Award recipients were honored Saturday evening May 31st at the 60th Annual Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year Award Banquet held at the Friendship Hook and Ladder Fire Company.
The firehouse banquet hall began to fill just after five o'clock. Guests took turns congratulating each of the four award winners, Shawn Barndt Citizen of the Year, Dan Kershetsky Educator of the Year, Charles Ritschard Firefighter of the Year and Danielle Croner Student of the Year, before sitting down to dinner.
A surprise visit from BASH Show Choir offered musical entertainment as the students showcased their vocal abilities, singing a couple of pieces before pausing to thank Mr. Kershetsky for his years of teaching and finally finishing with the a piece titled Hear My Prayer.
Starting off the night's festivities was Jim Davidheiser of the Reading Eagle who took a moment to thank the Boyertown Lions and Rotary Clubs, Building a Better Boyertown, M&T Bank, the many other sponsors of the event and the Hooks food service staff and volunteers.
The Reverend Barry Moyer led the group in a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance before turning the floor over to State Representative Dave Maloney who spoke of the greatness of the Boyertown community and her citizens then offered an anecdote about his own personal experience working with this year's Citizen of the Year recipient. 'My wife's father began to suffer from dementia. He was a strong German man who wanted things a certain way. It was Shawn's kindness that made it easier for us to make those tough decisions.'
Accepting his award first was Charles Ritschard, Sr. Ritschard has more than thirty years of firefighting experience under his belt, Ritschard made it very clear it was the support of his family that made it possible. 'I've missed birthdays, holidays and even an anniversary once. My wife and kids have put up with a lot of stuff over the years and I'm just so grateful to them.' Continuing on, Ritschard also thanked his employer for making it easier for him to make it to calls and the Friendship Hook and Ladder Company for making him feel a part of the community.
Dan Kershetsky winner of the Educator of the Year award joked it was because he was 'old' and retiring that he was nominated but anyone who has taught with or has been taught by Kershetsky knows the reason for his nomination is due to his thirty-three years of service to the community teaching children as he puts it, 'To do more than just read musical notes off paper but to learn to work together and become ambassadors for their communities.'
Kershetsky recalled a former student who had been somewhat troublesome many years ago and all the time and patience it required to help make the student successful. The student now fully grown and well out of school happened to run into Kershetsky years later and proudly introduced his family to his old teacher saying, 'This is Mr. Kershetsky, he was the coolest teacher ever.' 'There is an upside and a downside to teaching but the rewards of teaching far exceed the downside,' Kershetsky said in closing.
Danielle Croner BASH senior with a lengthy list of accomplishments took the stage with tissue in hand, first apologizing before speaking explaining with graduation so close the moment was 'a little hard.' She then went on to explain how her last years spent at BASH were often times chaotic and crazy having taken on projects that would have her pulling several all-nighters. 'Still, I wouldn't have traded it for all the world,' Croner said before she thanked all her peers, the faculty and staff at BASH who made it all possible. 'We've got something really special here in Boyertown. My mom says it takes a village to raise a child. I'm glad my village was Boyertown.'
Citizen of the Year Shawn Barndt found it a little hard to speak about herself explaining it is not really in her nature to take credit. She then went on to thank her husband and twin sons for all their support over the years and for putting up with her hectic schedule. Barndt discovered her passion for working with Alzheimer and dementia patients at a young age and has dedicated her life to working in the field. Barndt a Boyertown native recalled one of her first jobs working with patients out in the city. 'The job was ideal and although growing up in Boyertown had prepared me for a lot it had not prepared me for parking in the city.' Barndt was overjoyed when she was finally able to return to her hometown with all she had learned to work as the Director for Chestnut Knoll helping the community that had always been there for her.