Rita Laferriere never imagined she would be chasing Shane Chase down the halls one year for homework and the next nominating him for the Red Cross Hometown Hero Award.
"When he [Shane] told me where he was working and what he was doing, it was very emotional in the classroom because I realized he was up here at my son’s house,” said Laferriere, Chase's former teacher.
The eighth grader from Ludlow who armed himself with a 20-inch blade chainsaw and cut down trees with his brother and his father after the June 1 tornadoes received the Hometown Hero award from the American Red Cross on Thursday.
Shane Chase, 14, of Ludlow was one of six honorees out of 60 nominations and was cited for his extraordinary efforts in the cleanup of the tornadoes.
"The young man who receives this award is fourteen years old but old enough to know that he has a very compassionate heart,” said Honorary Co-Chair Sky Becker of 22News
“I just wanted to help the people,” Shane told 22News.
Shane has logged more than 400 hours of community volunteer hours cutting trees, hauling brush, running brush clippers, and moving fallen trees.
Shane’s father, Alan Chase, said of the award “It was neat, something we didn’t expect.".
Shane, one of the youngest Hometown Heroes, was also nominated by Michael and Geri Laferriere, whose home he has been working on since last June.
“I think this is a small token of appreciation,” said Michael Laferriere. “Writing a letter is the least I can do. Not a lot of kids his age are going out doing stuff like that every weekend, and they don’t get here at 2 or 3 o’clock, they are here early in the morning.”
Shane’s mother was the first person he told he would be getting the award, which will be placed on a shelf, in the family room for everyone to see.
Shane started working with a chainsaw before the June 1 tornadoes. Alan Chase, allowed him to cut up pieces of pallets at home but when the tornadoes hit, that is when Shane got all of his experience.
Both Shane and his brother Mckinley, 17, who received a certificate at the ceremony as well, each have personal 20-inch blade chainsaws.
‘Chase and Sons Chainsaw Team’ has worked in all the affected areas of the tornado. Mckinley Chase has friends in the fire department of Monson which drew them specifically to that area.
“We just went down to the church and said ‘what can we do?’” said Mckinley Chase.
Shane works every weekend, getting up around 9 each morning and working a full day until he is tired. He plans to work every day in the summer.
“Every day, depending on the temperature,” said Chase. “If it’s 150 degrees, then I’ll stay home.”
Shane is also an active boy scout with Troop 164.
In the future, Shane plans to be a contractor while doing tree work on the side. Mckinley is going to school to be an electrician. Shane hopes one day he and his brother can own a business together.
“He can work for me or something,” said Shane Chase.
Alan Chase has arranged a ‘Hometown Hero Meet and Greet’ open to the public on April 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 170 Main Street, Monson, where the public can meet their new Hometown Hero.
"Chase and Sons Chainsaw Team" has been trying to get donations since last November. The price in gas for the commute and to fuel their equipment is becoming too pricey for the family to handle on their own. The team is accepting donations towards a wood chipper which can be mailed to Alan Chase at 174 Poole St, Ludlow, MA.
Photos by Kim Kern
Kim Kern can be reached at email@example.com
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About the authors
Students in Steve Fox's Investigative Journalism & the Web class at UMass-Amherst have teamed up with the Globe to take a close-up look at the painful process of rebuilding from the June 2011 tornadoes that killed four and devastated communities in the Springfield area. Their work will also appear in the Boston Globe. Steve joined the journalism faculty at UMass-Amherst in 2007 and has 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at The Washington Post's award-winning website.