The Fraternal Order of Eagles chose Sande Mezzo, mother of Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo, as Naugatuck’s Mother of the Year.
“I was totally surprised. I feel very honored and I’m very thankful,” Sande said.
Two of Sande’s friends nominated her for the honor for her kind, unselfish and caring nature. A nominating committee chose Sande based on those letters, according to Brenda Aresta, of the Eagles.
In her letter of recommendation, Marna Kloc-Nolan said that the fact that Sande’s son grew up to become mayor is irrelevant to her qualifications.
“But her hardworking selfless virtues were the input in his life that has made him the successful adult he has become,” Kloc-Nolan wrote.
According to Kloc-Nolan, Sande raised her son alone, making a home for him, driving him to various activities, and working two jobs to make ends meet.
“She sacrificed a tremendous amount of her own life so I could have the opportunities that I’ve had,” Robert Mezzo said.
Sande said she always worked somewhere where she could take time off to care for her son. Sande worked as a teacher’s aide and library aide. Although she could’ve worked higher-paying jobs, she said she didn’t want to short-change anybody by leaving her post vacant.
“My son came first,” she said.
Tina DiMaria, a long-time friend of Sande, still keeps in touch with her, even though DiMaria retired to Florida in 1993.
“Sandi was and is the most dedicated mother to her only child, your mayor, Bob Mezzo. As a single parent, she has been a hard worker, holding two jobs giving him the best she could give,” DiMaria wrote in her nomination letter.
DiMaria wrote that Sande always encouraged her son toward excellence and demonstrated honesty and integrity throughout her life.
Sande said a good mother believes in her children and is always there for them.
“There’s nothing better than being a mother. It’s a difficult job,” Sande said.
Now, Sande is not only a mother, but the grandmother to Robert and Eileen Mezzo’s two children, Alexandra and John.
“She’s also a tremendous grandmother to our children,” Robert Mezzo said.
Sande said she enjoyed everything about being a mother from diapers to seeing her son grow up and have his own kids.
She said God blessed her with a wonderful son, a terrific daughter-in-law and two unique and very talented grandchildren.
“I consider them free, live entertainment,” Sande said of her grandchildren.
She said she enjoys playing games with them, doing puzzles, homework, watching their soccer, softball and baseball games, or just spending a nice quiet evening watching the Boston Redsox or Spongebob.
The only advice Sande said she could give to other mothers is that all a child ever needs is one person to believe in them.
Sande was honored during a May 15 dinner hosted by the Eagles Club. She said it was a very pleasant evening.