Marleen & Bill Cafarelli Honored For Community Americanism
American Legion Post 202 presented awards to a local couple last week.
Marleen and William “Bill” Cafarelli were recognized with the Community Americanism Award ahead of the post’s monthly meeting on May 5. The award was not a surprise, but Marleen teared up nevertheless in accepting the honor.
“I did not expect to speak,” she said, as her husband moved closer and put his arm around her waist. “We really love this town,” Marleen added.
Marleen and Bill are the owners of Photo & Video Art Works, a photography and video production company in business in Newtown since 1988. Marleen primarily handles photography and Bill the videography, but they are each capable of both skills. They are often seen working in tandem.
Post Commander Nick Cabral presented the award to the couple.
“We’re really appreciative of everything that you do for us, and the town,” he said.
The award honored the Cafarellis “for their countless years serving the Newtown community through photography and videography, and installing Americanism values in their video and photography work,” Cabral read from the award announcement.
“Marleen and Bill have donated their time and resources to the town of Newtown and its veterans service organizations in documenting the annual Labor Day Parade, events at the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard, the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, the Newtown Arts Festival, the Western Connecticut Police K-9 Challenge and the more recent ‘Taps Along the Housatonic,’” Cabral read in part.
“Hours of time have been donated to help show the Newtown community in a positive, America-loving light, and for this the officers and members of the George A. Powell, Sr, Post Number 202 of the American Legion, Department of Connecticut, are thankful,” he read in conclusion.
Handing glass plaques to each honoree, Cabral told them the award “really sums up” who they are.
“I am really honored to be giving this award to you,” he said. “You guys are amazing. You really are.”
Among those invited to the event at Newtown Community Center was First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, who said the Cafarellis not only “take a lot of pictures, but they take beautiful pictures. Their photos really do capture the patriotic spirit of our wonderful town. “
Rosenthal thanked the couple for their work, and congratulated them for the honor.
“I can’t think of people more perfect for this award,” he said. “I hope you keep doing this work for a long time.”
Post 202 Senior Vice Commander Donna Monteleone told the Cafarellis she and the other post members “really, really appreciate your work. The town would not be the same without the beautiful work you do to document it.”
Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Johnson, from the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard, also offered congratulations, and his thanks. The Horse Guard, he said, “is very grateful for you and the great work you have done for us.”
In recent years the Horse Guard has been threatened with closure.
“During the times when there was talk of eliminating us,” he said, “your work helped us survive. We thank you for that.”
Jenny Hubbard, executive director of The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, recalled meeting the Cafarellis “when we first started out” with the sanctuary project named to honor her late daughter.
“The fact that you shared your time and talent, and most importantly your belief in us, helped us get to where we are,” she told them. “You captured the heart and spirit of all that we do, and you continue to do that. Thank you. This is a well-deserved honor.”
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Helen Brickfield said the Cafarellis have helped the town’s business community, especially during their work with Working Women’s Forum for the past decade. Town Clerk Deb Aurelia Halstead recalled the first time Marleen’s photos were hung at Newtown Municipal Center.
“It’s been nice to watch those shows continue and expand,” she said.
Many others were invited but unable to attend, Monteleone told the couple.
The Cafarellis joined what Cabral called “a very esteemed list” of previous awardees including former First Selectman Joseph Borst (US Army Air Corps and Air Force veteran) and Newtown Middle School teacher Susan Lang, who were honored on Veterans Day 2019; former State Representative Mae Schmidle and Newtown High School Band Director and teacher Kurt Eckhardt, both honored on Veterans Day 2018; and Reed Intermediate School teacher Petrice DiVanno and Middle Gate School teacher Linda Baron, both honored in June 2018.
“These are all people who have received this award from our post, and you are very deserving to join that list,” Cabral said.
Monteleone noted that the couple would have been honored on Veterans Day in November, “but because of COVID, things got delayed.”
Following the presentation Wednesday evening, the Cafarellis were joined by the evening’s guests for some light refreshments before the post convened its monthly meeting.
A collection of photographs by Marleen Cafarelli will be going on view at Newtown Municipal Center this weekend. The annual presentation highlights the work, members, and horses of the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard.
Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at email@example.com.