Inspiration through selflessness
David and Donna Goodrich of Portsmouth and Kathy MacKnight of Newport are the winners of the 2013 Newport Daily News Community Service Award.
The Goodriches are longtime volunteers at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Newport, their churches and Newport elementary schools. For the past two decades, MacKnight has been president of Christmas in Newport, a monthlong celebration of December holiday traditions that also raises money for local charities.
They will be honored during a banquet on Tuesday, April 23, at the Atlantic Beach Club in Middletown.
The winners of the 18th annual Community Service Award were chosen from among a dozen nominations, many of which included multiple letters of support.
Members of the Community Service Award Committee, comprised of local residents and community leaders, noted the quality of the nominations received this year — and the difficulty in choosing just two winning submissions.
“Reading these is an inspiration,” one committee member said during the meeting to review the nominations and determine this year’s winners.
“It’s a tough, tough job,” said another.
Committee members weighed the breadth and length of service and the overall impact on the community in making their selections.
The award was established in 1995 as part of The Daily News’ celebration of its 150th anniversary. This is the third time a couple has been honored with the award.
In nominating the Goodriches, Marilyn Warren, executive director of the MLK Center, wrote: “Dave and Donna truly exemplify individuals who, through their own actions, inspire others to engage in their community.”
David Goodrich grew up in Newtown, Conn., and Donna Goodrich is a Newport native, a graduate of Rogers High School and Salve Regina College (now University).
He is a retired physicist/manager at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. She is a retired Rogers High School science teacher.
They both retired at age 55 in 2003, with a plan to devote their remaining years to community service projects.
Those include the breakfast program and food pantry at the MLK Center and organizing the annual Great Day of Service each Columbus Day weekend. They also run food drives at St. Barnabas Church and St. Mary’s Church in Portsmouth.
The Goodriches, who have two grown daughters and a grandson, said they planned financially for early retirement as a way to increase their time for volunteering.
“We live simply so others can simply live,” Donna Goodrich said.
In nominating MacKnight, David S. Wolfenden, a member of the board of directors of Christmas in Newport, wrote: “Every December, this wonderful festival runs like clockwork because of the volunteers and the glue that holds us all together, Kathy MacKnight.”
A Minnesota native, MacKnight, a public affairs specialist for Naval Health Clinic New England, has been involved with Christmas in Newport since 1983, and now is in her 20th year as president.
“I think if you don’t give back, you’re not fully involved in your community,” she said.
Profiles of the winners are online at www.NewportRI.com.