October 24 — Dozens of fellow volunteers joined HomeFront in naming long-time, invaluable volunteer and Watertown resident, Dan Zeno, this year’s “Keystone Award” winner at a recent thank you gathering. The award is reserved for volunteers who demonstrate a longstanding commitment to going above and beyond for families in need. This award takes its meaning from the Webster’s definition of keystone: “a wedge-shaped piece at the crown of an arch that locks the other pieces in place or something on which associated things depend for support.” HomeFront is a community-based program dedicated to keeping low-income homeowners in their homes with an improved quality of life through substantial repairs completed at no cost to them.
For over 20 years Dan Zeno has dedicated himself to helping HomeFront to help more families in need. Dan’s leadership, sacrifice and devotion are responsible for bringing the mission of HomeFront to Greater Waterbury in 1997, a mission that has come to the aid of 85 needy families and counting in Greater Waterbury. In his acceptance speech, Dan invoked a gentleman who once gave him a modest boost many years ago as part of his inspiration to “pay it forward.”
Throughout this timespan, Dan has integrated volunteering into a very full work and family life. In the words of HomeFront Executive Director, Sean O’Brien, “Dan has been the eyes, ears, caring hands and heart of our program in Greater Danbury for so many years.” Specifically, Dan has conducted on-site home evaluation visits with dozens of families in need. He has led other local volunteer groups. His desire to help more families in need has translated into recruiting other volunteer groups, donating his graphic design skills, connecting the program with grant opportunities, as well as material and pro service contributions.
The many hats he has worn as volunteer also include assistance in HomeFront’s Bethel warehouse, Stamford office and supporting fundraisers for the cause of housing rehabilitation.
In the depths of the Great Recession, when former parent organization, AmeriCares, had to discontinue involvement in HomeFront, Dan was one of the first to take up the charge of reviving the program as an independent — an effort that came to fruition in a matter of a few months. Within the last year, this year’s awardee agreed to expand his energies beyond Greater Waterbury by joining HomeFront’s Board.
In presenting the award, O’Brien referenced a quote that sums up HomeFront’s Keystone Award. It comes from the grandnephew of Nathan Hale, Edward Everett Hale, who said, “I am only one. I cannot do everything, BUT, I can do something. And I will not let what I CANNOT do interfere with what I can do.”
The collective compassion of hands on volunteers, product contributors, foundations and other donors brings HomeFront to the mark of more than 3,000 homes revitalized in program history, delivering $50 million of service where it is needed most. More information on HomeFront can be found online at: www.homefrontprogram.org.
Sean O’Brien, HomeFront
Office: (203) 658-9664
Mobile: (203) 803-9772