2017 Shillelagh Award Winners
On behalf of the Polus Center, we would like to sincerely thank all of the families, volunteers, local businesses, performers and sponsors who supported this year's All Things Irish fundraiser. You each posses a selfless dedication to community and a terrific sense of fun! We couldn’t do it without you! Here’s to seeing you again next year!
Each year we invite the community to nominate local residents who exhibit outstanding service to our community.
These folks possess a generosity, compassion, enthusiasm, kindness and sense of humor that reflect true Irish spirit. A shillelagh and certificate are presented to the winners by Senator Stephen Brewer.
2020 Shillelagh Award Winners
Patrick Swain was a career Marine, including combat in the Middle East. Upon retirement he continued service as a local police officer, receiving the MA State Police Medal of Valor. He was a Veteran’s Service Officer in several towns during which time he was nominated for a “Citizen of the Year Award” by the Quaboag Valley Chamber of Commerce. He enjoys playing Santa Claus for several communities. He has recruited many others to assist in various community services, such as fundraisers for scholarships and community projects, driving veterans to medical appointments, soliciting funding for free Veterans’ Day dinners, and helping hoarders clean out their homes. It should be noted that Patrick was born on St. Patrick's Day and fully believes the party is all for him!
Lucy Allen was nominated for her leadership in mobilizing the community in support of access to the Ware River Watershed, her long standing work with the Barre Historical Society, her extensive photography of Barre and surrounding areas that she shares with the community, and her many years of support of the Barre Library Association. "An awesome person who cares about preservation."
Dennis Dextradeur has coached youth basketball in the Quabbin School District for 40 years. Dex has put his heart and soul into teaching young minds about values like getting a good education, fair play, good sportsmanship, giving back, and doing for others. He's turned his programs into ones that produce good student athletes and citizens. He has always led by example. Dex is a humble man and shies away from any notoriety. It’s never about him it’s about the kids, always has been.
Ellenor Downer has worked for the Barre Gazette as a correspondent and editor for over 20 years, collectively. She has spent countless hours covering local events in Barre and surrounding towns. She makes sure that all the small-town, community-based happenings that make Barre special, are recognized and recorded. She attends the local Selectmen and School Committee meetings and writes the stories for all these events. Without Ellie, the newspaper would not be the same. She has been an active supporter of the Shillelagh Awards and All Things Irish since their inception in Barre.
Fred and Becki Hamel selflessly take in employees in need of help and allow them to live in their home until they get back on their feet. Customers bear witness to the many acts of kindness extended daily not only to patrons but to complete strangers. “Becki is one of the most selfless people I know.” All veterans are invited to put up photos at Becki’s Bistro, so patrons are reminded of their service and sacrifice. They have always actively supported veterans through food, money and care packages. Fred and Becki are shining examples of how the world’s citizens should treat each other.
Stanley Miknaitis is co-chairman of the Barre Lions Club annual car show and chairman of the Barre Council on Aging. He is an avid car enthusiast and cruise night attendee and member of the Northeast Chapter Falcon Club of America.
Andrea Leroux is one of those members of the community who has never said no to a request for her time or support. She is an active member of the Quabbin music program, the Quabbin sports programs, Q-DRUG, the Woods Memorial Library, and many more. She is often called upon in the Quabbin Middle School, where she is a teacher, to lead volunteer activities for all the students. Without her leadership and support the middle school dances would have failed to exist years ago. These volunteer hours go far beyond the requirements or expectations of being an amazing math teacher in the district, and she provides ample opportunities for students to develop beyond the classroom.
Sandy Hood has spent nearly ten months out of the year planning for Christmas in Barre, an endeavor she has been a part of for at least a decade. When her son was growing up, she was an active volunteer in the Barre Teen Center. Sandy makes sure that the youth of the town experience all that Barre has to offer. Sandy has worked behind the scenes in many Barre community events. She had worked for the Barre Gazette for numerous years and is now the town's Administrative Assistant.
Doug Martin is chair of the Planning Board. He researched, wrote, rewrote, listened, persuaded, and passed two important bylaws: solar development regulation, and commercial marijuana regulation, and is preparing to create a town Master Plan. He attends Central Mass. Regional Planning Commission meetings and serves as the chair of their Legislative Affairs Committee, and on the Executive Committee of CMRPC. The library relies on him to take care of many building issues. Doug is also an officer of Mt. Zion Masonic Lodge.
Joe Petracone was a past president of Barre EMS board of directors and is treasurer of the Barre Lions Club. “He is a tireless volunteer who gives much of his time to help out with local events all year round.”
Mary Ann Watson is a volunteer at the Barre Senior Center and is Vice-Chair of the Barre Council on Aging. She is well known for helping people. When the owner of the Country Gourmet was injured, Mary Ann helped out and kept things going. She helps organize Christmas fairs at the church and Senior Center. She loves her family, is proud of her community, and has faith and encouraging words that help bring others through tough times. “You talk about kindness, generosity, compassion, contribution to the community and sense of humor, she has all of it!”
Kathlyn Inman served many years on the Sewer Commission and on the Select Board. She is a founding member of Q-Drug and a retired English teacher at Quabbin Regional Middle High School. She is involved with the St Francis of Assisi annual fair and the Barre Woman's Club. She is very dedicated to her community.
Helene & Guido Pascale have helped so many people, all done in a non-self-rewarding way while raising their two daughters. Helene is retiring as a science teacher at Quabbin Middle School and has given of herself all her life, starting out as an Outward Bound school counselor to her career as an educator going the extra mile teaching young minds science. She comes from a long line of Heroic Veterans and is a proud American of Irish decent. Together Guido and Helene have lived a life of giving and putting other's before themselves.
Joseph & Linda Rowgowski are nominated for their years of dedication to their fellow Barre townspeople and through mutual aid in the fire service of central mass. This family has done more good deeds for people than can possibly be listed, all on the quiet side not to draw attention to themselves. Joe was Barre’s fire chief for many years. Linda would often make food for “her boys” in the fire service when the tone rang out in the middle of the night. If you happen by the Rowgowski House, take a close look at the front of their home. You'll see the words "Be Humble and Kind." These are the words this family lives by. They are what this award is truly all about, giving of themselves in an unselfish way.
The Leander Family as a team cut, split, deliver and stack a cord of firewood each year for a local family in need. The children also entertain the community with their Irish step dancing.