THE RAYS OF SUNSHINE

All of us can think of special individuals who always manage to find time to help other people.  14/WILI and the Mohegan Sun have a name for those special people.  They are Connecticut's RAYS OF SUNSHINE, and together we're paying tribute to one of them each month.   Hear acceptance interviews with many of our Ray of Sunshine winners by clicking here. For details on how to nominate someone, please scroll to the bottom of this page.
 
The November 2008 winner is Charlene Perry.  The nomination letter said:
 
I nominate Charlene Perry, a long-time Scotland resident and the Scotland Postmaster for the Ray of Sunshine award.  Charlene has organized numerous community building activities in Scotland.  She has also organized many fundraising events to benefit individuals in need.  Charlene selflessly gives to others without reward or recognition.  She is a ray of sunshine for the residents of Scotland.
Charlene Perry with her daughter Kena
 
The October 2008 winner was Angela LaTour of Bozrah, who was nominated by Ray Pittman.  Ray's nomination letter said:
 
Angela LaTour, Community Office Manager at Liberty Bank is a Ray of Sunshine.  A mother of three and wife to Tim, she still finds time to:
  • Be a very active member of the Rotary Clulb, volunteering for most events, and is instrumental in having Liberty Bank kick in 50 cents for every dollar collected for the Thanksgiving Food Drive
  • She is the Ambassador Chair for the Windham Chamber of Commerce
  • She volunteers with and is on the Regional Advisory Board of the United Way
  • She is on the Board of Directors for the Windham Textile and History Museum
  • She is involved with the southeast regional Relay for Life
  • She is on the PTO at her kids' school
  • And she volunteers to do people's taxes at the Access Agency
Angela is always willing to lend a helping hand and get involved.  That's why she should be a "Ray of Sunshine."
October 2008 Ray of Sunshine Angela LaTour
 
 
The September 2008 winner was Joan Goba of Lebanon.  The nomination letter said: 
 
Joan has served the community for over 20 years by running the Migratory Children's Program and the Windham Family Resource Center.  And there isn't a fundraiser in the community that doesn't have her and her family's name on it--including a bench in front of the Ossen Emergency Department at Windham Hospital, a brick at the Windham Parent Network playground at Memorial Park, and a chair at the Windham Theatre Guild's Burton Leavitt Theater.
September 2008 Ray of Sunshine Joan Goba
 
The August 2008 winner was Donna Clauson of Mansfield.  Marge Bachand's nomination letter said:
I would like to nominate Donna Clauson for the Ray of Sunshine Award. Through her tireless efforts the Mansfield/Tolland Special Olympic Team was born, and is always growing in athletes and activities.

Donna is a lifelong resident of Mansfield who has been actively involved in many community and church activities including but not limited to being a Girl Scout leader for many years and  past member of the Mansfield Board of Education.  However, she deserves recognition for her work in starting up the Mansfield/Tolland Special Olympic Team.  As our local coordinator she works many hours doing the necessary paperwork, phone calls, fund raising, attending meetings, coordinating EOSmith partners to assist us, arranging rooms for overnight for the state games, and registration for each seasonal regional and state games.  Oops I forgot she also does coaching/training of our athletes.
The team has grown from fall bowling to spring track and field and this year winter floor hockey was added.  She is now trying to come up with a summer event for the athletes.  She is always thinking of ways to broaden the activities and lives of a special group of individuals and their families.
 
So in my opinion Donna has shown time and time again that she is most deserving of your Ray of Sunshine Award................Marge Bachand-her friend of many years.
 
Donna Clauson and Marge Bachand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The July 2008 winner was Rosa Tirado.  Yvonne Trevorrow's nomination letter said:
I would like to nominate Mrs. Rosa Tirado for the "Ray of Sunshine" Award.  Rosa is a retired teacher who came out of retirement to fufill a need where there is always one, and that is teaching.  She won a Teacher of the year award, she also was Willimantic's "cupid" one year.  Rosa  has loved and cared for many foster children over the years.  She always has a kind word for everyone and time to talk to the parents of the children she teaches any time of the day and sometimes at night.  And last but certainly not least, I'm a foster grandma in the school system and every morning when I happen to be at the school she teaches at, there's a hot cup of coffee and a muffin waiting for me on my desk.  She is my "Ray of Sunshine" and I'm very sure for many others who know her much better than even I do. Her full name is Mrs. Rosa Tirado from Windham.  
Yvonne Trevorrow and Rosa Tirado
 
The June 2008 winner was Barbara Leary.  Sophie Kostal's nomination letter said:
 
