Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 08 October 2010 00:00
During a bustling ceremony at the Westbury Senior Center featuring close friends and local officials from the Town of North Hempstead, volunteer Shirley Wright was honored as an “Unsung Hero” for her work at the center and within the community over the years.
Town of North Hempstead Clerk Leslie Gross presented Wright with a citation recognizing her long list of contributions to the Senior Center, while Wright’s peers spoke very highly of her as stories were shared during the ceremony.
According to Maureen Droge, executive director of the Westbury Senior Center, Wright has been a weekly volunteer for the Adult Day Care group at the center for the past 13 years and her “generosity and positive outlook lifts everyone’s spirits.”
“By definition, an unsung hero is someone who provides substantive but unrecognized contributions, which kind of sums up the many, many years that Shirley has been with us,” Droge said.
Wright, despite losing both her husband and son, continues to uplift and motivate the spirits of those around her, according to Droge, who noted Wright is also the primary caregiver for her mother-in-law residing in a nursing home.
“Her work at the Adult Day Care group enables the frail and elderly members of the community and senior center to participate in ongoing activities that they would not be able to attend on their own, said Droge.
“She has a life that has been filled with random acts of kindness. She’s just a wonderful person, whether it’s providing a birthday cake, sending a gift, giving flowers to somebody, giving someone a ride somewhere,” Droge added.
Droge noted that commending Wright with an award is “long overdue,” and that Wright is “truly a helping hand, a true friend and an advocate for those who need support and reassurance.”
Mary Campbell, president of membership at the center, honored Wright with what she called a “beautiful bouquet for a beautiful person.”
TNH Clerk Leslie Gross continued the commendations with a citation award from the town before asking Wright’s peers to share stories and experiences, which shed light on Wright’s altruism and humility.
“Shirley not only volunteers here, but many times she has brought people to my church on the weekends, on Sunday, so her volunteering is not just here at the Senior Center. We’re blessed to have Shirley as a community person, and I want to say, ‘hip-hip-hooray,’” said a friend of Wright.
Another audience member noted that Wright not only cares for her friends at the center and around town, but also for dogs and other animals.
“Shirley finds the neediest of people and reaches out to them, she’s the most giving person I’ve ever seen,” said another Senior Center member.
Gross said the Unsung Hero award is normally called the Hometown Hero award and offered her explanation for the change.
“It’s about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, giving back to the community, being there for elderly people,” said Gross.
“We’re so thrilled that Shirley is part of our town, part of our community and part of the fabric of our community that makes this place such a fabulous place and your friends are here to celebrate you and all the wonderful things you’ve done all these years. Thank you for being an example for everyone in the community,” added Gross.
And although there is only one Shirley Wright in Westbury, an audience member pondered the idea of having perhaps two or more.
“I wish we could clone you,” said the audience member, adding, “We need more like you.”
While the audience continued to laud Wright, calling her “one in a million” and “so humble, so wonderful,” Senior Center Executive Director Maureen Droge summed Wright up in just a few short words.
“Her life’s focus is to enrich the lives of members of the center in anyway she can,” said Droge.
“I’m just so thrilled to be able to celebrate Shirley and acknowledge all she’s done for many, many years,” Droge added.