Ridgefield resident Mark Robinson, the brains and powerhouse behind Ridgefield’s Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative celebration (and last year’s honoree) and First Selectman Rudy Marconi just announced today that Ridgefield resident Allison Stockel, the Executive Director of The Ridgefield Playhouse, will receive the 2022 Spirit of Dr. King Community Service Award!
This will be the 26th year of the awards ceremony, which takes place every year on MLK Jr. Day (January 17th, 2022), and honors those who embody the spirit of Dr. King.
“Nine years ago, Allison Stockel stepped forward, motivated solely by her love of her community and her commitment to serve her neighbors, and she offered to give the Martin Luther King Day celebration a new home at the Ridgefield Playhouse. That simple act of kindness has been transformative for us and made it possible for our event to reach so many more people. And that is only one of a thousand wonderful things that Allison does,” said Mark Robinson.
In addition to Stockel’s dedication to many nonprofits in the area, as well as donating her time for the past 20 years to bring the arts to the community, she has also been instrumental in expanding the Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony. With its home at The Ridgefield Playhouse, the community event has grown with leaps and bounds and now features multiple performers, drawing a crowd of 300 plus attendees.
“When I first became aware that the town was even doing a celebration of Dr. King, I brought my ABC host daughter at the time, Ziggy, to attend in the lower level of Town Hall,” says Stockel. “I loved how much talent and heart went into the event and felt strongly that we had to build on it and make it into a bigger event.”
Stockel got more nonprofits involved in the ceremony, including The Ridgefield Chorale, and the celebration quickly became one of the more highly anticipated community events in Ridgefield.
Allison Stockel is selfless. She wears her heart on her sleeve and never passes by an opportunity to help someone in need. Even complete strangers. Allison Stockel exemplifies the outstanding commitment to community service and selflessness in the finest traditions of Dr. Martin Luther King.
“Allison Stockel is the definition of giving back to one’s community. Her leadership at the Ridgefield Playhouse is but one small example of how hard Allison has worked to make Ridgefield a great place to live. Thank you Allison!” says First Selectman Rudy Marconi.
Since taking the reins of The Ridgefield Playhouse in 2004 (after joining the board in 2001) Stockel has grown the nonprofit performing arts venue from presenting 40 shows annually to now more than 300. She has never taken a salary for her work.
In addition to the Playhouse, Stockel is a champion of a plethora of local nonprofits, in many cases giving her time and talent, from serving as gala auctioneer to dancing with the “stars” to even singing on stage (even though she is not a performer or singer), Stockel helps fellow nonprofits raise funds necessary to enhance and fulfill their important and sometimes life-saving missions. She frequently works with our Town’s Social Services department to help neighbors in need.
Stockel serves as an advisory board member at The Center for Empowerment and Education (formally The Women’s Center), is an Incorporator for the Lounsbury house, serves on the Board of Directors at the RSO, and has been a host parent for three ABC students. She also volunteers her time and/or sponsoring events for SPHERE, ACT of Connecticut, Hillside Food Outreach, The RVNAhealth, The Ridgefield Library, Ridgefield Rotary and many more.
This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. ceremony will include performances by The Ridgefield Chorale, Kimberly Wilson, Ridgefield A Better Chance students, and many others.
“I am truly honored to be getting this award. It was Martin Luther King Jr who said ‘Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve….. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.’ I am proud and honored to have been able to serve this town over the past two decades and to be given this award is really awe-inspiring for me,” says Stockel.
Allison Stockel will receive her award at Ridgefield’s 26th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, which is free for the community, at 2 PM on January 17th at The Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge Rd, Ridgefield.