2017 Heart of Gold
The Heart of Gold award is given in highest honor in recognition of an individual’s tireless efforts, extraordinary service, dedication, and compassion given to RMHC Maine.
The House could not operate without just one of the many volunteers that come in these doors day in and day out. Each year, we take on the difficult task of identifying just a few of the special volunteers of the House.
This year, the Heart of Gold awards were given to Peter Benson, Gaye Littlefield, and Daniel Thornton at our Roaring ’20s ball on October 27.
When Peter Benson retired, he wanted to give back to local organizations in his community. In 2003, he started volunteering at the front desk at Maine Medical Center. He shared that, while on duty there he enjoyed being in the hospital, but wanted to use his other free time to support another organization. Fortunately for us, someone suggested the Ronald McDonald House and in January 2004 he began his services. Since that time, he has gone above and beyond all expectations to help us continue providing a place of comfort for families. Not only does he cover a three-hour shift every other week, but he also picks up other shifts as needed and has become the go-to maintenance volunteer keeping up with all the minor repairs that occur throughout our 21 guestroom House. Peter shared, “The volunteers at the House are outstanding and I am honored to be part of such a special community.” He is amazed by how many people give back in volunteer hours either by preparing a home-cooked meal as a guest chef or keeping this House running smoothly in support of the families. Thirteen years later, Peter Benson is still with us and we are truly amazed by how much he gives back. We are sincerely honored to present Peter Benson with this Heart of Gold.
Dan’s history with the organization began when he was a loan officer at a local bank and was contacted by the Ronald McDonald House Board of Directors as the goal was to purchase property in the west end to open a Ronald McDonald House in May 1995. When Dan was approached to join the Board in 2007, he never hesitated. Dan shared, “he thoroughly believed in and supported the mission of the Ronald McDonald House as he had experienced first-hand what it meant for a family member to deal with a health issue.” Dan’s wife, Rachel, had received medical treatment at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston. The hospital provided a room at $10 a night and for sixty days he commuted between Boston and Falmouth to support his wife in the hospital and his sons at home. While on the Board, he chaired the golf committee, was a member of the finance committee, and took on the role of Board President from 2012 to 2015. This was a crucial time when, in 2013, the three separate boards voted in favor of the Ronald McDonald House Portland, the Ronald McDonald House Bangor, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine Chapter merger. On April 1, 2015, the organization became Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine. Throughout the years, Dan has provided considerable resources, strategic direction, and well-reasoned counsel. We are most fortunate for his compassion, sense of humor, and long-standing support of the children and families served by this organization. It is with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation we present this Heart of Gold to Dan Thornton.
Heart of Gold Recipients
1995: Joseph R. Foley
1996: Betty Lewis
1999: Meredith Strang Burgess
2001: Rod Irish, Bruce Leddy, Susan B. Soule
2002: Richard McCoy
2004: Polly Larned, Maine Medical Center, Thomas Newman, Margaret Nygren
2005: Steve Goble; Relay Team Ride Group: Heather Carteton, Karl Geib, John Halpin, Lorraine Jordan, Dan Knight; Dean Mazziotti; Judy Ridge; Janine Roberts; Penny Ward, Tony Ward; Phil A. Rossignol
2006: Michael Curci, M.D., Sheila Peabody, Joan Roux
2007: Robert Horne, Jack Nygren, John Thaxter,
2008: John Messer
2009: Edie Lydick, George Lydick
2010: Patricia Grunwald, Peter Grunwald, Bob Usinger, Maxine Stenger
2011: Gary Eckmann, Kenny Mayne
2012: Betsy Hillman, Becky Neidetcher, Betsy Nygren
2013: Phyllis Hayes, Jane Norton, Linda Vickerson
2014: Libby Lemieux, Jane Francoeur, Cheryl Levasseur, Cathy Pride, Ellen Corrigan, K.C. Hughes, Fred Sexton, Tim Thomas, and Rita Thompson
2015: Kevin Riley, Scott Searway, Chris Woods, “The Brunch Bunch”, Maine Neonatology Associates
2016: The Napoli Group, Paul Thibodeau, Mary LaLumiere, and Systems Engineering
2017: Peter Benson, Gaye Littlefield, Daniel Thornton