Parade honors Y volunteer's 50 years of service 

COURTESY PHOTOThe Merrimack Valley YMCA celebrated Marilyn Fitzgerald for her 50 years of service to the organization. From right are Donna Aldrich, board member and parade organizer, Frank Kenneally, president and CEO of the Merrimack Valley YMCA, Marilyn Fitzgerald and Claudia Soo Hoo, the chief operating officer.

ANDOVER — More than 50 cars paraded through Andover on  Saturday to celebrate Marilyn Fitzgerald's 50 years of service to the Merrimack Valley YMCA.

Fitzgerald was supposed to be celebrated earlier this year at a fundraiser that was canceled due to the pandemic. However, staff and board members at the YMCA wanted to ensure they could celebrate her this year, so Donna Aldrich, a board member, organized Saturday's event.

"Marilyn is an advocate and champion for a Y in the community," President and CEO Frank Kenneally said. "She recruits others to serve and she is a mentor and inspiration to many of our volunteers and staff."

Dozens of cars containing board members, Fitzgerald's friends and family, as well as other residents who wanted to celebrate her service paraded through her Andover neighborhood. They were escorted by police, Kenneally said.

"When the parade reached her home we presented Marilyn with a commemorative vase and a basket with 50 cards from staff and volunteers and our child care children saying a few words of congratulations and expressing gratitude for her service," he said.

Fitzgerald served as a program volunteer in aquatics at the Andover/North Andover branch and the camps. She has also served on the board of directors and other committees throughout her years. 

Most recently Fitzgerald led the strategic planning task force to keep the organization's momentum up for the next few years.

Fitzgerald also always showed others, like Kenneally, support throughout the years, he said.

"She has been so supportive of my career and development," Kenneally said, having known Fitzgerald for over 30 years. "She has inspired me and taught me what it means to be a Y professional and steward of this organization."

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