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Staff Photo by Grant Morris

Winner of The Max I. Silber Community Service Award, Joel Jaffe returns to his table after accepting the award, Wednesday evening during the United Way of Greater Nashua's 80th Annual Meeting and Awards Presentation at the Nashua Marriott. The award is presented to members of the community who exemplify the ideals of community service and volunteerism.
Friday, June 25, 2010

Merrimack man wins United Way community service award

NASHUA – Had he seen them, the sight of his family members might have tipped off Joel Jaffe that something special was going to happen at the 80th annual diner and awards presentation of the United Way of Greater Nashua.

Jaffe’s family, including his son, Jerrod Jaffee, and Jerrod’s fiance, Melissa Matthews, snuck into the Courtyard by Marriott banquet room after dinner had begun Wednesday night and were seated on the far side from Jaffe.

So, when Jaffe’s name was called as the 2010 recipient of the Max I. Silber Community Service Award, Jaffee didn’t have to feign surprise.

After previous Silber recipient Ken Ferron read a long list of Jaffe’s service, Jaffe responded, “Did I do all that?”

He added, “I’m just totally blown away.”

Jaffe’s commitment stretches back 17 years when his first wife, June, passed away after a fight against breast cancer. June Jaffe had worked as a manager for one of New Hampshire’s mental health agencies. Joel Jaffe wanted to do something in her memory that would benefit the people she had helped, so he donated part of her estate to Harbor Homes, which serves the homeless community, including those dealing with physical and mental health issues, according to the United Way.

Jaffe, who works as a senior program manager for the High Performance Computing Team at Hewlett-Packard, joined the Harbor Homes Board of Directors in 1994. Since 1993, he has served on the agency’s resource committee, and he currently serves as board secretary and chair of the executive committee. In addition, he teaches Microsoft Office software to the Harbor Homes staff and takes photographs of agency activities.

Jaffe also sits on the board of five other local non-profit agencies: Keystone Hall, Welcoming Light, Milford Regional Counseling Services, Healthy at Home, and the Southern New Hampshire HIV/AIDS Task Force. With Harbor Homes, these agencies are part of The Partnership for Successful Living, a collaboration that provides an array of housing and supportive services designed to empower individuals and families, and ultimately build a stronger community.

For the past seven years, Jaffe also has been a Guardian ad Litem with CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children – and has touched the lives of close to 20 children ranging from age 2 to 18, Ferron noted in presenting the award. Jaffe received special training from CASA to provide a voice for abused or neglected children in the court system. He meets with children one-on-one, and also meets the families, lawyers, judges, case workers, and even visits prisons to meet with parents who have been incarcerated.

The award is named for the late Max Silber, who embodied the spirit of community service, Ferron said. The award is presented to members of the community who exemplify the ideals of community service and volunteerism, and Silber Award recipients commit an inordinate amount of time in service to others through multiple organizations over several years, Ferron said.

Jaffe said he was “just thrilled” to receive the honor.

“I hope to live up to the kind words that were said,” he added.

That won’t be a problem, said his son, Jarrod Jaffe, who will marry Matthews on Saturday.

“He deserves it,” Jarrod Jaffe said of his father receiving the ward.

Joel Jaffe was a role model, encouraging the entire family to give of themselves for community service, Jarrod Jaffe said.

Also at the annual dinner and business meeting, the United Way presented the Heavy Hitter Award to companies that raised at least 1 percent of United Way’s campaign total. Award recipients were, in alphabetical order, Anheuser-Busch, Inc.; BAE Systems; Bank of America; Elbit Systems of America; Intel Corporation; Monarch Instrument; Nashua School District; Public Service of New Hampshire; St. Joseph Hospital; Shaw’s Supermarkets; Southern New Hampshire Health System; and UPS.

United Way also recognized nine small- and medium-size firms that make a consistent effort and steadily produce good results. The “Spirit of Caring Award” recipients were (in alphabetical order): Comcast; ControlAir, Inc.; Costco Wholesale; Gateways Community Services; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Macy’s; Pennichuck Water; Southeastern Container, Inc.; and Windmill International, Inc.

Residents Jim and Denise Holder gave an impassioned talk about how the United Way, through the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua, helped their family through several serious illnesses.

“I don’t consider the Boys and Girls Club a facility,” Jim Holder said. “I consider it my family. I have an extended family there.”

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.