MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury College President Laurie L. Patton presented the Bonnie and John McCardell Citizen’s Awards for outstanding community service to Addison County residents Bruce and Suzanne Byers, Robin Huestis, and Natalie Peters at a celebratory dinner on January 26, 2016, on the college campus.
The College has honored local citizens for exemplary community service, volunteerism, and engagement dating back to its bicentennial year in 2000. Nominations come from members of the community, and a committee of faculty and staff makes the final selections.
“Good citizenship,” President Patton said, “is about creating and managing a wise partnership between self and other, balancing multiple interests and understanding the complexities of the community in which you live.”
The Citizen’s Award program celebrates the special relationship between Middlebury College and its neighboring community by honoring individuals who have made notable contributions to the life of Addison County with no expectation of reward or recognition, President Patton said.
The 2016 recipients are:
Bruce K. Byers, a retired attorney, was one of the driving forces behind the rebuilding of Middlebury’s Town Hall Theatre. He served on THT’s first board of directors, co-chaired the first capital campaign to renovate the dilapidated 19th-century structure, and handled the legal work (pro bono) for the permits and easements necessary to bring the dormant theatre back to life again.
Byers’ community service also extends to the Open Door Clinic, Porter Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Cornwall Planning Commission, and HOPE. In presenting the Citizen’s Award to him, President Patton said the greater Middlebury community is “privileged to have Bruce’s selflessness and zest for life in our midst.”
Suzanne H. Byers was also instrumental in the revival of Town Hall Theatre. She served on the capital campaign committee, the events and landscape committees, and as membership co-chair, and she is on THT’s current board of directors.
President Patton termed the Cornwall resident’s service to Porter Hospital Auxiliary as “legendary” in recognition of her work as a board member, planning committee chair, and host of the Derby Day fund-raising event. Byers also volunteers her skills and energy to benefit Sheldon Museum, HOPE, and Spring Into The Arts. Both Sue and Bruce Byers are members of the Middlebury College Class of 1955.
Robin Huestis is the long-serving manager of the Round Robin Upscale Resale Shop in MarbleWorks, a nonprofit that raises approximately $50,000 annually to benefit Porter Medical Center. The shop also provides clothing, housewares, and tender loving care to local residents affected by fire and natural disasters, and in recent years “the quiet and unassuming” Huestis has extended Round Robin’s helping hand to newly arrived refugees, said President Patton.
An accomplished seamstress with a flair for costume design, Huestis has been invaluable to Middlebury Community Players and to the theatre programs at both Middlebury Union High School and Hannaford Career Center.
Natalie D. Peters is one of the founders of the Mary Johnson Children’s Center and served on its board of directors for almost 25 years, and is one of the founders of Addison County Parent/Child Center and has served on its board, and continues to serve, for 36 years and counting.
The longtime resident has also volunteered her time to WomenSafe, Girl Scouting, the UD-3 School Board, Addison County Teens, Tooth Tutor Program, and the Middlebury Planning and Design Review Boards. In conferring the Citizen’s Award to her, President Patton lauded Peters for her “unparalleled devotion to this community.”
This year’s recipients of the McCardell Citizen’s Awards join 58 other area residents who have been so honored since the College’s bicentennial. All recipients of the Citizen’s Award receive a pewter medallion struck at Danforth Pewterers of Middlebury.
– Photos by Todd Balfour