The North Branford Rotary is thrilled to announce the recipients of their annual “Service-Above-Self” Community Service Award to three deserving North Branford Residents.  In March of this year the Club reached out to the community for nominations for their annual Service Above Self Award and received a terrific response. 
“We asked the North Branford Community to nominate distinguished individuals who have made an impact through service and helping others in town.  The response was incredible, and we couldn’t be more grateful.” North Branford Rotary Club President, Anne Merola graciously acknowledged the North Branford community and added, “We couldn’t think of a better way to say thank you to distinguished individuals right here in town than to recognize them with an award that symbolizes dedication, compassion and generosity.”  The Club recently announced this year’s award will be presented to Ashley McClain, Kerry Haynes and Mary-Ellen DiLella.  
The North Branford Rotary Club will be awarding the recipients on Thursday June 27, 202 at 6:00 pm, at the Woodwinds in Branford.    Tickets can be purchased in advance by going to, emailing or by contacting Rotary Club or by contacting the Service Above Self Chairperson, Melinda Fonda at 203-988-0883. We encourage those who know Ashley, Kerry and Mary-Ellen to join us as we acknowledge them for their distinguished service to the Town of North Branford.

Committee Chair, Melinda Fonda, expressed her appreciation to those who sent in nominations. “It’s been a very rewarding experience for the members of the committee, and the club, to receive a fantastic response from the North Branford Community and I’d like to thank those who found the time to submit nominations.”  The committee had difficult decisions to make with so many wonderful nominees.  The club is looking forward to continuing to honor distinguished members of the community each year. 

Ashley McClain's dedication and impact on the community are truly inspiring. It's heartwarming to see someone so deeply committed to making a difference, not only within the school community but also in advocating for special needs families and supporting first responders. Her initiative in starting the North Branford Special Needs Family Facebook group and the Linked program demonstrates her empathy and proactive approach to addressing important issues.
The creation of Beyond the Horizon and the partnership with North Branford Parks and Recreation to organize sensory-friendly events show Ashley's determination to fill a crucial gap in support for special needs families. These events not only provide inclusive opportunities for children but also create a supportive community for parents. It's commendable how she brings this experience and perspective to her role on the PTO board, advocating for more inclusive and accessible events for all students.
Ashley's commitment to service is evident in her various roles and responsibilities, from her work as a college advisor and dance team coach to her involvement with the Miss Connecticut board. Despite her busy schedule, she remains humble and focused on making a positive impact, driven by a genuine desire to help others. Her dedication is truly remarkable and serves as an inspiration to those around her. She embodies the spirit of service above self, making a lasting difference in the lives of many.

Kerry Haynes's dedication to serving the North Branford community shines through every aspect of her life. Her career trajectory, from her work at the Senior Center to her current role as Assistant Director of Parks, Recreation, and Senior Center Department, reflects her commitment to making a difference. With a background in social work, Kerry brings invaluable expertise and compassion to her role, benefiting residents in various ways.
Her proactive approach to developing inclusive programs and collaborating with other town departments demonstrates her dedication to enhancing community engagement and well-being. Whether it's coordinating events like the Annual Tree Lighting or creating innovative initiatives like the Story Walk during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerry consistently goes above and beyond to enrich the lives of North Branford residents.
Kerry's willingness to step in during times of need, such as assisting with transportation for school sports teams or establishing after-school programs, highlights her selflessness and dedication to supporting the community's needs. Her involvement in substance abuse prevention efforts further underscores her commitment to addressing critical issues facing the community.
Beyond her professional duties, Kerry's acts of kindness and thoughtfulness in her daily interactions exemplify her genuine care for others. From small gestures like remembering birthdays to larger acts like paying for a stranger's groceries, Kerry embodies the belief that no act of kindness is ever wasted.
Her positive attitude, resilience, and integrity serve as an inspiration to others, encouraging them to follow her example of service and compassion. Kerry's leadership by example fosters a sense of community spirit and unity in North Branford, making her an invaluable asset and a beacon of hope and kindness for all who know her.

Mary-Ellen's lifelong dedication to education and community service is truly admirable. Even in retirement, she continues to make a significant impact on the town of North Branford. Leading the effort to restore the little red schoolhouse and revitalizing the Totoket Historical Society demonstrates her commitment to preserving the town's history for future generations.
Her involvement in local schools, educating children about North Branford's history, not only enriches their learning experience but also fosters a sense of pride and connection to their community. Mary Ellen's willingness to share her knowledge and passion for history extends beyond the classroom, as she takes the time to engage with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and various groups further contributing to the town's cultural education.
Through her active participation in town events and community initiatives, Mary Ellen exemplifies what it means to be a true advocate and volunteer. Whether it's organizing fundraisers, participating in historical activities, or simply lending a helping hand wherever needed, she embodies the spirit of service and civic engagement.
Mary Ellen's tireless efforts to preserve and promote North Branford's heritage make her a cherished asset to the community. Her dedication, enthusiasm, and selflessness serve as an inspiration to others, leaving a lasting legacy of community spirit and civic pride.