New Bedford, Massachusetts - A ceremony to honor Dr. John Fletcher’s 50 years of service to the children of greater New Bedford will be held in the downtown library of the New Bedford Free Public Library system at 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 29, 2008, in the third floor meeting room.

Highlighting the day’s celebration will be the unveiling of Dr. Fletcher’s portrait, done by local artist Deborah Macy. The portrait will hang in the downtown library alongside those of other dignitaries in recognition of their significant contributions to our City’s and our region’s quality of life. A reception will be held in the Charles Ashley Room of New Bedford City Hall following the unveiling.

“Dr. Fletcher’s record of volunteer community service is exemplary,” said New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang. “This celebration today is a wonderful opportunity to express the City’s heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Fletcher for his compassionate service to others. Not only is he a fine example for young people to emulate, he proves that one person can truly make a difference.”

Dr. Fletcher has worked for half-a-century in Greater New Bedford on behalf of children, families, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged. John is one of the original volunteers at Market Ministries and continues to provide baked goods donated by a local bakery to Market Ministries and Donovan House in New Bedford. As Vice Chair of the New Bedford School Committee, he devotes a great deal of time to helping children and parents, and volunteering as a mentor and tutor.

He founded the Mother Teresa Playground on North Street in New Bedford, and as a Library Trustee, he instituted the Books & Bears fundraising project, which provided free admission to Buttonwood Park Zoo for families with a library card. He also served as President of the Holy Family-Holy Name School Board and Co-Chair of the Restoration Fund, which raised funds for a new roof and extensive renovations to the school. He served as Chair of the Education Committee of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra when the Young People’s Concert series was started, and he also founded the Crossroads Preschool for low-income children.

This is Dr. Fletcher’s 50th year in education!

John is also involved with the Greater New Bedford Holocaust Committee. In 2003, he did research at Yale University to gather material for his two-part television series on New Bedford’s survivors of the Holocaust – notably, the late Abraham Landau. He has also worked with Coastline Elderly and the Governor’s Advisory Council on the Homeless.

In recent years, Dr. Fletcher has received three prestigious awards for his service, including the Real Hero Award as 2002 Adult Volunteer of the Year from the American Red Cross; the Citation of Appreciation from the American Legion, Post 1, New Bedford, for “activities dedicated to God and Country”; and the Marian Medal from Sean Cardinal O’Malley.