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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Essex Media Group celebrates the people of the year

From left, Carolina Trujillo, community relations director for the Essex Media Group, delivers the Essex Group People of the Year awards in 2019 to George Markos, Deanne Healey, Helaine Hazlett, Carmela and Dick Dalton, Phyllis Sagan, Jessica Ann Giannino, Veronica Robles and Tuesday, Dr. Kiame Mahaniah at the Lynn Museum. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNN – Swampscott’s real estate agent Phyllis Sagan put it perhaps better on Tuesday night when she said “being up here to accept a prize for doing something we should all do is electrifying.”

Sagan was one of the eight people of the year 2019 of the Essex Media Group honored during a reception at the Lynn Museum. Among the recipients were Dr. Kiame Mahaniah (Lynn), Dick and Carmela Dalton (Lynnfield), Helaine Hazlett (Marblehead), George Markos (Nahant), Jessica Ann Giannino (Revere); Deanne Healey (Peabody), Veronica Robles (Saugus) and Sagan (Swampscott).

The recipients were chosen from among the applications submitted by the readers of The item and other publications under the aegis of EMG. There were no fixed criteria, except that the winners must have made a difference in their communities in the previous year.

However, volunteering and philanthropy were the unifying threads between the 2019 winners, regardless of whether Markos and Brothers Deli offered free Thanksgiving dinners for everyone who needs them in Robles and his efforts to give people of different cultures and ethnic origins their sense of identity.

Again, perhaps speaking for most recipients, Sagan said, “philanthropy is not an option for me. It is an imperative.”

Dr. Mahaniah chaired a rapidly expanding medical and social services agency with the Lynn Community Health Center. Last year, the center helped lead a move to provide contraceptives to Lynn Public School students in an attempt to minimize teenage pregnancy.

“This honor really goes not only to me, but to the entire health center,” said Dr. Mahaniah, “so I accept it for them”.

He also talked a lot about his predecessor, Lori Berry, whom he called “my training mentor”.

The Daltons acknowledged that 2019 was a difficult year for them as they had to deal with the death of their son Michael from opiate addiction. But they created a nonprofit called “Think of Michael Foundation” that offers financial help to others who struggle to overcome addictions and adapt to the outside world.

“We thought of ourselves as outliers because of our son’s situation,” said Dick Dalton. “But the love and support we received from the community told us differently.

“For everyone – and for those who pray – say one for all the people who are affected by this horrible disease.”

Like Dr. Mahaniah, Healey, president of Peabody Main Streets – the organization that is slowly revitalizing the city center – has chosen to shed light on its organization.

“Given that Peabody Main Streets is largely a volunteer organization, my recognition for this honor is also for them,” he said.

Hazlett has been a supporter and volunteer for many causes, both civil and philanthropic, ranging from the Marblehead Board of Health to scholarship organizations. He accepted his prize with humility and humor.

“I would like to thank my family for supporting all my efforts,” he said, “some crazy, some fantastic … and staying with me during all the late dinners … some cold, some burnt.

“It’s humiliating,” he said, “to be here among all these prestigious people.”

Giannino, who for the first time ran and won a seat on the city council of Revere when he was 18, said she liked the fact that all eight communities were able to come together under one roof to celebrate.

“We are all so close to each other, but we are rarely able to meet in this way.”

She thanked people for staying with her for the past 10 years.

“Revere is such a diverse community,” he said. “I want to thank everyone for being here.”

The Markos restaurant on Market Street in Lynn has given over 1,000 turkey dinners and has served nearly 50,000 traditional turkey dinners for 27 years.

“I hope everyone here tonight follows what we do here this year,” he said.

Robles, who runs a cultural center in Boston, is concerned with giving children a better sense of who they are through their ethnic culture – and this includes music, dance and even food.

“I knew from a young age that I could use art and culture to help bring people together,” said Robles, who comes from Mexico.

“Mexico is a wonderful country,” he said. “It has so much to offer to the world. Our goal (in its cultural center) is to open hearts and change your mind “.

Each recipient was also given a quote from the Massachusetts legislature, by Lynn’s representative Peter Capano; and the state senate, by Senator Brendan Crighton, also from Lynn.

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