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Karen & Cliff Cote


2023 - VFW Post 10732

The 2023 annual Robert B. Dornfried Sr. Lifetime Volunteerism Award was presented by the Berlin VFW Post 10732 to husband and wife team Karen & Cliff Cote. The Cote's are long standing stewards of volunteering in the town of Berlin including their many years of support to organizations such as Boxes to Boots (of which the Cote's were founders), The Ryan T. Lee Foundation, American Legion Post 68 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10732, among many others. Their selfless service and unending desire to help others has left a mark within Berlin and beyond. The Cote's were presented with their award at a ceremony on Tuesday, September 19 at the Berlin VFW surrounded by many of those touched by their generosity.


[Karen & Cliff Cote were also awarded $500 which they donated to three worthy Berlin charities - "Boxes to Boots" (Kristen Gauvin), Berlin American Legion Post 68 (Vin Trigila) and the Ryan T. Lee Foundation (Theresa & Dan Lee)]


Pictured above are (L/R):
VFW Post 10732 Commander

Anthony Gagliardi, 2020 award 
recipient Charles Colaresi, Diane

Dornfried representative of the 
award holding the Town 
Proclamation in honor of the Cote's,

Cliff Cote with the plaque which
hangs in the Town Hall,
Karen Cote, 2019's Davey Alkas, 2018's Paul Eshoo, 2022's Ted Swanson, Vin Trigila (Berlin American Legion), Bob Zipadelli 
(initiator of the award). Missing from photo: 2017's Bill Petit, 2021's Dick Benson, Kristen Gauvin (Boxes to Boots) and Theresa & Dan Lee (Ryan T. Lee Foundation). Above right photo includes
Berlin Mayor Mark Kaczynski.

Pictured left-to-right are: Dave Alkas (2019 recipient), Bill Petit (2017), 2022 award recipient Ted Swanson, Diane Dornfried representative of the award, Charles Colaresi (2020), George Satalino (President, Berlin Little League), Berlin Mayor Mark Kaczynski and Kristen Gauvin from "Boxes to Boots". Missing from photo are Paul Eshoo (2018) and Dick Benson (2021).



Ted Swanson

2022 - Berlin Little League

2022 brought the first full rotation of the awards 5-year cycle starting with Berlin Little League in 2017 (Petit) and again in 2022. The Berlin Little League (President George Satalino representing) selected for the 2022 annual Robert B. Dornfried Sr. Lifetime Volunteerism Award Ted Swanson. Ted has been a fixture in Berlin baseball at all levels for 40+ years. Whether coaching, managing or as a Board Member at both the Little League and Babe Ruth level, a booster at the high school ranks, as well donating numerous hours building both the elite Berlin Baseball program and also town baseball facilities, Ted Swanson is truly a lifetime volunteer. 

[Ted's $500 donation from The Berlin Volunteer Fund was presented to Kristen Gauvin from "Boxes to Boots"]




Richard "Dick" Benson

2021 - Town of Berlin

In 2021, the five year rotation for the award was completed offering all citizen volunteers for the "Town of Berlin" to be eligible. An open solicitation for nominations was conducted and of the numerous applications, names/identities were redacted to be anonymous and a recipient was selected by independent review from the previous 4 award recipients (1-Little League, 2-VFW, 3-Lions Club, 4-IPIC). As a result, the 2021 recipient of the annual Robert B. Dornfried Sr. Lifetime Volunteerism Award is Richard "Dick" Benson. Dick is a Viet Nam veteran and a Purple Heart recipient. He has dedicated his life to helping others, particularly veterans and their spouses. He has served on the Republican Town Committee, Charter Review Commission, Berlin Police Commission, Berlin Veterans Committee and on the Board of Directors for the Joseph & Anthony Manzi Foundation. He currently serves as a Trustee of the State Veterans Commission, is on the Veterans Cemetery Committee and President of the Wilcox Cemetery in East Berlin.

