Milford Columbus Committee announces Italian American of the Year

Mark Tutino, a lifelong Milford resident, has been named the Milford Columbus Committee’s Italian American of the Year.

Tutino is the owner and principal of Tutino Financial, LLC. A certified financial planner, Tutino has been in the securities business for 31 years.

He has been a member of the Milford Kiwanis since 1996, and has held the positions of both president and board member.

Twice awarded “Kiwanian of the Year,” Tutino chaired the golf tournament committee for over a decade, helping raise more than $250,000 for the local community, according to the Columbus Committee.

“Mark also established an infant safety kit in conjunction with Milford Hospital, providing new parents with child safety items and informational packets for the home,” states an announcement about the award. “He has also worked with the Beth-El Shelter to provide Halloween costumes to all of the children living at the shelter during the fall.”

Tutino currently is a member of the Milford Pension and Retirement Board.

Mark is an avid surfcaster. His interests also include playing guitar and painting in the Bob Ross style. Tutino has become to be known as “The Whale Guy,” having filmed a video of a breaching humpback whale in the Long Island Sound, off of Charles Island. The notoriety from the sighting prompted the creation of a T-shirt, the sales of which raised more than $1,500 for charity. All proceeds were donated to Keeping Milford Warm, a nonprofit organization helping to raise funds to purchase heat, enabling those in need in the Milford community stay warm and safe all year long.

A graduate of Fairfield University with a bachelor of arts in economics and the College for Financial Planning, he has been married to his wife, Lynn, 30 years as of next April. They have three children, Alec, age 26, Rebecca, 24 and Nicholas, 20.

Also, being honored with a Special Achievement Award is Megan Altomare. For the past 19 years, Altomare has worked with the Boys and Girl’s Club as the executive director. She has had the opportunity to be a part of a team that has served more than 3,500 youth and more than 600 youth annually.

“Megan has a passion ensuring kids are provided a fun, safe place and are surrounded by caring adults,” according to a Columbus Committee press release. “She enjoys spending every day at the clubhouse with her wonderful staff and club members.”

This year’s Special Recognition Award winner is Betsy Nilan. She stepped up as president of The Get In Touch Foundation in April of 2016, after Mary Ann Wasil, her mother and founder of the foundation.

“Inspired by her mom’s legacy, and with years of experience working side-by-side with her, Betsy successfully helped reach one million students with the free Daisy Wheel Program in 2018 - reaching more students in one year than the previous ten,” states a Columbus Committee press release.

“Betsy also launched the “Daisy Wheel” app with the Get In Touch Foundation that teaches how to do a breast self-exam and has regular reminders. The app is available in nine languages and is free on both Apple and Android app stores.”

The Milford Columbus Committee also will award scholarships to three students from Milford. This year’s recipients are Michael Giordano, Cecelia Lickteig and Rachel Wywoda.

To date, the committee has awarded more than $200,000 to Milford students.

Comprised of 25 Italian-American members, the Columbus Committee represents a cross section of professionals and business people in the Milford community.

The current officers of the Columbus Committee include: President Buddy Prete, Vice President Vincent J. Averaimo, Esq., Treasurer David Esposito, MD, and Secretary Joseph Tramuta, Esq.

The Committee’s current members include: Nicholas Barone, Sam Bergami, Jr., Jim Birarelli, Armand Cantafio, Tom Collucci, Louis D'Amato, John DePalma, Victor Ferrante, Esq., Harry Garafalo, Anthony Giannattasio, Larry Lanna, Ray Macaluso, Rick Marini, Lenny Napoli, Tom Panzella, Mike Petrucelli, Frank Rizio, Jim Secondi, and Antonio Vitti.

This year’s honorees will be recognized at an annual dinner dance, which takes place on Saturday Oct. 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Vazzano’s Four Seasons in Stratford. For tickets, call Jim Birarelli at 203-877-8980.