By Lisa Capobianco
The Southington Community YMCA honored its two 2013 Compass Award recipients last week for their commitment to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
During the Forever in Blue Jeans gala, the YMCA recognized Mike and Teresa Soltys, a couple who has lived in Southington for the past 18 years. The Y chose the Soltys for their dedication to improve the lives of Southington residents. They have made volunteer service a family affair, serving Bread for Life, Community Services and Relay for Life.
John Myers, the executive director of the YMCA, said Mike and Teresa Soltys deserve the award because they serve as role models for the entire community, inspiring others to give back, including their children.
“They do it because it is just the right thing to do,” Myers said.
Mike, the Vice President of Communications for ESPN, has served as an active volunteer. Currently a secretary of Bread for Life, Mike also serves as a lector and confirmation mentor at St. Dominic Church as well as the coordinator of St. Dominic Nourishes. He also served as a former member of the Southington Chamber Board and as a Southington Youth Basketball coach.
“It is important to give back,” said Mike, who added that his involvement in the community allowed him to develop long-lasting friendships. “You end up getting to know people through the various things you do.”
When not volunteering in Southington, Mike gives back as an advisor to ImagineNation Children’s Museum in Bristol, an advisor for Youth Journalism International, and a mentor for Uconn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Teresa, a literacy tutor at Plantsville Elementary School who also does development work at St. Dominic Church, has served as a Eucharistic minister and member of the Liturgy Planning Committee at the church. She also gives back through her work as a parent committee member of STEPS, as a member of the Southington High School’s Boys Tennis Center Court Club, and as a volunteer for Kristin’s Closet. Teresa was also a coordinator for Kelley School Care for 12 years and a religious education instructor for St. Dominic Church.
Calling her mother an inspiration to her community service work, Teresa added that she has always felt a need to give back. When she found out about becoming a recipient, Teresa said she felt surprised, considering the number of other people in town who always give back to the community.
“It was humbling,” said Teresa, who also served as a volunteer for Southington schools for the past 18 years. “There are many people in this town who work hard in the community.”
Besides honoring the award recipients, hundreds of guests had the opportunity to shop through more than 200 silent auction items, including restaurant gift cards, an Apple iPad, an apple fritter speed pass for the 2014 Apple Harvest Festival and more. Myers said he feels confident that the YMCA has surpassed its goal of $65,000.
“Our Southington friends were very generous,” Myers said.