Above and Beyond: Needham Residents Honored for Volunteerism
Recipients of the 2011 Richard Patton Melick Award were acknowledged Monday before Town Meeting.
From 25 years of Town Meeting service to volunteer work in Needham and beyond, the efforts of four local residents were recognized Monday night at Newman Elementary School.
Before beginning the third night of Needham’s 2011 annual Town Meeting, members of the Richard Patton Melick Foundation Board of Directors acknowledged 25-year Town Meeting members Greg Shesko and William R. Dermody and presented two individuals—Neil McKittrick and Jack Logan Jr.—with the 2011 Richard Patton Melick Award.
“The Richard Patton Melick Foundation was formed in honor of Dick Melick to recognize wonderful citizens of our town who have contributed great acts of service or who promote citizenship,” explained Jim Healy, a selectman and the foundation’s current president.
Melick, who was an active member of the community after moving to Needham in 1959, served as town moderator from 1962-1997.
Established in 1997, the Melick Foundation accepts nominations each year for the Richard Patton Melick Award, recognizing the recipients each spring at the annual Town Meeting.
The foundation also awards a scholarship each spring to a Needham High School senior who has been active in his or her community and “helped further the tradition of civic and neighborly service in the town of Needham,” according to a booklet distributed Monday night. Started in 2010, the scholarship was increased this year from $1,000 to $2,500.
This year, the foundation also provided recognition cords for new members of the National Honor Society, Healy said.
Before naming the two Melick Award recipients, Healy acknowledged two Town Meeting members who had served in their elected positions for 25 years each.
“Because of your devotion, our democratic form of government continues to provide its citizens with the freedoms envisioned by the framers of our constitution,” Healy read from a certificate presented to Greg Shesko, a Precinct D member, and Bill Dermody, a Precinct J member.
Paula Callanan, a member of the foundation’s board of directors, then introduced the first award recipient, Neil McKittrick, commending him on his pro bono legal work assisting individuals with developmental disabilities as well as his volunteer work with education, youth sports and other community activities.
Among McKittrick’s accomplishments was his role in a prominent class action suit, Boulet vs. Cellucci, filed in federal court on behalf of about 3,000 adults with developmental disabilities who were waiting for services to be provided by the commonwealth.
“The court ruled that the commonwealth had violated the rights of the plaintiff class to receive services under the Medicaid Act. The commonwealth agreed to settle the case in 2011 for $114 million worth of services to the plaintiffs over a five-year period,” Callanan said. “Neil served as the class monitor during that time, making sure that Massachusetts complied with its obligations.”
In addition to his award-winning pro bono work, McKittrick has served on several educational groups, including Gov. Deval Patrick’s Transition Committee’s Education Working Group, the Advisory Committee of the Early Education for All Campaign and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education Commission on Educating the 21st Century Workforce.
Locally, McKittrick served on the Mitchell School Council while his children were students there. He also was actively involved in local youth sports, coaching for the Needham Little League and Babe Ruth programs, Needham Basketball Association, St. Joseph’s in-town league, Metro West travel basketball and St. Bart’s CYO travel basketball team.
“Neil and his family annually work at the Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the Community Council and the Rotary Club. As a family, they participate in the Walk for Hunger and the Relay for Life,” Callanan said. “During the last two years, Neil has served as emcee and auctioneer at the annual fundraiser for the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation.”
Also receiving the 2011 Richard Patton Melick Award was Jack Logan Jr., a Korean War veteran, former veterans’ agent for the towns of Needham and Dover and longtime community volunteer and veterans advocate.
Healy outlined Logan’s many contributions, beginning with his work through St. Joseph’s Parish, where he was an adult altar server at the daily 6:50 a.m. Mass for 10 years, as well as a Eucharistic minister and CCD teacher. Logan also volunteered for the local cable network, serving as cameraman and director and hosting the programs “Logan’s Look at Needham” and “3-on-Sports.”
Logan was a 22-year member of the Needham Community Council board of directors, delivering day-old bread from Roche Bros. to the Poor Clare’s Monastery in Jamaica Plain and later bringing a similar service to the residents at the Linden Street senior housing development.
“But if there is one clear passion in Jack’s life—besides his wife and family—it is his love for those who have served,” Healy said.
Beginning in the 1980s, Logan volunteered at the West Roxbury Veterans Hospital running bingo nights for the patients. He also has served as a Memorial Park trustee for 12 years, was chairman of Needham’s Korean War Memorial Committee, is a member and past commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2498 and is a member and current commander of American Legion Post 14. He also served as veterans’ officer for the towns of Needham and Dover for 17 years, Healy said.
“You may know Jack Logan, but you’ve never seen him at his finest until he presides in full uniform over the annual Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day celebrations,” Healy said. “Jack believes deeply that we can never forget the sacrifices of our fighting men and women, and he works tirelessly to keep their memories alive by placing American flags on veterans’ graves and organizing parades, remembrance activities and other memorial events all throughout town.
“As the years have collected in Jack Logan’s scrapbook, his commitment and love for his fellow neighbors has not waned,” Healy continued.
These days, Logan, 81, volunteers is a HAM radio operator for Needham’s Emergency Management Team and visits the Beth Israel Deaconess Needham campus three mornings a week to help the staff and patients.
For more information about the Richard Patton Melick Foundation or to find out how to nominate a Needham resident for the 2012 award, visit their Web site.
In other recognitions Monday night, Town Meeting members voted to dissolve the spring special Town Meeting in memory of Barbara (Hammer) Downs, a longtime Needham resident and Town Meeting member from 1996 to 2010, who died in November.
Barbara and her husband, Robert A. Downs, moved to Needham in 1966, where she was an active member of the Carter Memorial United Methodist Church. Along with being a competitive tennis player, member of a regular bridge club and singer in her church choir as well as with the Heritage Chorale in Framingham, Downs served on the Needham Republican Town Committee and on the Women’s Republican Club, Town Moderator Michael Fee said.