ELWOOD — Theresa Mangas initially did not want to attend Thursday’s Elwood Chamber of Commerce Annual Celebration and Awards Dinner because she was concerned she would miss her church’s choir practice.
Her friends and family members who accompanied her to the Historic Elwood Opera House for the ceremony assured her the evening would be worthwhile. They were right.
Mangas was honored with the Chamber’s Raeburn O’Malley Cannon Citizen of the Year Award. The honor, given annually to an individual or couple who displays exceptional passion for the community in the form of leadership, dedication and volunteerism, is a fitting one for Mangas, who according to chamber director Marcy Fry, is so well-known in Elwood that residents recognize her simply by her first name.
“I’ve known Theresa my entire life,” Fry said. “She is in everything, and she will help anybody with whatever she can do.”
As she hugged well-wishers following the dinner, Mangas still seemed unsure of why she was chosen.
“There are so many people who do more things than I do,” she said. “My family was very active in the community, and my dad believed in giving to the community, so I took after my dad.”
Mangas spends many Saturday mornings playing bingo with residents at Elwood Health & Living and sometimes provides prizes for the games. She retired as a server in the Elwood Intermediate School cafeteria last year after 33 years.
“I feel very humbled,” she said.
The dinner, Fry said, was also an opportunity to recognize individuals and businesses who have helped move Elwood forward over the last year.
“Being able to look out and see all the people from our city, it’s nice to come together just to celebrate the success of our community and all that we do,” Fry said.