Keeping the Community Afloat

The communities of our Tri-Town are special, and what makes them special are the people who live in them, the people who work in them, govern them, and those that volunteer their time for the highest good of their town.

This is why, once a year, we at The Wanderer are excited to bring forward three distinctive people from each of the three towns to recognize their hours of community service and honor their innumerable contributions that keep each of the communities afloat, like the keel of a ship that keeps the vessel from capsizing.

This year, citizens from each town submitted the names of some pretty spectacular nominees for the 2014 Wanderer Keel Award. Three of them really stood out to us, and we are thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s award: From Mattapoisett, Jennifer Shepley; from Marion, Hanna Milhench; and from Rochester, Kate Lanagan MacGregor.

Shepley is president of the Friends of the Library and also often assists with events sponsored by the Mattapoisett Women’s Club that raise money for scholarships. Shepley acts as Garden Tour captain, organizing and staffing the gardens on the tour, and assists with monthly Women’s Clubs meetings, often during her lunch hour from work.

Recently, Shepley was also the chairperson for fundraising for the Mattapoisett Congregational Church mission trip to Appalachia.

“I do all the bossy jobs,” said Shepley, jokingly. “I boss people around for both fun and recreation.”

Hanna Milhench is a pillar at Saint Gabriel’s Church in Marion, volunteering her time to projects devoted to helping others. She has managed “Friendship Tables,” a free community-wide monthly supper held at the church, and also spearheaded St. Gabriel’s “Gardens by the Sea” garden tour, raising funds for community efforts such as “Damien’s Pantry” and “Community Resources Network.”

“I’m sure Hanna does more good deeds that I am unaware of, but I think these listed deeds make her a good candidate for [The Wanderer] Keel Award,” said Elizabeth Brainard, who nominated Milhench for the award. “She is indeed an unsung heroine!”

Kate Lanagan MacGregor’s latest project has been what she calls a “furniture exchange” effort to help those starting out or starting over in life. As a realtor, MacGregor said she sees a lot of people starting off in tough situations, so she began collecting unwanted furniture from clients as they moved out of their houses and storing it in her garage. She has joined up with Mercy Meals and More of New Bedford as a way of assisting those most in need. She said she is spearheading the Bold Day Foundation to help people out who are just “starting back up again.”

“I volunteer when I can,” said MacGregor. She helps out at road races, the Annual Rochester Memorial Boat Race, and in the past she has coached and served on the Rochester School Committee.

“I believe that you should give without any expectations of an outcome,” said MacGregor. “I kind of help out when I can.”

The Wanderer congratulates our three 2014 Wanderer Keel Award winners and thanks those who submitted nominations to bring these outstanding citizens to the forefront to be honored and recognized for the good work they are doing in our community. Do you know anyone else in the community who deserves recognition? Email us at so we can get the word out about all the great things Tri-Towners are doing to make a difference!

By Jean Perry


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