Ferri is This Year's Ferrin Award Winner
The Ferrin Award recognizes one local woman who has made great contributions to the community. Atlantic Ambulance, Melissa Tecce and Deanna Leombruno, Mary Emeromistis and Barbara Doucette will also receive special community service awards.
Every March, in conjunction with Women's History Month, the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes one local woman who demonstrates the same fearless drive, leadership and humanitarian advocacy as 19th century Peabody suffragette Mary Upton Ferrin.
This year's honoree is Peabody High vocational education director Maria Ferri. She is the 20th person to receive the Mary Upton Ferrin Award, which will be bestowed on her March 20 at a ceremony at City Hall.
Ferri has invested many years in vocational education for Peabody students and "advocates tirelessly" for them, says an announcement from the PACC.
At the same time, Ferri is also praised for simultaneously "gracefully and skillfully assisting with the negotiations as Peabody transitions into the new regional vocational high school."
She is likewise praised for her energy and enthusiasm on behalf of students and never turning down an opportunity to work with other local groups or individuals to broaden the educational experiences of those students.
But first, who was Mary Upton Ferrin? History tells us she was a women's rights leader in the 1800s in South Danvers (current-day Peabody) who worked on behalf of women who didn't have a voice.
Ferrin (1810-1881) overcame many obstacles in her lifetime -- finding herself in an abusive marriage, she broke from tradition to advocate for women’s rights, traveling 600 miles (mostly by foot) to change laws in Massachusetts at the time that prevented married women from retaining rights to wealth and property.
You can read more about Ferrin's life here.
“Maria has pioneered a variety of new projects and initiatives during her Peabody tenure," said Martha Holden, who chairs the Chamber’s Community Service Committee. “She is a shining example of perseverance and advocacy for a cause.”
A recent initiative Ferri played a large role in was opening a childcare center at the high school for employees' children and incorporating it into the curriculum as a training program for students interested in early education.
Ferri now joins the company of past Ferrin recipients, including Holocaust survivor Sonia Weitz, Audrey Gordon (co-founder of the Progeria Research Foundation), former city councilor Judy Selesnick and present and former Haven from Hunger directors Alyse Barbash and Trudy MacIntyre.
In addition to the Ferrin Award, the Chamber also gives out three other awards to influential community members, and Attorney General Martha Coakley will be this year's guest speaker.
The Business Leadership Award goes to Atlantic Ambulance, the Desiree King Award to Melissa Tecce and Deanna Leombruno (co-owners of Santoro's of Peabody) and Community Spirit Awards to Mary Emeromistis and Barbara Doucette, a longtime member and volunteer of the Peabody Historical Society.
The PACC said in the five years since Atlantic became the city's emergency service provider, it has done many things for the city and within the community that went beyond its contractual obligations.
Those things include supporting local groups and programs, donating 10 defibrillators to the city, providing coverage at the International Festival and sports tournaments, volunteering to drive senior citizens to see the Christmas lights, offering employee training to local businesses and participating in a Career Day and mentoring program at the high school.
The Desiree King Award recognizes local women who run their own business, embodying an entrepreneurial spirit and serving as an inspiration to others. Sisters Tecce and Leombruno have been the co-owners of Santoro’s since 2007, continuing their father's legacy in the family business.
"The sisters make sure they offer a quality product and service to their customers; they do it while raising young families, and always with a smile. Santoro’s of Peabody is known for [its] generosity in the community for donating food and offering support to many organizations," reads an announcement.
Emeromistis is being recognized for her dedication to an after-school language program at St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church while Doucette is feted posthumously for her dedication and love of preserving the city's history for more than four decades. Doucette died Feb. 6 at age 84.
The award ceremony is scheduled for March 20 from 6-8:30 p.m. in Wiggin Auditorium at City Hall. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, call the PACC at 978-531-0384, or email email@example.com.
Mary Upton Ferrin Award Winners
- 2012 Alyse Barbash
- 2011 Mary Bellavance
- 2010 Sonia Weitz
- 2009 Dr. Mary Yutzy
- 2008 Cathy Gravel
- 2007 Elaine Kirby
- 2006 Audrey Gordon
- 2005 Grace Martins
- 2004 Camille Bartlett
- 2003 Natalie Maga
- 2002 Judy Selesnick
- 2001 Sgt. Sheila McDaid
- 2000 Trudy MacIntyre
- 1999 Mary Richardson
- 1998 Nancy Crowder
- 1997 Paula Alexander
- 1996 Donna Healey
- 1995 Susanna Levine
- 1994 S. M. "Sudi" Smoller
- 1993 Karen McCafferty