Naugatuck couple to be honored for work with youth
NAUGATUCK — For this year’s Raymond K. Foley Award winners volunteering is a family tradition.
David and Sandra Heller of Naugatuck said they both grew up with parents who volunteered their time and were involved in a lot of projects.
“Sandra’s mom was in charge of the junior league down in Greenwich and my parents ran the swim league in [Rye, N.Y.],” David Heller said.
“I grew up ski racing and my mom was involved in all the programs. My mom was involved in getting the women’s sailing organization up and running, starting this imitative or that initiative in our town. Both of us had parents that were very involved,” Sandra Heller said.
That level of volunteerism encouraged the Hellers to become involved in the Naugatuck community after moving to the borough in 1990.
The couple has been and remains heavily involved in youth activities and sports, particularly the Naugatuck Thunderfish Swim Club.
In the past, Sandra Heller ran the Hillside Intermediate School ski club and David Heller served as treasurer of the Hillside PSA.
David Heller has served on the Board of Education since 2005 and has been its chair since 2011. He is also co-founder and organizer of the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race that raises money for the Naugatuck Education Foundation, which gives grants that allow teachers to conduct educational programs not funded in the budget.
Sandra Heller serves on the Advisory Board for Naugatuck Youth Services and was a founding member of Naugatuck Cultural Council. She is also working to form a Youth Leadership Development program.
Hop Brook Elementary School Principal Kathryn Taylor said the Hellers have continued their volunteering even after their children graduated from the school system.
“The one thing with the Hellers is they have done extensive volunteer work for Naugatuck children. They continue to volunteer even though their children are not part of the Naugatuck school system anymore,” Taylor said. “That was one thing that stood out about them.”
The Hellers said they continue to volunteer because they want to give back to the community that gave them so much.
“When we moved here in the end of 1990 we had two young children and another on the way. They’ve all gone through the public school system here at Naugatuck. They’ve just had wonderful experiences here in the community, whether it be on different sports teams or different schools they went to or different community organizations that they were part of,” David Heller said. “We’ve been very thrilled to give back to the community because we’ve benefitted so much from this borough. It’s just a wonderful hometown feeling here, and to be able to contribute and give back to some of the children like our children have benefitted is just a wonderful experience.”
For their volunteer work, the Hellers will receive the Raymond K. Foley Award. The recognition, which is given by the Naugatuck Parent School Council, honors an individual or group who has demonstrated outstanding service and unselfish dedication contributing to the betterment of Naugatuck children.
They will be honored at the annual Foley Award Dinner on May 6 at the Crystal Room, 98 School St., Naugatuck. Tickets are $30 and are available at all Naugatuck public schools, the Tuttle Building at 380 Church St., and Town Hall at 229 Church St. Tickets are available until May 1.
“It’s very exciting for me to share the award with Sandra because without her I wouldn’t have been able to do all the things that I’ve done, because she was able to hold down the fort at home and at the same time be just as involved on different organizations and different school activities. She’s done a great job as a mother and, at the same time, a community volunteer,” David Heller said.
David Heller said he and his wife are honored to receive the award.
“We’re very humbled by it. At the same time we’re very excited to join the other prior winners who have given so much to the community. It’s special to me because it kind of makes us part of Naugatuck history, to be part of the fabric of this community that we adopted back in 1990,” David Heller said.
The Hellers plan to continue volunteering and hope they have passed the same volunteering spirit to their three children.
“Volunteerism breeds volunteerism. Our friends all volunteer, we volunteer, our parents volunteered, our children I hope will continue to volunteer and give back to their communities, wherever they end up,” David Heller said.