Stewart Graham reads from a City Council citation for Marianne Dwyer (left).

Stewart Graham reads from a City Council citation for Marianne Dwyer (left).

by Paula M. Riley

A standing ovation, sprinkled with whistles and shout-outs, echoed throughout the St. Paul’s Church Hall on Sunday evening when Marianne Dwyer, former director of Teenagers, Inc., was called to the podium at the organization’s 10th Annual “A Taste of Chestnut Hill.”

The evening was a celebration of Dwyer’s retirement from Teens, Inc. after 17 years of dedicated service. She was introduced by her nephew and Teens, Inc. member Patrick Dwyer.

“Her heart is just enormous…We wouldn’t be such a great community without her,” he said.

Praises for Marianne Dwyer’s years of service flowed all evening. NBC 10’s Deanna Durante served as guest emcee and acknowledged the teens who hosted the event. She then turned all her attention to Marianne Dwyer.

“She is more honest, loving, passionate and hardworking woman than anyone I know,” Durante said.

Stewart Graham, Chief of Staff to City Councilman David Oh, presented a Citation from Philadelphia City Council citing her, “outstanding public service to the people of Chestnut Hill and the City of Philadelphia.”

Dwyer was the first director of Teenagers, Inc., established in 1996 to provide constructive activities and positive experiences for Chestnut Hill area teenagers. Jane and the late Dick Becker are credited for its inception, along with support from George and Ann Mirsch who were at Sunday’s celebration. The first meeting included five teens members; today there are hundreds of area teens who have participated in Teens, Inc. events, including their service trip to Guatemala each summer.

The citation references the impact that Dwyer had on the teens as she coordinated social and service activities for almost two decades. “Most importantly, Marianne Dwyer has changed lives, modeling kindness, generosity, grace, integrity, service to others and a commitment to change the world for the better.”

With tears flowing down her face, Dwyer accepted the citation from Graham, who served as president of the Teenagers, Inc. board for many years. When she addressed the crowd, she acknowledged her aging parents, siblings and extended family that all surprised her at the dinner. With gratitude and grace she shared the perspective others have heard from her before, that it takes a village and Chestnut Hill is so wonderful because all organizations help each other. Most of her comments were directed at the teenagers.

“I love you, each one of you, with all my heart.”

Arianna Neromiliotis is the new director of Teenagers, Inc. She was a participant during her teens and has known Marianne Dwyer for many years. Neromiliotis shared her reflections on her relationship with Dwyer, whom she called her “mentor.”

A Taste of Chestnut Hill was sponsored by Chestnut Hill Dental, Tim Dwyer/Principal Financial Group and Our Mother of Consolation Parish School. The presentation for Dwyer, the crowded room of attendees and the huge variety of food and silent auction donations were very pleasing to Neromiliotis.

“This outpouring of community support and love shows how much people care about the future of our community and our kids.” Neromiliotis said.

Dwyer is stepping down as director but as she ended her comments, she made her plans clear.

“I’m still president of the board,” Dwyer said, “Don’t worry, I will still be around for a while.”