NAUGATUCK — Joan Doback, chairwoman of the Naugatuck Education Foundation, has won this year’s Franklin Johnson Sr. Citizenship Award, given every fall to a borough resident who carries on the late veteran’s legacy of character and community service.
When borough resident Kevin DelGobbo called Doback to tell her she had won, Doback thought she was going to be asked to serve on yet another committee to choose the winner, she said.
“I feel very humbled accepting this award because nobody ever volunteers alone,” Doback said.
Doback, 48, has lived in the borough her entire life, leaving only briefly to attend college. She helped start and now leads the NEF, which raises money to give as grants to teachers for specific educational projects. The foundation was incorporated last year and gave five grants of $500 this year to borough educators for things like Kindles, theater sound equipment and plants for student gardens.
The foundation’s Saint Patrick’s Day 5K and alumni fundraiser the day after Thanksgiving have been so successful they will become annual traditions. Doback said this year the foundation hopes to give $5,000 in grants, double last year’s amount, and the citizenship award is a sign of community support.
“To single one person out, I think, is just an affirmation that Naugatuck feels that the NEF is very important,” Doback said.
Doback’s husband Charles is the borough’s former fire chief and is now a fire marshal in Plymouth. Their daughter Rebecca is a senior at Naugatuck High School and their son, Charles III, is in the eighth grade at City Hill Middle School.
Over the years, Joan Doback has been active as a volunteer and parent-teacher organization member at every school her children have attended. She is now treasurer of the Parent School Association at Naugatuck High School.
Doback is also liaison to the state Department of Children and Families for the Covenant to Care for Children, a program at St. Francis of Assisi Church. The initiative assists at-risk, neglected and abused children, giving them things like backpacks, Christmas presents and winter coats.
Doback works at Waterbury Hospital as the chief physician assistant in orthopedics.
She will be honored Nov. 15 at the Mayor’s Breakfast at Jesse Camille’s Restaurant.
Franklin Johnson Sr., a borough icon and decorated World War II veteran, was the citizenship award’s first winner in 2000. Before he died 10 years later, he gave DelGobbo the task of picking the award’s winners every year.
DelGobbo said he consulted with Johnson’s son, with Mayor Robert Mezzo and James Goggin, the borough tax collector who has also won the citizenship award, before picking Doback. DelGobbo said Doback was constantly behind the scenes helping at community events and he praised the education foundation.
“I think it’s going to be an incredible asset to our community over the long term,” DelGobbo said.