Persons of the year set to be honored

LYNN — The 2017 Essex Media Group Persons of the Year will be feted at a reception at the Lynn Museum Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Recipients of the award span from those who drew tourists to the city of Lynn to a teenager in Saugus who selflessly thought of the well-being of other children while undergoing cancer treatment.

Al Wilson, Lynn’s Person of the Year, spent the month of July over-caffeinated and sleep-deprived as he orchestrated a team of talented artists and dedicated volunteers who changed the face of the downtown. Wilson’s Beyond Walls was responsible for the addition of 15 murals throughout the arts and cultural district downtown, numerous neon art installations, and colorful underpass lighting in Central Square. The attractions brought in hundreds of people for guided tours of the art.

In Lynnfield, a group of residents who came together to promote love and unity in the aftermath of a diverse political season took the honor. Throughout the year, Lynnfield for Love helped host a Racial Amity Day, created a Kindness Rocks garden at MarketStreet, and held a multicultural fair with the Lynnfield Cultural Council.

Anne D’Urso-Rose formed a city-wide program called Malden Reads that encourages residents to all read the same book and talk about the same message. This year, she and her associates chose “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas, which deals with topical issues of police brutality, racism, and economic inequality.

Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo were chosen in Marblehead because of their philanthropy. The couple donated their entire collection of 89 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It took them more than 35 years to collect all the pieces. They also came up with funding of a new YMCA in Marblehead, which is partly named after them.

Medford’s John Veneziano was chosen because of his interest in the city’s potential. He developed one of the largest privately-owned residential and commercial real estate firms in the region. Veneziano also hosts holiday and other promotional events for the city.

Tom P. Costin Jr. was named in Nahant, but The Item’s editorial team argued it would be just as fitting to honor him as Person of the Century. His contributions to the city of Lynn range from his time as the city’s youngest mayor at age 29 to his 30-year stint as  postmaster.

Tom Gould does more than provide the city of Peabody with sweet treats at Treadwells Ice Cream. In 2017, he was a leading force in the city’s Centennial Celebration and helped oversee the funding and construction of the new Black Box Theater at Northeast Arc’s ArcWorks Community Center on Foster Street. The project combines many of Gould’s passions, including revitalizing the city he loves, his appreciation for theater, and volunteer work for special needs adults and children.

Revere’s Monse Torres-Hood was chosen for her passion for empowering the Latino community in Revere. Torres-Hood was originally a journalist from Ecuador, but became an activist for her community after seeing inequalities and a need for change.

The youngest person of the year is 16-year-old Zach Cummings from Saugus. Cummings was diagnosed with Lymphoblastic Lymphoma and started a two-and-a-half year treatment plan last year. Cummings agreed to be the face of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign last fall because he wanted the hospital to have enough funds to test the long term effects of the drugs they are using to treat childhood cancer so that other kids don’t have to go through what he has been through.

Swampscott’s Tom Demakes is the third-generation owner of Old Neighborhood Foods in Lynn. He is a strong supporter of youth programs in Lynn, including the Boys & Girls Club, Girls Inc., KIPP Academy, Aspire and Raw Art Works. He also supports Lynn Economic Opportunity, the Lynn YMCA, LynnArts, the Lynn Museum, St. Mary’s High School, and North Shore Christian Center.

Tickets to the event are available at

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