Agency on Aging

Spotlight on one of our own!

 

In honor of Memorial Day our very own Cherie Larson-Strucaly was set to march in the Hamden Memorial Day parade. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not cooperate, and the actual parade was cancelled. However, the Remembrance Ceramony was held inside, and the following was a short speech given about Cherie! 

It is a pleasure to introduce Cherie Larson Strucaly as this year's Hamden's Memorial Day Parade Civilian Grand Marshal. 

Cherie is a wife, a mom, a stepmom, and a grandmother who has an infectious laugh and makes the best ginger snaps from scratch! 

Cherie is originally from the south side of Chicago and was inspired by her parents who showed her at an early age respect for our country by raising the flag at their home often. Each time it was raised, as a family, they saluted and cited the Pledge of Allegiance together. Her dad, as a World War II Army veteran, was trained as a rear gunner. Although never having seen combat, he often told stories of the many different planes he flew aboard. 

In 1980, Cherie moved to Connecticut and held a position at the Easter Seals organization working with adults with disabilities. She left the position to become a caregiver for her dad when the Agency on Aging offered her a part-time job. Once her dad passed, she became full-time at the Agency where she remains today as the Director of AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteer Programs. It is through this program that she was introduced to Abner Oakes, former chairperson of the Hamden Veterans Commission. In 2014, he invited her to Veterans Awareness Day, an event where students interact with veterans who share their military experiences and memorabilia…. the rest is history. 

Cherie began attending monthly Veterans Commission meetings and immediately became part of the troop! 

She introduced The Pen Pal program to us knowing how educating our youth about the sacrifices of our veterans is a major part of our mission. 

Principal Dan Levy at Hamden Middle School approached teacher Michele Mule and the program began. It continues with teacher Lauren Mollin and her students today at West Woods School. Cherie seeks out interested veterans willing to share their military experiences and interests with students by exchanging handwritten letters monthly. The lost art of cursive writing is encouraged, but no computers, please! 

Most importantly, Cherie sees firsthand how this program builds connections and bonds btw generations as it instills an appreciation of service to our country and community to our students. 

Thank you, Cherie, for YOUR service. We are grateful for the respect and appreciation you have for our veterans while paying it forward to Hamden's youth. You truly are a patriot. Congratulations!