The Rev. Michael Duda
Over the past 30 years, the Rev. Michael Duda, who lives in Rockport and serves as pastor of First Church of Wenham, has dedicated himself to serving children — especially children at risk. He has worked as a YMCA group leader, a volunteer with Doctors and Medical Technicians in South America, and a chaplain to Endicott College students, in addition to serving on numerous boards and committees dedicated to helping troubled kids. Duda spent more than two decades as executive director of the Anchorage, a Beverly residential home for at-risk teens, building the organization and helping troubled teens. At the Essex County Community Foundation, he was the driving force behind an annual conference that improves collaboration among local organizations. And through Duda’s efforts, Family Promise, a nationwide interfaith network that helps homeless families, was established in the area.
Health Care Hero
Rather than allow herself to be overcome by grief when her first husband died of cancer, Patricia Comeau-Simonson of Ipswich chose to help others in her position by pursuing a career in bereavement counseling. Even before earning a degree from Mount Ida College, she organized a program at the Bertolon Center for Grief and Healing, based in Danvers, to train leaders for support groups. At the program’s inception in 2010, 12 facilitators were trained, people who — like Comea-Simonson — had lost a loved one, and now could serve as living proof that life can be good again. She called them “representatives of hope.” Since then, those 12 have led support groups for nearly 200 grieving people, with a degree of success that has attracted support and allowed the program to expand.
Rosalin Acosta moved to the U.S. from Cuba at the age of 4 and knows what it means to be an outsider. That is why she has promoted diversity and a better world for children throughout her successful career. Acosta, who works as New England director of wealth management for TD Bank, has raised money for the care of young patients at Children’s Hospital Boston. Through her service on several boards and state agencies, she has also promoted the careers of Latinos, women and minority groups of every kind. An Amesbury resident, Acosta has contributed to her local community by serving as a trustee for Anna Jaques Hospital, a director for both the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center and the Essex County Foundation, and a recent chairwoman of the Danvers-based North Shore Chamber of Commerce.