WATERBURY – The bells are ringing! The Salvation Army in Waterbury’s 9th Annual Kettle Kickoff Dinner was held on November 9th at the Ponte Club, La Bella Vista Restaurant, 380 Farmwood Road in Waterbury.
The event, opened with a Silent Auction and Kettle-Cup Raffle, followed by a 4-course dinner and community awards. The Holiday Award is given annually to recognize one who shows a generous spirit and desire to make Christmas bright for others and was awarded to Fred Schnaars. Over the years, Fred invited the famous red bell to ring outside his store, Town Plot Supermarket, offering his customers the opportunity to support the Army’s work. He supported the Army’s holiday bell ringing effort, as well as the Christmas in July program.
The Public Service Award honors an individual or group in the public sector who has demonstrated a consistent dedication to ensure the safety and well-being of the citizens of Waterbury. This year, Officers Joanne Soden and Annmarie Girourard of the Waterbury Police Department were honored. Officers Soden and Girourard are involved locally in the Police Athletic League and Toys for Tots. In addition, they collect toys each year for The Salvation Army’s toy shop, allowing us to make Christmas bright for local children who may not otherwise experience the excitement of Christmas.
The Community Service Award is bestowed upon a group or individual who works to make Waterbury a better place to live, work and play. The award honors those who are community builders, who seek a healthy community and do so through their contributions and commitments. This award was given to Barbara Ann Dublin of the Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries. Barbara and her colleagues at Staywell have been supporters and collaborators with The Salvation Army for many years. Through Staywell’s Open Arm’s program, Barbara works with The Salvation Army to ensure clients have medical insurance and access to health care.
The Friends of the Army Award went to two groups this year. The Men’s Ponte Club and Women’s Ponte Club are two very generous and very spirited groups of people. Separately and together, these groups support a variety of causes in Waterbury. The Women’s Club raises money to provide scholarships to local young people seeking to further their education. They also donate Thanksgiving baskets to a local battered women’s shelter and donate coats, hats and mittens to The Salvation Army each year. The Men’s Club is supportive of Toys for Tots, the Police Athletic League and The Salvation Army. The Men’s Club holds monthly dinners and during the year, chooses a select few charities to benefit from these dinners. The Salvation Army has been one of those charities.
The night was highlighted by two videos. The first video featured Waterbury's Executive Director Major James Purvis and Sofia Swaby, the Waterbury Director of Social Services. Both discussed the Waterbury family shelter, which was just renovated a few months ago, as well as other services the Waterbury Salvation Army has to offer. The second video featured Felicia Gatling, who once resided in the family shelter and is now back on her feet and has a place of her own. Both videos can be watched below.
The Others Award is one of the most prestigious awards the Army can bestow upon an individual or group. Many years ago, the Founder of The Salvation Army, General William Booth, then very old, was preparing to send his annual Christmas message to Salvationists around the world. In those days, communication was by telegraph –there was a cost for each word sent. Times were tough and the Army was short on money, so General Booth sent a one-word telegram.
The word he sent was: OTHERS.
Over the years, The Salvation Army has tried not to forget the message of that one word. To help us remember our purpose, and to inspire us to “do the most good” for others, The Salvation Army in the United States initiated an award, simply called the “Others” Award.
The Salvation Army “Others” Award, honors an individual or organization exemplifying an extraordinary spirit of service to others. The award is given to someone, or some entity, in the community who models compassion for others; someone who demonstrates the self-giving love of God ; someone who makes a concerted effort to impact the community he/she lives in; someone who looks beyond him/herself and expresses concern for others.
Today, the Others Award remains named for the cost-saving one-word Christmas telegram sent by Salvation Army founder, General William Booth, to his soldiers and officers reminding then to focus on the needs of people who might otherwise be ignored. Our honoree demonstrates the care and compassion exemplified by the founder of The Salvation Army.
Tom Chute, the emcee for the evening has been at every kettle kick off the last eight years. When the event was a breakfast, Tom missed his morning show on WATR . Tom is a man known in Waterbury, loved by Waterbury and who serves Waterbury. Whether Tom is the voice on WATR you wake up to, the radio personality who you can count on to rally around a cause, a performer at a local theater, a husband, a father, a friend or an ambassador for veterans, he is loved by many and worthy of the 2017 “Other’s” Award.
Proceeds from the event go toward supporting The Salvation Army’s efforts to assist those in need in our community during this holiday and winter season.