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Mary Feltault, Topsfield resident and Proctor School assistant, wins Maryellen McGeen Award

Wicked Local North - 12/15/2019

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Proctor School student Sasa Riley had the honor of presenting the 2019 Maryellen McGee Pillar of the Community Award to one of the school's instructional assistants, Mary Feltault, during Topsfield Holiday on the Green.

"This year's recipient," Riley told the crowd gathered in front of Town Hall, "is an Air Force veteran, a 17-year instructional assistant at Proctor School, a member of St. Rose Choir... and a truly special human being to all who know her."

The McGee award is given annually in honor of longtime Topsfield resident Maryellen McGee, who was generous and thoughtful and who selflessly gave her time to many local organizations. Feltault, Riley said, honors McGee's legacy through her own actions.

"Her service to our country, our elementary school students and our community is exemplary," Riley said of Feltault. "On any given day, you may find her organizing the annual Veterans Day assembly at Proctor, or working with a group of sixth-graders to support their fundraising efforts to help a child with cancer, or writing a feature story for our local newspaper, or helping 6th-grade students at Proctor be all that they can be."

Riley said Feltault is always there for Proctor students, to help them overcome obstacles or just to brighten their days.

"Not only do students at Proctor learn from this year's recipient, we are also in constant awe of her strength, tenacity and grace in the face of challenge," Riley said.

When she stepped to the microphone to accept the award, Feltault teared up.

"What a tough act to follow," Feltault said. "My children tell me often that I'm a cold, heartless woman because I never cry. Sasa Riley you have done the impossible. Thank you, very much."

Finding community

Feltault said that when she left the Air Force, she wasn't just leaving a job, she was also leaving the military community that taught her how to accomplish a mission, work in a team and provide support.

"Shortly after," she said, "we moved to Topsfield, and I quickly realized that all I feared I had left behind was very present in my new community."

Many organizations in Topsfield, such as TESTPO, the Topsfield Athletic Association, the Scouts, and church programs offer ample opportunities for local residents to volunteer and support one another.

"In fact, that seems to be where I met and formed some of my very best friendships," she said.

The community was there for her, Feltault said, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer on two separate occasions.

"It was the individuals living and working in this town who supported me, who held me up, who kept my spirits lifted, who exemplified the truest meaning of the word community," Feltault said. "These people were and continue to be my pillars. That you have nominated and selected me to stand tall among all the pillars of this town... my hands are shaking... who have given me and countless others their strength and support for so many years is indeed an honor."

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(c)2019 Wicked Local North, Danvers, Mass.

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