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The late Mike BonTempo, Jr., shown in 2017 receiving the Connecticut Association of Prevention Professionals’ Sector All Star award, is the namesake for a new award issued by Clinton’s Partners in Community. (Photo courtesy of Kelley Edwards )
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Thanks to a new, annual award from the organization Partners in Community (PIC), Clinton residents will be able to honor someone in the community working to combat teen substance abuse, while simultaneously honoring the memory of a citizen who made a difference in the lives of teens.
Michael BonTempo, Jr., was one of the founding members of the First Selectman’s Task Force on Substance Abuse in the 1990s. BonTempo remained involved with trying to curb teen substance abuse until he passed away earlier this year. In his memory, The Michael BonTempo, Jr., Volunteer of the Year award will be awarded on Monday, June 24 to a volunteer who exemplifies BonTempo’s desire to change the lives of others, volunteerism, caring, and commitment to preventing substance abuse by youth.
PIC Coalition Coordinator Kelley Edwards said that this year the award will be awarded to a PIC member, who may be nominated by anyone in the community. The award may be expanded to non-PIC members in the future. Nomination forms can be received by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A panel of PIC members who are not nominated will choose the winner. Nominations must be submitted by Saturday, June 15. Nominees can be either an adult or a Clinton youth.
According to Edwards, the award came to be out of a desire to honor BonTempo, who was a longtime health teacher at Jared Elitot Middle School and held in high regard by parents and students alike. Edwards reached out to BonTempo’s family and received their blessing to name the award after him.
“I just felt it was important to honor his spirit. I thought it would be a great way to keep his memory alive,” Edwards said.
The First Selectman’s Task Force on Substance Abuse was formed in the mid-’90s with a primary focus on underage drinking. In the early 2000s, the group began to expand its focus to other areas of prevention, and then morphed into PIC in 2012. Through PIC, Edwards said she got to know BonTempo, whom she nicknamed the “Old Historian,” and became friends.
“He was so important and made such a big impact on substance abuse in Clinton,” she said.
By naming the award after him, Edwards hopes the award winners are aware of the significant impact he made.
“I think anyone who wins the award in the next two years, they will remember him,” said Edwards. “Many critical prevention initiatives and projects were carried out with Mike’s connection to the school, and thousands of students learned valuable lessons from him over the years.”
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