DANVERS — Dedicated food pantry volunteer Marie Thibault of Danvers has been named a 2020 Commonwealth Heroine.
Her nomination came due to her work stitching costumes for the Danvers High band and theater programs two decades ago, and, more recently, for her more than 20 years of volunteering to help out at the Danvers People to People Food Pantry on Sylvan Street.
Thibault was among 133 women from across the state to be named to Class of 2020 Commonwealth Heroines by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women after she was nominated by state Rep. Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the women were celebrated Wednesday in a virtual slideshow ceremony that featured their pictures and stories.
You can view the ceremony at www.facebook.com/MassCSW/videos/1362763957248665/.
"The Commonwealth Heroines of 2020 are truly positive change makers," the presentation said. "They may not always make the news, but they most assuredly make a difference."
About 22 years ago, when her youngest daughter was in high school, Thibault got involved and helped alter or sew hundreds of costumes and uniforms as a volunteer for the Danvers High Academy Theatre and the Parents for Music Education nonprofit organization, which supports music education in Danvers schools.
For more than 20 years, she has been a regular volunteer on Mondays and Thursdays at the Danvers People to People Food pantry, where she collects food, stocks shelves and helps with day-to-day operations.
"Marie’s genuine compassion and dedication to helping others have truly made our community a better place," Speliotis said in a post on Facebook.
Thibault said she also helped build the Smith School playground 25 years ago. She's also been helping her son-in-law build a 15-foot pool.
"I help my neighbors, the elderly who are living by themselves," she said. Since COVID-19 hit, she keeps a list of 25 people who she calls regularly to make sure they're OK.
Thibault worked for 12 years for the telephone company. With her husband, Paul, she had one child and adopted two other children. She has seven grandchildren.
She also worked for 25 years part-time as a waitress and in housekeeping at the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton.
At 78, she is no longer working at the food pantry — not because she doesn't want to, but due to coronavirus precautions and how seniors are at a greater risk for serious illness if infected. She has talked to the director and has been told the food pantry has been busy during the pandemic.
When asked if she misses working at the food pantry, she said: "Oh, very much so."
Other North Shore Heroines
Cheryl Holbert Millard of Peabody, recommended by state Sen. Joan Lovely. Millard is a volunteer for more than 40 years who began her civic involvement as co-president of the Center School PTO, a volunteer for St. John's Church and a youth sports coach. She is also a long-time board of management member of the Sutton Residence for Women and a member of the Peabody Historical Commission. She is best known as Peabody's unofficial photographer at various events.
Alyssa Jones of Salem, recommended by state Rep. Paul Tucker. Jones is a graphic design consultant who runs her own company, Cooking with Gas Studio. In addition, she is a champion for LGBTQ civil rights through her work with the Human Rights Campaign at both the national and regional level. She's a founding member of the Salem Arts Association and serves on the Salem for All Ages Task Force.
Leah Caroline Jones of Beverly, recommended by state Rep. Jerry Parisella. Jones serves as chairperson of the Beverly Human Rights Committee and works as an international education and public health writer focusing on programs in Southern Africa and India. She has also taught adult education for more than a decade and is the mother of two young daughters.
Mimi Lemay of Marblehead, recommended by state Rep. Lori Ehrlich. Lemay is the author of "What We Will Become: A Mother, a Son, and a Journey of Transformation." She's the mother and an advocate for her son, Jacob, a young transgender boy who got to ask a question at CNN's Town Hall on LGBTQ issues last October.
Mary Jane McGlennon of Gloucester, recommended by state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante. McGlennon has worked with local non-profits as a professional fundraiser and served as a member and then chairperson of Gloucester's Sawyer Free Library. In 2012, she became the first Board Chair of the Grace Center, a day resource center for the homeless. She was pivotal in managing the Grace Center's merger with Lifebridge North Shore, and she's the vice president of the Lifebridge board.
Source: Presentations during the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women Commonwealth Heroines Class of 2020 virtual ceremony.