As a Ray of Sunshine, I would like to nominate Barbara Leary, founder, dedicated organizer, coordinator, and leader of the Interfaith Sewing and Service Group.  Barbara is a former 4-H leader who spent 25 years teaching sewing, cooking, and crafts.
In 1994, she organized a group of women who like to experience the joy of giving of themselves to others as they share their God-given talents.  As a result of her leadership, coordination, and guidance, local, national, and international organizations have benefitted from the items produced--namely, Church World Services (thousands of school bags), Haitian Helth Mission (baby items and baptismal dresses), local Head Start Program (paint smocks, crib sheets, bibs, quilts, washcloths, etc.), retirement homes, shelters, hospitals, WAIM, soup kitchen (various items such as quilts, sleeping bags, blankets, hats, mittens, scarves, cancer turbans, mastectomy pillows, school clothes, lap robes, adult bibs, walker bags, and countless other items as requested).
Because Barbara tries to accomodate requests from various organizations and thereby bring many "Rays of Sunshine" to them, I believe she definitely should be considered a Ray of Sunshine.
Sophie Kostal, Barbara Leary, and her husband Leo
 
The May 2008 winner was Kord Baker of Willimantic.  Pam Bibeau's nomination letter said:
 
I would like to nominate Kory Baker for the Ray of Sunshine award.  Kory has dedicated many of hours into coaching girls basketball for the Windham Recreation Department. He has been a coach from 1996 - to present.
I have been blessed to have had him coach my daughters. Kory is always looking at ways to help the girls improve their games. He would help them one on  one and as a team. He would tell them things that went well in their games and tell them what they need to work on. He has always encouraged the girls he worked with to do their best and never give up.  He put in many hours to work with the girls and never complained and always had a smile and encouraging words to say. My daughters enjoyed having him as a coach.  I feel Kory Baker should be awarded the Sunshine award for all his hard work and dedication he put into coaching over the years. 
Pam Bibeau, Kord Baker, and Pam's daughter Felicia
 
 
The April 2008 winner was Joe Henry.  Priscilla Adams' nomination letter said:
 
Please select my brother-in-law Joe Henry for the Ray of Sunshine Award.  There are so many reasons he deserves a "big night out," it could fill a book.  He doesa so much for others, always good naturedly and never expects anything in return.
 
He is always there to help someone who needs a hand moving, fixing something, needs a ride, fixing cars, building or remodeling homes, or cooking delicious gourmet meals for family and friends. 
 
He is a true hometown hero.  He grew up in Columbia, graduated from Windham High School and Thames Valley Tech.  He married my sister on Memorial Day 1969.  They traveled the country while he served in the Navy, then settled in Willimantic to raise their son Jason.  He became "Papa Joe" to everyone, mentoring many young men through the years -- a second father to my two girls..
 
He has coached softball teams, supported all Windham school sports and Windham rec teams, helped build the Natchaug School playground, cooked the first St. Patrick's Day corned beef and cabbage meal at Blarney's, drove a truck full of kids in the first Boom Box Parade (and many more). He has his own stone mason business with his brother Mike -- Henry Brothers -- yet two years he drove in the Boom Box Parade promoting MY business (then Cafe Downtown).  He made most of the delicious soups there.
 
He is the proud grandfather of Nadia Henry (her Papa', she said it with a French accent as a toddler).  He is now active doing whatever needs doing at the Oak Grove Montessori School which Nadia attends.  He is an avid fan of all of Nadia's sport events.  He is also and avid UConn Husky and Boston Red Sox fan.
 
He supports local businesses, eating at local breakfast spots, shops at IGA, gets his building supplies from Willards, he drinks Hosmer Mountain Soda and Mountain Dairy milk.    Joe is turning 60 years old on May 5 and will have his 39th wedding anniversary on May 30th.  I would like to have a hand in making sure they have a nice celebration.  Thank you sincerely,   Priscilla (Petey) Adams
 
Joe Henry and Priscilla Adams
 
The March 2008 winner was Barbara Colon.  Debbie Jeffers' nomination letter said:
 
I would like to nominate for ray of sunshine, my shift supervisor Barbara Colon. We are both nurses at Haven Health in Windham, and she is the the most giving and selfless person I know, she makes sure every resident of the nursing home has what they need and ask for, whether it be something as simple as a making them a sandwich after hours from the kitchen or as compassionate as holding a residents hand as they pass from this world to the next. She is always willing to listen to staff and help whether it be work related or personal. she is compassionate and non judgmental, she works 40 hours plus, always making sure staff has any help they need and not leaving until all staff from our shift is able to leave, many nights we have worked 2 or 3 hours over shift when a problem has arisen and she has stayed right with us, not because she had to, but because thats the way she is. In the last 3 years she has seen 2 close personal friends pass away from cancer, Barbara went to their homes every day bringing meals to the families, helping the husbands and children get through these difficult times, all the while spending mornings with these friends and then coming to work every afternoon, she also cares for 2 grown children , and runs back and forth to Long Island  when needed to care for 2 elderly parents. So in my opinion if there was anyone who ever touched the lives of many people and deserved the ray of sunshine award it is my supervisor Barbara Colon RN.
Sincerly ,
Debbie Jeffers LPN 
  
