Community service has been personal for Lucille Zelenkewich.

She devoted time to the board of the American Heart Association after her father died of a heart attack, and was later awarded the organization’s highest honor, the Gold Heart Award, for her volunteerism.

She also served on the board of Kennebec Behavioral Health, a service that called to mind her sister who had Down syndrome and died at age 14.

While serving these and many other community organizations, Zelenkewich, 72, has spent more than 50 years in banking.

“I was fortunate enough the banks I worked for always allowed me the time to really be involved in all these organizations,” Zelenkewich said. “One of the big ones was the Alfond Youth Center. That was very demanding and there were a lot of late evening board meetings. My family just always supported me.”

For these efforts, Zelenkewich is being recognized with the Distinguished Community Service Award from the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. She was “very surprised and very honored” when she learned of the chamber award, which will be presented at the annual awards dinner April 30.

“I guess over the years I have attended all these events and have seen people receive these awards, and it was very humbling for me to be honored,” she said.

Kimberly Lindlof, president and CEO of the chamber, said she met Zelenkewich through work on chamber committees prior to Lindlof’s hiring.

“Immediately, she set herself apart as a woman to emulate,” Lindlof said. “Lucille accomplishes that which she sets out to do. She’s established herself as someone who is well connected within the business community making her invaluable as a board member.”

Zelenkewich was born in Waterville, graduated from Waterville Senior High School in 1961, and began working full time at Federal Trust Company while still in high school.

She was promoted as Federal Trust’s first customer services officer in 1976, then to assistant vice-president and eventually to vice president, supervising 36 branches in Maine. She began teaching other banking professionals in Maine through the American Banking Institute and held nearly every executive position there, including chairman of the Maine State Chapter of the institute.

After 42 years of banking, Zelenkewich retired in 2003 from Fleet Bank, but only for six months. She was approached by Merrill Bank, which wanted to build a presence in Waterville. She became its vice president and business development officer, and helped establish a full-service branch on upper Main Street.

“I was fortunate that customers and clients over the years were willing to follow me,” she said. “I always pride myself in giving my customers the best customer service possible.”

These days, she’s working as a business development officer for People’s United Bank, which merged with Merrill Bank, in both commercial and retail.

She is married to Felix Zelenkewich and they raised their two children, Melissa and Christopher, in Winslow.

Volunteerism became more important to her after life with children because “wanted to make the community her kids grew up in even better.”

Her five decades of volunteering include six years on the United Way of Mid-Maine board, co-chairing the Humane Society of Waterville’s capital campaign, MaineGeneral Medical Center’s capital campaign for the Harold Alfond Cancer Center, nine years on the Kennebec Valley Mental Health board, six years on the board at Kennebec Behavioral Health, committee and board involvement for the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, a member of Waterville Rotary since 1994, and she has served as an annual bell ringer for the Salvation Army.

Zelenkewich also has been a staple at the Alfond Youth Center for decades, serving on its board for nine years. She played a major role in the merger of the organizations and the capital campaign to build the new Alfond Youth Center on North Street. She received the center’s Outstanding Achievement Award and eventually was inducted into the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA’s Hall of Fame in 2007.

Along with service organizations, Zelenkewich has worked with economic groups like Waterville In-Town Association, Waterville Main Street, Central Maine Growth Council, FirstPark and Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

“Lucille attends almost every event we put on and is always dressed to the nine’s. More importantly, she’s great to have on a committee,” Lindlof said. “She does what she says she’s going to do, and does it with class.”

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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