2014’s People of the Year

It is not unusual this time of the year to see lists of the top news stories, best movies, and most influential people. Many of these lists contain the same names or lack a list of criteria used to create the list. Often, these lists appear to be arbitrary, lacking a heart and soul, which is why I decided to do my own list of “People of the Year.” The criteria are simple: New Hamphirites that I have found to embody the spirit of selflessness, integrity, humanity, and commonsense.

 

Mel Gosselin – NH Food Bank

The goal seems so simple; feed those who are hungry. However, every day many of our neighbors struggle with the stark reality that they do not know where their next meal will come from. Mel Gosselin has committed her life to helping those in need, not just by providing them a meal, but looking at creating a support system to inform, educate, and provide essential services to families in need. Mel and her team achieve this every day, and do it with sincerity, dignity and compassion.

Mel Gosselin would be the first one to tell you that she is but one person attached to the NH Food Bank who works tirelessly to provide meals to those in need. All of the staff, volunteers and donors devoted to the NH Food Bank mission are worthy of our praise. However, Mel is not only the face of the NH Food Bank; she represents the heart and mind of this vital organization. For Mel, this is not only a mission of love, but one she will not let fail. Mel’s tireless efforts have made the NH Food Bank a model of efficiency in the service they provide, but also in the compassion they offer.

 

Julie Hurrie – Run for the Fallen New Hampshire

Over the past few years in September, families from around New Hampshire (and beyond) gather together to honor those New Hampshire soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country. Run for the Fallen New Hampshire serve as a living testament to those we have lost in support of our missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The families of New Hampshire’s fallen are not alone, but are surrounded by other families who have gathered to show their gratitude and love. This incredible celebration and sign of devotion is made possible by one person and her team of volunteers: Julie Hurrie.

Julie is determined, and although she did not lose a family member in our most recent conflicts, she fell in love with each of those New Hampshire heroes who paid the last full measure of devotion on our nation’s behalf. Julie quickly realized that many had forgotten the sacrifice of not only the fallen, but the daily struggles of the families left behind. By devoting almost every waking moment to remind us all of the sacrifice of the New Hampshire military families, Julie has become one of the leading New Hampshire voices for our military families that have lost someone in the service of our nation.

The event includes reminders everywhere of how special their lost loves ones were. Stations set up to honor the fallen tell the story of each soldier and serve as a loving tribute to the soldiers and their families. Each of these stations serve as a reminder that for each NH fallen hero, there is a family who lives in silence with the daily reminder of their lost loved one.

Julie’s love and empathy is contagious. She is driven by the simple fact that the sacrifice of these families deserve a hug and a heartfelt ‘thank-you’ in honor of their love ones lost in the service of our nation.

 

Senator Nancy Stiles

For many, the word politician too often has a negative connotation. That is why so many in New Hampshire do not look upon or refer to Senator Nancy Stiles as a politician. Whether you agree with Nancy, she is one of those rare exceptions who commits herself to the harsh conditions of public service with the sole motivation to help people. Nancy does not serve to improve her station in life; she serves to improve others’ lives.

In an age when political bickering makes it intolerable not only to serve, but participate in the political process, Nancy has risen above the partisanship, and serves here constituents with integrity and consideration. I have not always agreed with Nancy, but if one is honest, is there ever any one public servant you agree with 100 percent of the time? Nancy never turns away from a conversation, is thoughtful in her deliberation, demonstrates a great deal of commonsense, and remains true to her values.

Nancy is a straight-shooter in an age when too many politicians try to nuance and finesse their way through the process of governing. Nancy is diplomatic while never abandoning her principles.

These are only three examples of people who serve as role models for all. Each is humble in their service and committed to their cause. They represent the thousands of New Hamphirites I could not list here whose service and sacrifice make New Hampshire a better place.

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