by Kristin Hankins
Brought to you by Ridley-Lowell Business and Technical Institute
On December 8, 2011, President of Yes! Grace Rocks, Inc. Jane Martellino was honored as the first recipient of the Heart of Women award from Connecticut’s Women’s Business Council of Greater Danbury.
However, an award was never the goal for starting her organization – Martellino launched Yes! Grace Rocks for a girl who needed her help.
On December 8, 2011, President of Yes! Grace Rocks, Inc. Jane Martellino was honored as the first recipient of the Heart of Women award from Connecticut’s Women’s Business Council of Greater Danbury (WBC). However, an award was never the goal for starting her organization – Martellino launched Yes! Grace Rocks for a girl who needed her help.
In July of 2009, Jane Martellino, a librarian at the Consolidated School in New Fairfield, was looking forward to beginning her first book camp. Grace Sturm, the only student to sign up, was also getting excited about camp. However, Sturm didn’t make it to camp. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and by the end of July, Sturm was in a coma and Martellino was seated at her bedside, wondering how she could help. Sturm’s mother just asked that Martellino pray for her daughter.
That simple request was all it took for Martellino to start a movement that would eventually lead to the creation of her organization. She went online to her contact list of librarians around the country and started a prayer chain for Sturm. “When I first posted, it was in the summertime, I said it was an off topic e-mail,” said Martellino at the end of the awards ceremony, in regards to repercussions that might follow from bringing faith into a public school setting.
The prayer chain continued with daily affirmations and updates on Sturm’s health throughout her lengthy hospital stay and miraculous recovery, and having garnered such great love and support from her community and her country, Sturm’s prayer chain was spotlighted on a Fox News interview.
The success of the prayer chain led Martellino to start Yes! Grace Rocks, Inc. is a non-profit, volunteer only program in New Fairfield that is helping more and more people like Sturm. Many kids and young adults with brain cancer and traumatic brain injuries are being included in this prayer chain. Gas gift cards are given to families in need when a child is in a hospital for a lengthy time, and scholarships have been formed for students specializing in rehabilitation processes. Yes! Grace Rocks also works in public health and safety with its helmet program, which was created to help educate youth on the importance of cycling safety, and have created a beautifully illustrated cookbook and holiday greeting cards to raise funds for the families supported by the organization.
“A great idea will not respond to anything without your heart’s desire.”
-President of Yes! Grace Rocks, Inc. and recipient of the Women of Heart Award Jane Martellino
JoAnn Cueva of the WBC coordinated the reception at Danbury’s Matrix Center for Martellino as a way to “recognize those with heart and say thank you,” adding that next year, there will be nominations for the award.
Phyllis Boughton, owner of Connecticut Kitchen and Bath and wife of Mayor Mark Boughton, opened up the night with a graceful and poetic speech about her friend Martellino. “She is someone I aspire to be,” effused Boughton. “She selflessly put her job on the line in order to go to her dear friend Grace.” Mary Jean Rebeiro, President of NY-CONN Corporation, continued the praises, followed by Sara Rizzo, a youth representative from Yes! Grace Rocks.
After the speeches, a video about the progression of how Yes! Grace Rocks came together from the very beginning was presented. By the end of the video, the audience was standing and in tears.
Honorable Judge Dianne E. Yamin, creator of the WBC, presented Martellino with her award. Jane looked out into the silent audience, and Sturm, who attended the reception, called out excited hellos.
“A great idea will not respond to anything without your heart’s desire,” said Martellino in a speech that was both empowering and inspiring to the audience.
Mayor Mark Boughton presented Martellino with a citation from the City of Danbury, and Rich Smith, state representative of Connecticut’s 108th district presented Martellino with an addition citation from the general assembly, stating, “We truly appreciate what you have done. You are a miraculous woman.”
After the closing remarks, the banquet center offered food and drinks to all in the conference center. Martellino was always at Sturm’s side. During a brief interview, she passed on that she likes to live by this notion: “The ability through a small act of kindness and generosity to impact a person’s day. I see that all the time.”
For more information on Yes! Grace Rocks as well as the organizations cookbook and holiday cards, visit yesgracerocks.com.