Reminder Assistant Editor
AGAWAM Town officials and seniors gathered earlier this month at the annual Friends of the Agawam Senior Center holiday breakfast to honor Mayor Richard Cohen with two awards for his service to seniors over the past eight years.
Cohen was met with applause and tears from seniors, including those from the President of the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center Emile Cote , as he presented him the Friendship Award on behalf of the Friends.
Joan Linnehan, director of the Senior Center, presented Cohen with the Andrew Gallano Award for his efforts as the "driving force" behind the building of the new, expanded facility on Main Street.
These two awards for outstanding commitment and service to the seniors are usually given out every other year. However, Linnehan said a special exception was made this year because Cohen's tenure as mayor will be ending in January.
"He was chosen [to receive the Gallano Award] because of his deservingness of it [and] because he helped to get us a new senior center," Linnehan said, adding that Gallano was the person who spearheaded the establishment of the current senior center at Meadowbrook Manor.
"He's a good man and has always been there for us," Linnehan said of Cohen.
Upon receiving the awards Cohen said he was convinced a new senior center was needed eight years ago when he took a tour through the facility, finding a wet basement and other structural inadequacies.
The holiday breakfast wasn't completely filled with tears from his supporters, however, as Cohen joked that by the time the new senior center is finished he will be old enough to use it.
Cohen said it was "an honor and a privilege" to be a special recipient of the two awards.
"You do things because you want to and not because you want to be rewarded," he said. "The seniors have been great to me and deserve a place where they can go to that meets all their needs.[a place] that is comfortable, not crowded."
"He did it for the people of the Senior Center ... because he loves the people," Cote said of Cohen's efforts to build the new facility, slated for completion in 2009. "It's from the bottom of his heart and he'll be there for the ribbon cutting."