By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – Elected officials joined guests Nov. 14 at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough for the biannual Northborough-Southborough Good Scout Award Dinner to honor Lisa Braccio, of Southborough, and Parker Swan, of Northborough. Presented by the Boy Scouts” Knox Trail Council, the award recognizes individuals who exhibit the characteristics of Scouting in their daily lives.
State Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, presented House of Representatives and Senate citations to both honorees.
In 2005, Braccio discovered that soldiers overseas needed basic items such as toothbrushes. Two weeks later, she and her husband, Matt, organized their first care package drive, which has continued each May and October. In the past eight years, 16 drives have collected over 180,000 pounds of donations and shipped over 7,800 boxes.
Daniel Kolenda, vice chair of the Southborough Board of Selectmen, spoke of Braccio's efforts from his perspective as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, while serving from 2008 to 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq.
“All this mail would come in – these huge, beautiful boxes – and they were all addressed to Maj. Kolenda,” he said. Soldiers would ask him who he knew to receive such special attention. “I know Lisa Braccio,” he said.
After receiving the Good Scout Award from Kolenda, Braccio thanked the volunteers who have helped her.
“I can only accept this award on behalf of everyone who donates time, items and the money to ship these boxes overseas,” she said.
While elected officials presented the awards, a former elected official received the honor. Parker Swan was elected town moderator of Northborough in 1970 and served for 33 years. Swan is also known as a humorous entertainer, who started performing as a magician at age 8. For many years, he appeared at Boy Scout Blue and Gold Banquets, schools, hospitals, libraries, service clubs and trade shows.
William Pantazis, chair of the Northborough Board of Selectmen, shared his first memory of Swan. As a freshman at Algonquin Regional High School, Pantazis needed to attend town meetings as a requirement of a civics class.
“Parker Swan was the town moderator and he got up, started talking, and I was intrigued,” Pantazis said. “He joked around and got the crowd motivated. From then on, I was interested in politics and town meetings.”
John Harrington, unit commissioner of the Knox Trail Council, presented the award for Swan.
“I'se known the Swan family for a number of years and I's very pleased to present the Good Scout Award to Parker Swan,” he said.
Swan was unable to attend the dinner due to recent health issues.
“I want to assure you that Parker is resting well and on the road to recovery,” Harrington said. “It is both fitting and appropriate that we have with us tonight his wife of 57 years, Claire, who has in her own right volunteered generously.”
Soon after moving to Northborough as newlyweds in 1955, Claire and Parker became involved in community activities. Both served as directors and trustees of the Northborough Historical Society, the chairs of the town's Bicentennial Ball in 1966, and active members of St. Rose of Lima Parish. In 2005, they were honored as grand marshals of the Applefest parade.
Accepting the award on behalf of her husband, Claire relayed a message from him.
“Parker said he is deeply honored and humbled to receive this wonderful award,” she said. “My heartfelt gratitude and appreciation goes to the Knox Trail Council and to all who helped to make this evening so special.”
The evening was emceed by John Polanowicz, assistant scoutmaster of Northborough Boy Scout Troop 101. Peter Kachajiian and Ron Koshko served as committee co-chairs.