Despite some revisions due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the delayed 66th Annual Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year Awards Gala will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles.

The in-person event is limited to 25 for the winners but the Facebook Live virtual event is open to all in the community. 

“What we’re going to do is make sure that those people are honored properly for the amazing job that they’ve done,” said Mark Malizzi.

Jim Davidheiser and Malizzi, Boyertown Citizen of the Year team members, made the announcement about changes for this year’s Gala via a YouTube video posted on the event Facebook page.

“We are excited to invite you to be part of something that we’ve done every year now for the last 60 plus years,” said Malizzi. “This year’s going to be a little different.”

This year’s event will be limited to an attendance of 25 people which includes the award recipients and immediate guests. The community is invited to view the Citizen Gala live via a Facebook Live video posted on the Boyertown Citizen of Year Facebook page.

Malizzi hopes that the Facebook Live event will reach more people than the in-person event has in prior years.

“We’re hoping that this year’s video version of the (Gala) will actually let you know that there’s some amazing people that you may not have heard of but we’re going to tell you about them and we’re going to take time to honor them. Even COVID style this year,” said Malizzi.

Normally, the Citizen of the Year Gala sees an attendance of about 200 people.

“This year we have to keep it below 25 but we’re hoping that there’s going to be 10,000 people out there that are going to watch this video and thank the people that have done amazing things in our community,” said Malizzi.

The Facebook Live event will be available at 6 p.m.

“You can participate from home where everybody can be safe,” said Davidheiser.

“They can watch from the safety of their own home. They can wear fuzzy slippers if they want… they can be in comfortable clothes, but we can still take the time to honor people who have done amazing things in our community,” said Malizzi. “That’s really the point of this. Our team talked about what we wanted to do for these people, especially in this COVID time.”

Number one was safety, said Malizzi.

“We all wear masks coming in and out. We want to do the right things at the right times for right now because we don’t understand what’s going on,” said Malizzi. “But we still understand that these people have done things for our community. We must take the time to honor them.”

Standing in front of a vintage gas station at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles, Davidheiser and Malizzi talked about the 2020 award winners.

“We’re here surrounded by all kinds of amazing vehicles and what we’re going to do is honor some amazing people in our community, people that have done from their heart and soul to help many different charities and many different people. These people were chosen by the community,” said Malizzi.

Community members submitted ballots to cast their votes for this year’s award winners. The Citizen of the Year team then selected the 2020 winners.

“We have a fantastic contingent of folks who are getting our 2020 Citizen awards, and as you said, it’s a fantastic event that has been happening in the Boyertown area for more than 60 years,” said Davidheiser.

The 2020 Citizen of the Year Award will be presented to Lindsey Reigner Mason.

“An outstanding young lady who has done a great deal throughout the Boyertown community, including very actively involved in the Boyertown Community Library,” said Davidheiser.

Amy Guldin will be presented the Outstanding First Responder Award.

“She has been very involved with Boyertown Ambulance over the years,” he said.

Ursula Gamler will be presented the Outstanding Mentor Award.

“She is a teacher but more than that she is an outstanding community person,” he said.

Recent Boyertown Area Senior High School graduate Mariellen Kehler is this year’s Outstanding High School Senior.

“Also, the Special Recognition Award, which we often give to organizations who have gone above and beyond, this year goes to Preston’s Pantry Project which is a segment of Boyertown Area Multi-Services,” said Davidheiser.

“We have a fantastic group of folks being honored,” he added. “We’re having the event here at the Museum with a limited number of people.”

Preston’s Pantry Project, “that speaks for itself,” Malizzi said.

“It’s done amazing amounts of food for the community. Way before COVID came about they were helping thousands of people and now it’s just tenfold the number of people,” Malizzi said.

He encourages the community to donate to Preston’s Pantry either via the Gala or directly through the Pantry.

Proceeds from ticket sales will be split between Preston’s Pantry and the Boyertown Community Library.

“Let’s help people who are making our community better,” said Malizzi.

For those who purchased tickets in advance but are not able to attend now, those proceeds can go toward the Pantry and Library donations.

Remembering a past award recipient, Malizzi said, “The people that we’ve honored in the past still continue to give way after they are honored but this year we lost one of the people that have been awarded Citizen of the Year.”

“Yes, a bit of a somber note but also a celebratory note because he was an outstanding individual,” said Davidheiser. “Earlier this year, our 2018 Citizen of the Year Award recipient Dennis Hafer passed away. We remember him and our prayers continue for his family and friends who miss him greatly. Dennis was a fantastic individual.”

Hafer was very active within the community, most notably with Bally Lions Club and the Vision Resource Center of Berks County.

“We’re grateful for his many civic contributions,” said Davidheiser. “We miss Dennis but we want folks to know and Dennis to know that we’re remembering him.”

Malizzi said event updates will be posted at https://www.facebook.com/boyertowncitizenoftheyear/.

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