The Wilton Family YMCA has announced that Bruce Beebe and A Better Chance of Wilton will be the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Citizen Awards, which are presented annually at the Wilton Community Celebration. The celebration will be held this year on Saturday, Nov. 1 at Rolling Hills Country Club. The event sponsor is Fairfield County Bank.
Y executive director Bob McDowell said, “We had several nominations for the Distinguished Citizen Awards this year, and it was a difficult choice for the committee to select the two winners. Both Bruce Beebe and the ABC volunteers have made significant contributions to improving the quality of life in Wilton and are eminently deserving of this honor.”
The Distinguished Citizen Award has been made to over 75 individuals, businesses and organizations since the Community Celebration began in 1986. It honors outstanding volunteers who have been serving the town on a long-term basis and making a positive difference that benefits the town and its residents. For more information on the Wilton Community Celebration, contact Y associate development director Laura Downing at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.762.8384, ext. 273.
Beebe’s volunteer work in Wilton has elicited comments such as, “I can’t think of another Wilton resident who has put in so much time and energy to protect Wilton’s environment,” and, “Bruce’s work has literally shaped the look and feel of Wilton today and preserved the character of our town for residents of tomorrow.” Also, “His 30-year effort of hard work, dedication and commitment to preservation makes Wilton a special town.”
Bruce has been president of the Wilton Land Conservation Trust for 10 years, overseeing more than 800 preserved acres in Wilton with trail building and clearing and exploring potential new acquisition opportunities. He served for 10 years on the Wilton Town Conservation Commission, and also served as a 25-year volunteer at Weir Farm National Historic Site where he helped in securing its designation as Connecticut’s only National Park. He is a member of the Weir Farm Art Center Board and served as president of the Stewardship Committee of the Weir Preserve, which is an asset of the Art Center. Bruce works tirelessly in the woodlands to make the Preserve and some Land Trust properties available for all to enjoy. On a regional level, he is working with the Fairfield County Regional Conservation Partnership to lay the foundation for landowner outreach throughout our local area and statewide.
In addition to these many contributions to the quality of life in Wilton, Bruce has served as Vestry member and assistant treasurer for St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church and for more than 30 years played a significant role in the Patriots Committee’s staging of the annual Nod Hill 4th of July Parade. Bruce is truly a town treasure and is most deserving of a Distinguished Citizens Award in 2014.
ABC (A Better Chance) National is an organization that began in 1963 and now has about 309 member high schools in 23 states. Only 22 of those are Community Supported Programs (CSPs) where the scholars live in the community and attend the local public high school–nine in Connecticut and five in Fairfield County. ABC of Wilton is one of only four in the U.S. that has a co-ed program.
In 1996, a Boys House was founded in Wilton with two scholars, using a small home located next to the library. As the program grew, the Boys House was relocated to a larger home in Cannondale, which now accommodates eight boys and a resident director’s family. A Girls’ Program began in 2008 by conversion of the library house for use by six girls and a resident director.
ABC has brought racial, cultural and economic diversity to Wilton High School and to the town by attracting academically gifted students of color who meet rigorous academic standards and actively participate in extracurricular and community service pursuits. One hundred percent of ABC seniors have graduated and been accepted to four-year colleges.
The success of the program is primarily due to the support of a Board of 30 dedicated individuals and over 150 community volunteers who serve as host families, college coaches, mentors and drivers. ABC volunteers provide a “home away from home” for each student. ABC of Wilton receives no funding from the national organization, and is self-supporting through local fundraising events and donations from businesses, foundations and hundreds of Wilton families to ensure the ongoing operations of the program.
ABC volunteers give a tremendous amount of their time, talent and treasure to ensure the continued robustness of this important youth development initiative in our community. It is for this reason that they have been selected to receive a Distinguished Citizen Award at this year’s Wilton Community Celebration.
Pictured in the article’s main image: (Left to right) John Klein, ABC Wilton president; Jean Robert Bonhomme, Senior Class of 2014; Jean Pierre Clarke, Senior Class of 2014; Raphael Mettle, Senior Class of 2014; Monei Walker, Junior Class of 2015; Marylynn Clune, head of Scholar Activities
Great choices. Congrats to Bruce, of course, for all he has done for his church and the community. And a huge shoutout to 1) ABC of Wilton, 2) the ABC scholars both past and present, 3) to every ABC board member past and present, and 4) to all those unnamed people who have supported ABC for the past 18-20 years, financially or otherwise. A terrific program.
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