By KAITLYN NAPLES
This year’s Mum Festival Hometown Hero is someone who isn’t a stranger to many. He is constantly involved in a myriad of organizations and is appreciated by many, Mum Festival Committee President Darlene Sawe said, which is why Tim Gamache has been named this year’s “Hometown Hero.”
The list goes on in regards to Gamache’s volunteerism. He is the chairman of the Bristol Veterans’ Council, is a member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Bristol, is involved in the Horses for Heroes program at Shepard Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center, has been involved in Boys and Girls Scouts, Bristol TEC, has held numerous fundraisers to benefit veterans and the city, has volunteered his time to the Mum Festival, he was instrumental in bringing the Army Strong Community Center to Bristol, is a member of the American Legion Post 2, and its honor guard, and so much more.
“He, all around, epitomizes what a Hometown Hero represents,” Sawe said, adding that this is the second time Gamache has been asked to accept the title of Hometown Hero. The first time he declined, as he said there were other people deserving of the title.
“We have an army of volunteers in Bristol,” Gamache said, adding that it felt strange being recognized for “doing what I should be doing.”
Sawe said the criteria for a Hometown Hero is that he or she must be community service oriented, “which Tim goes above and beyond,” and someone who has gone above and beyond their call of duty, “which Tim does every day,” she added.
“I was born and raised in Bristol,” Gamache said. “I believe I owe a little something to the city.”
Gamache served his country for a little over 20 years, with 10 of those years as an active United States Navy Seabee, and served during the Vietnam War. For another 10 years, when his active duty ended, Gamache joined the United States Army Reserve and was a drill sergeant.
“I have always been very regimental,” he said. “I am very disciplined and very intolerant of undisciplined people, (who think the rules don’t apply to them),” Gamache added.
He is also an “uncle” for a Little League team, and said he enjoys working with the youths especially because he never had his own children.
“I like to impress upon the youth the need for self discipline, and how that will pay off as they get older,” Gamache said, adding he enjoys working with the young athletes.
After his military career “officially ended” is when Gamache started getting more involved in the community, thanks to a close friend, Jack “Uncle Sam” VanDeHuevel, who always encouraged him to join the American Legion.
“Once I got involved with the Legion and Veterans’ Council, it was a natural progression,” he said.
Out of all of his volunteer efforts, even though he couldn’t pick just one, Gamache said he really enjoys working with CERT, being an “uncle,” and being a member of the American Legion Post 2 Honor Guard.
“I truly feel like I am paying my respects and showing my appreciation for their service,” Gamache, said, adding that the honor guard plays at every military funeral.
Going forward, Gamache said he will “continue to march” and donate his services to his community “in the ways I always have.”
Sawe said Gamache is very humble and told him that she “doesn’t think he realizes just how much he does, and how much people appreciate it.”
Gamache’s advice to his fellow Bristol citizens is to get involved in any organization they are passionate about.
“Get in the game,” he said. “You never know what it’s going to feel like when you volunteer, until you actually do it.”
He said in a city of 60,000, Bristol “doesn’t feel like that; it feels much smaller because it is a community,” which Gamache said he is thankful for, especially because the citizens of Bristol have always been generous in supporting the veterans and other causes in the city.
Gamache will be honored as the Hometown Hero at noon on Saturday, Sept. 21, on the stage at the Mum Festival on Memorial Boulevard. There also will be a Hometown Hero breakfast at the American Legion Post 2 on Hooker Court, on Sunday, Sept. 22, from 8 to 11 a.m.
The 52nd annual Mum Chrysanthemum Festival kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 21.
For more information, visit www.bristolmumfestival.org