The Ninth Annual All-Chelsea Awards Night has matured over the years. It has morphed from a legends/all-star type event into Tuesday’s extravaganza which featured lots of real emotion, some political edge, and a great deal of genuine good feeling among the honorees, and the large crowd that congratulated them with their applause and cheers.
Every honoree was noteworthy for their commitment to Chelsea.
Dr. Thomas Kingston, recipient of this year’s Public Servant of the Year award ended his remarks with this Latin phrase: tantum eruditi sunt liberi – only the educated are free.
Dr. Kingston will be leaving as Superintendent of Chelsea’s public schools in June.
The Leonard Florence Center for Living, winner of the Project of the Year award, was praised as not only the project of the year, but the project of the decade.
Betsy Mullen, the director of the extraordinary elderly care facility – which has a world famous ALS center – graciously accepted the award.
Businessman of the Year Mike Falzone was described as caring about three things: his family, Chelsea, and pizza. Falzone, of course, is about much more than pizza.
He has spent a lifetime in the Central Avenue location, which his father founded.
And along the way, he has given of himself or donated to or supported good causes, teams and associations of every kind.
“Thank you so much,” he told the large crowd. “I am proud to receive this award.”
Youth Resident of the Year Carlos Fuentes brought the house down with his eloquent remarks with which he showed great skill and intelligence as a communicator and as someone who cares about others.
With his proud family in front of him, with the crowd cheering, he shared handshakes and hugs with those who have come to know of his qualities – and he too, offered a grand thank you for this award to have been bestowed upon him.
“When Jay Ash asked me to come upstairs so he could speak to me privately I got scared,” the young man recalled.
“I mean, I was wondering, what have I done wrong?”
The crowd broke into laughter and Fuentes went to his seat holding his award and admiring it.
And it went with the honorees, including Lifetime Achievement winners Allan Alpert and Rosemarie Carlisle.
Alpert, the city’s Emergency Director was unusually humble and serious with his family in front of him.
He offered his thanks to them and to everyone who has come his way and he said he was humbled to receive the award.
It was noted that under his leadership the city has not suffered a terrorist attack – which caused nearly everyone to laugh and to acknowledge that Alpert is one of this city’s great stand-up comics who, Jay Ash noted: “Has more one-liners than there are books in the Chelsea Public Library.”
Carlisle broke down repeatedly as she attempted to make her remarks. Her tears were tears of joy – and the crowd appreciated her deep feelings about her life spent here in search of better education for the children of the city.
Her speech was both touching and real – the expression of a common woman who has spent her life doing uncommon things for working class people and for the working poor.
The Chelsea Collaborative won the Community Organization of the Year Award, a testament to just how far this city has come during the past 25 years.
Before the days of receivership, an organization like the Chelsea Collaborative would have been excluded from proceedings like that held at Chelsea City Hall Tuesday evening.
Gladys Vega, the director of the Collaborative, made powerful short remarks in English and in Spanish to many of her co-workers and followers of the Collaborative who came to city hall to share in a wonderful moment.
The applause that followed was riveting, moving, altogether over the top.
Adult Resident of the Year Catherine Maas made brief remarks and thanked everyone gratefully.
Senior Resident of the Year Irene Malachowski did the same.
Contributing Stakeholder of the Year, the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation was praised for its contributions made to Chelsea in order to alleviate chronic poverty.