It was a gala evening as over 200 friends, family and associates packed a ballroom to cheer on Meriden resident Michael Rohde as he accepted the 2019 Willard M. McRae Community Diversity Award presented by Liberty Bank. Above, Liberty Bank Board Chairman Mark Gingras (l) and Liberty Bank President & CEO David Glidden (r) congratulate Mike on his win.
Mike was nominated for the award by another Meriden resident (and Liberty Banker) Rosa Carrero. In introducing Mike, Rosa said, “He does one thing better than anyone else I know. He genuinely believes, deep in his heart, that everyone has value.
“Mike meets everyone where they are — no distinctions, no rank, no preconceived ideas,” said Rosa. “In interacting with me and my community, that quality in him has never wavered. Most important of all, Mike isn’t just listening and empathizing. He does something. Mike knows everyone and uses these relationships to speak for those who believe they don’t have a voice.”
Rosa noted Mike’s recent work to improve food security in Meriden. As president of the Meriden Farmers Market, Mike launched a “Doubling Dollars” program that allows low-income families buy more fresh produce. His work also led to the acceptance of SNAP benefits at the market.
Mike and Rosa serve on Meriden’s Puerto Rican Festival Committee and the Hispanic Leaders in Action group.
Mike is the nineteenth winner of the award, named for former Liberty Bank Board Chairman and previous winner Willard M. McRae.