[Dick's $500 donation from The Berlin Volunteer Fund went to the "Joseph & Anthony Manzi Foundation"] 

Pictured above left-to-right is Charlie Colaresi  "2020 recipient", Bill Petit "2017", Paul Eshoo "2018", Davey Alkas "2019", Richard "Dick" Benson this year's honoree 2021, Diane Dornfried and Town of Berlin Mayor Mark Kaczynski"

Charles Colaresi

202o - Berlin Italian Independent Club

Charles Colaresi has been honored as the 2020 recipient of the annual Robert B. Dornfried Sr. Lifetime Volunteerism Award. On Thursday October 15, 2020, the Italian Independent Political Club selected Charles Colaresi who has volunteered countless hours in the town of Berlin as well as the Veteran's Commission. He is a U.S. Marine Veteran and assisted with the Berlin Veterans display at the Town Hall Memorial. Charles Colaresi (pictured right side with his wife, Diane Dornfried, Paul Eshoo "2018 recipient", Bill Petit "2017" and Davey Alkas "2019"). Mr. Colaresi received an honorary plaque which reads: A U.S. Marine veteran, Charlie’s ongoing volunteering and public service, especially to the Veteran’s of Berlin, embodies the meaning of this award. 

[Charlie's $500 donation from The Berlin Volunteer Fund went to the "Boxes to Boots"] 

Davey Alkas

2019 - Berlin Lions Club

Davey Alkas exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism. As a member of the Berlin Lions Club, he is known for his tireless work ethic whether it be at the Antique Tractor Museum, delivering food baskets at Thanksgiving, working at the annual Berlin Fair or plowing the fairgrounds after a snowfall. Davey's efforts 'to serve' also go way beyond the Lions Club into the Berlin community where he is well known for his 'neighborly acts. Davey is shown at left next to Diane Dornfried accompanied by prior recipients Paul Eshoo and Bill Petit.

Davey's plaque reads: For his over 25 years of dedication to the Berlin Lions Club, the preservation of its agricultural history and his ongoing commitment to help the people of his entire community. Davey truly embodies the spirit of volunteerism; always putting others before self.

[Davey's $500 donation from The Berlin Volunteer Fund went to the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital]

Paul Eshoo

2018 - VFW Post 10732

Paul Eshoo epitomizes what it means to be a volunteer and 'solid citizen'. His many deeds done on behalf of the town of Berlin are recognized not only by the members of the Berlin VFW but by Robert B. Dornfried Sr. while he was alive. Bob and Paul were friends and Bob would be extremely proud to know Paul received this worthy honor and recognition. Upon the passing of Bob, the Berlin VFW rededicated their post in his name now known as the "Robert B. Dornfried Sr. VFW Post 10732". 

Paul's plaque reads: A Navy veteran and true patriot, Paul’s 40+ years of unselfish community volunteering and public service has deemed him as a “Quiet Solid Citizen Volunteer”, a title that epitomizes what Bob Dornfried so strongly believed in.

[Paul's $500 donation from The Berlin Volunteer Fund went to the Hospital of Central CT] 

Bill Petit

2017 - Berlin Little League

Bill Petit is "Mr. Berlin". As the first recipient of the Volunteer Award, Bill was presented the award by Bob himself at the origination ceremony. The moving occasion was extra special to have these close friends be able to share a touching moment (Bob passed not more than 6 months later).

Bill's plaque reads: For his 41 years of tireless dedication to Berlin Little League including establishing the Challenger division (1995), indoor batting cages, state championships (1986 & 2004) and as a founding member of the town's premier Little League complex.

[Bill's $500 donation from The Berlin Volunteer Fund went to the St. Jude's Hospital] 

Award Origination Ceremony

In 2017, an origination ceremony was held to announce the creation of the award and honor the namesake Robert B. Dornfried Sr. 

Shown in the photo is Robert Sr. (center holding the plaque) flanked by his wife Margaret, daughter Diane, son James and to the right of Robert Sr. is Robert Jr. and Joseph.

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