NAUGATUCK — For Marcelo Martins, volunteering is about making his hometown a better place.
“I just thought, if we all did a little, it would make our community so much better,” Martins said.
Martins does more than “a little.”
Martins, the co-owner of Naugatuck-based Luso Cleaning Service which he started with his father, Manuel, in 1990, has been involved with numerous organizations in the borough, including the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls. Martins started volunteering with the United Way in 1999, and has held the positions of secretary, vice president and president of the organization’s Board of Directors.
“It helps everyone in our community,” said Martins about the United Way. “It’s an organization that with every dollar raised 80 cents goes directly to the community. If someone asks for only one organization to donate to I refer them to the United Way.”
For all his efforts, Martins will be honored by Mayor Robert Mezzo’s office with the 2015 Franklin Johnson Sr. Citizenship Award. He will be recognized during a breakfast ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 20 at Jesse Camille’s Restaurant, 615 North Church St. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by contacting Mayoral Aid Ed Carter at (203) 720-7208 or email@example.com.
“For anybody that knows him, they know he gives a lot of time and effort towards events and organizations,” Carter said. “Marcelo is a guy that has always worked quietly behind the scenes and championed many efforts.”
Martins’ volunteering doesn’t start and end with the United Way. He is also proud of his volunteer work with the Naugatuck Rotary Club, which he has been a member of since 2000. Martins has served as the secretary, vice president and president of the organization.
“I love being a Rotarian because that’s an organization that does good work worldwide,” Martins said.
Martins volunteering resume also includes the Naugatuck YMCA, American Red Cross, and he is a Life Member of the Howard Whittemore Memorial Library.
Martins said he learned the importance of volunteering from his grandfather.
“My grandfather, who came over from Portugal, said ‘you can’t complain about a community if you don’t do anything to help,’” Martins said. “As I got older I truly understood what he meant.”
Martins said he was surprised and honored to be named this year’s recipient of the Franklin Johnson Sr. Citizenship Award.
“I actually got goosebumps when Ed Carter came to my office to tell me,” Martins said. “To have my name said in the same sentence as Franklin Johnson is an honor. I am humbled. [Johnson] was a gentlemen and a mentor to so many people. Everybody loved him.”
Mezzo said he doesn’t know how many people realize the amount of good that Martins does for Naugatuck.
“He’s one of the people who is always involved in any civic or charitable event that benefits people in the community,” Mezzo said. “He’s humble and never asks for any thanks for what he does. He really epitomizes the community spirit here in Naugatuck.”
Martins said it’s an awesome feeling to get out of bed knowing his actions have made a difference in somebody’s life.
“One day it might be us that’s struggling,” Martins said. “If we were in their shoes we would want somebody to help us.”
The Republican-American contributed to this article.