by Pete Mazzaccaro

This Thursday, the Chestnut Hill Community Association will convene its annual meeting. The meeting is a time to take the temperature of the organization with reports from officers and staff. It’s a time to hear from a guest speaker. This year it will be 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass.

But perhaps the most important thing the association does at its annual meeting is give a series of awards to community residents and leaders. The winners will get a nice plaque and a handshake at the dinner, but the acknowledgment goes far beyond that. All the award winners this year – as in years past – really deserve a moment to be recognized for how much their work benefits everyone in Chestnut Hill.

This year the awards will be given to four people.

Former CHCA president Brien Tilley will be presented with the Chestnut Hill Award. Tilley did many things while president of the association, but he might be best known for kick-starting two major events in Chestnut Hill that have gained a lot of popularity, particularly with families: the Holiday Parade and Hoops Madness.

The Benefactor’s Award will be presented to Chestnut Hill Community Fund president Jean Hemphill. The lifelong Hill resident has served the community for decades, most recently in her capacity as CHCF president. Under Hemphill, the CHCF has become more organized and stable. She has put in countless hours working on expanding the fund’s reach in Chestnut Hill, including the Chestnut Hill Green Space Initiative under which fund raising for Re-Tree Chestnut Hill is taking place. The Fund has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for community programs under her watch.

Noreen Spota will receive the Distinguished Service Award. As the CHCA’s administrative coordinator for almost 10 years, Spota has kept the association organized with an attention to detail few possess. She has also been a nearly tireless volunteer at events organized by both the CHCA and Green in Chestnut Hill, an organization she has served as treasurer.

Finally, Brenda Malinics will receive the Meritorious Service Award for her work on rescuing and finding new homes for lost cats. Malinics has combed Northwest and North Philadelphia to rescue cats and has championed humane outcomes for the animals, with an all volunteer staff that makes sure the cats that are rescued are healthy and adopted by caring families.

All four individuals have put in hundreds if not thousands of hours of work into improving Chestnut Hill. Often, they’ve gotten an unfair serving of grief and criticism for it. They deserve more than an award.

The Chestnut Hill Community Association’s meeting and community dinner is open to all. It will take place at Norwood-Fontbonne Academy, Sister James Anthony Hall Gym, 8891 Germantown Ave. The dinner is $10 for members and free for anyone who decides to join the CHCA at the dinner (membership is $50). Consider attending the dinner, seeing the CHCA in action and have the chance to thank this year’s award winners for all their hard work in person.