Jon Mattleman, Director of Needham Youth Services, presents the Patrick C. Forde Good Person Award to Colleen Shaller. (Josh Perry/Hometown Weekly)
By Josh Perry
Hometown Weekly Staff
On Monday evening, Needham Youth Services held a ceremony in Powers Hall to honor the 2016 recipient of the Patrick C. Forde Good Person Memorial Award, Colleen Shaller.
Shaller moved to Needham in 1963 with her late husband Frank and has spent the better part of the past 50 years dedicating herself to serving the community in a wide variety of ways from the Carter School Parent-Teacher Council (PTC) to Needham Campfire girls to the Needham Women’s Club.
She served on the School Committee for seven years and on the Board of Selectmen, eventually becoming vice-chair. In addition, Shaller was a founding member of the Needham Youth Center and was instrumental in the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, which has become the Needham Community Council’s Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) program.
As if all of that was not enough, Shaller was also the first female president of the Needham Exchange Club and was named the prestigious Exchangite of the Year in 2003. Recently, she worked tirelessly to help build the Center at the Heights with the Needham Council on Aging.
Monday night, the Needham community gathered to thank Shaller for the years of work that she has done to make Needham a better place.
“It’s exciting, it’s embarrassing…I do this because I love doing it and I never expect to get patted on the back,” said Shaller after the ceremony. “I just like to be involved.”
Shaller remarked that she does not think about the numerous projects and organizations that she has assisted through the years, but she started to compile a list ahead of the award ceremony and admitted that even she was impressed.
“I started writing stuff down so I could give it to them and I’m going, geez,” she joked with her trademark smile. “I don’t even know how I raised my kids; I probably was never home.”
“It just kind of snowballed. I know I can do it so, if I get involved, then it will get done.”
Debbie Winnick of the Community Council and Needham Council on Aging Executive Director Jamie Brenner Gutner nominated Shaller for the honor.
Gutner explained, “When I first saw what they were looking for and I thought about what the award really meant, there’s nobody that embodies that better than Colleen. I also know her as a friend and a colleague and I know what she’s meant to me in the past 10 years.”
She added, “This is a woman that doesn’t just talk about it, she rolls her sleeves up and does it. She was always there. I wish I could be more like Colleen.”
Those sentiments were repeated by each of the speakers, including State Representative Denise Garlick and Patricia Forde, the wife of Patrick Forde for whom the award is named, and Needham Youth Services Director Jon Mattleman.
Gutner said, “She inspires you because she has the energy. She inspires you to not only keep going but to be a good friend and a good person.”
When asked what among her many projects stood out as being particularly significant to her, Shaller replied, “Maybe because it’s one of the more recent things that I’ve done, but my work on the senior center.”
“Because I was on the building committee and every flake of paint in there, every stick of furniture, every carpet, every tile, I was involved in picking. It’s such an accomplishment.”
See more photos from the award ceremony at
Josh Perry is an Editor at Hometown Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.