A nun dedicated to helping newly arrived immigrants; a family known for its philanthropy; one of the most effective advocates for the state’s public university system; a champion of tourism; and a Nashua organization with deep community ties.
Each was honored Thursday night at St. Anselm College with a Granite State Legacy Award, presented annually since 2012 by the New Hampshire Union Leader and sponsored by Eastern Bank to recognize people and organizations who have given much to the state over the years.
This year’s recipients include:
• Sister Jacqueline Verville
, a retired Alton public school administrator who founded the Holy Cross Family Learning Center, which teaches newly arrived adult immigrants the language, civics and culture of their new home;
• The Nashua Lions Club
, best known for providing free vision screenings to children and adults who might otherwise go without;
• Andy Lietz of Rye
, a successful businessman who served as chairman of the University System of New Hampshire’s board of trustees;
• Dick Hamilton
, who led White Mountain Attractions from 1970 through 2005; and
• The family of the late Irving Singer
, owners of the Merchants Automotive Group, whose years of philanthropy have supported many charities, opened up park space and created pedestrian walkways.
Sister Jackie, as she is known, couldn’t attend as she was recovering from cancer treatment, but her brother Bob Verville and friend Sister Diane Dupere accepted the award on her behalf.
“The legacy Jackie leaves to the city of Manchester and to the Holy Cross community is her commitment to the refugees and immigrants who have come to this city,” said Sister Diane. “Let it be known that she is here with us tonight in spirit.”
Nashua Lions Club President Kamal Massand accepted on behalf of the club, the first charitable organization to receive a Legacy Award.
He expressed a common theme heard throughout the presentation, sharing the credit with the many volunteers who make the good work of the Lions a reality in Nashua.
“I’m proud of the club and all the members who dedicate their time without us asking,” he said. “This award is dedicated to all the members who are here. They put the time in to raise the money and do the hands-on work.”
Lietz echoed the theme of shared credit after being introduced by David Cassidy, senior vice president at Eastern Bank, as a man who may not be well-known, but has “done more for a broader spectrum of Granite Staters than many public figures.”
Lietz said he was “honored, humbled and somewhat uncomfortable” in receiving the award.
“This really represents the work of an awful lot of people over many, many years,” he said. “There are people who work tirelessly on the University System and on the campuses of our four colleges to see that we give the highest quality public education that we can across our state to New Hampshire students as well as those from other states.”
Always a booster for the state’s public university system, Lietz was true to the cause from the podium.
“I think we have a great system, and one I think we don’t appreciate as citizens as much as we need to,” he said. “I ask all of you to take time out of your schedule and take a look at the websites of those institutions or visit those campuses.”
New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid, who along with Cassidy presented the awards, summed up Hamilton’s legacy this way:
“I don’t know where New Hampshire would be without Dick Hamilton,” he said. “Dick’s record reads like a history of modern New Hampshire tourism.”
Hamilton’s passion for the ski industry he nurtured for so many years, and the tourism economy built around it, came through as he expressed his affection for the Granite State
“I love this state, and I love the White Mountains,” he said. “That’s why I did what I did, but I could not have done it without the aid and assistance of a lot of other people who recognized that we were an industry and we were a force.”
As members of the Singer family took the stage, Cassidy said, “I don’t think there’s a better example of a family that could be more deserving of this award. Where do you start with a family that has done so much over so many years for the community?”
Speaking on behalf of the family, Gary Singer credited his mother and father for instilling a sense of commitment to community in their children.
“My family is humbled and honored and we accept this award on behalf of our spouses and employees at Merchants, but most importantly on behalf of my parents,” he said. “They taught us and gave us a foundation that giving back is a way of life for my entire family.”email@example.com