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Holliston Reporter Announces 2017 Outstanding Achievers

by Bobby Blair & Paul Saulnier
December 11, 2017

 

HollistonReporter.com is pleased to name its 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award winners. The recipients cannot have previously been recognized as a Citizen of the Year. Those selected must have made a contribution to the town and its residents. This year the Outstanding Achievement Award is being named in honor of William Tobin. Bill passed away suddenly and unexpectedly earlier this May. He was a co-owner and writer for the Reporter, but more importantly was involved in the community and belonged to many organizations including the Holliston Lions Club, Historical Society and Holliston In Bloom to name just a few. Tobin was proud of his military service and his involvement with St. Mary's Parish. The Reporter is proud to attach Bill's name to this award in honor to others who have shown Tobin's committment to the town and community.

This year's receipants of the Holliston Reporter William Tobin Award for Outstanding Achievement are Cherry Fenton and Bryan Clancy.

Cherry Fenton is a relative newcomer to local community service, but her extreme committment has  not escaped the eye of other community volunteers

I've lived in Holliston for 21 years, having grown in downtown Boston's old West End as 1st generation born in America to immigrant parents.  When I was old enough to pull a grocery cart, I walked every weekend with my mother to Haymarket for fresh produce and continued the shopping excursion to the North End for a fresh-kill chicken and sometimes a rum cake from Mike’s Pastry for a birthday celebration.   (Now we can buy those rum cakes from Gaetano’s Bakery!  Gaetano used to work at Mike’s Pastry!)

I joined Newcomers when I first moved to town (that’s how I met Kathy) and did Publicity, Ways & Means, Charitable Contributions, Gardening and 1st VP.  I have been an active participant of my high school’s (Boston Latin School) Alumni Association reunion committees for many years.  When I worked in Boston for Fidelity Investments, I volunteered for the Reading is Fundamental program and read to young children at the Quincy School.  When my children were at Placentino, I had volunteered as a room parent for several years when they were in the Montessori program and loved being a chaperone for field trips; additionally, I went in to their classrooms to talk about Asian Lunar New Year traditions in late winter from kindergarten all the way into 8th grade, and I gave lessons on how to write the corresponding animal of the lunar calendar in both Chinese and Korean characters using calligraphy brushes.  I had been a member of the New England Hosta Society for several years; when NEHS hosted the National Hosta Society convention in 2006, I created the convention logo and convention handbook.  All my previous volunteer work required planning and writing skills in addition to providing a creative outlet.

Kathy Shore asked me to join her for coffee about three years ago on a cold February morning to ask if I’d help her with Holliston in Bloom.  I hadn’t heard much about the group previously, but was intrigued that I could combine my love for gardening with my business experience as a former project manager.  Since joining, I write monthly articles for publicity and help with the writing of the Town Profile that is submitted as part of the application to America in Bloom competition, create project plans, keep notes as Secretary, maintain our website www.hollistoninbloom.org, create gardens, and of course, actively participate as a Professional Hole Digger for the many projects each season.  As the group’s photographer, I maintain a photo archive of our projects, so we have plenty of “Before” and “After” shots for our display storyboards that I create for the AIB judges when they come to visit.  This past Columbus Day weekend, Holliston hosted the National AIB Symposium, and with the help of many local volunteers, we excelled in all the details.  I’ve been also enjoyed helping PJ Kilkelly at the Agricultural Commission’s Butterfly Aviary for a couple of years with the plantings and maintenance, both indoors and outdoors, because I love the butterflies.  

I volunteer for HIB because I enjoy making public spaces more vibrant for everyone to enjoy.  Flowers and trees attract pollinators for our local crops in addition to improving the overall beauty of Holliston.  And a well-maintained, charming town engages both residents and visitors.  I think our town is fortunate to have so many talented individuals and groups who are willing to work together.  I am honored to join the ranks of those who have been recognized for their volunteer efforts.  Thank you, HR!

. PJ Kilkelly, Chairman of the town's Agricultural Commission said this of Fenton " Cherry's passion, knowledge of plants and good humor has provided much needed  support for the butterfly aviary. She has donated countless hours planting, pruning and sprucing up the planters to help keep the aviary looking  beautiful".

Former Holliston In Bloom co-chairman and selectman Mark Ahronian said: "Cherry Fenton is a long string of superlatives volunteering to help Holliston in many ways !  Be it Holliston In Bloom , the Agricultural Butter fly aviary, creating a children’s garden at the Miller school, organizing community clean up events Cherry is always there behind the scenes helping to organize people who volunteer. She’s an inspiration to all" It was Fentons inspiration that prompted the arrival of standing window boxes in front of businesses downtown and her organizational skills were a large part of the "Big Border" planting in front of the Congregational Church this past year. HIB's Chairman Kathy Shore said: “Cherry is extremely hard working, dedicated and very loyal. She has the most energy I have ever seen! Always cheerful and always smiling! She is so hard to say no to and has  great design sense with plants and horticulture. She is an amazing photographer (no butt shots ever!) and she's not to be messed with as she has a black belt in karate! And she is extremely organized! She loves nothing more than a good spreadsheet”.

