United Way honors two Hudson volunteers

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By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer

(l to r) Paul Mina, United Way of Tri-County (UWTC) president and CEO; Victoria Mier of Hudson, Youth Volunteer of the Year; and Gerry Gaw, UWTC board chair. Photos/submitted
(l to r) Paul Mina, United Way of Tri-County (UWTC) president and CEO; Victoria Mier of Hudson, Youth Volunteer of the Year; and Gerry Gaw, UWTC board chair. Photos/submitted

Hudson – The United Way of Tri-County traditionally names an adult and a youth Volunteer of the Year during its annual recognition breakfast at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel & Conference Center. On April 5, this year’s honorees were both Hudson residents: Dick Lacerte and Victoria Mier.

Soon after Dick Lacerte retired from the U.S. Army Natick Labs as a research chemist for 33 years in 1995, he began delivering Meals on Wheels as a driver from the Hudson Senior Center one day a week. Other days, he frequently helps with chores at the senior center such as recently checking the operation of its new lawnmower and making repairs in the pool room.

(l to r) Paul Mina, United Way of Tri-County (UWTC) president and CEO; Dick Lacerte of Hudson, Volunteer of the Year; and Gerry Gaw, UWTC board chair. Photos/submitted
(l to r) Paul Mina, United Way of Tri-County (UWTC) president and CEO; Dick Lacerte of Hudson, Volunteer of the Year; and Gerry Gaw, UWTC board chair. Photos/submitted

“I enjoy interfacing with the people,” he said. “Some of these people haven’t had someone to speak with since the last driver’s delivery. I stay for five to 10 minutes, depending on how much they want to talk. I’ve delivered meals to some of them for eight to 10 years. It’s a rewarding experience and I’ve met a lot of very nice people.”

There have been times when Lacerte noticed a meal recipient was less responsive than usual. He alerted the senior center staff and a caregiver was contacted for a wellness check. Once, he arrived at a home to find a man had fallen. He called 9-1-1 and the man required two weeks hospitalization.

Lacerte reports to Lynn Tedesco, the Meals on Wheels site manager. “Dick gets to know these people personally and worries if they don’t answer the door,” she said. “They look forward to seeing him and chatting. In a pinch, I can call Dick and he’ll always fill in for another driver. Twenty-two years of volunteering is a long time. I’m so proud to know him.”

Hudson High School eighth-grader Victoria Mier, 14, volunteers each weekday after school, and frequently during school-year and summer vacations, at the Argeo R. Cellucci Jr. Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest. Among her volunteer responsibilities is overseeing the club’s Keystone Café. She’s also a counselor-in-training for the club’s summer camp.

“I’ve always liked being with little kids,” she said. “In the counselor-in-training program I’m mostly with the little 5- to 7-year-olds, or 8- and 9-year-olds. I go on fieldtrips and play board games with them all summer. I try to play as many games as I can with those kids who don’t have a ‘go-to’ best friend.”

Her self-motivated volunteerism is appreciated by Mike Rugg, the club program director.

“The first thing Victoria asks me every day is, ‘What can I do to help the club?’” he said. “She tutors kids in the homework room and understands some students might not be in the best position to succeed, so she imparts advice to make sure their grades are good. Victoria runs the café, which she knows raises scholarship money for summer camp. She’s the perfect utility player who we can plug into any role. The club atmosphere is instantly improved as soon as Victoria is around.”