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70th annual Boyertown Gala honors Citizens of the Year

BOYERTOWN — A crowd of 120 friends and family, community supporters and sponsors came out to the 70th Annual Citizen of the Year Gala to recognize recipients of the Boyertown Citizen of the Year Awards held at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles on Saturday, April 20.

Awards were presented to Citizen of the Year Ken Hunt, Mentor of the Year Jeff Shontz, First Responder of the Year James Boyer, Outstanding Senior Samantha Jo Dolansky and Special Recognition Award recipient Boyertown Area Historical Society.

Berks County Commissioner Michael Rivera, Sen. Tracy Pennyciuck, Citizen of the Year Kenneth Hunt, Rep. Dave Maloney at the 70th annual Boyertown Citizen of the Year Awards Gala on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Chaplain Mark Malizzi)
Berks County Commissioner Michael Rivera, Sen. Tracy Pennyciuck, Citizen of the Year Kenneth Hunt, Rep. Dave Maloney at the 70th annual Boyertown Citizen of the Year Awards Gala on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Chaplain Mark Malizzi)

Organized by the Boyertown Citizen of the Year committee — comprised of past award recipients and community members — the gala recognizes those who go above and beyond to help the Boyertown area community.

“This was the first year that we felt as if we were back to normal after the COVID shutdown. We had a large crowd in attendance and were thrilled to be able to spend time together as a community,” Lindsey Mason, Boyertown Citizen of the Year committee member and 66th Citizen of the Year recipient, said in a statement.

“This year’s gala had an atmosphere of gratitude, volunteerism and community assembling to help its community members. Attendees were filled with a sense of unity and merriment,” she continued.

“Additionally, we mourned the loss of three esteemed community members who were previous recipients of the Citizen of the Year Award,” added Mason. “This event not only acknowledges present contributions but also honors past efforts that continue to impact us.”

A crowd of 120 came out for the 70th annual Boyertown Citizen of the Year Awards Gala held at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Chaplain Mark Malizzi)
A crowd of 120 came out for the 70th annual Boyertown Citizen of the Year Awards Gala held at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Chaplain Mark Malizzi)

The community submits nominations to the committee from December through January. The committee reviews the nominations and selects recipients.

“The gala aims to celebrate individuals who have improved the Boyertown area while embodying gratitude for our community and the contributions made by the community members,” said Mason. “Honorees emphasized the ongoing effort required to sustain a thriving town and encourage others to volunteer to continue the great work they’ve done.”

Citizen of the Year

Hunt serves as executive director for United Way of Boyertown. He has also served as co-leader of the Boyertown Area Homelessness Task Force, secretary of the Berks-Mont Business Association and a member of the BMBA Philadelphia Avenue Street Fair Committee. He has served as a free AARP tax preparer, delivered Meals on Wheels and tutored youth.

Mentor of the Year

Shontz — owner of Bear’s Den Fitness, a gym established in 2022 that provides group adult and kids classes and offers nutritional counseling, free public clinics, and training seminars — previously served as the president of the Wellness Council of Boyertown and currently contributes as a committee member. He serves as the race director for the Boyertown Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot and volunteers for the Boyertown Wellness Fair.

Also, Jeff and his wife Jena have served as the community coordinator for the Healthy Kids Running Series since June 2017, after they started the program in the Boyertown area. The couple received the Community Partnership Award for Spring 2023 for securing the most sponsorships nationwide and the Healthy Kids Running Series All-Star Award in Spring 2021.

First Responder of the Year

Boyertown Ambulance EMS Chief James Boyer has received numerous awards and accolades including Paramedic of the Year by both the Goodwill Ambulance in Pottstown (2001) and Trappe Ambulance (2000, 2001).

Boyer also volunteers as a youth mentor in the Boyertown Area Senior High intern program, as a longtime coach in the Daniel Boone School District, president and coach of the Amity AC Basketball program from 2005 to 2015, and coach and helper for the DBYS Buddy Ball program from 2005 to 2022.

Outstanding Senior of the Year

Boyertown student Samantha Jo Dolansky volunteers with Relay for Life, Wreaths Across America, St. John Hill Church, United Way Board, Chestnut Knoll and the Boyertown Area Community Library. She is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as secretary on the Student Council. Her involvement in organizations includes the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils, Green Cord, and Link Crew.

Dolansky plans to earn a master’s in architecture at a university in Florida to pursue her dream of opening her own architecture and realty firm.

Special Recognition Award

The Boyertown Area Historical Society, a non-profit organization founded in 1972, received the Special Recognition Award, which is presented to a local non-profit that has gone above and beyond for the community.

Preserving and celebrating the heritage of the Boyertown area, the Historical Society owns the historic Bahr’s Mill, hosts the annual Boyertown Halloween Parade, organizes the free Boyertown Community Tractor Show, and hosts monthly programs, to name a few.

Proceeds from the Gala will benefit the citizen of the year winner’s choice of charity.

“On behalf of the Citizen of the Year committee members and all of the (recipients), we would like to express gratitude to the community for their ongoing support,” said Mason.

“The gala’s (award recipients) are just a small sampling that represents a large group of volunteers who make our community a wonderful place to live. Every person plays an integral part and without each one of them, we wouldn’t have this wonderful community.”

Additionally, if anyone knows someone who is worthy of nomination in any of the categories, nominations open in December. For more information, visit www.boyertowncoty.com.


Source: Berkshire mont

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