2018 Keel Award Recipients

The communities of the Tri-Town are special: the landscapes, the historic buildings, the history. But what really makes our three towns stand out are the people who live in them, the people who work in them, and especially the ones who give of their time and energy, volunteering for the highest good of their town and fellow residents.

This is the reason why, every year, The Wandereris pleased to highlight the selflessness of three individuals – one from each town – to honor them and to recognize their countless hours of service to the community and their dedication, which keep the community afloat like the keel of a ship that keeps the vessel from capsizing.

The community responded to the call for the submission of nominees from their towns this year, and the names of the selected recipients quickly rose to the top as the most deserving of the honor. We mostly stayed with the tradition of selecting one resident per town, but like we sometimes do, we broke slightly from the norm and decided to give the honor to two outstanding citizens from one of the towns who share the credit for one ‘cause with paws’ that has benefitted so many from our own community and a number of surrounding ones as well.

The Wandereris proud to award this year’s 2018 Wanderer Keel Awards to: Pete Smith of Marion, Jillian Zucco of Mattapoisett, and Pam and Oren Robinson at “It’s All About the Animals” of Rochester.

            Marion:Pete Smith was born in Marion and has lived here these 82 years of his life. Smith is somewhat of a history buff one could say, but not just a buff of any old history. When it comes to his beloved hometown of Marion, there isn’t anything he doesn’t want to know about its history to share with the rest of the people who love Marion. It’s true, and everyone knows it: Smith knows everything that anyone living today could possibly know about Marion’s history, so no one was surprised when the Board of Selectmen appointed him as the Town’s official historian earlier this year.

Smith, whose first name is actually Charles but never ever called that, has been a volunteer with the Sippican Historical Society for over 20 years now. He currently serves at the curator of the Sippican Historical Society Museum and still reigns among Marionites as “Mr. Marion” as his name is synonymous with history in Marion. Over time, Smith also donated his time and energy serving on the Council on Aging, the Lions Club, the Masons, and the Charles R. Washburn Memorial Trust board.

As the keeper of Marion’s history, as well as the one who keeps up the search for even more precious information about the town’s colorful past, Pete Smith was nominated and chosen as the 2018 Marion recipient of The WandererKeel Award.

            Mattapoisett:The rest of the country might know her as Miss Massachusetts 2017, but in the Tri-Town we know her best as Jillian Zucco.

Zucco was raised in Mattapoisett and still lives there and continues to serve her community even after her reign as Miss Massachusetts concluded this year.

Zucco is one of those few people you hear about every once in a while that embodies the true spirit of volunteerism, making her a perfect example of how one person can make a difference in her community. Zucco keeps it afloat with her literally hundreds of hours of community service each year organizing blood drives, food drives, the Miss Inspirational program, organizing a “Make a Difference Expo” in Mattapoisett to inspire and help steer prospective volunteers towards a meaningful contribution, sharing her talent co-directing with the Showstoppers, and even singing at her church.

Zucco continues to inspire her community, which is why we have selected Jillian Zucco as our 2018 Mattapoisett recipient of the WandererKeel Award.

           Rochester:Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” So on the microcosmic scale, it’s safe to say that as far as cats are concerned, Rochester has indeed been great, at least since 2009 when Pam and Oren Robinson opened a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to rescuing abandoned and abused cats in and around Rochester.

At “It’s All About the Animals,” it literally is all about the animals. Supported by donations, every dime goes towards feeding, housing, providing medical treatment, and ultimately finding loving homes for every cat that enters the cat shelter. The Robinsons oversee all aspects of the cat rescue shelter, which is staffed by volunteers equally dedicated to saving cats.

The Robinsons share their Marion Road home with the cats, dedicating most of the space to its “Kitty Village,” which includes a main shelter and its expanded area complete with ‘catio,’ a kitty clinic, and several other small cat cottages where the cats remain as long as needed until they find a furrever home – because no cat is ever euthanized at IAATA unless it is in pain and suffering from an incurable condition.

It’s All About the Animals is a staple in our Tri-Town community. Its compassionate founders take in the unwanted, uncared-for, and unloved cats in our area because, for the Robinsons, every cat is wanted, cared-for, and loved. IAATA fulfills a vital role in our community – saving cats while also saving us from a life void of fluffy feline companionship, which is why Pam and Oren Robinson of It’s All About the Animals are the 2018 Rochester recipients of theWandererKeel Award.

Congratulations to all four recipients, and thank you to the community for nominating such fine residents who best represent the greatness of our Tri-Town.

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