Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, Inc. to recognize James Heald with Harry S. Cutting, Jr. award

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Submitted by Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services

James Heald. Photo/submitted
James Heald. Photo/submitted

Shrewsbury – James (Jim) Heald has been named the 2019 recipient of the Harry S. Cutting, Jr. Award by Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services (SYFS) Inc.

The mission of SYFS is provide counseling and other supportive services to members of our community through diverse programming and services that help to strengthen and assist local youth, families and seniors. The nonprofit community agency established the award in 1991 in the memory of the Shrewsbury philanthropist who was one of the agency’s founders. This prestigious award honors those who embody the spirit of Harry S. Cutting, Jr. through remarkable and selfless efforts to enhance the community of Shrewsbury.

Heald will accept the award at the SYFS Annual Breakfast on Friday, Jan. 18.

“Jim Heald has done much to enhance the quality of life for our Shrewsbury community,” said SYFS Board of Directors Chair Tom Kennedy. “On behalf of the SYFS Board, we are pleased to recognize Jim for giving of his time, talent and treasure to make Shrewsbury a better place by honoring him with this special award.”

Heald grew up in Shrewsbury and graduated from Shrewsbury High School. As a young child, he reflected on knowing Cutting quite well.

“Harry and my late father, Steve, were active members of the Shrewsbury Rotary Club,” Heald remarked. “I recall Harry as a true gentleman and remember his perfectly white hair, short stature and professional dress often with his signature Yankee metal necktie. I am honored to be recognized by SYFS with this award and humbled to be included among the list of dedicated people since the awards inception in 1991. I have always believed in giving back to the community and in whatever small manner possible I have tried to make the community an even better place to live.”

Heald has demonstrated his commitment to community service and involvement, including behind-the-scenes efforts for many organizations, and made Shrewsbury a better place to live. He is often called upon to spearhead events because of his leadership, gregarious personality and palpable commitment to worthy local causes. Heald is a member of the Board of Directors that continues to organize the annual Turkey Trot for the Memory, an honored Thanksgiving morning tradition for many families in Shrewsbury and beyond. He has made a significant impact in securing family and business sponsors, as well as publicizing the event, which benefits the MA/NH Alzheimer’s Association. Heald showcases his fun-loving sense of humor by dressing the part at the event. He cheers runners and walkers on in a festive head-to-toe turkey costume while driving a Vespa, bicycle and any wheeled vehicle that will allow him to see and thank as many people as he can along the route.

As a board member of SYFS, he co-chaired the annual gala in 2014 and would later serve as its auctioneer. At his home parish of St. Mary’s, where he served as a lector and Parish Council member, Heald entertained the crowds and successfully raised monies at the trivia night/pub quiz during the annual family festival.

Above all else, Heald’s lifelong passion has been in funeral service. From a young age, he knew his vocation was helping families navigate through difficult times. As a former funeral home owner, Heald’s talent for organizing dynamic life celebration events helped families and friends begin their healing. With his brother, John Heald, as well as staff members, Heald changed the way in which people experienced and approached funerals and death. Heald’s interest in well-written obituaries enabled him to write masterful life stories which truly captured the essence of the person. Suffice to say that Heald’s love for funeral service has always been evident in his ability to make a difference.

Presently, Heald is working in Training and Development for Life Celebration Inc., based outside of Philadelphia. He also serves as a consultant for funeral homes in the greater Boston area.