Anthony Denorfia has done just about everything a businessman could hope for in his career. A successful developer and attorney who has spent nearly his whole life as a Southington resident, Denorfia built his legacy on the belief that he builds homes, not houses.
But it isn’t what he has done in business, as valuable as it has been for the community, which earned Denorfia the title of the Southington YMCA’s Person of the Year.
Instead, Southington YMCA Director John Myers said it’s been all his volunteer work behind the scenes with organizations like Bread for Life, the United Way of Southington and local little leagues that have made him a true inspiration in the community.
“I remember talking with Tony eight years ago about the drive-in property,” Myers said. “Tony was the one who looked at the property and said ‘wouldn’t this be a great extension of Recreation Park?’ He was the one who really provided that initial push the town needed.”
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Denorfia was one of two local residents honored during a special ceremony at the Southington YMCA on Monday as the organization announced the recipients of the 2013 annual awards. Linda Mendelsohn was named the YMCA’s Unsung Hero as part of the celebration and the Mill Foundation for Kids, Inc., was also recognized for their work with the Reaching Out award.
For Denorfia, the recognition was more than he felt was necessary and something he called “awesome, but very humbling.” He credited the community with being full of true heroes and volunteers that have helped make his work easier.
“I have just done what I feel every person has an obligation to do,” Denorfia said. “I truly believe everyone has a responsibility to give back however they can, whether in a big way or small way. To me, people like Linda Mendelsohn or Benny Camuso are more deserving.”
Mendelsohn, who has volunteered with Southington Community Services and Southington Bread for Life, would argue his point, however. She said she has always been impressed by what Denorfia has done.
That still doesn’t take from the successes that Mendelsohn has brought to the community over the past five years, Myers said. She spends countless hours each week at the community services office, helping coordinate programs like holiday drives. This year alone, she helped lead an effort that led to the delivery of 380 Easter baskets to those in need.
She is also responsible for helping coordinate the annual Unique Boutique program at the Aqua Turf and coordinating with Foodshare in the community.
“I asked (Community Services Director) Janet Mellon if Linda had a title and she said ‘no, that’s impossible’ so we’ve created one for her – super volunteer extraordinaire,” Myers said. “Her reach in town is breathtaking.”
The 2013 YMCA Unsung Hero prefers to stand behind the scenes, however. Mendelsohn said Monday that the best part of her volunteer work is being able to see the joy on the faces of those she is able to help.
“I’m not in it for the accolades. Volunteering is something I love to do,” Mendelsohn said. “When you look at the joy that comes to those on the receiving end, to give them something they don’t have and something they have always wanted or needed, to deliver just a little peace of mind, that’s why I do what I do.”
This year’s Reaching Out award also goes to a deserving group, an organization that developed purely out of neighbors coming together to have some fun and help children throughout the area.
From the early efforts came a grassroots organization that now provides countless funds to help children with all sorts of ailments by providing funding for treatment, toys and more. The organization regularly works with children at Connecticut's Childrens Medical Center (CCMC), the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Children's Hospital Boston, Yale New Haven Hospital and the Hospital Of Central Connecticut.
“What these guys do is truly inspiring. It’s an example of a small group coming together to make a big difference,” Myers said.
The three awards will formally be presented during the Southington YMCA’s Annual Dinner on Jan. 30, 2013, at the Aqua Turf Club.
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