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Shelton's Valley Council Toasts A Trio Of Valuable Volunteers

Nick Gentile is a workforce specialist for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program run by The WorkPlace, based in Bridgeport Photo Credit: Facebook
Harry Burlakoff, owner of Minute Man Press in Shelton, will be honored for his volunteer work. Photo Credit: United Way

SHELTON, Conn. — The Shelton-based Valley Council for Health & Human Services will honor three local men at its annual meeting and Community Awards Presentation on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The Lewis Savitsky Staff Excellence Award, named in honor of a longtime Valley United Way employee and community leader, is presented to individuals for excellence in their roles as employees in the nonprofit community. 

This year’s honoree is lifelong Valley resident Nick Gentile, who serves a volunteer firefighter in Ansonia’s Charter Hose Company, on Ansonia town committees and as a school-based mentor.

Since 2013, Gentile has been working as a workforce specialist for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program of The WorkPlace, based in Bridgeport. He has combed woods, streets, and vacant buildings to locate and engage homeless veterans into this rapid rehousing program. A veteran himself, Gentile also helps unemployed and under-employed veterans connect with employment and services so they can find stable housing.

Gentile also connects veterans with needed resources, guides them through application processes for VA and public services, orders their veteran status documentation, and more. He also established a veteran resource fair at his own VFW post.

The Richard O. Belden Community Service Award, named in honor of late state Rep. Richard O. Belden, is given to an individual or group whose efforts have made a significant contribution to improving the quality of life of Valley residents. 

The Council will present the 2014 Belden award to Harry Burlakoff, who immediately after opening his business Minute Man Press in Shelton in 2009 began giving back to the community. He joined his local Chamber and the Seeds to Leads Networking Group. He is an active member of the Valley United Way’s Corporate Volunteer Council as well as the Shelton Exchange Club. 

This year’s Program of The Year Award will be presented to Masters Table Community Meals Program in Ansonia, which was established by and run by James Fedak Jr.

The program provides meals and clothing one Sunday each month at Assumption Church, completely sustained by volunteers and by the contributions of donors. 

The Valley Council in Shelton is a partnership network of nonprofit health and human service organizations serving the residents of Connecticut’s lower Naugatuck River Valley. 

Its goal is to work together to improve the health and quality of life of the Valley community and its residents by identifying community needs and developing culturally responsive services delivered by the membership and partners.

For more information, visit the website for the Valley Council for Health & Human Services.

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