Debbie Jeffers and Barbara Colon
 
The February 2008 winner was Charlie Wynn.  Dick Kelley's nomination letter said:
I would like to propose the name Professor Charles Wynn as a worthy candidate for the Ray of Sunshine.  Charlie is a professor of chemistry at ECSU.  He is also an active member of the Columbia Library Committee as well as president of the local Lions Club. However, I feel his outstanding achievment has been as leader of the annual Willimantic Special Olympics Swim Meet held at Windham High School every year in the month of March.  This event attracts handicapped children from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  Charlie enlists some 600 volunteers, feeds and entertains the particpants and volunteers through local donors.  It is truly a great event of which our whole community can be proud of and it's accomplished through the leadership of Dr. Wynn.
Dick Kelley and Charlie Wynn, holding his Ray of Sunshine plaque
 
The January 2008 winner was Jessica Medina.  To hear Jessica's award ceremony, click here.  She was nominated by her mother:
 
Dear Wayne,
I would like to nominate my daughter for the Ray of Sunshine Award. Her name is Jessica Medina and is 23 years old. Jessica was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and moved to Willimantic at the age of 12 years old. She is a graduate of Windham Regional-Vocational Technical School with a focus in Culinary Arts and a graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor's in Business. Jessica has a giving heart. Some of her good deeds include donating and volunteering at the Willimantic Soup Kitchen, donating and volunteering at the Manchester Soup Kitchen, Volunteering at Haven Health Nursing Home, She has also donated articles of clothing and toiletries to the no freeze shelter here in Willimantic. She has volunteered at Windham Hospital and at the Willimantic Public Library for children's activities. She is the secretary for The Ladies Improvement Society, an organization which is 100 years old of the Willimantic Camp Meeting Association and she also sponsors a child through a Christian based program. She also participates in the "Welcoming Desk" at her church on Sundays, and also volunteers her time in the Bazaar at the Willimantic Camp Meeting every June cooking and selling the "Walking Tacos". I'm sure that there are more things that she has done and is still doing and will continue to do and all this while holding a fulltime job and part time job and an active member in our community and at ther church. I really think that Jessica Medina should be awarded the Ray of Sunshine Award and benefits that come with the award because she works tirelessly to help others and she never says NO and she in my opinion is an extraordinary role model for young people in general. Everyone who knows Jessica will tell you how wonderful of a person she is and how caring.
Jessica Medina, holding her plaque
 
The December 2007 winner was Linda Harbec.  To hear Linda's award ceremony, click here.  Linda was nominated by her mother Otila Luond, who wrote:
 
I am writing this letter about my daughter Linda Harbec, mother of five children and grandmother of seven children.  She is a very dedicated young lady.  She started as a school teacher at Saint Mary's Catholic school for a number of years.  She is now teaching third grade at Marlborough school, traveling every day from her residence in Willimantic where she lives with her husband and family.   She is very happy and proud of her work as a school teacher.  Teaching children has always been her first priority.  I am very proud of my daughter Linda, and I wish and pray that she will always be herself and proud of it.
WILI Vice President Colin Rice, Otila Luond, and Linda Harbec
 
The November 2007 winner was Richard Kelley. To hear Dick's award ceremony, click here. Thomas Valone's nomination read:
 
Hi Wayne,
Here is my nomination for a Ray of Sunshine award.  His name is Richard A. Kelley.  Dick is a lifelong resident of Willimantic who has been involved in many community activites, however, he deserves special recognition for his work on the Alex Caisse Park.  Through Dick's tireless efforts Park Springs has been transformed into a lovely park.  He had work crews from the correctional facility in Brooklyn to do clean up work, he solicited donations, he had the gazebo constructed and he has arranged for concerts in the park.  The only costs involved were Dick's efforts.  The taxpayers have been rewarded with a beautiful park at no cost.  In addition a long time public works employee of Willimantic / Windham, Alex Caisse is remembered in this city. 
This park is a ray of sunshine for Alex Caisse and  the residents of Windham / Willimantic.  The true Ray of Sunshine is Dick Kelley.
 
Mohegan Sun Director of Sports and Entertainment Bob Yalen with Dick Kelley
 
The October 2007 winner was Lynn White.  To hear the award ceremony, click here.  The nomination from Bernice Szafarek said:
 
I would like to nominate Lynn White for the Ray of Sunshine Award. Through my work with the Soroptimists of Willimantic I have been witness to her committment to the betterment of our community. Her Growing Stronger program is unparalled in its impact on women in need of mentorship. Her brilliant concept benefits both young women in need of guidance and support and elderly women in need of companionship. At the same time she is able to position women at risk to be able to seek employment through her teaching of landscaping skills. AND if that were not enough she also is creating a more beautiful Willimantic with her gardening skills. The love shines through when Lynn talks about her program and I feel remiss that no one has thought to nominate her sooner!!- Look forward to hearing that she is your next recipient of the Ray of Sunshine award!
Lynn White with Mohegan Sun Executive Pastry Chef Lynn Mansel
 
To see prior Ray of Sunshine winners, click here.
 
 
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