SWANSEA — The Somerset Lions Club last Tuesday awarded its annual Citizen of the Year Award to Yvonne Coppinger and its Humanitarian of the Year Award to Denis and Dottie Auclair.
At the Somerset Lions Club's annual awards night and installation of officers at the Venus de Milo in Swansea, Lions Club member Terry Berard said Coppinger has volunteered as a substitute teacher and at local nursing homes and rehabilitation centers to help the residents for many years. She said Coppinger has helped to provide free entertainment for the residents at those places.
Berard said Coppinger, who is a Somerset resident, has volunteered for over 30 years in local religious settings and the 86-year-old has continued to do so, as health allows, being a chairperson of events, an Eucharistic minister, doing clerical duties and aiding fundraisers there and assisting other organizations, like the Lions Club.
Berard said Coppinger has organized a social support group for the area in Somerset where she is a prime checker regarding any resident who has not been seen for awhile, to make sure there is no need for a person. She said Coppinger also drives people to local doctor's appointments.
Berard said Coppinger started a team to raise money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life 18 or 19 years ago. She has been the team's captain and is presently the recruiter for the team that has over 60 members. Berard said she believes that Coppinger's team raised the most money at this year's Relay for Life that was held in Fall River.
Berard said Coppinger has been called "the tab lady" because she collects so many pull tabs to raise money for charity, which she has been doing since the 1990s. She said Coppinger has collected the tabs from her place of work, restaurants, the Attleboro Fire Department which brings them to La Salette Shrine for her, family, friends and anyone who hears of her cause.
While Coppinger is in her 80s, Berard said she is young at heart and continues to support and help any need that she becomes aware of.
Berard presented the award to Coppinger and Coppinger's daughter, Judy Lachance, said a few words on behalf of her mother.
"She's volunteered for the community her whole life," Lachance said of her mother. "She's an excellent role model. She's always dragged us to her volunteer projects."
Somerset Lions Club President Michael Correia said that with the ups and downs of the economy, it may be tough at times to say no to the numerous requests for donations of all sorts. But he said that is not the case for Denis and Dottie Auclair as they are running Auclair's Market on County Street in Somerset, who he said even go above and beyond the request for donations.
Correia noted that when visiting Auclair's Market, various events around the community can be seen posted in the foyer, they collect flags for proper disposal and eyeglasses to be distributed to people in need. Correia said the Auclairs allow different organizations to solicit donations for various causes outside their store from time to time.
Correia said Auclair's Market sponsors most events or groups in the community, including the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Somerset Berkley Regional High School, the Annelle DeLorme Hagerman Food Bank, Somerset Lions Club and local churches.
"And the list goes on and on," Correia said. "These individuals also have a kindness in their heart for individuals with disabilities. From time to time, you will see them doing various tasks within the store."
Correia said he has been a member of the Somerset Lions Club for almost 20 years and the Auclairs have been extremely supportive of the club. This year, he said the Auclairs were helpful with the Lions Club's booth at the Spirit of Somerset Family Fun Day where food was sold, at the town's Holiday Festival where the club sold plastic candy canes in memory of loved ones and at the club's pancake breakfast. The Lions Club raises money for eye research, which is the adopted cause of Lions Club international, and many other causes in Somerset, including three scholarships, sponsorships of a Boy Scout troop and Cub Scout pack and many donations to groups, such as the Somerset Friends of Music, youth sports, and whenever a member of the club sees a need in the community.
"Our year would not have been as successful as it was if it was not for the help of these two individuals," Correia said of Denis and Dottie.
Their son, Matthew Auclair, also is a member of the Somerset Lions Club.
"We're a community grocer and it's our privilege to serve the community and none of us join the Lions Club to get awards," Denis said. "On behalf of all the Lions, it's something that we do to give back to the community and none of us expect awards, but it is an honor to receive it."