“The best stories are extraordinary tales about ordinary folks,” Times Review Media Group’s Executive Editor Grant Parpan said in introducing People of the Year honorees at Thursday night’s reception at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead.It was a night for laughter and tears as a parade of Time Review Media Group’s People of the Year were honored. Dana Hallman accepted the honor on behalf of herself and her mother Emily as the Reporter’s choices.
After insisting that public speaking wasn’t her forte, Ms. Hallman was eloquent, saying the reason she and her mother offer so many community services is to inspire others.
“I’m not really a people person, but I just do what I can,” Ms. Hallman said.
What she and Emily Hallman have done for several years is create a community Thanksgiving dinner at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, initially to feed those who might not have family on the Island. But that event has become so popular that today, diners arrive with their family to share the holiday with the larger community.
But there’s so much more the two have done. Much of it was told in a video shot and edited by Times Review’s Carrie Miller.
When someone needs a ride to the hospital, Dana is the first one to volunteer and to stay with them until they’re either admitted or treated and sent home, said Dick Petry, who owns the Pridwin on Shelter Island with his wife Edie. The couple have employed Dana to run the Pridwin for years.
Last year, when the Petrys were named Lions’ Club Citizens of the Year, Ms. Petry’s first words to the Reporter were that the honor then should have gone to Dana.
“They seem to be always quietly there,” said Councilwoman Chris Lewis on the video. She is the Town Board’s liaison to the senior community and has been well aware of the Hallman women’s contribution to senior needs.
In talking about the pair for the story that announced their being named People of the Year, Ms. Lewis said when her husband died and she was out making funeral arrangements, she returned to find an Emily-baked cake on her table.
She didn’t know how Emily knew, but that’s typical of the way the Hallman women have worked on Shelter Island — somehow always knowing where needs are and acting to fill those needs.
Emily Hallman still drives to deliver meals to home bound residents, Ms. Lewis said.
“It’s just the fact that I can make a difference,” Dana said on the video. “It doesn’t have to be a big thing.”
Reporter editor Ambrose Clancy spoke about the search for candidates of People of the Year being about identifying those who “fly under the radar” but contribute so much to the Island.
So far under the radar did these two women fly that while everyone on the Island knew of their generous spirit, there were few pictures of them and the Reporter had to turn to its resident artist Peter Waldner to create the drawing that ran with the story in that issue. Mr. Waldner framed that picture and Dana received it Thursday night along with a copy of the story in the Reporter on January 8 and a plaque commemorating their award.
“I don’t really feel we’ve done anything special,” Dana said, her voice cracking a bit as she spoke about her hope that others would look for opportunities to help their neighbors.
She was surrounded by friends and relatives at the presentation including Ms. Lewis; Emily’s close friend, Charlotte Hannabury; Dana’s nephew Brandon Hallman; the Petrys; and John and Carol Hallman, Emily’s brother and sister-in-law and Dana’s uncle and aunt.
Following the formal honors, Dana talked about the morning of January 8 when she picked up the telephone and Mary Lou Eicchorn from Cornucopia was calling to congratulate her.
“For what?” Dana asked, since it has always been Times Review’s policy to write about its People of the Year choices by talking to people who know of their accomplishments and asking them to keep the secret until the first issue of the year when the choices are announced.