Column: Local Heroes in Our Communities

The writer Oscar Wilde said, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”  That is indeed the case with acts of volunteerism and charity.

Although it is during the holiday season that our thoughts often turn to how we can help our less fortunate neighbors, I am endlessly moved by the spirit of generosity and civic-mindedness that I see in our communities year-round.

Almost every day I interact with people in our communities who selflessly donate their time and money to support a myriad of worthy organizations and causes.  Almost all of these individuals do so quietly and without any official recognition, taking simple satisfaction from the impact that their actions have on improving life for others.  To me, each of these people is a local hero.

Here are just a few examples of the people I have had the privilege of meeting — and being inspired by — this past year:

•    A widow of a veteran who encourages families to share stories of loved ones who have served in the armed forces and creates a space for neighbors to celebrate the memories of those who have fought for our country.
•    A local pastor who volunteers his time as webmaster and event coordinator for an organization combating drug addiction, and also serves as a recovery coach.
•    A community activist who brings people together to examine and better understand the concepts of racism and privilege in order to confront bigotry and promote tolerance.
•    A team of high school students who developed a smartphone app that connects residents and helps them feel safer by providing real-time access to important community resources, emergency contacts, and emotional health resources.
•    A grandmother who tirelessly advocates for other grandparents who are raising their grandchildren and has started a grief support group for those who have lost a child to substance abuse.
•    A teenager who has raised thousands of dollars, created his own organization to support housing and other services for homeless youth, and successfully lobbied at the State House for legislation to assist homeless youth.

Of course, each of these remarkable individuals cannot achieve their goals alone and they are working together with others who are equally as devoted to the well-being of our communities.

During the holiday season and year-round there are countless opportunities to volunteer in our communities, from donating food and stocking shelves at a food pantry to being a mentor for an at-risk youth to supporting efforts to end domestic violence.

Volunteering to serve in local government is another great way to make a difference.  Municipal government relies heavily on volunteers from the community who can offer their time and unique expertise on various boards and committees.  Often there are vacancies that need to be filled.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”  If you want to discuss local volunteer or charitable opportunities, please feel free to contact my office at (617) 722-1206 or and we would be happy to provide you with ideas and contact information for many worthy local organizations in our communities.

I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and a very happy and healthy New Year.