This year’s award winner was born and raised in Washington and graduated from Shepaug Valley High School in 1976. He was a three sport athlete and a Berkshire League all star in soccer as well as a proud member of the 1973 varsity baseball team that brought home Shepaug’s first state baseball championship, much like Stephen Reich led his team to the 1987 title. Our winner has another even more personal connection with Major Reich: he was his boss at his first summer job that same year.
Our award winner has made a second career out of volunteerism here in Washington, having spent his life giving of his time and energy to countless organizations and events. In fact, we are not the first to recognize our award winner for his endless contributions, his peers at the Rotary Club selected him as Volunteer of the Year 5 years ago.
Our winner has logged countless hours as an active member of the Building and Property Commission for the Town of Washington, working to improve many of the public areas of our town and overseeing enhancements to all town-owned buildings and properties. Our recipient has also ably served in a similar capacity for the Gunn Memorial Library.
Our recipient’s biggest contribution to the community is in his role as Chief of the Washington Volunteer Fire Department. He joined the Fire Department when he was just 18 years old and has been an active member for more than 34 years. In that time, he has risen through the ranks to become one of the most highly respected department chiefs. Members of his department will tell you that they don’t simply follow him because he is chief, but because he is a born leader whom they respect and look up to. His leadership is underscored by the fact that today the Fire Department has the largest number of volunteers on staff in over 30 years, is enjoying some of the strongest financial support in its history and has gained state wide recognition in the form of apparatus awards and state grants. Our winner also spearheads the Fire Department’s annual support of the “Slices with Santa” fund raiser benefiting the Washington Community Fund and he played a key role in reviving the Fireman’s Carnival we all enjoy so much.
Our recipient’s lifetime of selfless dedication to the Town of Washington makes him exactly the type of person that we seek to recognize with this award. And true to the character of our previous award winners, he has given of his time freely and without seeking recognition. His leadership in local organizations, his commitment to serve this wonderful community and his tireless energy to volunteer whenever and wherever needed has truly made Washington a better place.
It is my great pleasure to announce the 2012 winner of the Major Stephen Reich Award for Exceptional Citizenship: Mark Showalter