SOUTHINGTON – The YMCA will honor a veterans’ advocate and a local business at the group’s annual celebration of public service.
The Southington-Cheshire YMCA named John DeMello, a member of the town Veterans Committee, as person of the year for his work on behalf of those who served in the military.
The YMCA also honored Fancy Bagels for demonstrating social responsibility.
Brittany Tripp, YMCA marketing director, said DeMello is able to list the names of veterans, when they served and years of service from memory.
“That was the moment it became clear that John doesn’t simply serve the veterans in our community, he cares deeply about them,” Tripp said.
DeMello’s role on the committee is to help veterans connect with services. He’s also present at veterans events throughout town.
Dominick Gualtieri, who co-owns Fancy Bagels with his mother Jackie Gualtieri and partner Sal Belcaro, said he was honored and surprised by the award.
Dominick Gualtieri said the restaurant tries to donate food, money or gift cards to as many local groups as it can, including Southington Community Services, Bread for Life and “just about every high school sport there is.”
He took over the restaurant in 2002 from the previous owners who also tried to help community groups. Fancy Bagels has been in town for 30 years.
“It’s something we’ve done from the very beginning,” Dominick Gualtieri said.
He’s also worked with DeMello on events involving veterans.
“He does a lot,” Dominick Gualtieri said. “He goes above and beyond, that’s for sure.”
Also being honored are Sarah McAuliffe, Youth Leadership; Caitlin Mulligan, Youth Leadership; Karen Cavanaugh, Unified Theater; Marguerite Maddalena, Unified Sports; Sue Albert, Best Buddies; Christie, Robin and Paula, Common Good Garden; Katie Sherman, YMCA Director Of Child Development; and Kari Robarge, YMCA Early Childhood Director.
The YMCA will hold its awards ceremony Feb. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Aqua Turf Club. To attend contact Kristin Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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