It's better to give than receive, but this group of givers enjoyed some much-deserved recognition Tuesday.

The 16th annual New Canaan Volunteer Recognition Awards were presented by The Volunteer Center of Stamford at the New Canaan Library.

"Today is about recognizing volunteers from New Canaan who have given of their time in the past year," said Bridget Fox, executive vice president of volunteerism at The Volunteer Center, which is a member of United Way and has been in operation 40 years.

There were 16 individuals honored at the afternoon ceremony, along with 11 others who received honorable mentions for their contributions to the community through various nonprofit organizations.

"This has been a difficult year for our community and our country," Fox said. "At no time has the power of volunteer power felt more important."

"I'd like everybody to know there's a lot of volunteerism in this town," said Jeremiah Miller, who chaired the program. "For those of you who aren't aware of it, it's really incredible."

"This town is amazing," he said.

Lyn Chivvis, a longtime volunteer with Staying Put in New Canaan, was honored as the Volunteer of the Year. Jane Nice, executive director of Staying Put, presented the award.

"There isn't a challenge where she hasn't come up with a creative solution," Nice said.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Judy Dunn, who has served as the president of both the Board of Trustees and the Friends of the Library, by interim library Co-Director Susan LaPerla.

"Judy has dedicated more than 20 years of volunteer service to New Canaan Library," she said. "She's helped make the library the center of the town's cultural and intellectual life."

Fox said part of the goal of these awards was to inspire more young people to volunteer.

"We really emphasize the importance of recognizing youth volunteers," she said.

Toward that end, Joe Lupinacci, a volunteer at the YMCA, and Paul McPeake, a volunteer at Silver Hill Hospital, each received awards.

"The children, and all the programs Joe is involved in, look up to him as a role model," said Nicole Jezairian, the Y's director of community engagement.

"Paul is a special person (who) leads by example and treats each person with respect and dignity," said Lisa Ruggiero, manager of volunteer services at Silver Hill.

"Our volunteers are unsung heroes," said Janet King, volunteer director at Person-to-Person. "This is an opportunity to applaud them for their time, dedication and passion."

Other volunteer recipients included Ed Kearns at Person-to-Person; Gabe Kavookjian at the New Canaan Nature Center; Kristina Barrett and Stephanie Dalia with Hands for Life; Jeanie Shaw and her dog, Barkly, with Silver Hill; Lloyd Stout with Waveny Care Center; Carol and Tony Kaye; Marian Murphy and Carolyn Rowland with Lapham Center; Denis LaPolice with Kids in Crisis; Patricia Potts with Saxe Computer Donation Program; Robert and Carol Oram with The Salvation Army; as well as the organizations REACH, the YMCA and the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce.

Honorable mentions included Catherine Chuzas, Lauren Fusek, Jan Greywaxz, Arthur Hall, Emme Korman, Toni Nagel-Smith, Eve Taben, Christine Wagner, New Canaan National Charity League, New Canaan Service League of Boys and the New Canaan Youth Adult Partnership Board.

"It's always a bit of a challenges as chairman of the awards committee to pare the nominations down and end up with a slate each year that's so deserving," Miller said.

Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.

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