NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck police detective Paul Markette loves his job, except on days like Nov. 15, 2004.
Markette was the first to arrive at a car accident where 15-year-old Ryan Olson died; Markette is close friends with Olson’s parents.
Though heartbroken over the loss, Markette quickly jumped into action to help Olson’s family. On top of offering them someone to talk with, he organized a golf tournament in Olson’s honor and has done so every year since.
The tournament originally raised money for Naugatuck High School’s Grad Nite, and now is the major fundraiser for a scholarship in Olson’s name.
The above story is one example of how Markette has gone above and beyond to help people in the community. He is front and center at several fundraising events and in the background for several others.
Now he has been named the first recipient of the Armand Brodeur Citizen of the Year Award given by the Shepherd-Salem Masonic Lodge No. 78 in Naugatuck.
“Paul is involved with so many charitable programs, but he never asks for thanks,” said Chip Schofield, worshipful master of the lodge, and a fellow Naugatuck police officer.
Markette, 46, has been chosen for his impressive moral standing, his charitable contributions and his dedication to the borough.
The award is named after Brodeur, a longtime Freemason who was involved in several community charitable projects. Brodeur recently died.
Markette is a member of the Naugatuck Elks and the Naugatuck Exchange Club. He is a 10-year past president of the William K. Jones Softball League, he organized a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina relief and is a Toys for Tots organizer.
He also recently organized a cigar dinner to raise money for a child safety seat simulator to teach parents how to properly install car seats, and he organized No Shave November for the Naugatuck Police Department, which raised $1,000 for the Naugatuck Ecumenical Food Bank after officers grew facial hair for a price.
“I didn’t grow up in the most fortunate of circumstances, so I know what it’s like,” he said.
Markette said he doesn’t do it alone. His family, including his four children, two grandchildren and his wife, Beth, are frequently at charitable events with him, including the annual golf tournament.
He said Beth is just as charitable as he is.
“One year, we heard of a single mother who didn’t have much for Christmas,” he said. “She went out, bought a tree, the ornaments, the presents and put it all together at the woman’s house. That’s just the type of people we are.
“When I see someone who needs help, I can’t just sit around,” he continued. “I have to do something.”