Lions Club announces citizen and youth of the year winners

Susan Baltake, Charlie Webb to be honored at mayor’s breakfast

For the first time in 51 years of bestowing the Citizen of the Year awards, the Haddonfield area  Lions Club has announced the winner for 2023 – Susan Baltake – in advance of its mayor’s breakfast Saturday..

“The sense of the Lions Club for years was it was always a secret,” said Jack Tarditi, chair of the  Citizen of the Year selection committee and former Haddonfield mayor. “ … We felt there was some need for some changes and one of the things was, why keep it a secret? It’s not like the Academy Awards.”

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The Lions Club has in recent years announced the William G. Hansen Youth of the Year Award – which goes to a Haddonfield Memorial High School student – in advance, to both the winner and the public.

“That sort of made sense, so we learned from doing the Youth of the Year Award,” Tarditi said.

Baltake has been a longtime resident of Haddonfield and was nominated by Joseph Murphy.

“Susan is a quiet person who delivers what she promises and can be relied on for any task she undertakes,” Murphy wrote in his nomination. “She has helped HOST (Haddonfield Outdoor Sculpture Trust) move into the limelight, and helped make (it) a draw for visitors to Haddonfield and a joy for our residents.”

Baltake’s contributions to the community are reflected in the bronze sculpture of Haddy the dinosaur on Kings Highway. In 2001, Baltake saw an ad for volunteers to help raise funds for the sculpture and signed on to help the Garden Club in the effort. She credits her time working on the project as one of the things she was most engaged with at that time.

“It really was a great thing to meet people in town, and led indirectly to HOST,” Baltake recalled. 

Baltake has been a member and past chair of the Zoning Board of Adjustment and was the co-founder and past board chair of the Haddonfield farmers market. She has taken two trips to India as part of a mission sponsored by the Haddonfield Rotary Club and Rotary International to immunize children against polio.

“Probably one of the things I’m most proud of is the farmers Market,” Baltake shared. “I created it – always liked going to farmers markets – and I thought it’d be a great thing for the town to have.”

Baltake is currently a trustee for HOST and the mayor’s appointee on the borough planning board, where she is part of a subcommittee that will create a new master plan for the borough.

“ … It’s great to live in a place where there’s so many opportunities to make a difference, and I personally find it most fulfilling to start new things,” Baltake noted. “That would be HATCH (Haddonfield Acts to Create Hadrosaurus Sculpture), the farmers market. 

“I like to invigorate things that are already in existence, and I find that to be the most gratifying as a volunteer.”

The Lions Club has also announced its Youth of the Year winner: Haddonfield High student Charlie Webb. Certificates of honor and recognition will go to Audrey Seiger and Allison Baxter, two other volunteers nominated for their service.

According to Margaret Gammie, the high school’s Leo Club advisor, Webb is vice president of that group and has organized numerous activities to raise money for the community while providing volunteer opportunities for other Leos.

 “Charlie’s infectious enthusiasm, humor, and positive attitude is a huge motivator for other students of all ages,” Gammie said.

The mayor’s breakfast will begin at 9 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 20 Kings Highhway East. 

Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.haddonfieldarealions.org/ or at the door.

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