Lyme Citizen of the Year is awarded by the Lyme Foundation through a gift from Rachael Miller who established the premise of a Lyme Citizen of the Year award in 1999. It is bestowed on an individual or individuals who have provided outstanding service to the Town of Lyme. Thanks to the Lyme Foundation for sharing more about our TWO 2017 Citizens of the Year:
Peggy has been a quiet, steady, generous light in our town throughout her years here. Originally from Wyoming and a graduate of Barnard College, Peggy and her husband Peter arrived in Lyme in 1990, and Peggy immediately started her over-25 years devoted service to our town. One of the first organizations Peggy joined was Friends of the Lyme Library, where she was known especially for organizing and running the book sales for many years. She served as a member of the Utility Club and helped raise money to fund scholarships for Lyme students and grants to Lyme organizations through events like Fine Art Fine Food, and spent years as a member of the Lyme Democrats.
In addition, Peggy has served the broader Upper Valley community. A founding member of Good Beginnings of the Upper Valley, Peggy’s work has helped an impressive organization that many Lymies both volunteer with and benefit from. She’s also been a board member of the United Way. And, as one of her nominators said, it’s hard to imagine the Upper Valley arts and education scene without Peggy. She’s a board member of Open Fields School in Thetford and has served on the board of the AVA Gallery. And, luckily for Lyme, she is the co-founder of Long River Studios, a labor of love which brought the arts to Lyme in a unique way.
Peggy is more than all the organizations she has built and served. With four children and 10 grandchildren, someone is always visiting. She seems to enjoy the perpetual comings and goings! When you see Peggy and her dog Henry around town, she is free with a smile and a greeting. She has a contagious laugh and an excellent sense of humor. She is an avid reader, smart, curious, loyal, and never seeking recognition for herself. Today we ask that you join us in recognizing Peggy Little for her years of service as Lyme Citizen of the Year.
Paphanh Sithavady is one of the hardest working people in Lyme. She and her family arrived in Lyme, with three children and a couple of suitcases, as refugees who spoke little English. In the 37 years she has spent in Lyme, she has worked tirelessly for the betterment of her family, for her new community, and for the community she left behind in her native Laos.
In 1979, Paphanh and her family were forced to flee from violence and an oppressive government in war-torn Laos. In a daring and dangerous escape, she and her young family walked eight hours to cross the Mekong River in a small boat to the relative safety of Thailand, hiding from government forces along the way. Her family endured months living under difficult circumstances in a refugee camp in Thailand before coming to her new home.
Paphanh and her family arrived in Lyme on March 1, 1980, just a little over 37 years ago. Paphanh worked tirelessly, often holding down multiple jobs at Pearce Jewelry Design, EBA’s, the Lyme Inn, and Dartmouth College. She has been remarkably resourceful, using fish from the Connecticut River to help feed her family and making Christmas wreaths to sell at the holidays. Through her perseverance she was eventually able to move her family out of an apartment on Route 10, to a mobile home on River Road, and finally to a house she largely constructed on her own on Goose Pond Road.
Paphanh’s gratitude for the fresh start that the people of Lyme helped provide has been the source of her enduring commitment to the town. When the Lyme Country Store burned down in 1980, just a few months after they arrived, she and her husband showed up at the front steps ready to pitch in to clean and help rebuild. To contribute to the Lyme School and grow awareness about the culture and cuisine of her native country, she brought home-cooked Laotian meals to the classes of her sons and daughter.
Paphanh got her start cooking for the larger Lyme community at church suppers. Over the last three decades, Paphanh has prepared meal after meal to help fundraise for the church. In addition, she wakes up in the wee hours of the morning every flea market Saturday to prepare meals for Lymies and many of their neighbors to enjoy. She makes wreaths and Thai food for Lyme eighth graders to sell to raise money for their annual trip to Washington, DC. Not satisfied to do good just for Lyme, she sends the proceeds of her sales to a school she has built and funded in her native Laos.
While Paphanh knew that her food was delicious, she likely never suspected just how in love with her curries, noodles, and spring rolls our town would become. Paphanh has used her cooking and her resourcefulness to bring communities together, both here in Lyme and halfway around the world. We have been the fortunate beneficiaries of her loyalty and commitment. Please join us in recognizing Paphanh Sithavady as Lyme Citizen of the Year.