By Michelle Colesanti

In early December, Ruskin resident Anne Madden was presented with a Distinguished Service Award on behalf of the SouthShore community. Madden was recently diagnosed with State 4 Pancreatic cancer and the members of the community wanted to recognize and honor her.

Executive Director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, Melanie Morrison organized the award ceremony, which brought in a standing-room only crowd to Little Harbor in Ruskin. Along with a plaque, Madden received a beautiful flower arrangement and engraved bird bath, which will be placed at Good Samaritan Mission (GSM).

Madden has passionately worked behind the scenes at many organizations over the last 20 years making a huge impact, but receiving little recognition.

According to Madden, she has been involved on public boards and committees for two reasons. “First, the way the governmental process works interests me. Secondly, I firmly believe that this is what the founding fathers expected of citizens; that we be involved in our own governance. There are many things I have no opportunity to control or influence. I feel I have a duty to be involved in and attempt to influence for good those things that I can,” she said.

Madden currently lives with her husband David and their four cats. They met in the Army. She stayed on for nine years and he retired after 32 years.  He is currently a Realtor with Weichert Realty in Apollo Beach.  For the last year and a half, Madden has been the community engagement coordinator at GSM.

“I believe I am in God’s hands. I do not believe that I am finished with the things he wants me to do before I leave this earth. He led me to Good Samaritan Mission and showed me what he wanted me to help with,” Madden said.

She is currently on a leave of absence from her duties at Good Samaritan, but other volunteers have stepped forward to carry on projects. She has had a major influence on The Salsa Festival, a major community event at Good Samaritan. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, March 21.

“If we had many ‘Anne’s’ in our community; imagine what we could accomplish,” said Morrison.

“It was wonderful to see so many people come out. Some of the folks who were there I had not seen for years. I felt very loved. It left me even more firmly convinced that we live in a great community,” Madden said.

Madden’s tireless efforts and leadership in various organizations over the last 20 years have made the community a better place to live, and her efforts will continue to leave an impact.