You have 5 free articles left this month.
LYNN — Swampscott realtor Phyllis Sagan perhaps put it best Tuesday night when she said, “to be up here accepting an award for doing something we all should be doing is thrilling.”
Sagan was one of the Essex Media Group’s eight 2019 Persons of the Year honored during a reception at the Lynn Museum. The recipients included Dr. Kiame Mahaniah (Lynn), Dick and Carmela Dalton (Lynnfield), Helaine Hazlett (Marblehead), George Markos (Nahant), Jessica Ann Giannino (Revere); Deanne Healey (Peabody), Veronica Robles (Saugus) and Sagan (Swampscott).
Recipients were picked from nominations submitted by readers of The Item and other publications under EMG’s umbrella. There was no set criteria except that the winners had to have made a difference in their communities during the previous year.
However, volunteerism and philanthropy were the unifying threads among 2019 year’s winners, whether it was Markos and Brothers Deli providing free Thanksgiving dinners for all those who need them to Robles and her efforts to give people of different cultures and ethnic origin their own sense of identity.
Again, perhaps speaking for the majority of recipients, Sagan said, “philanthropy is not an option for me. It is an imperative.”
Dr. Mahaniah has presided over a rapidly-expanding medical and social service agency with the Lynn Community Health Center. Last year, the center helped spearhead a move to provide contraceptives to Lynn Public School students in an effort to minimize teen pregnancy.
“This honor really goes not just to me, but to the entire health center,” said Dr. Mahaniah, “so I accept it on their behalf.”
He also spoke highly of his predecessor, Lori Berry, whom he called “my formative mentor.”
The Daltons acknowledged that 2019 was a difficult year for them as they had to come to grips with their son Michael’s death due to opioid addiction. But they established a non-profit called the “Think of Michael Foundation” that offers financial help to others struggling to overcome addictions and adjust to the outside world.
“We thought of ourselves as outliers because of our son’s situation,” Dick Dalton said. “But the love and support we received from the community told us otherwise.
“For everyone — and for those who do pray — say one for all the people who are affected by this horrible disease.”
Like Dr. Mahaniah, Healey, president of Peabody Main Streets — the organization that is slowly revitalizing the city’s downtown area — chose to throw light on her organization.
“As Peabody Main Streets is largely a volunteer organization, my getting this honor is for them, too,” she said.
Hazlett has been an advocate and a volunteer for many causes, both civic and philanthropic, and ranging from the Marblehead Board of Health to scholarship organizations. She accepted her award with both humility and humor.
“I’d like to thank my family for supporting all my endeavors,” she said, “some crazy, some great … and sticking with me through all the late dinners … some of them cold, some of them burned.
“It is humbling,” she said, “to be standing here among all these prestigious people.”
Giannino, who first ran for, and won, a seat on the Revere City Council when she was 18, said she enjoyed the fact that all eight communities were able to come together under one roof to celebrate.
“We’re all so close to each other, but we are rarely able to come together like this.”
She thanked people for sticking with her for the past 10 years.
“Revere is such a diverse community,” she said. “I want to thank everyone for being here.”
Markos’ restaurant on Market Street in Lynn gave out more than 1,000 turkey dinners and has served nearly 50,000 traditional turkey dinners over 27 years.
“I hope everybody here tonight follows what we do here this year,” he said.
Robles, who runs a cultural center in Boston, is concerned with giving children a better sense of who they are through their ethnic culture — and that includes music, dance, and even food.
“I knew from a young age that I could use arts and culture to help unite people,” said Robles, who is from Mexico.
“Mexico is a wonderful country,” she said. “It has so much to offer to the world. Our goal (at her cultural center) is to open hearts and change minds.”
Each recipient was also given a citation from the Massachusetts legislature, from Rep. Peter Capano of Lynn; and the state senate, from Sen. Brendan Crighton, also from Lynn.