WARRENSBURG-Teresa Whalen, who has dedicated three decades of her life to the enhancement of life in Warrensburg, was honored Friday, June 17 at a congratulatory dinner held at Grace's Restaurant.
The event was sponsored by the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, which has named Whalen their "Citizen of the Year" for 2011.
Her various accomplishments, which include establishing the charming Christmas in Warrensburgh festival, lobbying for historic preservation, and embarking on various beautification projects, were lauded by the 42 people attending the event.
Town pillar Lenore Smith, founder of Riverside Gallery, called her a "one-woman revitalization committee" for the town, noting she was well-deserving of the award.
Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty noted the unexpected success of the Warrensburgh Riverside Farmers' market, which Whalen has organized and promoted for years, after co-founding it in 1998 with Kaena Loo. He noted with a grin that the market has been such a resounding success that it has caused traffic problems of the summer Fridays that it is held. He and others noted that Whalen had tenacity to accomplish her goals, whether it was building up Christmas in Warrensburg, promoting the Farmer's Market, or lobbying to beautify parks and other public facilities.
Diane Collins, a wildlife photographer, said Whalen had the ability to turn her concepts into reality - for all to enjoy.
"Teresa has visions of what she wants things to look like and goes forth to make them happen," she said.
Sandi Parisi of the Chamber also noted Whalen's ability to pursue her concepts.
"We may look out a window and see grass, but Teresa looks out and sees a potential garden," she said, adding that the Citizen of the Year honor was long overdue.
Some of the presenters offered their praise punctuated by tears of gratitude.
Brenda White from Adirondack Mountain Garden Club praised Whalen's aesthetic sense.
"Teresa does things with an unusual style and grace," she said.
Linda Baker Marcella noted that Whalen was helping prompt the next generation to be community-minded citizens by getting them involved in beautification projects.
Parisi presented Whalen with a large impressionistic painting of the Warrensburg Riverside Farmers' Market park, artwork created by local graphic artist Teri Jameson. Those attending signed the congratulatory gift.
On behalf of the Chamber, Parisi presented Whalen with a mantel clock with a brass plate engraved with her honor.
Whalen joked that the gift was appropriate, considering her difficulty at getting to appointments on time.
"It was very sweet to hear these sentiments, and it's good to know that people really care," she said, noting that such appreciation could only be experienced in a small town. "And it's really nice to hear good things while your alive, before you're gone forever."