Mayor announces city’s Senior of the Year
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Mayor Arthur Vigeant welcomed residents age 60 and over to the 37th annual Mayor’s Senior of the Year Dinner, held April 10 at the Marlborough High School cafeteria. He said that after receiving names of several nominees, who needed to be at least age 90, his choice for the honoree was easy.
“There are a lot of people in our senior community who do so much, but personally, I’ve seen her firsthand volunteering all over the city – Frances Brescia, the Senior of the Year,” Vigeant announced.
Reading from a proclamation, he continued, “Frances, originally from Italy, came to the United States at age 12 with her mother and brother to meet her father, who was already here working to support her family. Frances has been volunteering at the Marlborough Hospital for over 20 years and has logged in over 12,600 hours, where she greets and guides visitors.”
Vigeant also noted she’s “famously known as the Italian grandmother who makes the best pizzelle cookies.”
Brescia was nominated by Jim Confrey, president of the Marlborough Council on Aging Board of Directors.
“I started volunteering at the hospital about nine years ago and she was one of the first people I interacted with,” he said. “She’s the perfect example of the ideal volunteer. When she turned 90 last year, I said to my wife, ‘I’ve got to nominate her next year.’”
When accepting the award, Brescia told the guests she was still unaware she’d be the recipient earlier that day.
“Today I was talking with my friend, Jim, at work,” she relayed, “and I was kidding when I said to him, ‘If you see me sitting there with a lot of 90-year-olds, please don’t pick me. Don’t let them know I’m 90!’”
Among the guests acknowledging that her age was a revelation was state Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough.
“I had no idea how old you were – amazing!” Gregoire quipped before presenting a proclamation on behalf of the House of Representatives. Later she commented, “Frances is a fixture in the community – the whole family is. They want to have a good time, make sure everybody is okay, and keep everybody healthy and happy.”
Dinner was served by city councilors, including City Council President Patricia Pope, who has many years of fond memories interacting with Brescia.
“Way back when we were doing the French Hill Neighborhood Association, she was so involved; and we were parishioners together at St. Anne’s Church,” Pope recalled. “She’s done so many phenomenal things for the community, and all very quietly. She always stands in the shadow while doing a ton of work.”
The honoree was joined by many family members, including her proud sister, Betty Evangelous.
“Frances always felt that she had a good life here in this country, so she wanted to give back,” Evanegelous said. “She’s been like a second mother to me. My mother was quite ill when I was young and Frances ended up taking me with her everywhere she went. She was always there for me if I ever needed anything.”
Although St. Ann’s Church closed in 2004, the two sisters still run the Friends of St. Anne’s Travel Club, which provides affordable trips.
“The travel club doesn’t make any money; it’s given away,” Evangelous said. “It goes to people in need for holiday dinners, to the police for kids’ bike helmets, and for kids to go to camp.”
Brescia insists she has no plans to stop volunteering.
“I retired at 71 years old from Raytheon, and then went right to the Marlborough Hospital to volunteer,” she said. “I wouldn’t give it up.”
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