Photo credit: NAIOP Massachusetts

Last night at NAIOP’s Distinguished Real Estate Awards Gala, almost 1,000 real estate professionals gathered to celebrate the achievements of Samuels & Associates, William and Joyce Cummings and Boston’s honorable Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

Samuels & Associates was honored for its achievements in real estate, charitable activities and community betterment. The company has been a pioneer in urban planning and development, bringing mixed-use and retail venues to urban neighborhoods, and been known to take on projects in communities that had historically been in conflict. For example, Samuels & Associates’ South Bay Center project in Dorchester and Fenway development are both examples of the company’s ability to transcend property lines and become deeply immersed in the community in which they’re working to make a real difference. When accepting the company’s award, Joel Sklar, the President and Principal of Samuels & Associates, said “The people are why we build the places. What we really want to do is make people’s quality of life better.”

William (Bill) and Joyce Cummings were presented with the Edward H. Linde Public Service Award in honor of their countless civic and charitable contributions. Together they spoke of how they live their lives to make a difference. Whether it’s through their New Horizons assisted living centers, the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, or their grant-making affiliate that supports Eastern Massachusetts nonprofits, Bill and Joyce Cummings are proud and humbled to spend their lives giving back. What the audience learned, and what is truly remarkable, is that the couple has already donated more than 90 percent of their fortune to philanthropic causes. The Cummings are true heroes and role models when it comes to making the world in which we live a better place.

Lastly, Boston’s very own Mayor Menino was honored with the Excellence in Public Leadership Award for his lifelong commitment to bettering the City of Boston, especially while served as Mayor for the last 20 years. John Drew, President of The Drew Company, introduced the Mayor by saying that all the new growth, job creation and businesses starting in Boston is a testament to Menino. After receiving a standard ovation, the Mayor affirmed the audience that during his last days in office he will keep his foot on the peddle because there is still much more work to be done, and closed the ceremony by thanking everyone for 20 great years, humbly asserting that “all our progress is a result of collaboration.”