Sherri Reilly named 2023 Bay Village Citizen of the Year
If you or a loved one have ever experienced a serious illness requiring doctor visits, hospital stays, poking and prodding, fear and uncertainty, pain and fatigue, you know that there can be many dark days. Sometimes the thing you need most is the kindness of others, a small act that turns a stranger into a friend.
To those facing cancer, Sherri Reilly has been a friend. For the past 12 years, Sherri has turned her compassion into a nearly full-time volunteer endeavor as the Village Project’s garden leader. During the growing season, Sherri would spend up to 30 hours a week at the Bay Village Community Garden, tending vegetables, growing herbs and snipping flowers.
The vegetables and herbs go to the Village Project kitchen, where volunteers prepare nutritious meals for clients battling cancer. The flowers provide nourishment for the soul, as Sherri and her team would bundle the blooms into colorful bouquets and place them in hand-painted vases to brighten clients’ dark days. During the winter, Sherri partnered with the nonprofit BigHearted Blooms to use “recycled” flowers leftover from weddings and other events.
Sherri’s devotion to others has earned her a place in Bay Village history, as she has been named the 2023 Citizen of the Year by the Bay Village Community Council.
The selection committee reviewed many worthy nominations and chose Sherri not only for the impact she has had on people in need, but also on the children that she brings to the garden to learn an appreciation of nature and selflessness.
“As garden leader I was able to teach children to plant a seed, water, nurture, harvest and then collect seeds from plants for next season to start the process over again – kind of a metaphor for life,” Sherri said. “I always thought of and told many of the volunteers that they are ‘Gardening Angels,’ they do so much and yet most of the recipients have no idea how many hands and hearts help grow the flowers, herbs and vegetables that they are receiving.”
Sherri lost her mother to cancer when she was 15, so she understands what clients are dealing with. Her background in outdoor education and degree in elementary education were a perfect fit for the garden leader position.
"Sherri is synonymous with Village Project and all this organization represents in the community,” said VP Executive Director Meredith LaVecchia. “She is one of Bay Village's greatest gems and she is so deserving of this award."
In addition to Sherri’s volunteer work with Village Project, the 37-year resident of Bay has given her time to the Bay Schools while her children attended, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s board of trustees and Women’s Board, Meals on Wheels and BAYarts, to name a few.
A reception in Sherri’s honor will be held later this year. The Bay Village Community Council will announce the details when they are finalized.