanked for the services they have provided to those in need on Cape Ann.
State Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, D-Gloucester, announced the fourth and fifth recipients of the Jeremiah J. Healy Service Award, applauding the efforts of Lenny and Dottie Linquata and the residents behind the Facebook group “We Are All in This Together Gloucester.”
In 2017, Ferrante established this award to recognize those who best epitomize the social gospel of Matthew: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
“The Rev. J.J. Healy Award was established to celebrate the compassion that we have for one another and the sacrifices that members of our community make for the well-being of some of the most vulnerable among us,” said Ferrante. “Thank you to Dottie and Lenny Linquata, and Leah Lovasco, Patty Wall, Kristin Michel, Melanie Wall-Gabriele, and Cindy Rich of ‘We’re All in this Together’ for their efforts to protect and provide for members of our community that needed their strength, companionship, love, and gifts to make it through this pandemic.”
The Linquatas have a long history of helping residents and organizations in need. Their restaurant, the Gloucester House, was a regular host for the fundraisers of local charitable organizations, among other efforts. During the pandemic with the closure of non-essential businesses, the Linquatas and the World War II Memorial Fund organized a raffle to benefit local veterans organizations, and when the Grace Center found itself in need of a temporary space to house its day program for the homeless and others in need, the Linquatas offered the Gloucester House as the winter home for the center.
“Muhammad Ali said that service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on Earth. There is nothing truer than that, especially for those of us that have the ability and advantages in life that allow us to help,” said Lenny and Dottie Linquata in a prepared statement. “It doesn’t matter how much you have, how much you make, or how famous you are. If you have gone through life and did nothing but made life better for other people, you were a success.”
During the pandemic, Leah Lovasco and Patty Wall created a Facebook group with “the hope that maybe we can all help each other during this crisis,” and it provided a place where residents could post what their needs are.
The goal of “We Are All In This Together Gloucester” was to foster the idea of being good neighbors and helping friends and strangers.
The group grew rapidly, and now has more than 6,500 members.
“The needs of the community became increasingly more apparent as the pandemic continued. Kristin Michel, Melanie Wall-Gabriele and Cindy Rich joined the team and, together with the community, over the last 18 months, they have supported local individuals and organizations with various needs in countless meaningful ways. ‘We Are All In This Together’ provided a network of companionship and caring along with a vehicle for community members to engage and help their fellow citizens,” according to award announcement.
The group has continued to evolve and this May, Together Gloucester Inc. was born as a charitable organization dedicated to connecting needy individuals with resources and advocates; to supporting such individuals financially and emotionally; and to promoting the collective good of Gloucester and Rockport.
“It has been the selfless acts of kindness I have witnessed the past 18 months that has had the most impact on me,” said Lovasco. “Our small community came together in such a profound way during a time where we were going through something none of us has ever experienced before.”
“They also underscored what community really means. Helping neighbors, the elderly, those experiencing homelessness or just helping each other. Being kind and good humans,” added Wall.
Michel noted that a key factor is that the organization continues to ask, “How can we help?”
“We hope to carry on the important work that we have committed ourselves to since the start of the pandemic,” said Michel.
The award was named in honor of Jeremiah James Healy, an Irish immigrant and pastor at St. Ann Church in Gloucester from 1871 until the time of his death in 1910. His legacy was one of helping those in need, including building projects and educating and hiring immigrant families, most often those that “need not apply.” At his own personal expense, he established a fund in Gloucester for the support of the poor and needy, and made the single largest contribution to Addison Gilbert Hospital for the “free care of the poor,” among other efforts.
The first recipient was the Rev. Ronald Garibaldi for his work and role in founding the Grace Center. Subsequent recipients were Dr. Michael Arsenian for his care and expansion of cardiac services at Addison Gilbert Hospital, and Julie LaFontaine for her work at The Open Door helping to feed those in need.