The following is an opinion piece from State Senator Katherine Clark:
As we celebrate with our families and friends and look ahead to the New Year, we are mindful of the many challenges in our communities. 2012 closed with great heartbreak, and too many families continue to struggle with day-to-day challenges: joblessness, illness, and addiction. But as I look back on the last year, I remain hopeful for a bright, prosperous and more peaceful future.
I am inspired by the spirit of giving and support that exists in our district, and I am grateful for the tremendous opportunity to continue to represent you and to learn from you. When you volunteer, teach or mentor a child, build a business that creates economic opportunity and employs our neighbors, support families in crisis, recognize our veterans, provide for our military families, or work with our seniors: you make a difference. Individually and collectively, your actions are powerful.
During the holidays, our thoughts turn to those who are not celebrating with us, especially the members of our armed forces deployed overseas and those we have lost to war. We also recognize the tremendous service and sacrifice of our veterans, and welcome home those recently returned from active duty.
Melrose, Stoneham and Wakefield have new Veterans Services Officers who are committed to expanding access to services for veterans and their families and are always in need of volunteers to help out. Melrose and Wakefield have also created Veterans Relief Funds to provide one-time emergency assistance to area veterans and their families for food, clothing and other necessities. If you would like to volunteer, make a donation or need more information on veterans services, please contact Ryan McLane at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781 979-4186 (Melrose), Jim Devlin at 781-279-2664 (Stoneham), and Andrew Biggio at email@example.com or 781 246-6377 (Wakefield).
Across our district, local organizations are reaching hundreds of people in need each year. Mission of Deeds, based in Reading, helps families in crisis by providing furniture and other household items. This non-profit organization relies on community donations and a group of dedicated volunteers to serve families in need, many of whom are moving from shelters to more stable housing. This year Mission of Deeds expects to serve 700 households, and your help is needed. Mission of Deeds accepts cash donations, as well as donations of furniture and household items in good condition. Twin-sized bedding is especially needed. If you are able to volunteer or make a donation, please call 781 944-9797 or visit www.missionofdeeds.org.
In Malden, Salvation Army in Mystic Valley provides a variety of services to families who are struggling, including food and emergency financial assistance, as well as gifts and food baskets during the holidays. The Salvation Army’s upgraded food pantry provides healthy food options including many fresh fruits and vegetables. This innovative model provides much needed access to fresh food for families in need, while reducing the stigma associated with seeking help. You can learn more by contacting the Salvation Army at 781 324-1970.
These are just a few of the many ways that individuals in our district work together to create positive change and care for those who need. I thank you for these acts of kindness and compassion, and the many more that are only known to those whose lives you touch.