John MacDonald still remembers the students he helped as coordinator of a school work-study program 25 years ago. The students, who had special needs and behavioral problems, were on the brink of being lost in the transition between school and the working world.
But with MacDonald’s guidance, they landed jobs in the mailroom at such businesses as John Hancock, Fidelity, and Liberty Mutual. Many worked their way up the corporate ladder with the companies and now earn enough to support a family, he said.
“When I see a kid who has become independent and able to stand on their own two feet and find some joy in life, that to me is the biggest gift in the world,” said MacDonald, a pupil adjustment counselor for Boston public schools.
His service is being recognized. MacDonald is among the 10 city employees who will receive the 2012 Henry L. Shattuck Public Service Award, given by the Boston Municipal Research Bureau.
The bureau will present the awards Tuesday at the Seaport World Trade Center.
“These are the unsung heroes that really make the city work,” said Samuel Tyler, president of the bureau, a nonprofit public-policy organization.
Another award winner, Arthur Pittore, has been a custodian for 16 years, the last four at Conley Elementary School in Roslindale. He said he knows every student by name, keeps the school spotless, and takes the time to help out in small ways.
Take for example all the mornings he has helped students carry heavy milk crates, brimming with their breakfast, up to their classrooms. Or that time a special-needs student got overwhelmed during a schoolwide performance and started crying.
Pittore pushed the young student in her stroller around the schoolyard until she calmed down.
“We just went for a stroll. It was only five or ten minutes,” Pittore said. “It’s about the small stuff.”
Then there’s Daryl Kiser, highway maintenance supervisor for the Department of Public Works, who went into work during a monster snowstorm in 2010 despite being sick, his award bio says.
He left for only a few hours to go to the hospital and get his cough checked out.
“I needed to make sure my district got plowed and that it got done the right way,” Kiser said.
When Kiser was assigned to Mission Hill and Roxbury last year, he brought that commitment with him. He turned what was once the area with the lowest on-time performance for fixing potholes and sidewalks into a model for other districts.
“We all work together as a team,” Kiser said. “Even if I, myself, have to go out there with them, I’ll go out there. I’ll plow streets, shovel snow, and fill potholes with them.”
Elizabeth Doyle, assistant director for supportive housing for the Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development, has spent 25 years working to end homelessness. Her team focuses on those who have been in shelters the longest, including some who spent a decade there.
“To know that those people are living in an apartment now, that’s the most rewarding part — real tangible outcomes for the people we want to serve,” she said.
During the past 27 years, the bureau has recognized 207 city employees, Tyler said.
“These 10 individuals deserve the recognition, but they also represent a much larger number of city employees,” Tyler said. “It’s important that there is an opportunity to acknowledge that public employees, for the most part, are hard-working, caring individuals who take pride in their work.’’
“Public service is an honorable profession and these people exemplify that and deserve to be recognized.’’ he said.
The award is named after Henry L. Shattuck, a businessman, lawyer, and politician who dedicated his life to public service and served as chairman of the research bureau for 17 years. Shattuck died in 1971 at age 91.
The bureau is also honoring a business leader and a nonprofit leader as the 2012 Shattuck City Champions: John F. Fish, chairman and chief executive officer of the Suffolk Construction Co.; and Neil Sullivan, executive director of the Boston Private Industry Council.
The city employees will receive an engraved crystal obelisk and the city champions an engraved candle lantern, Tyler said.
The other city employees who are receiving awards include:
Leon Bethune, director of the environmental health division for the Public Health Commission.
Jay Donovan, director of the employee assistance program for Human Resources.
David Joseph, assistant fire marshal and district chief of the Boston Fire Department.
Ellen Lipsey, director of the Boston Landmarks Commission.
Mary Ann Riva, sergeant detective of the Boston Police Department.
Catherine Sullivan Awqatty, receptionist at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Melissa Werthmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.