The Quincy Lions Club has given John Yazwinski, CEO of Father Bill’s & Mainspring, the 2013 Frank McCauley Community Service Award.
Yazwinski joins the ranks of the few who have received the award, which was started in 2010 and named after former Quincy Mayor Francis X. McCauley.
“Frank McCauley is one of the longest serving lions in the 72 year history of the club. He’s been there 50 years now, and when they gave him his 50th, we set up a committee from the board of directors and every year they vote and choose someone for the award,” said Charles Phelan, Quincy Lions Club president. “…It has to be someone from the community, an activist or someone involved in the community. The only thing is it cannot be a Lion. We choose someone that we feel meets the ideals that we serve.”
Yazwinski was an easy choice, not only because of what he does, but because of how he does it, Phelan said. The choice was unanimous.
“He works in an area where it’s kind of forgotten, the forgotten people in Quincy, and he services a population that have some of the most desperate needs in the city,” Phelan said. “He’s always upbeat, has spoken at our club before, and we just all felt that he’s the guy out there every day in the trenches doing the work.”
Previous winners include former Quincy Community Action Program Executive Director Rosemary Wahlberg, Quincy Sun Editor Robert Bosworth, and Interfaith Social Services Manager of Material Assistance Bettyanne Lang.
Yazwinski was the perfect person to follow in those footsteps, organizers said.
In 2012 alone, Father Bills & Mainspring helped nearly 600 families find permanent housing.
“Under John’s tenure, Father Bill’s has made a commitment not to just manage homelessness, but to work toward ending homelessness,” Phelan said.
According to Phelan, Father Bill’s commitments are all encompassing; including the emergency shelter and emergency meals to those facing homelessness; developing permanent, affordable housing; providing job training and work programs; and offering special services targeted to veterans in need.
Yazwinski was surprised about the recognition, and was modest about receiving an award named after McCauley.
“The Quincy Lion’s Club has been supporting our mission for over 20 years, and so I was very humbled and honored, especially because its named after Frank McCauley and how he’s been such a community leader for the past several decades and worked with Father Bills, helped us secure the emergency shelter in Quincy, and knowing Frank is such a person of principle,” Yazwinski said.
Even more humbling was to stand amongst the other award recipients, who Yazwinski called “pillars of the community”.
Though Yazwinski’s name is on the award, the validation is for all of the people involved in Father Bill’s, Yazwinski said.
“I view it as an award to our mission, to all volunteers, staff, board members who make sure every day that veterans or children or moms who struggle with homelessness have a safe place, and that the Quincy Lions Club recognizes that is very appreciated,” Yazwinski said. “We have some tough days here…and in our mission and facing budget cuts … [it is nice to] know there is a group like the Lions stepping up recognizing it…it gives us the confidence to move forward and end homelessness one life at a time.”
Yazwinski also hoped the award would provide an awareness for the level of services the organization provides, which extends far beyond just the homeless shelter.
“I hope what this award will do will let people know we’re not just an emergency shelter, we’re here to help people get back on their feet,” he said.