WILTON – She’s a volunteer’s volunteer. Mention Blueberry Festival and you can’t help but think of her. She’s been called so often to help out in a pinch, her phone number takes second only to 911.
So it’s no surprise that Wilton’s Shannon Smith has been named to the statewide 6 Who Care list of honorees. The award is presented each year to six people in the state who exemplify super volunteerism. The award is sponsored by WCSH 6, the United Way of South Portland and TD Banknorth.
Smith has been chairwoman of the Wilton Blueberry Festival since 1990. She’s served on Wilton Finance Committee for 25 years, most recently as its chairwoman; worked for five years for the Franklin Memorial Hospital’s auxiliary, serving as its president this year. She also serves on the hospital’s board of trustees, as a counselor at Girls State, a fund-raising organizer for harness racing events, is on the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce board and is a very active member of the Farmington Emblem Club.
“I was shocked,” Smith said after being notified of her award. “I said ‘Oh my gosh.”
Of the six who receive the award each year, 40 or more are nominated, said Charlene Belanger, WCSH’s community relations director. A board made up of the award’s sponsors decide the 20 finalists who carry the strongest resumes of volunteerism and a board of governors make the final selection of the six who should receive the award.
“It’s very difficult to make the final decision. They’re all so highly qualified,” Belanger said. The honorees’ lives will then be featured in a two- to three-minute profile piece highlighting their volunteerism. The profiles will be shown and the presentation of the awards will be held on Oct. 15 at the Marriott in South Portland. The program will be aired on Channel 6 Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. and again on Nov. 2.
In the meantime, Smith and many who work with her, will be followed around by cameras. The challenge for the producer and videographer will be to keep up with Smith.
One of their first stops will be at the Chamber of Commerce office next week when Lorna Nichols, the chamber’s director, will be interviewed.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Nichols said of Smith’s award. “She does so much; she never stops.” Nichols, along with former state Sen. Chandler Woodcock of Farmington and state Rep. Tom Saviello of Wilton, nominated Smith for the award.
“Fail is not a word in her vocabulary,” Nichols said of the reason she nominated Smith. “She has such a passion for the area and for the people who live here. You want something to happen? Everything she touches turns to gold and that’s what keeps her going.”
In a letter to the nominating board, Saviello, who has worked on various community events with Smith for 15 years, noted, among other things, her help in raising money for a new fire truck for the Wilton Fire Department and making the Blueberry Festival one of the biggest events in the state.
“She raises the money will little fanfare. She just makes things happen,” Saviello said. “Shannon is truly an asset to our community.”
“I’m very humbled,” Smith said of the award and added, “I didn’t do it all myself – it takes team effort. If you don’t have a good team you don’t have anything. This is a very caring community and we all work together.”
“We can’t wait to meet her,” Belanger said. “We’ve heard she’s a real dynamo.”