American Red Cross Honors Local Heroes

SPRINGFIELD — The American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter recently honored 10 individuals at the 7th annual Hometown Heroes Award Breakfast.

John W. Cotton of Haydenville is the Williamsburg chief of police. He was honored for his exceptional leadership, organizational skills, and devotion to residents’ safety during the December 2008 ice storm that crippled Western Mass.

Pastor Greg Dyson and daughter Jessica Dyson of Springfield are very involved with numerous activities affiliated with Church in the Acres. The two were honored for their tireless work with a team of volunteers to help victims of homelessness in the Springfield area.

George Gorton of East Longmeadow is a biomedical engineer with Shriners Hospital for Children. He was honored for his courageous actions in saving the life of a 3-year-old girl who was trapped inside an out-of-control vehicle.

Melissa “Missy” Kielbasa of Westfield is a dog obedience trainer for the K-9 for Kids Unit at Shriners Hospital for Children. She was honored for her hard work in inspiring volunteerism through the program and for her work training dog/human teams who work together to bring joy to sick children.

Joseph Lesniak of Indian Orchard is a custodian at Stony Hill School in Wilbraham. He also assists children after school at the corner of Stony Hill Road and the school’s entrance as they walk home. He was honored for saving a young boy’s life by swiftly pulling him out of the way as a vehicle came careening towards them, nearly rolling over atop the two of them.

Denise Nostin of West Springfield is a school nurse in the town of Agawam. She was honored for recognizing the dire medical emergency of a fellow diner who was choking and her speedy response in saving the woman’s life by performing CPR when she became unresponsive.

Kevin and Donna Quesnel of Monson were startled to hear a massive explosion in November 2008 coming from a nearby home in their neighborhood. They were honored for putting both of their lives at risk while saving the lives of two men who were trapped in a burning house that ultimately exploded to rubble.

Roberta “Bobi” Steingart of Longmeadow is coordinator of Preschool Programs at the Springfield Jewish Community Center. She was honored for longtime and far-reaching volunteerism providing humanitarian and compassionate service to those in need through her work with Sinai Temple’s food pantry and outreach programs, as well as for disaster response for the American Red Cross.

The Hometown Heroes Breakfast serves as the chapter’s largest annual fund-raising event, supporting local Red Cross services in area hometowns.

This year’s event was presented by Comcast, with leadership support provided bythe Home Builders Association of Western Mass., 22News, Zasco Productions, the MassMutual Center, Bay State Gas Co., Insurance Center of New England Inc., Dunkin Donuts, OMG Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Boston Culinary Group. Additional support was provided by generous area businesses who participated as sponsors at various levels.

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