Person of the Year Honored at NCL Gala
Kevin Roche is the Person of the Year. (Photo courtesy Mike Lemenager)
By Grace Allen
A life-long Norfolk resident was recently honored as the 2022 Person of the Year by the Norfolk Community League. Kevin Roche was recognized during NCL’s gala celebration, held on Saturday, March 19 at Lakeview Pavilion in Foxborough.
Roche was recognized for his outstanding volunteer work in town.
“He is not only helpful and kind but also pours his heart and soul into our beloved community,” said NCL Gala Chair Kendra Bixby.
Roche, 57, is the owner of Norfolk Auto and a member of the Norfolk Lions Club and the Norfolk Grange, organizations known for their community service. But his penchant for helping others started when he was a teenager, after participating in a cycling fundraiser to raise money for multiple sclerosis research. A friend’s father suffered from the disease and Roche wanted to do something to help.
He went on to raise money for cancer research, participating in Jimmy Fund walks, American Cancer Society walks, and a total of 32 Susan G. Komen walks for breast cancer.
It’s in Norfolk, however, where Roche probably makes the biggest impact. He’s well-known as the “go-to guy” and an example of the adage “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”
(Photo courtesy Mike Lemenager)
“I cannot think of a person in this town more deserving of this award,” said Shawn Simpson, one of several residents who nominated Roche.
“There is never a fundraiser in town that Kevin does not participate in,” said Deb Gursha, another person who nominated Roche. “He is always eager to help and has a huge smile on his face when he shows up. He is often the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. He is truly Mr. Norfolk.”
Other people who nominated Roche pointed out that every Monday he cooks meals in his own kitchen for ten elderly people in town, and then delivers them himself. He started during the initial COVID lockdown, when it was difficult for seniors to leave their homes, and he continues his efforts to this day.
“I’ve been asked when am I going to stop but I’m pretty sure they still need to eat. And the socialization, when I deliver the meal, is good for them,” explained Roche.
About six years ago, Roche started hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at the Norfolk Grange for people alone on the holiday. That first year, eight people showed up. Last year, the number had risen to 45 people partaking of the meal, with the option of home delivery or in person at the Grange. Roche is assisted by members of the Grange and Lions Club, as well as friends from the Medfield Sportsman’s Club, of which he is a member.
Roche has served as the president of the Norfolk Lions Club and is currently its membership chair. The Lions organize and plan several large annual events, including the Haunted Train Ride/Car Crawl, Community Day, Making Spirits Bright drive-thru, and Chili Fest. The small business owner often brings his own equipment—generators, electrical cords—to the events to help keep the costs down for the organization.
Last September, the town held a parade to commemorate Norfolk’s 150th anniversary and Roche was involved with the organization of the big event. He also provided fifteen antique cars.
Roche graduated from Tri-County Regional Vocational School’s automotive technology program and now runs Norfolk Auto along with his son Adam. He has a daughter, Julia, and three grandchildren, Hayden, Mia, and Aria. Paul Roche, Kevin’s father, founded Norfolk Auto in 1977. Paul passed away last year.
This is the fourth time the Norfolk Community League has selected a Person of the Year. The Person of the Year is nominated by residents and then the NCL board chooses 3 to 4 candidates for residents to vote on. This year’s candidates were Roche, Jennifer Wynn, and Bill Hawkins.
The Norfolk Community League has about 200 family memberships. Formed in 1974 as NOVA (Norfolk Organization for Various Activities), the organization’s goal is to enhance the quality of life for Norfolk residents by providing social, family-based, and fundraising activities to strengthen community spirit. All monies raised through NCL activities and fundraisers are dispersed to various Norfolk groups through its grants program, as well as to scholarships for graduating seniors at King Philip High School.
NCL welcomes new members. The organization is especially looking for new board members to help plan and jumpstart its yearly activities, many of which had paused due to the pandemic. For more information, visit norfolkcl.org.