Irene C. Carman presented with the Shapiro Citizenship Award

WATERTOWN — As she accepted the Israel A. Shapiro Citizenship Award on Thursday night, Irene C. Carman said she was inspired by the people and things close to her heart.

One such inspiration was the late Robert M. Edmonds, who volunteered for 40 years with Meals on Wheels. Mrs. Carman said she saw his quiet and dedicated service and wanted to share her award with him, but never got a chance to ask before his death in January.

“Tonight I want to ask you to think about someone in your life that may not be recognized publicly, and maybe (offer) a coffee or lunch to acknowledge them, or maybe just a thank-you for what they do,” she said.

The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce award is based on outstanding citizenship or contributions to civic or social welfare.

Mrs. Carman, a consultant pharmacist for HealthDirect, has served with the Samaritan Keep Home, the Samaritan Auxiliary, the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County and the “One Night, One Diamond” event. The latter event, which she has chaired for nine years, has raised more than $330,000 for equipment at Samaritan Medical Center.

“That means we all have been able to benefit from items such as those that are able to find or diagnose a breast or colon cancer, to smart intravenous pumps that make the hospital a safer place,” said Dr. Rachel E. Lewis, who nominated Mrs. Carman for the honor.

When first told she would receive the award, Mrs. Carman said she had a tough time believing she was worthy of it.

She credited her work to her mother, who survived Russian and German oppression to make it to America, her Ukrainian Orthodox faith and her family, including her husband, Samaritan CEO Thomas H. Carman, who received the honor last year.

In addition to a full house at the chamber’s dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn, Mrs. Carman received written tributes from dignitaries such as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Rep. Elise M. Stefanik.

The 63-year-old award was created by Arnold I. Shapiro to honor the memory of his father, a longtime business leader. Mrs. Carman is the first award recipient since the death of Arnold Shapiro last March.

Entries are judged in five key areas: outstanding citizenship, achievement, leadership, dedication and motivation.



By Gordon Block, Times Staff Writer