LACONIA — Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation donors and benefactors, past and present Board of Trustee members, past and present staff of the foundation as well as family and friends gathered recently at the Saint Andre Bessette Parish Hall to celebrate Joan Cormier’s 50 years with the scholarship foundation.
The evening began with a gathering of guests in the Hall, who were treated to a bounty of food provided by The Common Man, Contigiani’s Catering, T-Bones-Cactus Jack’s restaurant and the Water Street Café, in addition to hors d’oeuvres and desserts provided by the LRSF Board members. After a time for the guests to mingle, the woman of the hour was escorted in by her husband to a chorus of “surprise” from all in attendance. Once the guest of honor greeted the guests present, a number of presentations were made to recognize Joan’s long service to the young people of the Lakes Region. There was a commendation from Gov. Sununu, a proclamation from the mayor, a biographical roast prepared by one of the staff members who has worked with Joan for many years, a number of letters from those who were unable to attend as well as time for those present to offer their praise and recognition for this lovely lady. The evening concluded with the presentation of a gift from the Board and then those in attendance were treated to the artistic talents of Larry Frates, who sketched a caricature of the guest of honor in front of the audience and presented it to Cormier.
Joan Cormier officially started with Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation in 1968. She served as its volunteer secretary and then moved on to volunteer executive director in 1985. In 1999, when she retired, and Lakes Region Scholarship moved its original offices to the second floor of the DeCamp building, Joan took on the role of Executive Director full time. Over the past five decades, LRSF has grown from a very small local foundation to a large foundation serving hundreds of students each year and dispersing awards totally over $350,000 this past June.
Cormier has nurtured the foundation through its growing pains, encouraging and supporting the over 500 donors over her 50 years, who have been there to support the young people of the area. The foundation base is very varied. It includes businesses, local service clubs (many of whom started with the foundation in 1956), individuals and families, and memorial funds for hundreds of people. Cormier has met with each of these donors, she celebrates with them, supports their causes and grieves with their losses. Her service to the foundation is not just a commitment, it is a calling. The Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation and its donors, staff and board are like family to her and that is what has made her service so special and unique.
Paulette Loughlin, assistant director of the foundation, said, “Joan’s impact on this organization and on the community in general has been significant. We wanted to throw a party to celebrate a half a century of service and invite people who have worked with her and the donors, whose lives she has touched over the past five decades. She has made it possible for over 5,000 young people to have at least some assistance in their pursuit of higher education. The wonderful thing about the scholarships awarded by LRSF, is that the support that these young people receive is from their own community and Joan has been the heartbeat of this support for so long!”
Although Joan officially retires in mid-January at the LRSF Annual Meeting, she intends to continue working part time with the foundation for some time, in order to support the new directors.
Larry Frates does a caricature of Joan Cormier as she is honored for 50 years of service to the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation. (Courtesy photo)