Locals filled the Aldermanic Chamber at City Hall Monday night to recognize a number of community members for their outstanding accomplishments and commitment to improving the quality of life for Newton residents and the city's youth.
Five awards were handed out at the 34th Annual Youth Service Awards, which is sponsored by the Newton Parks and Recreation Department.
In addition to the Youth Service Awards, one local hero was also recognized by the Red Cross with a Certificate of Recognition for Extraordinary Personal Action.
Details on the awards and the recipients are included below:
- Parks & Recreation Commissioner Bob DeRubeis presented the Judge Franklin N. Flaschner Award to Phil Levoff, a longtime resident of Newton who has "a natural passion for helping others." Levoff is one of the founding members of Athletes Serving the Community (ASC) and also helped coach and launch the Newton Athletic Association (NAA) basketball league. Levoff also helps coordinate the Christmas in the City event each year, DeRubeis noted, which helps bring holiday events and cheer to Boston's homeless children.
"You have enhanced the quality of life for all who live here," DeRubeis said.
- Board of Aldermen President Scott Lennon presented Michaela Regehr with the Judge Julian Yesley Young Adult Award. Lennon noted that Regehr is an honor roll student who is "committed to building and supporting her community." Regehr, a Newton South student, has volunteered at the Zervas Elementary after school program for a number of years and recently led a team of NSHS students to design an educational unit focused on sustainability. This unit concluded in the building of a community garden at Zervas. In addition, Regehr has volunteered at a number of Hyde Community Center events and programs.
"She is an outstanding role model for us all and she makes time to improve the lives of others in the community she lives," Lennon said.
- Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Arthur Magni presented the Officer Robert Braceland Award to Jay Sobel, a Newton South junior. Sobel is "an exceptional young man" who has worked on a number of efforts to improve the city of Newton including the mayor's public service internship program. He is also actively working on a youth summit for the city, Magni noted.
"He has risen to the challenge," Magni said. "He is a hard working teen who takes a significant amount of time to speak up for teens in the city."
- Parks and Recreation Commission member Peter Johnson presented Emma Luce with the Irene Bickelman Junior Youth Award. Luce, who has been a "dedicated" member of the Newton swim team since 2008, has not only become a top swimmer, but has also helped develop and train young swimmers. She spends "countless hours" volunteering with the Newton Parks and Recreation Swim program and is always making sure the children are learning as well as having fun.
"Emma has truly made a difference in the community through her dedicated commitment and support," Johnson said.
- DeRubeis took the stand again to award the Russell J. Halloran Lifetime Achievement Award to 94-year-old Helen Murphy, a lifetime resident of Newton and 1936 graduate of Newton High School. Murphy has done more than 3,200 hours of public service for the city and has focused on organizing trips, programs and "spreading cheer" to Newton's senior population. Everywhere Murphy goes she makes people feel good with her happy disposition and friendly nature, DeRubeis said.
"[Murphy] is a wonderful person and is someone who has sacrificed her time for the benefit of others," DeRubeis said.
- After the Youth Awards were presented, Newton Aquatics Director Thomas Cahill gave a special commendation to Kristin Luce, who saved her friend's life when she noticed her friend was choking at lunch. Cahill presented Luce with a Certificate of Recognition for Extraordinary Personal Action from the Red Cross as well as a proclamation from Mayor Setti Warren. Luce had learned live-saving techniques from a Red Cross safety class taught by Cahill.
"Without question, Kristin saved her friend’s life," Cahill said.
For a description of the Youth Service awards, visit the Parks and Recreation Youth Awards website.