Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo has always had a special relationship with the seniors living in Winthrop. They have admired his sincere efforts in trying to make their lives better. And he has appreciated everything they have contributed to the town in their lives.
When DeLeo was a member of the Winthrop Board of Selectmen, one of his goals was to see a new senior center in the town of Winthrop. He felt the existing facility, located in the basement of the old Parks and Recreation building, wasnâ€™t befitting of â€œthe great seniorsâ€ living in Winthrop.
DeLeo led an effort to apply for funding and grants for the creation of a new senior center and he spearheaded a fundraising telethon. His tenacity and leadership eventually resulted in a brand new senior center on Harvard Street.
And now that senior center, a bustling place of socializing, good times and good friends for so many in Winthrop, will bear his name. The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to rename the Senior Center the Robert A. DeLeo Senior Center.
â€œIâ€™m just plain overwhelmed,â€ said DeLeo in an interview Wednesday morning. â€œThis is one of the greatest honors that I think can be bestowed on any person in the community, especially this one because this has always been an issue that I was very much involved with and continue to be to this day. To Council President Turco and to all the councilors who voted, Iâ€™m extremely grateful.â€
DeLeo added that he was â€œextremely humbled and very excitedâ€ by the honor.
Council President Jeffrey Turco made the historic motion during the new business portion of the meeting. Councilor Russell Sanford seconded the motion.
Turco also requested that Town Manager James McKenna and Executive Director Nancy Williams set a date for a dedication ceremony at the center.
Turco went on to praise DeLeo for his work in bringing a new senior center to the town and his long-time support of issues that would be beneficial to seniors in the town.
â€œSince Iâ€™ve known Nancy [Williams], there has been nothing but talk about the great influence Bob has had on the center both from its creation to supporting it through grants and other things over the last 20 years,â€ said Turco. â€œAs someone who considers himself sort of a student of politics, I think aside from his work at the senior center, the fact that a guy from Winthrop rises through the ranks and becomes Speaker of the House is something that is worthy of honor and perpetual recognition so thatâ€™s why happily I make this motion.â€
Councilor Jeanne Maggio also lauded DeLeo, saying â€œthe work he has done for this community has been outstanding. Heâ€™s been a great guy and I have the deepest respect for him.â€
DeLeo said the success of the Senior Center and the senior programs in the community can be shared by a number of people.
â€œPeople like Nancy Williams and her staff and the Friends of the Council and a whole host of people are really a major part of the Senior Center,â€ said DeLeo. â€œI sort of look at myself as representing all those who first of all made the Senior Center a reality and second all those who gave of their time to make sure that the seniors in Winthrop are offered the finest programs that we can get.â€
Whatâ€™s it going to be like for the Speaker seeing â€œRobert A. DeLeo Senior Centerâ€ in large letters outside the building?
â€œItâ€™s just really a thrill for me because itâ€™s something which is so meaningful â€“ my relationship with the senior citizen population and that building in particular â€“ even though Iâ€™m Speaker of the House, this is somewhat overwhelming for me. To be honored in your hometown and to be appreciated by the folks in your hometown, it means a lot to me. I travel throughout the state but at the end of the day Winthrop is the place where I grew up, itâ€™s my home and to be appreciated by the people in my community is the most important thing in public service that I ever have or ever will have.â€