The Andover Townsman
---- — Lou Bernieri of Andover, a four-year volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, was honored last month with the 2013 Jeannie Melucci Award given to an individual who goes above and beyond in service to the kids and club.
The recognition took place at the club’s annual Thanksgiving celebration on Nov. 27, during which a traditional holiday dinner was served to more than 400 youth members.
Bernieri, executive director of Andover Bread Loaf, collaborated with education staff members at the Boys & Girls Club to create Slice of Bread Loaf. The writing, arts and performance program for elementary school children starts with a two-week summer workshop and continues every other week through much of the year. It is staffed by trained high school writing leaders from the club.
“We’re very appreciative to Lou for his remarkable, and at times life-changing, impact on our kids,” Markus Fischer, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, said in a release.
“He has opened up a new world of creative writing and arts to our youth members, and unlocked the potential of becoming a writer or poet for many of them.”
In addition, Bernieri helps the club’s high school members with college essays and has enlisted other writing teachers and organizations to add programming for all ages.
Bernieri said in the release that he has gained more than he has given through his volunteer experience at the club.
“It has been my honor to be able to do this work,” he said. “I feel this is the most important award I’ve ever received, and I thank you.”
The award, presented annually to a volunteer, is named for the late Jeannie Melucci, a former staff member at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, whose tough love is credited with inspiring countless children to extraordinary achievement.
Also during the event, Fischer acknowledged two groups of longtime volunteers: the Exchange Club of Lawrence, which has cooked the food for the annual Thanksgiving celebration for about four decades, and the student-athletes of Triton Regional High School in Byfield, who have served the meal for about 30 years.
For more on the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, located at 136 Water St., visit www.lawrencebgc.com.