College honors four outstanding Addison County citizens
MIDDLEBURY — At a celebratory dinner on Tuesday, Middlebury College honored four Addison County residents for their efforts to improve the community.
President Laurie Patton presented the Bonnie and John McCardell Citizen’s Awards for outstanding community service to Bruce and Suzanne Byers, Robin Huestis and Natalie Peters.
The college has honored local citizens for exemplary community service, volunteerism and engagement dating back to its bicentennial year in 2000. Nominations come from members of the community, and a committee of faculty and staff makes the final selections.
“Good citizenship is about creating and managing a wise partnership between self and other, balancing multiple interests and understanding the complexities of the community in which you live,” President Patton said.
The Citizen’s Award program celebrates the special relationship between Middlebury College and its community by honoring individuals who have made notable contributions to the life of Addison County with no expectation of reward or recognition, Patton said.
The 2016 recipients are:
Bruce Byers, a retired attorney, was one of the driving forces behind the rebuilding of Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater. He served on THT’s first board of directors, co-chaired the first capital campaign to renovate the dilapidated 19th-century structure and handled the legal work (pro bono) for the permits and easements necessary to bring the former town hall and opera house back to life again.
Byers’ community service also extends to the Open Door Clinic, Porter Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Cornwall Planning Commission and the social service agency known as HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects). In presenting the Citizen’s Award to him, Patton said the greater Middlebury community is “privileged to have Bruce’s selflessness and zest for life in our midst.”
Suzanne Byers was also instrumental in the revival of Town Hall Theater. She served on the capital campaign committee, the events and landscape committees and as membership co-chair. She is also on THT’s current board of directors.
Patton termed the Cornwall resident’s service to Porter Hospital Auxiliary as “legendary” in recognition of her work as a board member, planning committee chair and host of the Derby Day fund-raising event. Byers also volunteers her skills and energy to benefit Sheldon Museum, HOPE and Spring into the Arts. Both Sue and Bruce Byers are members of the Middlebury College Class of 1955.
Robin Huestis is the long-serving manager of the Round Robin Upscale Resale Shop in the Marble Works, a nonprofit that raises approximately $50,000 annually to benefit Porter Medical Center. The shop also provides clothing, housewares and tender loving care to local residents affected by fire and natural disasters, and in recent years “the quiet and unassuming” Huestis has extended Round Robin’s helping hand to newly arrived refugees, said Patton.
An accomplished seamstress with a flair for costume design, Huestis has been invaluable to Middlebury Community Players and to the theater programs at both Middlebury Union High School and Hannaford Career Center.
Natalie Peters is one of the founders of the Mary Johnson Children’s Center and served on its board of directors for almost 25 years. She is also one of the founders of Addison County Parent/Child Center and has served on its board for 36 years and counting.
The longtime resident has also volunteered her time to WomenSafe, Girl Scouting, the UD-3 school board, Addison County Teens and the Tooth Tutor Program. Peters has also served on both the Middlebury Planning Commission and Design Review Board. In conferring the Citizen’s Award to her, Patton lauded Peters for her “unparalleled devotion to this community.”
This year’s recipients of the McCardell Citizen’s Awards join 58 other area residents who have been so honored since the college’s bicentennial. All recipients of the Citizen’s Award receive a pewter medallion struck at Danforth Pewter of Middlebury.
MANY OF THE 58 people who have received Middlebury College’s Bonnie and John McCardell Citizen’s Awards joined college President Laurie Patton at a dinner honoring the four newest recipients at Kirk Alumni Center on Tuesday night. Middlebury College began bestowing the award in 2000. Photo by Todd Balfour