Eleven individuals have been selected to receive this year’s Gloucester Citizenship Awards from the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church for the contributions they make to their community and their neighbors–quietly and persistently, without thought of remuneration or recognition.
The awards, given since 2006, recognize civic contributions that embody the best of the spirit that guides Unitarian Universalism: open-hearted giving to others, solely for what those gifts mean, for no pay, and often with no public notice.
The men and women being recognized were chosen by the church Social Justice Committee from nearly 50 nominations submitted by the congregation and the public. Their names appear below, in alphabetical order.
The awards will be presented at a public ceremony at the church, located at Middle and Church Streets in Gloucester, on Sunday, May 19, starting at 4:30 p.m. Dress is informal. The church has handicapped access via the Church Street entrance.
This year’s ceremony is being made possible in part through generous contributions by BankGloucester, Cape Ann Savings Bank, First Ipswich Bank, Rockport National Bank, TD Bank, the Dress Code, and Jim’s Bagel & Bake Shoppe.
Dennis Acker and Rick Doucette. For more than a decade Dennis and Rick have led the team of committed volunteers who make possible Pride Stride, the nationally known, community-wide walk that attracts hundreds of participants annually to raise money for dozens of Gloucester nonprofit organizations.
Roger Corbin. Over the years Roger has personally donated more than 2½ tons of groceries to help keep the shelves stocked at the Open Door Food Pantry, When not shopping or soliciting food donations from neighbors, he is the volunteer is helping to manage the reconstruction of Gloucester’s Newell Stadium.
Newton Fink. Retiring to Gloucester from upstate New York, Newt soon became involved as a volunteer with the Gloucester Maritime and the Essex Shipbuilding Museum—and, for the past five years has been buildings and grounds chair at Gloucester’s oldest standing church, the Unitarian Universalist church, keeping it standing and in good repair and overseeing installation of new handicapped-access elevators.
Shannon Gallagher. Throughout her Gloucester High School years this GHS senior has been a constant volunteer to Open Door, Pride Stride, the Sawyer Free Library, the YMCA, the Rose Baker Senior Center, and the Fish Box Derby. She has gone to New Orleans twice in the Y Teens Rebuild New Orleans program, and this year also was in Nicaragua planting trees and helping children learn about sanitation.
Reverend Ronald Gariboldi. Beyond his longtime ministry at Holy Family Parish, Father Ron’s personal dedication in retirement to Grace Center has been an inspiration for all the volunteers and others who make this day program a safe space and resource center for homeless in their desire to move out of poverty and into a sustainable life.
Paul Harling. His jam-packed Diving Locker at Maritime Gloucester, begun with his personal collection of artifacts, from the homemade rig he wore when he made his first dive in 1949 to the most modern underwater gear. Paul is on duty most days in the summer and even some in the winter, showing off gear from light scuba to heavy commercial underwater helmets, cheerily educating all about our world below.
Russell Hobbs. When his Lanesville neighbors resolved to save the last surviving fish shack at Lane’s Cove, Russell played a key role in bringing their vision to reality by his dogged and cheerful determination, leadership, and craftsmanship. City-wide, he also has been a strong voice in ensuring that Gloucester’s water supply is safe and well-managed.
Sheldon (Don) Knowles. Don is co-founder of Sober Connections, a social and support network for people formed “to enhance the quality of life in sobriety for the individual, which benefits their families and the communities in which they live.in recovery.” He is constantly in the forefront of Sober Connections, organizing dances, concerts, shows, picnics, and other events, held in an environment without drugs and alcohol.
Karen Ristuben. As unpaid president of the Rocky Neck Art Colony, Karen mobilized the community support needed to establish the Rocky Neck Cultural District as a state-recognized entity and the city’s first such district. That done, she then led the Art Colony’s conversion of a former church to become the nonprofit Cultural Center at Rocky Neck.
Diana Smith. Volunteering at Grace Center, tutoring children with reading difficulties, or running the “Good Guys List” blog, Diana uses her teaching skills to advocate for and help those who struggle. She has been a major force in organizing candlelight vigils held annually on Stacy Boulevard as a way for Gloucester residents of all backgrounds to confront publicly the realities and heartaches of opiate addiction.