Residents Honored For Contributions To Community

by William F. Galvin

HARWICH – On Monday, a crowd of Democrats filled the South Harwich Meetinghouse for the 24th annual JFK Presidents Day Gathering. It is the day the Democratic Town Committee has chosen to honor people who have made major contributions to the community.

It is also a day Democrats from across the Cape come together to reunite, sign nomination papers, and this year prepare for the March 5 presidential primary election and the road ahead to the Nov. 5 general election. But the main focuses of the event are the Mabel Canto Democrat of the Year Award; James Noonan Community Service Award and the Peggy Rose Harwich Spirit Award.

Rosanne Shapiro was presented with the Mabel Canto Democrat of the Year Award for her commitment to the environment, elderly, Wampanoag interests, and community in general. She was recognized for “her contributions to the human spirit.”

Maria Rudden, who received the award in 2022, spoke of Shapiro’s commitment to “environmental justice” and her contributions so that people can live and enjoy a free and healthy environment. Rudden said as a longtime certified social worker, Shapiro focused on helping the elderly.

Shapiro was praised for her support for the Wampanoag people and her efforts to change the Massachusetts state shield depicting a Native American underneath a menacing sword. Shapiro brought an article to town meeting in support of changing the state shield.

“I’m filled with gratitude and humbled,” Shapiro said. “But all I do in support of the community feels so natural. I don’t need a special recognition. I love this town and have a special connection with the people. I hope I can continue to contribute to the health of this community I call home.”

The James Noonan Community Service Award was presented to Margo Fenn, who was recognized for her major contributions to protecting and preserving open space over the past quarter of a century. The Harwich resident has had an instrumental role in the preservation of the Six Ponds District of Critical Planning Concern.

Fenn served as deputy director and director of the Cape Cod Commission for 17 years, served on Housing Land Trust of Cape Cod, worked with Friends of the Herring River and National Park Service on a major marsh restoration project in Wellfleet and has been associated with the Center for Coastal Studies and Association to Preserve Cape Cod.

“Nobody has done more for the beautiful environment we live in,” said former state Senator Dan Wolf. “I’ve had a front row seat watching her in action for 25 years.”

Wolf praised Fenn’s intelligence, compassion and commitment, emphasizing also her great sense of humor. It is an honor and privilege to be a friend of such a dedicated person, Wolf said.

Barnstable County Commissioner Ron Bergstrom also praised Fenn’s commitment to protecting and preserving open space over the years. He recognized the great job the town and Harwich Conservation Trust have done in preserving open space. Bergstrom encouraged the town and the trust to name the next open space purchase the Margo Fenn Conservation Area.

Angelina Chilaka was awarded the Peggy Rose Harwich Spirit Award. Chilaka was a longtime teacher in the public school system, but she was also recognized for being a major contributor to the community.

Former Monomoy Regional High School teacher Richard Houston read a lengthy poem capturing Chilaka’s commitment to students and community. She was the epitome of a teacher, but was also so much more, given her engagement with the community, he said.

“Angie is as great a citizen as you can get,” said Houston.

Houston praised Chilaka for the way she reached out to students, and her ability to find ways to help others when they had taken a fall. He cited her efforts as a founder of The Harwich Children’s Fund, and the recognition by the state, county and school district for her battles against hate.

“She has a vigilant eye for people in need,” Houston said.

Houston also recognized Chilaka for the many contributions she has made to the Cape Verdean community of Harwich.

The three residents recognized by the Democratic Town Committee received citations from the State Senate, House of Representatives and Barnstable County Commission.