By Liz Premo
Hampton Union, October 27, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Hampton historian John Holman was given the Community Service Award at this year's Applefest. [Rich Beauchesne, photo]
HAMPTON – Politics wasn’t on the menu, but a pair of District 24 candidates volunteering at this year’s Applefest event proved that serving their constituents offers some really sweet moments.
Sen. Nancy Stiles (R) and Rep. Chris Muns (D), who are both running for Stiles’ seat in the N.H. state Senate, joined other volunteers in dishing out a tempting array of apple desserts to about 90 seniors attending the annual fall event.
Hosted by Hampton Recreation, Trinity Episcopal Church and the Hampton Community Coalition (HCC), Applefest is held on the fourth Friday of October at Hobbs House, and is a volunteer effort from beginning to end.
“It takes lots of volunteers to put this event on,” said Parks and Recreation Director Dyana Martin. “It’s a nice chance for seniors to come out and enjoy delicious desserts.”
Applefest is also the setting for the presentation of HCC’s various community service awards “to recognize both individuals and organizations who give back to the community,” according to Hampton Selectman Rusty Bridle.
No stranger to politics or volunteerism himself, Bridle called Applefest “a great event for the seniors. It’s always fun (and) always good to see their smiling faces.”
“I like to see them socializing and having fun,” added volunteer Cindy Arlington, who had donated a big pan of homemade apple brownies as well as a helping hand during prepping and serving.
Filling in for HCC volunteers Patty McKenzie and Nita Niemczyk (who were both away due to family commitments), Bridle noted that Applefest also offers a “great chance for seniors to come out and see what a good job HCC and Hobbs House and the Rec Department do” for the town.
Just prior to everyone enjoying slices of warm apple pie a la mode, apple cinnamon quick bread and other delicious treats, the award recipients for 2014 were recognized by HCC volunteers.
The Non-Profit Community Service Award was presented to Womenade of the Hamptons. For almost a decade, the local group has raised thousands of dollars to help provide rental assistance, automotive repairs and utility assistance to struggling Seacoast area families, particularly those in Hampton.
Accepting the award were Mary Mitchell, Candace Albert-Boschard, and Diana Rooney, who emphasized the importance of their partnership with HCC.
“We rely on the network of volunteers here (at HCC) to connect us with those in the community who have the greatest need,” said Rooney.
“It’s about getting assistance into the hands of families who need it as quickly as possible, through grassroots fund-raising events, without the red tape,” added Mitchell. “We want to help families and children” for whom “a crisis or bad luck (has) put them in a temporary situation of need.”
Rooney explained how one of the ways the group raises funds is to hold regular potluck dinners, where everyone “brings a dish and $35,” a tradition reflecting how the Womenade movement first began in Washington, DC in 2001.
“We’d like to continue that tradition,” she said.
The individual receiving the Community Service Award was John Holman, who good-naturedly joked that he “would like to thank the Academy” prior to accepting his award.
Holman, who was recognized as the N.H. Municipal Association’s Volunteer of the Year in 2003 and Hampton Rotary’s Citizen of the Year in 2005, has put in what was described as “an incalculable amount of volunteer hours” at the Lane Memorial Library. For almost 20 years he has converted and posted countless historical articles and electronically managed archives on the library’s Web site.
When asked if he considered volunteering at the library to be gratifying, Holman grinned, “After doing it for 18 years? It must be!”
As a member of American Legion Post 35, Holman – a US Army veteran – has been involved with many of their events, including ceremonies for Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Flag Day. He has also helped maintain the American flags that stand upon veterans’ graves in Hampton cemeteries, and was instrumental in the installation and maintenance of the bronze memorial street signs seen around town.
The final award recipient was Marianne Cusano of New England Barricade. Although she wasn’t able to be present to accept the Business Community Service Award, Cusano was acknowledged for almost 20 years of “providing outstanding bookkeeping skills and offering emergency service when a crisis situation requires immediate attention.”
“Marianne works very hard for HCC,” said Bridle.
Following the awards presentation, the apple desserts were served, a comedian entertained, and festive door prizes were handed out. As in years past, Applefest 2014 was considered a sweet success and enjoyed by all.
“It’s a good chance to come together,” said Bridle. “Anytime you have something fun for the seniors, it’s always good.”