By Alex Lippa
---- — SALEM — When the Rev. David Yasenka picked up the telephone the other night, he heard what he least expected.
On the line was William Ganley, informing him he was being honored with the Chief John P. Ganley Community Service Award.
“I was just speechless,” Yasenka said. “It came completely out of the blue.”
The award is given each year by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem to someone who has demonstrated concern, involvement and leadership in the community. The award is named for former Salem police Chief John Ganley, who died in 1989.
Yasenka was honored because of his 30 years of service to the community as pastor at Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church. In those years, the church has hosted the Adult Literacy Program, Alcoholics Anonymous, Head Start and many other programs serving various needs in the Salem area.
Over the last few years, Yasenka has also been involved with Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County, a program looking to establish affordable and sustainable housing for the homeless.
“My work with adequate housing is a reason for why I went into the ministry,” Yasenka said. “My understanding of Christianity is always being an advocate for the poor and vulnerable.”
Yasenka is honored to receive the award, but he said it is more about the community than himself.
“It’s a reflection of the community’s backing for dealing with the people who have needs in the most efficient and affordable way,” he said.
In addition to his work with the church, Yasenka has helped with the Council of Churches, Greater Salem Caregivers and the Western Rockingham Coalition of Care. He has also served as president and member of the board of directors for Salemhaven long-term care facilty and Silverthorne adult day are.
Yasenka said he was surprised to be named a recipient of the award because of the impressive list of past winners.
“Most people have done substantial things,” he said. “I look at (last year’s winner) Russ Ingram and all the work he did for the senior center.”
Many people nominated Yasenka for the award, according to the Boys and Girls Club. He will be presented with the award March 15 at the 24th annual John P. Ganley St. Patrick’s Day Memorial Award Luncheon at the club.
Reservations are required for the luncheon, which will feature retired Sgt. Daniel Clark, known as “The Singing Trooper,” and the New Hampshire Police Association Pipes and Drums.
For more information, contact Denise Dolloff at the Boys and Girls Club at 603-898-7709, ext. 16, or firstname.lastname@example.org.