2016 Harry S. Cutting Award Jr. Recipient
The Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, Inc. (SYFS) Board of Directors, Executive Director Terry Cassidy, and 2016 SYFS Gala Chair Maria Munro, recently announced the 12th annual Gala and the recipient of the Harry S. Cutting, Jr. Award – Elaine LeBlanc. Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services, Inc., a 501(c)3 private, nonprofit community service agency, works to strengthen individuals and families in the Shrewsbury community by providing counseling, education and social services to children, parents and individuals in times of need, regardless of their ability to pay. This year’s event, the Masquerade Gala, will raise funds critical to the work of SYFS programs for local children and families and will be held on Saturday, March 12, starting at 6 p.m. at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury.
The Grossman Development Group is the presenting sponsor of this year’s gala, which will feature plenty of glitz and intrigue. Guests will enjoy a seated dinner provided by Struck Catering, exceptional entertainment, and an exciting live auction with items such as an insider visit to Beacon Hill with Representative Hannah Kane, tickets for many must-see concerts, and handcrafted jewelry from Sachs Jewelers. A premiere Shrewsbury event, the Masquerade Gala will draw hundreds to celebrate and support the work of SYFS.
The gala will also recognize Elaine LeBlanc, the 2016 Harry S. Cutting, Jr. Award recipient. This prestigious award honors those who embody the spirit of Cutting, one of the SYFS co-founders and noted philanthropist, through remarkable and selfless efforts to enhance the community of Shrewsbury. LeBlanc works as the director of human services at St. Anne’s Church in Shrewsbury and has devoted most of her life to serving the neediest Shrewsbury residents.
LeBlanc is one of the founding members of St. Anne’s Thrift Shop, a group that started in 1969 with the delivery of Christmas baskets. Under her guidance, the Thrift Shop and ministry has since grown to include countless services for those in need of clothing, food and support. Believing that education is key to genuinely helping families, LeBlanc works tirelessly to not only provide for but also teach families how to advocate for themselves. While motivating others to self-sustain can be challenging, LeBlanc marvels in the “little miracles” that she sees happening every day.
As the director of human services, LeBlanc manages the ever-growing Thrift Shop, a weekly food pantry, referrals for social services and St. Anne’s medical clinic, as well as a Giving Tree and other holiday drives. She effectively and compassionately leads an active, devoted group of over 100 volunteers, several of whom were once on the receiving end of her kindness and charity. The group has seen over 4,000 family visits in 2015, and as LeBlanc said, “This is people to people, and it works.”
LeBlanc never refers to those seeking her support as clients – they are truly her “family” and she and her husband, Ralph, have welcomed this family into their lives with open arms. She has remained, through St. Anne’s, very connected to mission work in Guatemala. In the early 1990s, the LeBlancs were asked to house a young man coming from Guatemala through the Heal the Children Foundation. He was to stay with them for five weeks while undergoing medical treatment. Instead, he stayed for five years, and the LeBlancs later adopted the young man and inspired him to pursue a life of service. She has made eight mission trips to Guatemala and is determined to return for more ministry visits. Her important work spans not only the entire Shrewsbury community but also the world.
LeBlanc has received countless awards during her nearly 50 years in service to the Shrewsbury community including the Massachusetts Community Unsung Heroine, the Italian American Victory Club Citizenship Award, the Book of Golden Deeds Award, and the American Red Cross Heroes Award. She also served as the 2012 Grand Marshall in the Spirit of Shrewsbury “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” parade.