Rick Roberts was honored with the James Russell Wiggins Service to Youth Award Tuesday night at the Down East Family YMCA’s annual meeting. Presenting the award was one of his former players, Holly Tripp. PHOTO BY STEVE FULLER

Y honors those who make a difference in the Ellsworth community


That was the theme CEO Peter Farragher focused on during the Down East Family YMCA’s annual meeting Tuesday night — the impact that the Y has as an organization, as well as the impact of individuals who work for and with the organization.

Six individuals in particular were recognized for their work with the Y and in the larger community and for the positive impact they have had on those who they have worked with.

Rick Roberts was presented with the James Russell Wiggins Service to Youth Award for his work as a softball coach. The award was presented by one of his former players, Holly Tripp.

Tripp said that though Roberts was a “tough former LAPD cop who worked nights and wore a gun,” what she remembers about him is him always wanting to have fun and his “unrelenting” positivity.

“He always approaches you with positivity and support,” said Tripp, who said she never heard Roberts say anything negative. “His number one goal is to help you be the best version of yourself.”

Roberts runs pitching clinics on Sundays — “I don’t think he’s had a free Sunday in the past decade,” said Tripp — runs clinics for Y coaches and serves on the Little League board. He has been involved with the Ellsworth High School softball program since 2000.

Tripp, who now teaches and coaches softball at Erskine Academy in China, said she was honored to be presenting the award to Roberts. She said he “has always tried to improve a place and a situation.”

Recognized with the Maralyn “Pete” Turnbull Volunteer of the Year Award was Steve Van Dorn who, according to the evening’s program, “has been volunteering at the Y longer than most of us have worked here.”

Van Dorn works with soccer and Little League baseball teams. Farragher said Van Dorn has been a volunteer for 18 years, and that at five seasons per year with an average of 20 kids on his team per season, that means he has coached 1,800 kids.

“That’s a pretty good number,” said Farragher, adding that it was likely a conservative estimate.

Farragher said Van Dorn has a great ability to work with all kids, and that parents specifically request to have him be their child’s coach.

When told he would be honored as volunteer of the year, Farragher said Van Dorn’s reaction was, “Why do you want to do that?”

“His response reinforced that we made the right call,” Farragher said.

The Teddy Saunders Award was shared by Ellsworth High School seniors Nick Bagley and Jessica Cohen. The criteria for the award are well-rounded athletes who exhibit exceptional sportsmanlike conduct, leadership qualities and role model characteristics.

Bagley, who will be a 12-time letter winner in soccer, basketball and baseball when he graduates, was presented with the award by his basketball coach, Peter Austin.

Austin, who said Saunders was one of his best friends while growing up, said Bagley was an ideal recipient for the award. He described him as a leader both on and off the court who always has a positive attitude, is a great role model and leads by example.

Bagley has volunteered many hours for the Y’s youth sports department as well. He will be attending Central Maine Community College in the fall to study sports management and will play both basketball and baseball.

Jasmine Ireland presents Ellsworth High School senior Jessica Cohen with The Teddy Saunders Award. PHOTO BY STEVE FULLER

Cohen was recognized by Jasmine Ireland from the EHS show choir. Ireland said Cohen has been performing on the EHS stage since she was 7 years old when she had the role of baby Cosette in “Les Misérables.”

Cohen has been a member of the Y’s swim team for 13 years and captained the EHS swim team this year. Ireland described her as an “exceptional” actress who is also a hard worker and a leader.

“Talent we can foster and skill we can hone,” said Ireland, “but character isn’t necessarily something you can teach.”

Ireland said Cohen, who has been accepted at James Madison University, will be sorely missed.

A new award was presented at Tuesday’s meeting, one recognizing the volunteer of the year at the Y’s Blue Hill facility. Fitness directors Annie Grindal and Joy Bragdon presented the award to Mary Leslie Crawley, whom they said has a “pleasant and outgoing attitude” and is a “true asset to the members and the facility.”

In the staff spotlight, Farragher highlighted the work of membership secretary Heidi Tupper. He said she manages the database of 3,700 members, knows all the kids who walk through the door each day and can get answers for any question that pops up.

“If Heidi doesn’t know it, it must not exist,” he said.

Staff members and volunteers were also presented with pins recognizing them for five, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years of service.

Topping the list were Deborah Hangge (23 years), Jeanne Wood (25 years) and Maralyn “Pete” Turnbull, whom Farragher said would get 15- and 25-year pins to recognize her many years of service.

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller worked at The Ellsworth American from 2012 to early 2018. He covered the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland.
Steve Fuller

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