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Commission honors Lentini for her efforts to restore, preserve the city

Date: 7/26/2013

By Carley Dangona

WESTFIELD Ann Lentini was honored on July 19 with the Westfield Historical Commission's Annual Westfield Preservation Award, for her contributions to the revitalization of the city.

Lentini is the executive director of Domus Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing developer established in 1982. While her name is synonymous with the restoration of the Loomis, Marcoullier and Rinnova buildings The Elm Street Project among others, she credited the organization's Board of Directors for the success.

"[Winning the award] is very special, but also an indication of the support I have. I'm not a one-person operation. Without my board I wouldn't have the permission to do [the projects]," she said, calling the board members and staff a "support team."

Mayor Daniel Knapik said, "There's an enormously impressive list of properties that she's rehabilitated. If Ann Lentini wasn't in this community, many of those properties would be vacant or have met the wrecking ball."

Kit Milligan, chair of the Westfield Historical Commission, presented the award. She described Lentini as "small in stature but powerful in force," and called her a "visionary" who "takes pride" in her community.

The annual award was established five years ago to "honor individuals, families or groups that have made significant contributions to preserving the historic character of the city of Westfield," Milligan said.

Janet Gravel nominated Lentini for the award. She said that while she was familiar with the Domus projects, it wasn't until she began working for the company a few months ago that she realized the depth of their scope. Gravel said that the projects focus on providing "quality" housing and that Lentini's guidance insures the properties are "maintained and preserved."

Lentini explained her motivation for helping residents. She said, "When you are part of a community, it doesn't just mean you live there, [you take an active role and contribute however you can]."