By Lisa Capobianco
Southington resident Lisa Carroll has spent the past 25 years instilling her love of theater into local youth. Between serving as the director of Southington Community Youth Theater program and serving as a musical theater teacher at Dance City and the Arts, Carroll’s passion for the arts has shined through her involvement in town.
This year John Myers, the executive director of the Southington YMCA, announced that Carroll is the recipient for the YMCA Person of the Year due to her commitment.
“This is the most surreal thing,” said Carroll, a teacher in Bristol who is also involved in the nativity production at St. Dominic’s School. “In theater, there is no competition—everyone works together to make it the best show.”
Myers also announced other 2014 award recipients for their commitment to youth development and making the town a better place to live. “Because of 26” received the “Reaching Out” award, and Diana Sheard received the “Unsung Hero” award. All recipients will be honored formally during at the Aqua Turf on January 29, 2014.
“This is one of my favorite days of the year—we get to recognize some shining stars in Southington,” Myers said.
Lisa Wrubleski and Erin Furniss, two Southington moms, decided to form “Because of 26” in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, vowing to raise their children in a community that exhibits acts of kindness and generosity. On June 15, the group organized a ceremony in Plantsville, bringing hundreds of people together to honor the victims of the shooting and to see the release of over 100 butterflies, which symbolize eternal life. A mural of 26 metal butterflies now hangs on the back of Ragazino’s Garage on Summer Street, so the community will remember the purpose of that event.
Today the group continues the mission by posting acts of kindness on its Facebook page.
“We were excited that we had the support of the community,” Wrubleski said. “It is nice to know we want our children to grow up and be kind to one another.”
Myers also acknowledged Sheard’s service to the town through her role as Valentine the clown, admiring her gift of making others smile. From birthday parties to festivals to hospital visits, Sheard makes appearances throughout the entire town. She also serves as the “ride minister” at First Congregational Church, arranging transportation services for parishioners who do not drive.
Sheard, who has also served on the advisory board for Southington’s Town-wide Effort to Promote Success (STEPS) said she felt honored to become the recipient for the Unsung Hero award.
“It is very humbling,” said Sheard, who became interested in serving as a clown in sixth grade after a teacher helped her overcome shyness.