FOR RELEASE (April 29 2009 7:00 PM) Leominster, MA –  It was a star-studded affair, but this time the spotlight was on community volunteers as United Way of North Central Massachusetts recognized contributors and volunteers during its 29th annual campaign recognition and thank you event at the Four Points Sheraton Wednesday evening.
“Because of the generous support of the community, United Way’s Community Impact Fund will provide over 50,000 health and human services to North Central Massachusetts residents,” commented Bob Antonucci, president of Fitchburg State College and this year’s United Way campaign chair.
“While running our annual campaign drive,  we were also able to raise over $100,000 in additional emergency relief money, providing much needed heating assistance and helping keep local food pantries stocked.”
The event, with its Oscar theme, recognized numerous companies and employees for their financial contributions. Three area companies were thanked for their outstanding campaign results.
Aubuchon Hardware of Westminster, Workers’ Credit Union of Fitchburg and Townsend’s Sterilite Corporation all received the Extraordinary Effort Chairman’s Award for increased giving to United Way’s Community Impact Fund, which supports community programs in the area of education, income, health and basic services such as food and shelter.
Community volunteers were also recognized.  Patrick Muldoon, United Way board member, awarded five Fellowships, which include mentoring and a financial stipend for community initiatives, on behalf of Community Builders, a partnership between United Way of North Central Massachusetts and Ashoka to promote volunteerism.
Beth Babineau from Ashburnham received a Fellowship for The Love Well Initiative, which provides child care co-op for single mothers so they can work.
Cinderella Constant of Fitchburg created a faith-based support group, Care To Talk, for young women that will focus on educational advocacy for children with disabilities and women’s rights.
Rafael Depaula of Leominster is using his Fellowship to provide Brazilian translation services to immigrants challenged with a language barrier. His initiative, Open Arms, hopes to strengthen community relationships and assist in referral services.
Wil Darcangelo of Fitchburg is building volunteerism, creating social connections and generating revenue for local nonprofits through his Good-Wil initiative, which includes benefit performances.
Dinner For Senior Citizens is an initiative created by Mark Lynch of Leominster, which is developing a self sustainable model organized by volunteers that provides Thanksgiving dinner for senior citizens in various towns.
In addition, Community Builders awarded four grants to nonprofits for their volunteer projects, as part of National Volunteer Week, which was April 20-25th.  The community was asked to vote for their favorite projects.
Beacon of Hope Community Services of Leominster received the grand prize of $1,000 for their Community Gardening project.
Spanish American Center of Leominster used their first prize of $500 for a spring clean-up & beautification project.
Leominster’s Warmer Winters and Friends of Sholan Farms both received $250 for their projects, knitting and needle making and trail clearing respectively.
Community Builders also presented their “Hammer Award,” which goes to outstanding community volunteers.  Ines Crespo of Leominster was thanked for her volunteer work at the Spanish American Center.
Todd Goodwin of Fitchburg was acknowledged his work with UNICEF, Oxfam, Fitchburg’s Civic Clean Up, Cleghorn Neighborhood Center and the Salvation Army.
Meredith Marcinkewicz of Shirley is responsible for bringing the Shirley Arts into the community, which includes theatrical shows and children’s singing and acting performances.
Alethea Morris of Lunenburg was lauded for her volunteer work at the Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network and the People in Peril Shelter, which provides support, friendship and encouragement to people in crisis.
Over twenty United Way Youth Venture students, who launched sustainable community initiatives, encouraged the audience to continue to be a part of the change in their community by asking them to don a LIVE UNITED t-shirt.
Bruce Man, vice chair of United Way of North Central Massachusetts, wrapped up the evening by announcing that Patrick Muldoon from HealthAlliance will serve as the 2009-10 campaign chair.
The United Way of North Central Massachusetts serves the communities of Ashburnham, Ashby, Ayer, Baldwinville, Barre, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Leominster, Littleton, Lunenburg, Pepperell, Shirley, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster and Winchendon.
#          #          #