The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation is pleased to announce that Nancy F. Gaden of Jamestown has been selected as the winner of the 2003 Axel W. Carlson Award. The award was presented at a reception held at the Rosch Activities Center on the campus of Lutheran Social Services in Jamestown, on Friday, June 13, 2003, at 3:00 P.M.
For the past fourteen years, Mrs. Gaden has been brightening the lives of people all over Chautauqua County. It all started with a notice in her church bulletin asking for a volunteer to play older-style songs on the piano for residents at Lutheran Social Services. After that first “gig”, she accepted another. Since then, her efforts have grown into a 3-4 time per week traveling music show that reaches up to sixteen different senior citizen residential homes across the county.
Gaden works hard to get the residents at each show involved, using her wagon full of instruments that travels with her on each gig. The wagon, which contains bells, cymbals, wood blocks, maracas and other props, evolved from the bags she originally used to transport everything she needed and has led to her occasionally being referred to as “the Wagon Lady”. The wagon and its cargo are so important to Nancy’s gigs that she now buys a car based on how easily the wagon fits into it.
Mrs. Gaden was raised in Boston, Massachusetts and attended Wheelock College, where she majored in elementary education and minored in music. She and her husband, Joel, have three adult children.
The Community Foundation presented Mrs. Gaden with a check for $1,000 in recognition of her service to the community, and donated an additional $500 in her name to the Diabetes Education Department of WCA Hospital. According to Randall Sweeney, Executive Director of the Community Foundation, “the community is lucky to have people such as Nancy who identify needs in our community and do what they can to address them. The Foundation congratulates Nancy for being an “unsung hero” of the community.”
The award, currently in its 18th year, is named after Axel W. Carlson, a Swedish carpenter in Jamestown who was known for his quiet kindness and charity to others less fortunate than himself. His generosity led to the establishment of a fund here at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation that bears his name as well as an award to celebrate his ideals.
The Community Foundation, established in 1978, is currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary of enriching the quality of life in the Chautauqua Region.