Heather McNeil, Old Saybrook’s Director of Youth and Family Services, was honored on Sunday, January 21, 2024 as Humanitarian of the Year by the Old Saybrook Lions Club at the annual banquet sponsored by CT Lions District 23C at the Port ‘N Starboard in New London. At the event she was also presented with citations from the US Senate by Richard Blumental, the House of Representatives by Joe Courtney and the State Legislature by Devin Carney.
The Lions Club Humanitarian of the Year Award seeks to recognize individuals who consistently give back to the community and this year Heather was one of 11 awardees from across the 54 Lions Clubs located in the district. The Old Saybrook Lions Club nominated Heather for a number of reasons some of which include: 1) how instrumental she was in helping the local club organize a health and wellness day this year; 2) her commitment to addressing the mental health of the community’s youth and their families by looking outside the box to create new programs to help parents talk to their children and youth to talk to their peers; 3) her involvement in creating YAC (Youth in Action), which encourages youth to make decisions about matters that will improve their community; and 4) her wholistic view of assistance to families which seeks to address not only the challenges that a youth might be facing but also other issues that might be affecting the family and contributing to those challenges.
Susan Esty, a member of the Old Saybrook Lions Club, points out that, “Heather works very closely with our school system to make sure that the programs that Youth & Family Services offers work in tandem with what the school is offering. Her wholistic view of assistance to a youth and their family unit is also one of the things that I have noticed about Heather. This wholistic approach to problem solving in the community is one of her strongest assets. We are lucky to have her.”
Heather has been the Director of Youth and Family Services for nearly 14 years, currently overseeing a staff of 12. She is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Heather is a valued member of the town’s management team and we extend our sincere congratulations to her for this well-deserved recognition.
Carl P. Fortuna, Jr.