Boyertown’s 60th Citizen of the Year award recipient has been announced.
Shawn Barndt, Executive Director for Chestnut Knoll, has been nominated as Citizen of the Year after an outpouring of support and nominations as a result of her years of dedication to Alzheimer and Dementia patients and her devotion to the community.
“We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill uttered these words more than fifty years ago, but this quote is one that this year’s Boyertown Citizen of the Year lives by. Lori Carnes makes her life by giving.
Indeed, one look at her calendar tells you much of what you need to know about Carnes. She’s an incredibly busy woman, and while few people can keep up with her, she will tell you it’s all in a day’s work and part of her unwavering commitment to the Boyertown community.
“I love Boyertown,” Carnes says. “It’s a great place to live, work and raise a family, and it has great energy and enthusiasm. The enthusiasm is contagious.”
For years, Mark Malizzi has given his time and talents to the Boyertown community, operating in the background, never one to seek recognition for his efforts.
“The driving factor is that for years I’ve heard people have time to complain about how bad things are in the community,” Malizzi said. “If we don’t step up to the needs in the community, it’s never going to change.”
Despite his modesty, Malizzi’s charitable work has not gone unnoticed. He has been selected as the Boyertown Area 2016 Citizen of the Year, and he’ll be the special guest at the 62nd annual awards event on April 9 at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
“Mark tries to do a lot of things behind the scenes and doesn’t ask for recognition,” said Roger Lehmann, chairman of the awards committee. “I think that embodies what the citizen of the year is all about in that it typically is driven by people who try to help the community out behind the scenes.”
Malizzi said he is humbled by the honor.
“There’s so many people through our community that do great work to help people,” he said. “And for me to even be nominated, let alone chosen, it really touches my heart very deeply that apparently the things we’re doing in the community are making that much of a difference.”
Malizzi, 51, of Douglassville, founded Thunder Outreach Ministries with his wife of 31 years, Lisa. The ministry, which has about 20 volunteers, helped to revitalize the exterior of the Boyertown Inn at North Reading and East Philadelphia avenues.
The historic building is a mainstay of Boyertown’s downtown, and Malizzi’s group helped paint the exterior and repair some of the front columns.
“As people come into town, it makes them smile, it brings them back to an 1800s sort of feel,” Malizzi said of the building.
“He (Malizzi) put a lot of personal time and effort into it and coordinated the volunteer efforts of all the people who assisted in it,” Lehmann said.
“It certainly is a focal point of the community right there at the intersection, and it came out awesome. He did an awesome job.”
Malizzi also is known in the community through his job as service director at Fred Beans Ford of Boyertown.
His work with Thunder Outreach includes partnerships with the Boyertown Salvation Army as well as numerous other nonprofit organizations throughout Berks County. And he is chaplain for Boyertown Area Fire & Rescue.
“Interacting and working with them is important to me,” Malizzi said of the emergency crews.
Despite the many hats that Malizzi wears, and the many projects he has participated in, Malizzi has a much simpler outlook on what drives him to keep working in the community.
“If I go down in history as being one thing, I just want to be known as somebody who cared,” he said.
When paging through the dozens of nomination forms for Paul Willman as the 2017 Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year, one word continued to pop up: selfless.
“He’s always been the guy who is at somebody’s house fixing their roof or fixing their car or helping a lady with her plumbing,” friend Mark Malizzi said of Willman. “It’s amazing the kind of lives that he’s touched.”
Willman’s decades of contributions to the Boyertown community have been recognized with his selection to receive the Citizen of the Year award, now in its 63rd year. Willman will be honored at an awards gala April 23 at Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.
“He is not one to seek out recognition for what he does. He’s a behind-the-scenes kind of man,” said his wife of 42 years, Barbara Willman. “That’s just who he is. If somebody needed help, he did whatever he could to help them out, but it was never to be recognized.”
“Pastor Paul” is a Boyertown area lifer, a native of Earl Township and a graduate of Boyertown High School. As associate pastor at Morningstar Fellowship for over two decades, his work not only touched Boyertown, but far beyond.
Willman, who will celebrate his 63rd birthday Monday, completed mission trips to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, as well as to Ecuador, Peru and Guatemala to construct churches and schools.
Two years ago, however, when returning from one of those mission trips, Willman suffered a stroke. The stroke left him with some physical limitations: He now walks with a cane and speaks very little, but friends say it hasn’t diminished his generosity or his spirit.
“He continues to do things behind the scenes to help the community, even though he can’t do much in public,” said Roger Lehmann, chairman of the awards committee who has known Willman for over 20 years.
“When you look in his eyes, it’s the same guy,” Malizzi said. “It’s the same love and the same compassion.”
Malizzi, who was named Boyertown Citizen of the Year last year, recalled times that Willman appeared in Malizzi’s office at Fred Beans Ford in Boyertown covered in grease from fixing a car for somebody who couldn’t afford to take it to a mechanic.
“When it comes to what he’s done for the community, but behind the scenes, I’m not even in his league,” Malizzi said. “He’s touched so many lives that he really is deserving of this.”