‘I just do it out of love’: Shrewsbury’s Petrucci named Commonwealth Heroine

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‘I just do it out of love’: Shrewsbury’s Petrucci named Commonwealth Heroine
Melanie Petrucci (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – What started as a normal email clean-out session quickly became cause for celebration.

As Melanie Petrucci sorted through her inbox, getting rid of all the junk mail – “delete, delete, delete,” she described it – she stumbled upon an email from Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury). Kane had nominated Petrucci as a 2024 Commonwealth Heroine, an award given to approximately 125 women across the state who “make outstanding contributions to their organizations and in their communities.” The award is sponsored by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW)

Petrucci emailed Kane to confirm the news. Yes, the email was real. She was being named a Commonwealth Heroine.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute. What’s this about?’ I opened the email, and I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘Me?’ I know I’m involved and I do a lot … I was honored. Simply, I’m just honored and humbled,” Petrucci told the Community Advocate in an interview at the Shrewsbury Public Library.

Residents may know Petrucci from any number of town committees, commissions and organizations she serves on, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, Petrucci grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder before moving to Shrewsbury approximately 24 years ago with her husband, Rich, and daughters, Robin and Michaella. She came to Shrewsbury because of the schools’ reputation, but didn’t know anybody when she first arrived.

So, Petrucci got involved.

“When we first moved to town, I didn’t know anybody. I thought, ‘What can I do to get involved and start making friends and connections?’ The first thing I got involved with was the Shrewsbury Child Development Committee, because one of my kids was in preschool, the other was going into preschool. That’s really where I got my start,” she said. “My motivation was to meet people, make friends, be a part of the community, and contribute.”

And contribute she has.

Petrucci chairs the Historic District Commission, is involved with the Shrewsbury Town Center Association, and was selected for the recently formed 300th Anniversary Celebration Committee. Perhaps you’ve seen her volunteering throughout town, supporting Shrewsbury Public Schools and the Shrewsbury High School Robotics Team. She’s been a Town Meeting member for longer than she can remember, and covered Shrewsbury for the Community Advocate from 2016 to 2021.

But for Petrucci, it’s not about building up a resume. She volunteers with various groups because she genuinely cares.

“My motivation really kind of goes back to my mom. My mom was very involved in the community where I was born … in Grand Junction. My mom was very active in town politics – she was active and very community-minded,” she said. “I think people [in Shrewsbury] really care. … The people that I’ve come in contact with care deeply about our community. That is infectious – that level of appreciation. It infected me, and I just want to carry that on.”

“I’m honored to nominate Melanie Petrucci as a 2024 Commonwealth Heroine,” said Kane. “Her willingness to help in any way she can has made our community stronger, and I am grateful for her incredible passion for Shrewsbury.”

In particular, Petrucci aims to preserve Shrewsbury’s history. Growing up in Colorado, where the history is much newer, she always imagined the East Coast as a bucolic, historic community. While the town has grown in the last 24 years, she fell in love with Shrewsbury’s “vibe” and works tirelessly to preserve what she can, including the “charming architecture.”

“Having access to all these historical properties – they help build our way of life. You have to preserve it,” she said.

All of the work – everything she has done – has made her a Commonwealth Heroine.

“I just felt proud. I immediately shared the news with my daughters. I just wanted to share it with them and say, ‘Look what your mom has done.’ I also thought of my mom, and she’s no longer with us, I just think that she’s up there smiling, proud of what I’ve accomplished. When you add everything up I’ve done – sure – but I’m just going through my life, doing what I like doing, and if it makes a difference, that’s a goal, but I just do it out of love,” she said, also thanking her husband for his support.

Her advice to Shrewsbury newcomers?

“I think there’s something here for everybody. All you have to do is make a phone call or send an email.”

 

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