SOUTHINGTON — A crowd of people gathered at the Southington-Cheshire YMCA Thursday night to congratulate recipients of three annual community awards.
John Myers, YMCA executive director, announced Lisa Carroll as the Person of the Year. Erin Furniss and Lisa Wrubleski, who organized an event to honor those killed in the Newtown school shooting, received the Reaching out Award and the Unsung Hero honor went to Diana Sheard.
“We get to recognize some shining stars here in Southington,” Myers said. “People who are truly making a difference in town.”
Myers said all the recipients are involved in helping young people.
For the past 25 years Lisa Carroll has worked as the program coordinator for Summer Youth Theater, directing 51 of 55 plays. The program started with about 40 students and has grown to 150.
“I am the luckiest person on the planet,” Carroll said.
Myers said the theater program makes students feel like they have an extended family.
Carroll was also named 2012-13 Teacher of the Year in Bristol.
“Because of 26” was held June 15 to honor the 20 children and six adults killed in the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A mural was created to remember the children with 26 wooden butterflies, designed and painted by 26 local artists. Hundreds attended the event.
“Your message has resonated deeply,” Myers said.
Wrubleski and Furniss organized the event to spread kindness and teach children to be caring.
“We’re still in awe of how many people came out that day,” Wrubleski said.
“This day wouldn’t have happened without the community,” Furniss said.
For five years Sheard has been coordinating rides for people that need to get to a doctor’s appointment. She does this through the First Congregational Church. She has also been a part of the Town-wide Effort to Promote Success, or STEPS, organization.
Sheard is probably best known as Valentine the Clown. For the past 31 years she has been going to different community events.
Sheard loves to make people laugh. She was shy before entering junior high school where she was named class clown. Interacting with people, young and old, is her favorite part of the job. She was surprised that she was named the Unsung Hero.
“It’s very humbling,” Sheard said.
“It’s not about the balloons or the face painting,” Myers said. “It’s about making people’s day.”