Shaheens honored at City Year gala in New Castle

March 29, 2010

NEW CASTLE - Bill and Jeanne Shaheen have been a part of City Year since it was only an idea.

When City Year Co-Founder Alan Khazei mentioned the idea of an "urban peace corps" to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen - back when they were working together on the presidential campaign of Sen. Gary Hart in 1984 - Shaheen knew it was a good idea.

She admitted, however, that she couldn't have imagined that it would become what it is today.

Twelve years later, when Shaheen was elected governor, she called Khazei with a request.

"She said, 'Alan, what is it going to take to bring City Year to New Hampshire?'" Khazei said.

Fourteen years after that phone call, the City Year founders consider City Year New Hampshire one of the strongest chapters of the organization and they honored the Shaheens for their role in continually supporting the mission of the organization - "keeping kids in school and on track."

Bill and Jeanne Shaheen were presented with the Lifetime of Service Award during City Year New Hampshire's annual Starry Starry Night benefit gala at Wentworth by the Sea Saturday night - an event that doubled as the 10th anniversary celebration of City Year New Hampshire.

Beyond the couple's personal connection to the founders of the organization, the award recipients were honored for their commitment to the values that are the tenants of City Year.

"He taught me our responsibility is to our community and our system will be judged by how we treat the poor and the powerless," said Steven Gordon, who presented the award and is a longtime friend and a partner in Shaheen's Dover law.

Both Khazei and Gordon boasted of the individual accomplishments of both Bill and Jeanne Shaheen, but during their speeches Saturday both men emphasized that the couple compliments each other by fulfilling their own role in pursuing a better life for the less fortunate.

"The good go to the good, and that's true with Billy and Jeanne Shaheen," Khazei said.

For the Shaheens, though, participating in a program like City Year was never a question once they understood the impact it has on the children who benefit.

"They give hope to the hopeless and vision to those who don't see a future," Bill Shaheen said.

"Most importantly, it's motivation," Jeanne Shaheen said. "And what kids really need to succeed is motivation, and that's what City Year gives them."

City Year is a national service organization that seeks to address the dropout crisis by tutoring and mentoring at-risk students and providing after-school, weekend and vacation time programming.

Past recipients of the Lifetime of Service Award include Sen. Judd Gregg, Lew Feldstein and Gov. John Lynch.

By:  Leslie Modica
Source: Foster's Daily Democrat