BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — The Danvers Community Council has named Bertram Russell its Citizen of the Year for 2013.
The longtime resident and former Danvers police officer is a highly decorated Marine Corps veteran known as an active volunteer with the Toys for Tots program, which provides Christmas gifts for children. Russell also played a key role in helping the town purchase the 21-acre Lebel’s Grove last year for open space, according to those who nominated him. The parcel is a former picnic area along Route 114 and the Ipswich River that had been eyed for development.
“He is a gentleman and a volunteer who is deserving of the thanks of the community,” Town Manager Wayne Marquis said in his letter nominating Russell.
The council has also named two Danvers High students, senior Victoria Otis and junior Sara Aguiar, as this year’s Youth Volunteer Award winners.
Middleton resident Ron Supino, the owner of Supino’s Restaurant on Route 1, has been named this year’s Service to Our Community Award winner for his 30 years of preparing Thanksgiving meals for the needy for the Lions Club.
“In addition to the Thanksgiving meals, Ron Supino and his staff of Supino’s Restaurant have donated to many fundraisers over the years,” said Lucia Casali, who wrote the Lions Club’s nomination letter for Supino.
The Danvers Community Council is a volunteer agency made up of town leaders, businesspeople and representatives of local agencies that created the Danvers People to People food pantry. The council assists residents in need during emergencies. Each year, it honors people like Russell who exemplify its “volunteer ethic.”
A Korean War veteran, Russell has also been active in the Marine Corps League as a member of its honor guard. Marquis wrote that he has known Russell for 35 years, first as a town police officer, then, in the 1990s as a consummate volunteer who never sought praise for his work.
Russell’s nomination was also backed by Dick Moody, co-founder of Operation Troop Support, an organization that sends thousands of care packages to troops each year, and Health and Veterans Affairs Director Peter Mirandi.
“Anytime the Community Council needs something for the kids in town, he’s there,” said Lenny Mercier, the director of the Danvers Y and Danvers Community Council secretary. Russell works part time at the YMCA, and Mercier said he is thankful for all the hard work that Russell, a retired landscaper, has put in over the years.
Aguiar is being honored for her work, both in the classroom and with her church, which includes working with a group called Root Cellar in Portland, Maine. Last summer, among her other activities, she ran an education program for young people, according to the nomination letter from the Danvers High guidance department.
Otis has overcome severe hearing loss to excel at academics and sports, including becoming a member of the World Language National Honor Society. She has volunteered as a trainer for the Special Olympics, mentored hearing-impaired children at a summer program in Topsfield and volunteered as a teacher’s assistant at Riverside School, where she works with a hearing-impaired preschooler, according to those at Danvers High who nominated her.
The Danvers Community Council’s annual dinner takes place Wednesday, April 10, at the Danversport Yacht Club, 161 Elliott St., with a 6 p.m. social hour and a 7 p.m. dinner. The cost for dinner is $35 for adults and $17 children under 12.
To reserve tickets, contact Mercier at the Danvers Community YMCA, 34 Pickering St., Danvers, MA 01923, or by calling 978-774-2055. Reservations must be paid for by April 5.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.