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Milford Resident Reflects on Recent 'Unsung Heroine' Recognition

Donnalee Shain was nominated for the recognition by State Rep. John Fernandes.

Rep. John V. Fernandes, D-Milford, and Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, honor Donnalee Shain of Milford, who was named an Unsung Heroine by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. Credit: Rep. John Fernandes
Rep. John V. Fernandes, D-Milford, and Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, honor Donnalee Shain of Milford, who was named an Unsung Heroine by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. Credit: Rep. John Fernandes

Last week, Milford resident Donnalee Shain was recognized as a 2014 "Unsung Heroine" at the Massachusetts State House along with 81 other women from across the state honored for their contributions to organizations in their communities. 

For her part, Shain was nominated by State Rep. John Fernandes (D-Milford) for being affiliated with area school districts, early intervention programs, rehabilitation centers and specialized learning centers for the past 30-some years. 

State Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) honored Shain along with Fernandes at the State House celebration on Thursday, May 29, which was hosted by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW). 

"I am truly humbled by this recognition award," Shain said in a statement. "There are many women who do so much to benefit others. We need to all work together to identify and meet the needs of the community, whether it be soldiers, veterans, families, students, the homeless, the sick or the hungry. I am so blessed to be able to work side by side with so many wonderful people who care about others and want to make a difference."

The MCSW describes the Unsung Heroines as "women who don’t always make the news, but truly make the difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude."

In addition, Fernandes and Moore both commended Shain for her efforts.

"I proudly nominated Donnalee because of her many years of outstanding charitable activities, her tireless humanitarian spirit and her truly inspirational leadership, which has literally improved the lives of thousands of residents throughout Worcester County," Fernandes said in a statement. "Donnalee Shain and her husband, Mike, have never forgotten the courage, sacrifice and hardships shouldered by our soldiers, especially through their ‘Thanks to Yanks’ organization, which provides a free tribute meal every September 11th to soldiers and their families, directly assists military families in dire financial need, and promotes community and school events that honor veterans."

Said Moore: "Donnalee's efforts are great examples of what community is all about: constantly seeking ways to assist those who need help and support; and effectively making a positive difference in the lives of others. Utilizing her knowledge and expertise as a physical therapist to teach and impact the lives of others is underscored by her leadership and volunteerism through 'Thanks to Yanks,' the Boy Scouts, and a variety of other reputable organizations. Donnalee was an outstanding nominee, and it is appropriate that she was selected for this distinguished honor."

Below is Fernandes's nomination of Shain for the award, courtesy of the Office of State Rep. John Fernandes:

I am honored to nominate Donnalee Shain as an Unsung Heroine of Massachusetts for 2014. 

As an advanced physical therapist, Donnalee has been affiliated with a host of area school districts, early intervention programs, rehabilitation centers and specialized learning centers over the past three decades. As a well-respected faculty member, she has been associated with several nationally recognized physical therapy programs. At Bay State College, she played a major leadership role as Program Chair in securing a 10-year accreditation and increasing program enrollment by 167%.  She received a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Simmons College; served as a Board Certified Pediatric Specialist from 1997-2007; and received an Advanced Master of Science in Physical Therapy Neurological Disorders and a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University. She currently resides in Milford with her husband, Mike Shain. They have two sons, one currently stationed overseas at a US Air Force base in Japan and the other son attending college in Florida. 

Besides undertaking a daunting workload and conducting extensive duties as a faculty member, Donnalee consistently demonstrates the selfless and charitable qualities that truly define an Unsung Heroine. Donnalee and her husband have been major organizers for the ‘Thanks to Yanks’ organization, “whose focus is to:-- Remember, Revere and Respect Military Men, Women and their Families.” 

She always assists with the annual Thanks to Yanks dinner, which provides a free tribute dinner on September 11th to those families with loved ones serving actively overseas, Gold Star families, those currently serving our nation on the home front and those who previously served in the military and their families. The dinner also pays tribute to the valor and professionalism of our first responders who keep us safe at a moment’s notice. The first dinner occurred back in 2006. 

Their organization honors the memory of the heroes and victims of 9/11/2001; assists military families in connecting them with organizations that address their hardships; financially supports and promotes other organizations that directly aid military men, women and their families; and sponsors events that demonstrate civilian respect for the military and their families 

Donnalee has organized a student holiday card writing campaign at a local Milford school for the benefit of soldiers; collected and dropped off toys for military families; and delivered personnel hygiene items for homeless veterans. In addition, Donnalee ran in a 5k race dedicated to the fallen soldiers of Massachusetts. Prior to the race, she aided in the distribution of water. After the race, she helped distribute watermelon to the runners. 

Donnalee also previously served as a Committee Chair for Boy Scouts Troop 2, based in Milford; provided PT services for Susan B. Komen and Avon Breast Cancer Walk participants; participated in a Fun-Fitness Program for Special Olympic events; coordinated a monthly meal service for the needy of Milford; and served as an active member at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church of Milford, where she played major leadership roles in the Women’s Club and the Pastoral Council. 

In so many tangible, life-changing and positive ways, Donnalee possesses a tireless and inspirational humanitarian spirit, which definitely deserves official recognition alongside other worthy peers from across the Commonwealth.

Leslie T. McElman June 05, 2014 at 08:13 AM
Congratulations Donnalee, well deserved honor.
Heidi Hetzler Squadrito June 05, 2014 at 04:58 PM
Nice job, congrats

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