Essex Rotary selects 2020 ‘Service above Self’ honorees

Essex Rotary Club honorees (L-R): James Marshall, Ken Beaulieu, Valerie Gabert, Tim Wear, Mike O’Keefe

The Essex Rotary Club has made the 2020 selections for its annual awards which honor individuals for community service and their dedication to living the Rotary motto of “Service above self.”

Four of the accolades go to representatives from public service organizations while the last goes to another model member of the community. All 5 will be recognized at the Rotary’s dinner--set to take place Feb. 12 at The Essex.

Receiving the club’s coveted Essex Rotary Service above Self award is Valerie Gabert, coordinator of the Heavenly Food Pantry at the First Congregational Church. Public service honorees are Lt. Ken Beaulieu (Essex Police Department, ret.), Assistant Chief Tim Wear (Essex Junction Fire Department), senior paramedic Mike O’Keefe (Essex Rescue), and Lt. James Marshall (Essex Town Fire Department).

Gabert is being honored for her leadership and vision for the food pantry as a volunteer over the last 18 years. She works to help with food insecurities in Vermont--looking to expand the reach of services to include schools, senior centers, and other organizations. Gabert, who has been the pantry’s coordinator for the last 8 years, has worked with local schools to have food available during vacation breaks for children who qualify for free breakfast and lunch.

For the public service laurels, each recipient must exemplify the Rotary’s “Service above self” criteria and demonstrate exemplary humanitarian service with an emphasis on personal service and helping others.

Beaulieu is recently-retired after serving 30 years in the community. During his career, he worked his way up through the ranks to become a lieutenant, and he was involved in many of the major cases in Essex during his tenure.

Wear is a fourth-generation firefighter--starting his fire service career in Canaan, N.Y. before moving to Richmond, Vt. where he spent 8.5 years. Wear rose to the rank of captain before joining Essex Junction Fire in 1998. Since then, he has held positions of lieutenant, captain, and--most recently--assistant chief.

O’Keefe has spent 43 years as a provider of pre-hospital emergency medical care. During his extensive career, he climbed the ladder of EMS education and licensure to become a senior paramedic--serving as the EMS command officer during the 1984 Amtrak train derailment. O’Keefe has co-authored 9 EMS books and currently serves as the chair of the Vermont EMS District 3 Paramedic Committee.

In his tenure of four years, Marshall has quickly distinguished himself as the No. 1 in call response and attendance at fire training, and he is always the first to volunteer for any assignment. Marshall coordinates the Fire Prevention Week activities where station tours are hosted and visits to local schools and daycares are made.

Tickets to the February dinner are $35 and are available by contacting Amy Jackman, before Feb. 7, at amy.marie.jackman@gmail.com.

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