Mellen named Monroe's Outstanding Citizen

Diane Mellen
Diane Mellen

   Diane Mellen, who has supported social and environmental causes in Monroe and other communities for 25 years with passionate volunteerism and funding from the family Mellen Foundation, has been named Monroe’s Outstanding Citizen for 2014.    A 12-member panel representing a cross section of community life in Monroe selected Mellen in a closed ballot from a list of 15 candidates nominated by the community-at-large for elevating the quality of life in Monroe over the years.    “What is striking about Diane’s philanthropy and community engagement,” says one Monroe activist, “is that she absolutely shrinks from any recognition for herselfand almost everything she contributes is unsolicited--where she sees a need andmakes a commitment without being approached by anyone to do so.”     The award is to be presented at the May 12 meeting of the Town Council where Mellen is to receive a one-of-a-kind image created by Doug Fedorko’s woodworking class at Masuk High School and a video profile of Mellen premiered, the workof the video students of Jonelle Pappas at the high school.    A 7:30 p.m. reception at the Town Hall, with light refreshments provided through private contributions, precedes the presentation. To contribute, contact Marven Moss, member-at-large of the selection committee, atmmoss36@yahoo.com or 203.268.2961.   The award is administered through the office of First Selectman Steve Vavrek whopaid tribute to Mellen as “the embodiment of the spirit of giving that ennobles us as human beings. Life in Monroe has been enhanced at so many levels by her affinity and commitment to our community. Eventually we intend to recognize all of those who so inspire us.”    Over the last 25 years, the foundation administered by Diane as executive director and endowed by the Mellen family business interests by Diane has provided funding for the construction in part of the new Edith Wheeler Memorial Library and Four Freedoms books for the library, a defibrillator for the Monroe Police Department, Project Warmth, the Monroe EMS and fire department activities, the first Smart Board at Masuk High School and Clothing Children in Need at Chalk Hill Middle School.     She is the founder of Clothing Children in Need which functions in Bridgeport andMonroe. She has been a volunteer for more than two decades at the Ella Jackson Senior Center in Bridgeport and is active in The Innocence Project in New York, dedicated to freeing prisoners wrongly convicted of crimes. She has also served as an American Cancer Society volunteer and a member of the Monroe Women’s Club.    Her commitment to humanitarianism has earned recognition from the NAACP and the Hall Neighborhood House in Bridgeport and as the recipient of the Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen Memorial Award as one of Connecticut’s Most Outstanding Women.    In Salt Lake City previously she was a member of the board of directors of the Healthy Environment Alliance and served as a human resource specialist for the 2002 Winter Olympics.       In selecting the Monroe Outstanding Citizen, the selectors apply as criteria:
  • Outstanding achievement
  • Exceptional volunteerism
  • Humanitarian service
  • Lifetime distinction
  • Act(s) of courage
  • Philanthropic activism
  • Raising the profile/image of Monroe
     Monroe recipients over the last three years: Enid Lipeles (2013), Karen Burnaska (2012) and Bernie Sippin (2011).       Organizations represented on the latest panel and their representatives:     Monroe Historical Society, Karen Cardi, past president            Monroe Senior Citizen Center, Cathy Belanger       Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, Lorna Rhyins, adult services librarian    Monroe Arts Council, Barbara Haeger, president    Monroe Clergy Association, Rev. Jennifer Gingras, senior pastor, Monroe Congregational Church    Radio Station WMNR, Brian Quinn, chairman of the WMNR Commission, and Fred Velardi, broadcaster and commissioner    Monroe Police Department, Chief John Salvatore    Masuk H.S. Student Council, Ali Forger, president of the senior class    Monroe Chamber of Commerce, Ray Giovanni, president    Monroe Land Trust and Tree Conservancy: Brian Quinn, member of board of directors    Members-at-large Steve Schapiro and Marven Moss


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