WESTERLY — The owner of a car dealership, a tax collector, a children’s author and the owners of two popular Westerly eateries will be honored this month at the Ocean Community YMCA’s Leadership Recognition breakfast, scheduled to take place at the Ocean House in Watch Hill.
Andrew Nathan and Jennifer Gibson of Westerly, who own The Cooked Goose in Avondale and The Sea Goose in Dunns Corners, will be honored for their commitment to social responsibility, according to Tim Babcock, vice president of operations at the Y. Also being honored are Rob Valenti of Mystic, for “youth development,” and Candy and Tom Sanford of Stonington for “healthy living.” Valenti and Tom Sanford are co-chairmen of the Y’s capital campaign for the $7.2 million renovation that started in August.
The honorees embody the organization’s key areas of focus, Babcock said.
“We are humbled to be recognized by the Y,” said Nathan, who is married to Gibson. “Jennifer and I are blessed to have been raised by parents who instilled in us a sense of community and charity.”
Nathan and Gibson are “dedicated to giving back to their community,” said Babcock in a statement. In addition to donating food to the YMCA’s annual Pink & Green fundraiser, which has raised more than $385,000 for the program that makes it possible for disadvantaged youth to attend Y programs and camps, they routinely contribute to several other non-profit organizations including Jonnycake Center of Westerly, the Chorus of Westerly, Westerly Rotary, Literacy Volunteers of Washington County and The Westerly Land Trust.
“Giving back is part of who we were raised to be and what we want to do,” said Nathan.
“We have also had such remarkable role models… many of the people honored by the Y before us,” Nathan said, listing past recipients Doug Rayner, Robert Ligouri, Chuck and Deborah Royce and Mal Makin.
Nathan said there is one more man who influenced them greatly in the social responsibility realm, a man who influenced many local people with his generosity — the late Paul D. Lynch, who was honored by the Y posthumously in 2014.
Calling Lynch “the largest, silent giant of a man,” Nathan said Lynch “further cemented” the values he and his wife were raised with.
“We love the community of Westerly and the people who comprise it and we are so lucky and blessed to be a part of it,” Nathan added.
“I’m proud to be associated with the Y,” said Valenti, of Pawcatuck, who has been a member of the Ocean Community YMCA’s board of directors and served on the Mystic YMCA’s Board of Managers as chair from 2010-2011. “I’ve been coming to the Y since I was a kid playing basketball.”
Valenti, whose family owns automobile dealerships in Westerly and throughout Connecticut, will be honored for his commitment to “youth development.”
In addition to co-chairing the capital campaign, which has raised $4.3 million thus far, Valenti also co-chairs the Y’s Mystic Golf Classic Committee, which raised $40,000 this year, and is a member of the Presidents Council and Golf Committee for the Mystic Aquarium. In 2013 Valenti was named Citizen of the Year by the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce. He also hosts the Valenti Open Golf tournament, a fundraiser to provide scholarships for Stonington High School students.
“The Y does so much for so many,” said Valenti. “It has a positive effect on kids, adolescents, teens, single moms and dads and the elderly … all through life.”
Sanford and his wife Candy, of Stonington, have been involved with the Mystic branch of the YMCA since they retired to the region from Bronxville, N.Y., in 2002.
“We’re very excited,” said Tom Sanford Friday morning. “We both feel humbled by this… and we accept with pleasure.”
However, added the man who has been elected to the position of Tax Collector of the Borough of Stonington for the past 15 years, “we are accepting on behalf of all the members who have contributed so generously to the Mystic Y’s capital campaign.”
The Sanfords have been active with the Y since they first arrived, said Babcock. They also provided early donations to help generate momentum for the capital campaign.
“Their dedication to healthy living and commitment to the Y’s mission is clear in their long list of community involvement,” Babcock said. “From spearheading the Mystic Y’s rowing program to their volunteer services to Calvary Episcopal Church,” in Stonington Borough.
Candy, former board president of the Stonington Garden Club, has served on the Mystic Y’s Board of Managers for several years. She is the author of “Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer, A Maritime Pioneer,” a history book for children.
“The Y is a wonderful organization that reaches all segments of the community,” said Candy. “It helps keep us fit and healthy.”
Tom is co-founder and head of the Mystic River Rowers at Mystic YMCA and serves on the steering committee of the Hart Perry Community Rowing Center capital campaign, a public facility envisioned as part of the future Mystic River Boathouse Park.
State Sen. Dennis L. Algiere (R-38) will give the welcome address at the breakfast and the awards will be presented by JohnPaul Morales, a Y board member and chief volunteer officer, Francis Pandolfi and Maureen Fitzgerald, executive director of the Y.
Tickets for the breakfast are $60 per person. For tickets or to make a donation, call 401-340-1011, ext. 108.