SOUTHINGTON - The United Way of Southington thanked its Southington All Stars at its annual dinner Wednesday at the Aqua Turf Club.
The tables were decorated with heart-shaped balloons and candies and pink tablecloths as United Way supporters and community leaders gathered to thank residents and local organizations. As they mingled, bid on auctions and took their seats, Anthony Lendino crooned classic Frank Sinatra songs.
Executive Director Jack Eisenmann welcomed the guests and award recipients.
Eisenmann said that 29 percent of town residents have trouble meeting the costs of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, child care and health care.
All Star awards were presented to John Myers, Jodi Derwin, the Main Street Community Foundation and the Southington Middle School Athletic Association.
Myers began his career with the YMCA in 1987 and became executive director in 1998. He oversaw two major capital improvements which greatly expanded the downtown Y campus and Camp Sloper. He has announced his retirement from the Y at the end of this year. Myers doubled the Y membership to 9,500 during his tenure and has been active in many other community organizations. He has also directed the Apple Harvest Festival road races which have had as many as 2,000 participants.
“This is really nice,” said Myers. “The recognition is not why I do this, but it is appreciated. It has been great to partner with the United Way over the years. It has been a good fit.”
Derwin is the chairwoman of the Apple Harvest Hostesses and recently held a fundraiser drive to raise money for the family of Ryan Catlin, who was badly injured in an ATV accident. She regularly donates to Southington Community Services and has been involved with several town organizations. She also sends out care packages for soldiers.
“I’m honored and very humbled,” said Derwin. She said that she is good friends with the Catlin family. Her daughter played volleyball with their daughter and her son played basketball with their son.
“I was taken aback when I heard what happened and felt the need to spring into action,” she said. “I raised $15,000 for the organization and continue to help get things donated to them along the way.”
The Main Street Community Foundation is a public charity that establishes partnerships with individuals, families and business to build permanent charitable connections. The foundation has supported numerous organizations in town and in other surrounding communities throughout the years.
“As a foundation and on behalf of our donors, volunteers, board and staff we are so honored to be receiving this recognition from Southington United Way,” said Susan Sadecki, foundation executive director. “We are a part of this community and we enjoy partnering with organizations like United Way to make Southington a great place.”
The Southington Middle School Athletic Association was founded by parents and alumni to fund middle school sports and other student athletics. After the Board of Education announced last year that it would cut middle school sports due to state aid reductions, the association formed and raised $90,000. This allowed for the continuation of six boys and girls sports programs in 2017-18.
“It feels great to receive this award,” said Mike DeFeo, advisor with the association. “Our committee has done a fantastic job. They are committed and dedicated. They raised enough donations to fund the spring season and now they’re collecting for the fall.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.