OXFORD, MA – Carl (aka “Skip”) and Judy Nielsen, Hometown Bank’s Everyday Hometown Heroes for December have perfected the art of community building. Whether it involves creating a community garden so neighbors can enjoy fresh, organic vegetables, or trekking off to Africa to install a new community well pump, the Nielsens’ style of volunteerism knows no boundaries.
The Nielsens have called the eastern shore of Sturbridge’s Quacumquasit Lake home for the better part of 30 years. Both have a long legacy of serving in leadership positions for QQLA, the local lake association, and been strong advocates for preserving the region’s lakes – Quaboag and Quacumquasit – for the enjoyment of fishermen, boaters and all who enjoy these natural resources.
As a former nursing manager at U Mass Medical Center, Judy is quick to respond to respond to neighbors’ medical needs: dressings, transport, medical information and usually a hearty bowl of soup for nourishment.
10 years ago, Judy joined the Board of Directors of Growth Through Learning (GTL), a local charitable organization that provides a high school education to deserving girls living in East Africa. Nominator Louis Fazen says, “With charismatic charm, Judy has awakened our consciousness and helped raise funding to provide education for almost 800 young women in three African countries. On one remarkable trip to Uganda, Judy carried a much needed laptop computer while Skip packaged up solar panels and then installed them on site. The school’s headmistress could not believe her eyes!”
Skip is a self-professed tinkerer, with a reputation for being able to build or fix just about anything. Neighbors know they can count on him for advice and assistance. He spent a recent morning climbing the clock tower in nearby Brookfield to set back the hands on the large antique clock that graces the town hall. A few years ago, noticing that the clock was no longer working, he fabricated new gear teeth and got it working again. And then there was that trip to Africa to install a well pump that literally changed the lives of local villagers.
A donation has been made to Growth Through Learning (GTL) in honor of the Nielsens.
Photo Cut Line: Sturbridge Branch Manager Kathryn Latour (right) congratulates December’s Everyday Hometown Heroes, Skip and Judy Nielsen, of Sturbridge. Behind them is a photo display of daily life in one of the schools supported by Growth Through Learning, on display at the Sturbridge Coffee House through December 29th