MANCHESTER >> Shawn Harrington, a digital archivist and board director of the Manchester Historical Society, was named this year's recipient of the annual "Unsung Heroes" Award, which was presented to him during Tuesday's Select Board meeting.
Harrington was honored for his work with the Manchester Historical society and the preservation of town records, especially pictures of the town from the past which he has actively posted on social media platforms and brought attention to the "then and now" contrasts of the town.
Cynthia Kilburn, who nominated Harrington for the award, introduced him as someone she had initially gotten to know as a customer in her store, Kilburn's Convenience Store on Depot Street, before bumping into him one day behind her shop as he was intently taking photographs of her neighbor's house. He explained to her that decades before, that house had originally been located across the street, and had been dragged to its present location by a former owner.
"So in 25 years of looking at the back of that house, it was the first time I'd noticed that it was actually the front of the house," she said during her speech introducing Harrington. She began following his work and his efforts with the Manchester Historical Society, she added.
He has stored and organized hundreds of photographs of old photos of Manchester, often comparing them with the same site as it looks today, "helping to preserve the history of this town we all call home," Kilburn said.
This work had been a "labor of love," she said, which she thought deserved recognition, prompting her to nominate him.
The "Unsung Hero" award was created to honor those, like Harrington, who perform valuable service to the community but which may not always get recognized, said Wayne Bell, the vice-chairman of the select board, who along with a group of friends back in the late 1980s, felt that there should be some way to honor those who quietly go about making a positive difference in the community before announcing Harrington as the latest "Unsung Hero" and introducing Kilburn.
"Somewhere in the busy-ness of life we need to pause and look around us and appreciate the people in our community who qualify and make a difference," he said.
Each year the select board appoints a committee to choose such a person or persons who best exemplify this tradition of community service, he continued, and this year, that person was Shawn Harrington.
Formally known as the Manchester and the Mountains Community Service Award, their names appear on a plaque which hangs in the Town Hall Kilburn Meeting Room. The select board, recognizing that this is an important event identified with the town and community, assumed guardianship of this annual recognition in 2008. They created the Community Recognition committee that coordinates this and associated tasks involving citizen recognition, according to an earlier announcement made to invite nominations.
Past award recipients include: 1989 - Gordon and Beatty Gill; Linda Spence; Dick Rizio;1990 – Wayne Bell; Don Johnson; Ray and Lesley Purdy; 1991 – Pete Cobb; Betty Clayton; Huguette Peck; Bill Drunsic;1992 – Helen Eaton; Fred Hansen; Clarence Decker; Ann Pierce; 1993 – Rabbi Michael Cohen; Mary Nevin; Brian Hill; 1994 – Marion Gaudette; Howard Wechsler; Gerrit Kouwenhoven; 1995 – Maggie Ellis; 1996 – Patti Barnes; Marshall Peck; Bill Weeks; 1997 – Tara Dowden; Martha Roth Stevenson; Terry Tyler; Carol Lattuga; 1998 – Donald Dorr; Patty Bourhill; Zoe Dailey; Jim Hand; Gail Busl;1999 – Seth Bongartz; Jenny Davis; Geoff Chapman; 2000 – Patricia Carmichael; Paul Beaulieu; Joanna Taylor; 2001 – Dom Penge; Bonnie Kilburn; 2002 – Jack Clark; 2003 – Dave Pardo; 2004 – Martha Thompson; 2005 – Len and Becky Kotler;2006-07 - No Presentation; 2008 – Ray and Marie Ferrarin; Mary Miner; 2009 – Kaki Fisher; 2010 – Emmy McCusker; David Bentley; 2011 – Lou and Patty Midura; Joe Charbonneau; 2012 – Roger and Penny Preuss; Lani Lovisa; 2013 – Karen Allen; Lysa Cross; Beverly Van Sickle; 2014- Bill and Becky Burke, Robert W. Thompson, Carl Mohlenhoff and Fred Hilliard.