Igidio “Izzy” Assencoa is a busy man. Though retired, he is often running to board meetings or doing hands-on community work, such as serving breakfast to seniors. This year, in recognition of his many contributions, Assencoa was named Ashland Day “Citizen of the Year” in September and “Hometown Hero” when FOX 25 TV’s Zip Trip came to Ashland in July.
“I’m very excited,” the 75-year-old Assencoa said. “I’m getting to know more people because of this. People I don’t know are coming up to me and thanking me.”
“These awards were some of the biggest surprises of my life,” he added.
After moving to Ashland in 1977, Assencoa started volunteering in town when his two boys, Wayne and Todd, were young and in sports. He became a coach for Ashland Youth Baseball & Softball (AYBS).
Soon after, he met Arnold Baker, the late Ashland Selectman, who asked him to join the Democratic Town Committee. When Assencoa retired in 1997, he joined the Lions Club, serving as president in 2012 and as membership committee chair this year.”
“Being Lions president was an unbelievable experience,” Assencoa said. “I enjoyed visiting the Lions Clubs throughout the district.”
When asked what motivates him to volunteer, Assencoa credited the community-oriented spirit of his mother and brothers. Also, as a firefighter for 20 years, Assencoa saw that “people needed help and things needed to be addressed.”
“As a firefighter, you see what the average person doesn’t see,” he said. “My wife Maureen helps by letting me do these things.” They have been married for 44 years.
“We don’t do volunteer work together,” Maureen said. “He is the joiner.”
Assencoa grew up in Framingham with his mother and six siblings. His father, originally from Cape Verde, died when he was 12. Assencoa graduated from Framingham high school in 1957 and joined the Air Force, where he served as a firefighter for four years in Wyoming.
In Framingham, he worked in all five fire stations. He wasn’t the first black firefighter there, but he was the first to retire. There, he was active in the Knights of Columbus.
“The camaraderie is important. The firefighters, the Lions, the Knights of Columbus—they all mean an awful lot to me,” Assencoa said.
When asked who his hero is, he named, Bill Carey, Framingham director of Parks and Recreation. “Bill encouraged me to take the test to enter the Framingham fire department.”
Assencoa is also involved in the Special Olympics, the town Board of Registrars and the Council on Aging.
“There are many great people in Ashland who work very hard to help others,” Assencoa said.
To see Assencoa on FOX 25 TV Zip Trip, visit www.myfoxboston.com/category/267032/zip-trip-ashland and type “Ashland hometown hero” in the search box.