Bryan Clancy has given freely of his time to help others achieve a basic human need, one that we all share --- a place to live.

Andrea and I moved to Holliston in 1989 just after getting married.  We met at Tufts University where we lived next to each other freshman year.  I grew up in Natick in a large family of 6 kids and moved to Holliston following in the footsteps of my brother Chris.  Since then my brother Greg and sister Colleen Clancy-Landers have also lived in Holliston.

I have to say that I learned a lot about civic engagement from Andrea and her family.  Andrea was very involved with the schools before our kids went to private school in Providence.  She also ran the religious education program at St. Mary’s for many years.  Her mom was one of George Bush’s points of light for her food pantry work.

I have been in the banking and commercial real estate industry since I left college in 1986 working at National Development and now a related private equity real estate fund – Charles River Realty Investors.  I was called upon by Heidi Doyle to join the Housing Committee in 2009.  As a real estate expert she valued my ideas and thoughts about how to create more affordable housing in Holliston.  With Heidi’s leadership we formed the Housing Trust in 2011.  The Housing Trust is the vehicle by which Community Preservation Funds can be used to create affordable housing.  As I became more engaged, I was voted President of the Housing Trust and went to work to bring the Town together around affordable housing.  The Trust has been a proponent of a dispersed affordable housing model by utilizing the existing housing stock and subsidizing the home price down to an affordable level as defined by the state – about $215,000.  Since starting the Housing Trust we have created 7 units of affordable housing in both single family and condominiums for a cost of approximately $100,000 per unit. 

The Housing Trust decided that we needed more awareness about affordable housing.  We decided to speak with Habitat for Humanity about potentially doing a project in Holliston.  One of my committee members, Greg Carey, suggested that we look at existing Town owned land that could be available for development.  We found a parcel on Chamberlain Street that was acquired as part of the sewer project that never materialized.  We went to Town meeting for the Housing Trust to get control of the parcel which was granted in the fall of 2014.  The Housing Trust surveyed the land and designed the septic system prior to turning the land over to Habitat for development.  The first home was dedicated this fall and the second home will be dedicated in the spring to deserving owners who have built their home side by side with countless volunteers.

In forging a relationship with Habitat, I learned more about their mission.  They also valued my ideas, thoughts and expertise in affordable housing and asked me to join their board.  The following spring of 2015 I was elected President.  Our Habitat affililate has grown to an organization grossing over $2.5 million annually, building 6-8 homes annually and serving over 60 families each year through our programs and restore.  Each year at Celebrate Holliston the Trust has sponsored the construction of a playhouse at Goodwill Park that is dedicated to a deserving veteran family.

In addition to my affordable housing work in Town and with Habitat, I am a mentor to young Tufts students seeking careers in real estate and a guest lecturer in the real estate at Harvard Business School, MIT and Babson College. 

The most satisfying part of the Housing Trust and Habitat work is to see hard working and deserving families who all want the same thing for their children as those more fortunate find affordable homes that allow them to prosper as productive members of our community.  I couldn’t do this work without the tireless efforts of my Trust members Kay Baxter, Greg Carey, Diana Harrington, Diane McDermott-Roy, Bill Stout, Warren Chamberlain, Kevin Conley and past members Tony Damigella, Frank Chamberlain and Michael Stepansky.  The Trust has also benefited from the knowledge and expertise of the Selectmen, town planner Karen Sherman, town managers Jeff Ritter and Paul Lebeau and of course the Community Preservation Committee that is the source of our funding.  Working together we have accomplished a lot.

I am honored that HollistonReporter.com is recognizing my efforts and involvement with the Housing Trust and Habitat for Humanity Metrowest/Greater Worcester in providing affordable housing to those who need it most.

                                                                *******************************

Previous Outstanding Achievers were:

2016: Gina Stucchi for combating drug abuse, AJ Collins for youth involvement, Chris Leoncini for supporting charitable organizations

2015: Ken Szajda for town finances and Ed Daniels for work with the Friends of Holliston Trails

2014: PJ Killkelly for work on the Ag/com Butterfly Aviary, Ellin Austin for work with the Pantry Shelf and Historical Commission

2013: John Moore for plantings at the golf course, Martha Ellis for protecting feral cats and work on the rail trail

2012: Kathy Shore for Celebrate Holliston, Herb Brockert for work on the rail trail and Mike Tyman for scouting and working with Holliston youth

2011:Robert McGrath for work with the Holliston Citizens Scholarship Foundation

2010: Tony Bellomo for Pop Warner Football,, Frank Melle, for 100th Anniversary of Holliston Historical Society, and Robert Weidknecht for Holliston Rail Trail.

2009: Angela Lawless for heading up the painting of the Fire Station and George Johnson for preserving Holliston's open space.

2008: Gene Crowley for restoration of the Cerel (Fiske) Block in the center of town

 

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Comments (1)

Congratulations to this years winners, very well deserved. Thank you for your community envolvement! Well done!

- Jackie Dellicker | 12/12/17 9:34 PM

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