ATKINSON — It may only be fitting that David and Hedi Shikes will receive their Atkinson Citizens of the Year awards from the Atkinson Congregational Church on Sunday. Although the Shikeses are Jewish, they both spend considerable time at the church volunteering their services and educating members of the church about the Jewish faith.
“It’s ironic in a way,” David said. “We have a great relationship with the church and have great respect” for its pastor, the Rev. Paul Dionne.
The award was voted on by members of the Atkinson Lions Club for the 12th consecutive year. The award is considered a lifetime achievement award for residents who have given many years of service to the community.
“I’m very overwhelmed,” Hedi Shikes said. “I didn’t think I would be someone who deserves it.”
The ceremony was moved to the church after the Atkinson Community Center was abruptly closed earlier this week. Dionne opened his church to the Shikeses just as he’s done many times in the past.
“They’re always very gracious in their teachings,” Dionne said. “During Passover, they will hold a seder at our church, and they relate it to what we study with the communion.”
Coincidentally, Dionne was last year’s recipient of the award and he will be one of those who will speak about the Shikeses.
“I joked to them that there needed to be two of them to take my place,” Dionne said.
But the Shikeses won’t just be honored for their work with the church. They have served the community in many ways since moving to Atkinson in 1981.
“They just do so much throughout the town,” Lions Club member Tom Cunningham said. “Whether it’s volunteering at the library or being on the PTA at the schools. They do whatever they can to be helpful and fill some needs.
David was a book salesman, while Hedi taught in Haverhill for more than 40 years. Both are now retired, but remain active in the community. David Shikes entertains senior citizens, while his wife is a member of the Atkinson Garden Club and the Friends of the Kimball Library.
In addition to Dionne, speakers at the ceremony will include state Sen. Chuck Morse, who will read a proclamation from the New Hampshire State Senate, state Rep. Debra DeSimone, Jack Hayes and Bill Friel.
The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Atkinson Congregational Church.