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USNH's Linda Bisson Named 2010 Rochester Citizen of the Year

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
April 14, 2010

When Linda Bisson decided to go to the Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner dance and awards banquet recently, it was to support a friend who had been nominated as business leader of the year.

Or so she thought. It turns out, Bisson was the one who had been nominated. A friend had suggested her as the recipient of the 2010 Citizen of the Year award for exactly the reason Bisson went to the dinner: because she is always doing for others.

“I had no idea,” Bisson says of being honored. “I thought I was going to watch a friend get the award for business leader—which made it easy for friends to go without me thinking anything of it. It was quiet a surprise and a pretty nice one.”

A senior business services assistant with USNH financial services, Bisson has been involved with various groups in her hometown for many years, including Holy Rosary Church, the Share Fund and the Rochester Emblem Club. She also serves as treasurer and scholarship chairman for the Rochester Business and Professional Women’s Club.

Additionally Bisson, who has been at UNH for more than 35 years, helps out at local food pantries, soup kitchens and the community store where people in need can pick up free items. Bisson works on area blood bank drives as well. Through the Rochester Emblem Club #40, where she is in her second term as president, Bisson volunteers at the New Hampshire Veteran’s Home in Tilton.

This year she got involved with Operation Military Kids, a UNH group that collects backpacks for military children whose parents are deployed. In times of crisis, Bisson is a point person for clothing and household donations. Last year, using an extra large washing machine she’d purchased for the project, and with the help of her husband, Rodney Gaskell, and other volunteers, she washed and sorted more than 100,000 clothing items for the Share Fund clothing room at the Rochester’s Community Center.

“Rochester is a pretty poor city. People can come and get up to 25 pieces of clothing for free so the center is very important,” Bisson says. “There have been times when we’ve gone through 700 pieces of clothing a week.”

Bisson’s volunteer work takes up most of her nights and weekends. But she does it happily, she says, because life has been good to her.

“We’ve been healthy; we’ve been lucky,” she says of herself and her husband of 30 years. “I’ve been here more than 35 years, my husband’s been at General Electric for 36. You don’t know how much you have until you see the have-nots. So, you just give back.”

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