NEWINGTON – An attorney in town, a family man and a coach, Kevin Mason received the utmost honor from elected officials recently. At its last meeting the Town Council presented him with the coveted Volunteer of the Year award, a title that comes along with an official proclamation and a public thank-you.
The meeting room was filled with his family and friends, some trickling out into the hallway. All joined councilors in a standing ovation. Mason was “stunned” by the honor, modestly downplaying his philanthropy.
“There are a lot of people in this town who do a lot more than I have done and things that are more difficult,” he said. “I just really enjoy the things I do.”
Listed in the proclamation were the committees, teams and groups that have held Mason’s servitude and the years during which he served on each. These have included the Lucy Robbins Welles Library Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2001, the Newington Housing Authority from 2001-2015 and Newington Children’s Theatre Co. 2007-2017. Among his other volunteer titles: Co-Chairman of the LRWL 5K Road Race the last 15 years; Newington Parks and Recreation Basketball Coach -- Boys 1995-1999 and Girls 2002-2009; Newington Little League manager -- Boys Baseball 1996-1998; Girls Softball 2004-2018; Newington Little League Softball President 2008-2018; Newington High School Summer Softball Manager 2014-2018, and NHS winter assistant coach - USSSA 2015-2018.
Mason is also a regular Parks and Recreation volunteer, serving as a baseball umpire, summer camp counselor, ice skating and sledding supervisor. In fact, it was Parks Director Bill DeMaio who nominated him. According to DeMaio, even when the pouring rain canceled games, Mason would still be out there raking the fields.
“He’s been this way his whole life,” DeMaio said. “He gives nothing but 100 percent. We’re so lucky and thankful to have Kevin in Newington.”
The varied list of volunteer activities seemed to surprise many in the crowd, who came to honor him for a specific post. Close to a dozen people addressed the council, thanking Mason for his guidance and leadership in one way or another.
“I know Kevin from softball, a position he retired from recently,” Emily Guion said. “You’ve been an inspiration for me and others. Newington is better off because of your service.”
Softball player Cyan Gonzalez said she did not know of anyone more deserving of the Volunteer of the Year title.
“I’ve known coach for about six years and have witnessed firsthand his unwavering dedication to Newington Softball,” Gonzalez explained. “He’s given up countless hours to help ensure that Newington continues to have a softball program and interest in the sport, all the while encouraging each player and giving them a positive, nurturing environment to grow as a player and more importantly, as a person. So, thank you Coach Mason for everything you’ve done for the program and for giving me a place to play and consider home.”
Bill Conticello described his friend of 50 years in one word: “integrity” – and also praised Mason’s unending energy for life.
“Kevin does more in one day than most people do in an entire week,” Conticello added.
Eric Rothauser came to speak on behalf of NCTC, which has been around since 1963 but has grown tremendously over the last 15 years, much in part to Mason’s service.
“To say it wouldn’t exist without his efforts is an understatement,” Rothauser said. “Kevin was instrumental in building the organization and making it the success it is. On behalf of the theatre, on behalf of the community, we are truly, truly grateful for everything he has done.”
Councilors also had an opportunity to address Mason.
“The old saying, ‘If you want to get something done give it to a busy man’ rings true here,” Republican Minority Leader Tim Manke said.
Deputy Mayor Beth DelBuono is a former softball parent; her daughter played for Mason.
“There’s not enough that can be said for what you’ve done for the youth of this town,” DelBuono told him.
Also that evening, a separate proclamation was presented to Newington Police Officer Johnathan Aselton, who retired Feb. 28 after 20 years of service. Half-a-dozen fellow officers attended.
“You’re an advocate for officer safety,” Police Chief Stephen Clark said in his address. “I appreciate that and I know others do as well.”
Sgt. Derek Aivano pointed out that Aselton’s family would appreciate him being home more.
“I know this job takes its toll,” Aivano said. “You’ve worked your share of holidays, nights and weekends. Your family is retiring, too.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.