Chick, Leach, Nickerson Named ‘Unsung Heroines’

by Alan Pollock CHATHAM - (03/09/06) Three local women were among 240 honored last week as the state’s ‘unsung heroines.’ Jackie Leach of Harwich and Priscilla Chick and Ginny Nickerson of Chatham were granted the honor by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. Though Chick was unable to attend, Nickerson and Leach took part in a reception at the State House Friday afternoon.

Jackie Leach, the Harwich school adjustment counselor, was nominated by Youth Chaplain Lin Snow for her work helping kids struggling with all kinds of issues, “not only domestic or abuse issues, but getting them counseling or housing or food or clothing,” Leach said. “I tell kids, I help them adjust to life.” Leach has intervened with a number of troubled kids, but her work stays quiet by necessity. Protecting the confidentiality of her kids is key to helping them live normal lives, “so most of what I do is kind of under the radar,” she said.

Chatham Angel Fund founder Ginny Nickerson was nominated by her sister, Suzanna Nickerson, and Janice Rogers. Since its inception, the fund has helped hundreds of needy families, providing warm winter clothing for children and child care assistance through the Chatham Teachers’ Children’s Fund. The organization is well known for raising money by selling Christmas ornaments designed by local children. Nickerson said her parents instilled in her the importance of caring for people in the community. If there was a house fire in town involving a family with children, Nickerson’s parents would make sure that the children received clothing from the family store, The Children’s Shop. “It still amazes me that there are people in town who believe there’s nobody in need,” Nickerson said.

Priscilla Chick has only been a full-time resident of Chatham since 1996, but in that time has become very involved with her church, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. She and her husband, Parker, help deliver dinners to the needy, and she manages the church’s gift and consignment shop. She was nominated for the award by fellow church leader Janet Daly. At Christmastime, Chick is one of the key volunteers behind the Santa’s Workshop toy drive, and most recently, she took part in an effort to collect Katrina relief supplies for delivery to the Gulf Coast. She is also the parish nurse, and in that role, helps needy community members make connections with appropriate social service agencies. Raising three daughters while working full-time, Chick said she didn’t have much time for volunteer work before retirement, but now she’s at the church almost every day. “I’m not out beating the drum,” she said of her accomplishments. “I get much more out of it than I put into it.”

The three honorees said they were pleased and humbled to receive the Unsung Heroines award. “It was really, really exciting to be among women who have done extraordinary things for their community,” Nickerson said. Leach said she was impressed by “just the energy of the people in the room. Having 250 women sitting next to each other, smiling, all of whom have done wonderful things.” The honorees had all kinds of backgrounds, from social service experts and counselors to hurricane and tsunami relief workers.

The honorees have all been invited to attend the third annual Unsung Heroines Award Luncheon March 22 in Boston. 3/9/06