Pat Cuzzacrea named Minerva Citizen of the Year

Minerva Citizen of the Year Pat Cuzzacrea and two of her beloved dogs, Nicolina and Bob

Minerva Citizen of the Year Pat Cuzzacrea and two of her beloved dogs, Nicolina and Bob McKenna Kelly

— The town of Minerva has bestowed with Pat Cuzzacrea its “Citizen of the Year” award.

Cuzzacrea volunteers her time at the Minerva meal site, where she provided freshly prepared food to community members who need it.

The meal site opened in 1985, and Cuzzacrea has been there since its inception. It was not something she originally considered doing. The supervisor at the time, Fred Morse, called her out of the blue to ask if she wanted to help out. Cuzzacrea reluctantly agreed; she was unaware the meal site would become such an important part of her life.

“We’re sort of a family,” she said.

Sometimes there’s frustration or disagreements, but in the end they always remain friends. The meal site isn’t just about food, after all. It’s a close-knit group of individuals that fulfills just as many social needs as it does nutritional ones. For the individuals who no longer have family of their own, it’s become their family away from home. Cuzzacrea embraces the social aspect of her work and organizes meal site events to promote it. Last year she hosted a picnic at the beach with more than 50 people in attendance.

Sometimes things are all fun, however. With a primarily elderly clientele, the meal site has seen many of its patrons pass on. Cuzzacrea isn’t sure how many of the people she’s served have died, but thinks it’s at least 100. She doesn’t want to call that a drawback, though, as much as a sad inevitability. She’s made many fond memories, which she recalled with affectionate laughter. She described one incident when an attractive young police officer came to the town hall during meal time. He was trying to deliver some paperwork. The late Anna Korman stood up with her arms outstretched and shouted — “You can frisk me!” — to the thoroughly embarrassed officer.

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