by Pete Mazzaccaro

Last weekend, two outstanding Chestnut Hill volunteers were honored for their service.

The first was Teenagers, Inc. director Marianne Dwyer, whose 17 years at the helm of the neighborhood organization were well chronicled here last week.

At the Taste of Chestnut Hill event on Sunday night, Dwyer was the focus of a nice tribute from friends and family and was also presented with a citation from City Council, courtesy of long-time Chestnut Hill resident and Councilman David Oh staffer Stewart Graham.

On Friday night, former Chestnut Hill Community Association president and life-long Hiller Jane Piotrowski was toasted at an evening “going away party.” After more than a decade of constant event organizing, Piotrowski is moving to Boston where her husband, Steve, just found a new job.

Piotrowski has been perhaps the most consistent organizer of Hill fund raisers, from numerous Chestnut Hill Holiday House Tours and Black and White Galas to the AbZOOlutely fund-raisers of seven and eight years ago. She has done more perhaps than any other single Hiller to raise money for the CHCA and the neighborhood and made sure people had fun while doing so.

As someone who finds it hard to spend my free time volunteering, I appreciate those who do it. This past fall I agreed, against my better judgment perhaps, to coach my six-year-old’s soccer team. It only required two hours a week, but those hours were hard. Trying to get seven 6-year-olds to listen to you is nearly impossible.

What Dwyer and Piotroswki have done year after year, however, was much more difficult than that. Both ran complex organizations and were called on to make far tougher decisions and work with far more people than I had to as a youth soccer coach. And while kids might not be the best at listening, I’m going to guess they’re easier to work with than a committee of adults with different ideas about how to best accomplish some fairly complicated tasks.

What’s more impressive is that they both continued to give their time to their organizations year after year, no matter how hard it became. That is no small accomplishment.

Both women deserve about as much praise as you can muster for their work in the neighborhood. As Graham recognized in council citations to both women, their work made the neighborhood a better place to live.

While we’re fortunate enough to have Dwyer involved – she will remain on the board of Teenagers, Inc. – Piotrowski’s move is a loss to the neighborhood. Her energy and optimism are not easily replaced. To be honest, I have a hard time imagining any person who would accomplish half of what she has in her time a volunteer here.

So hats off to both Marianne Dwyer and Jane Piotrowski who leave substantially legacies of jobs-well-done behind them. You’re efforts have definitely been appreciated. Here’s hoping we kind find enough people to do half of all the hard work you did.

Next week: Jane Piotrowski and her contributions to Chestnut Hill will be the subject of a feature story.

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