United Way presents award to Pedro Pires

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BY ANDREAS YILMA
CITIZENS NEWS

NAUGATUCK – Insurance agent Pedro Pires was recently honored for his contributions to the community.

United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls awarded Pires with 2023 Mary Connolly Community Caring Award at the 61st annual meeting and awards dinner at the Crystal Room on School Street on April 3. More than 140 people attended the dinner.

The award is presented annually to recognize an individual who has demonstrated outstanding support to United Way and the entire community and who has set the standard for service to the community.

Pires said he was surprised and grateful to receive the award.

“There’s so many other people who could have gotten this award,” Pires said. “It was very humbling to learn that I got it.”

Pires, who was born in Portugal and moved to the borough when he was 9 years old, said he gives his time with several organizations including United Way, Saint Baldrick’s Fondation, YMCA, coaching youth soccer, basketball and baseball.

“The reason that I do this is the satisfaction that it brings to see where you have the direct impact on your community, Pires said subsequently. “A lot of what we do, it shows. This where the rubber meets the road.”Pires, a Chittenden Insurance Group agent for the last two decades, is also a member of both the Police Commission and the Naugatuck Portuguese Club and works with golf committees.

“What satisfies me is the direct impact, when you see the direct impact of what we’re doing and the direct impact on the community,” Pires said. “When you see it actually help, it’s a great feeling when you see that.”

Pires currently lives in the borough with his wife Nella and their children Pedro and Angelina.

“I realize how fortunate we are,” Pires said. “It’s more important to be the donor than the recipient. There’s a lot of need out there. It’s nice when we’re able to deliver on the need that’s out there.”

Pires said Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess and State Rep. Seth Bronko, R-Naugatuck, presented him with citations on behalf of the borough of Naugatuck and Connecticut General Assembly, respectively.

Pires wasn’t the only person who was honored that night.

United Way presented Board of Education member Ethel Grant and Bernie Grant with the Van Allen Medal for their extraordinary community service.

Ethel Grant, who has been a middle and high school mentor and Girl Scout Leader over the years, has volunteered in multiple areas including participating in mission trips both church and civilian sponsored to neighborhoods in need both in and out of the state, a member of the planning committee for the “Back to School” block parties on the Green, served as a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem speaking for foster children in court and an Ecumenical Food Bank volunteer of which she was one of the founding members in the 1980s. Bernie spent 18 years volunteering in the IRS’ free volunteer income tax assistance program. VITA tax assistant program caters to senior citizens and lower income families, Shappy said.

The nonprofit organization also gave the Silver Bowl of Excellence to ION Bank for their successful campaign.

“I’m happy and proud of our community. I’m grateful for Pam and David Rotatori for their campaign,” United Way Executive Director Lisa Shappy subsequently said.

Pam and ION Bank president and CEO David Rotatori were the campaign chairs this year.

United Way set a goal at $475,000 and the organization exceeded it and raised the highest amount ever totaling $560,000. The nonprofit kicked off the campaign in September before it concluded at the end of 2023.

Some of that campaign include the annual golf tournament at Watertown Golf Club that raised over $10,800, the 17th annual festival of holiday trees in December which raised just over $7,000 and the Gobble Till you Wobble pub crawl in downtown that raised over $6,000.

“They had a fantastic campaign at ION Bank,” Shappy said.