WELLSBORO — Dawn Pletcher, long-time leader of the Goodies for Our Troops program, is the recipient of the second annual Dante Award.
The Dante Award is named for its originator, Dante Cimorelli, who last year decided to take it upon himself to recognize excellence in his hometown. The recipient receives a plaque and a vase of long-stemmed red roses.
He surprised Pletcher Tuesday morning as she and other volunteers were packaging goodies to be shipped to service men and women who are deployed. The group ships care packages to about 100 service members each month.
Descending the stairs to the work area at 87 Main St., Wellsboro, Cimorelli asked the volunteers for Pletcher’s whereabouts. She walked out from behind a room divider to discover Cimorelli holding the vase of flowers.
“Oh, they’re beautiful,” said Pletcher.
Coincidentally, Cimorelli presented the award on June 30, the last day of Goodies’ 15th year of service.
“Tomorrow starts our 16th year,” said Pletcher.
This year’s recipient, said Cimorelli, “is an angel beyond belief.”
“I don’t have words to describe what a super girl she is,” Cimorelli said. “I’m honored to stand beside her.”
“And I’m honored to stand next to you,” responded Pletcher. “You’re a hero.”
Cimorelli is also a veteran.
The roses, Cimorelli told Pletcher, are a gift on behalf of his grandson, Nick Rice, who died the preceding year. Nick, said Pletcher, was a long-time volunteer at Goodies.
“If I called him up and asked him for anything… he’d be at work and say, ‘I’m off in half an hour Grandma Dawn,” she said.
In 2019, Cimorelli presented the first ever Dante Award to Marika and George Kambouris at George’s Restaurant in Wellsboro.