Five years ago the Riverwalk Freedom Festival, a two-day event held each year the weekend after Labor Day in downtown Milford, began with Operation Giveback, an event designed to give thanks to veterans and current military members for their service to the country. Last year organizers from the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford partnered with MilfordLIVE.com to select Hometown Heroes, one male and one female from the Milford community that demonstrate community service in an extraordinary fashion. This year, Sharon Bailey and Bob Connelly were honored Friday night as the 2016 Riverwalk Freedom Festival Hometown Heroes.
Sharon Bailey and family were at the event to accept the honor. Sharon Bailey first began teaching kindergarten in 1972 at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School. After 39 years of teaching she has worked with Milford’s children at their most innocent and impressionable age. Sharon taught over two generations of Milfordians. Kindergarten was the first real structured school situation that children had experienced. Along with teaching students their letters and colors Sharon also educated them on the difference between wrong and right, working as part of a group and building confidence. After retiring from the Milford School District in 2011, Sharon continued to volunteer with local organizations including Delaware Hospice’s New Hope Camp for children.
Mr. Connelly received the Hometown Hero honor post-mortem as his wife Rosemary Connelly was at the event to accept the award. A member and Captain of the Tempe Fire Department in Arizona, Bob served his community as a first responder. In 2007, his wife and he relocated to Milford and immersed themselves into their new community. Mr. Connelly volunteered for the Mispillion Art League, the Bug & Bud Committee and Downtown Milford, Inc. In 2012, Mr. Connelly joined the Board of Directors for the Second Street Players, working with his friend, Dan Marabello, on the Building Committee. Mr. Connelly was instrumental in securing a sizeable grant from the Longwood Foundation that enabled the theater group to halt the seepage of water from the adjacent Mispillion River into the building. Mr. Connelly was also instrumental in securing funding to install a projector and screen that allows the theater group to show movies when there is not a live performance planned.
After the Hometown Hero honors were presented by Mayor Bryan Shupe, the Milford Community Band continued their performance for hundreds of families that enjoyed friends, food and fun. At dusk, the traditional fireworks display began, over the Mispillion River, to close out the evening.
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