The Somerville Chamber of Commerce 72nd Annual Dinner & Powderhouse Awards

By Judy Locchi Jacobs

Jack Connolly, Boston College Graduate, a local business owner of Wedgwood-Crane & Connolly Insurance Agency who served the longest seat of Alderman, 22 years, while maintaining an extensive record of public service to the City of Somerville and administrations, received the John W. Fitzgerald Lifetime Achievement Award.
John W. Fitzgerald was the founder of Ames Envelope in Somerville, who was also the first Somerville Chamber Chairman in 1946.
The meeting was well attended and a variety of members of the community spoke in support of Jack’s many contributions to making Somerville the place it is today.
Sentiments by his colleagues describe Jack as unstoppable, a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and has an ear for everyone. Through his hard work and dedication to the constituency, fellow business owners, and residents –supporters praised Jack for his resilience in spite of the significant challenges and changes Somerville has faced throughout the years and still today.
The event was held by the Somerville Chamber of Commerce and attended by its members which included a large number of invited guests and speakers to include:
Treasurer and Receiver General, Deborah Goldberg
Representative Denise Provost
Mayors Emeritus – Eugene Brune, Dorothy Kelly Gay
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone
Board of Alderman members, BOA President, Katijana Ballantyne, Alderman-At-Large, William White and Ward 5 Alderman, Mark Niedergang.
John Pitcher, VP of Administration and Finance of Bunker Hill Community College presented a topic of great concern –hunger among college students.  A growing number of students are unable to feed themselves due to socio-economic conflicts. A video of “Voices of Hunger”, was shared.
As Mr. Pitcher stressed, “Hungry students don’t learn. Students are among the under served of our region and community of Somerville”.
Their efforts to ease the problem—a food pantry provided by Bunkerhill Community College, and $200k raised in support for students to remain nutritionally healthy.
Chamber President and CEO, Steve Mackey, added, “The program is very important in this community, more and more, world issues are coming here, needs for food, climate and economy.”.
“While we have been wishing for the Green Line Extension (GLX), to come here, some traffic congestion will be tested.  We need to keep our community and also keep a sense of humor”.
Mr. Mackey thanked members of the Board of Alderman and city administration for their ongoing support with the Somerville Chamber of Commerce while working together towards the success of the entire community.
Mayor Curtatone spoke of development and incoming changes on the horizon which include his following remarks:
“Efforts are underway to build a resilient workforce while maintaining an equity playbook and advancing technical digital systems”.
The mayor made a few brief comments about the site of the new location for Amazon–which remains undecided but will land in another area on the east coast.  He remains confident that the GLX will be testing trains in 2019 and will be running by 2021.
In closing, he added, “Companies will bring in thousands of employees to this region which will lead to facilitate needed road improvements, 6 new hotels, 6 new vertical buildings on Washington Street. We have to build — we can’t  stop, this is your home”.
Treasurer Goldberg, shared her gratitude of winning the election with the audience, “I am absolutely thrilled and honored by my re-election last night”.
She describes herself as someone who values her family traditions and the reason she got involved in public service and politics.
“This is about public service, we hear people use those words very lightly. I decided to run for treasurer at 60 years old, because of the values my parents instilled in me and wanting to sincerely and fundamentally make a difference in people’s lives all over Massachusetts”.
She shared details of how public service became important to her and how it began. Through efforts of her mother and her mother’s friends who started a home for the elderly, “Anyone who showed up was given a room over their head and a job. In her career with Stop & Shop. “Families together grew Stop & Shop which represented jobs for generations that worked together at a time”.
“I was brought up to do that, so when we went through the hostile takeover in 1988, we were pushed out because we wouldn’t fire our people. I looked for my path, because my path was to walk in all of those generations footsteps and this job has given me the most incredible opportunity.
She then talked about her continued work in supporting veterans, a launched women’s empowerment series and how her staff has helped many constituents throughout the commonwealth with a number of requests.
Jack Connolly was then presented with the John W. Fitzgerald Lifetime Achievement Award.
A video presentation was shown to the audience to describe Jack’s story.
Mayor Emeritus, Gene Brune, began, “Jack is practical, reliable and sensible. He helped to bring in the MBTA Green, Red and Orange, major public transportation lines including the new high school to the city.  He encouraged long term residency, invests his time and dedication in working with people who will stay—always thinks about what is best for the community, not what is best for his political career– and that’s Jack”.
“Jack has invested a lot of time and energy through his business and his civic duty, so if I feel there is someone who should get this award, it is Jack Connolly”.
Others included in the video, describe Jack as possessing a vivacious personality that will always be there with a smile, a helping hand and someone who maintains a fierce determination to get the job done—a tenacity and drive that is incredible.
Jack added his thanks to all of his colleagues and many friends, especially his loved ones–
“Nothing is possible without the love of my family”.
In his closing comments, he shared a paraphrased quote from President John F. Kennedy–
“I can think of no more effective agents to advancing our freedoms to live as we choose than the insurance agents. These individuals know the economic pulse of the country as few may, for they walk all the streets of American life. They talk to you –the mature and to the elderly. They know their wants and help them in their times of need, and build, for they help others to build. They ensure the future. They are respected and they are our friends”.
In closing, Jack shared, “I hope to have lived up to those words, and that I’ll continue to earn your respect and friendship”.
“Because I ain’t done yet!”

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