Bill and Bernice Sullivan are the kind of people who just like to help out. For years they’ve quietly lent a hand where it was needed – at the Senior Center, the Boy Scouts or their church. They didn’t think it was a big deal.
“You just like to help out. It’s just one of those things,” Bernice said.
They were quite surprised, Bernice, said, to find out that others took notice.
The Prospect Grange, a community-minded organization that donates its resources to various civic and charitable causes around town, will honor Bill and Bernice as its Citizens of the Year May 2. Members of the Grange chose them for the award because they have given much of their time to making the community better. Bill and Bernice are not members of the Grange.
After retiring from Iseli Company, Bill joined the Prospect Senior Center and started fixing anything that was broken—tables, chairs, doors, windows.
“He’s our little Mr. Fix-it,” said Lucy Smegielski, director of the Senior Center.
He’s also the Senior Center’s official photographer, taking pictures at all the events, keeping an archive and giving pictures to families.
“It’s nice because when they pass on, they’ve got a record of what they have done,” said Jean Meehan, of the Prospect Grange.
Bernice also volunteers with the Boy Scouts. She’s the assistant district commissioner, a liaison between the parent organization and individual troops. She started out as a den mother years ago when her boys, now grown, were in the Scouts. Bill was Scout Master of Troop 23 for years, Bernice said. Now three of their four boys are Eagle Scouts and one is Life Scout, Bernice said.
“I enjoy the program. I think it’s fantastic for the boys,” she said.
Bernice said she still enjoys helping with the Klondike Derby and Cub Blizzard.
The couple is also active in their church, Christ Episcopal Church in Waterbury, helping out with the Sunday School, Alter Guild, Lady’s Guild and other church activities.
While the couples’ civic resume includes numerous activities, they are a staple at the Senior Center.
Bernice retired from a part-time job at the Senior Center about a year ago. But, that didn’t stop her from continuing to help out.
“When the table needs to be cleared, you just automatically pick up,” Bernice said.
Before she retired, Bernice taught cooking classes once a month for seniors and submitted recipes to the Senior Center newsletter. She has a knack for creating delicious meals and desserts and shared them often with the members of the senior center, according to Meehan.
Bill and Bernice are often at the Senior Center for various activities, including the Wii Bowling League.
“There’s always something going on,” Bernice said. “We enjoy the people up there. It’s very nice.”
Betty Lukeski, who works at the Senior Center, has known the couple for six years. Bill and Bernice help her with breakfast once a month.
“They’re very wonderful people,” she said.
Smegielski said Bill and Bernice do anything and everything she asks of them.
“They’re an awesome, awesome couple,” Smegielski said.
The Grange donates books to the Region 16 Library, dictionaries to third graders, collect Box Tops for Education to donate to the school, help out veterans, and donate food and clothing to the St. Vincent DePaul Shelter in Waterbury and Safe Haven in Waterbury. They also help with bingo at the convalescent home on Summit Road. The Prospect Grange has earned first place in the state for their contributions as a small Grange, according to Meehan.