Sunday, May 31, 2015

Everyone has a story

Published in the Southington Citizen 

One thing I’ve learned about people in eighteen years of writing is that everyone has a story. Although our stories are uniquely ours, they often become the stories of others. It is human nature to identify with experiences of others. Stories of others resonate, inspire, sometimes challenge us to imagine what might be for ourselves.   

This post, originally published in print on May 22, 2015, in the Southington Citizen, gave me pause to consider that it was the 52nd consecutive weekly edition of Appleseed. So I think today of the countless stories of hundreds of people I’ve encountered in the circuitous byways of my community. Did I ever foresee that I might witness astonishing contributions by so many people in a single town? When I became involved in my church and town community I know my interest was piqued by a sense of discovery of a new place for me in my retired life, among those involved in the life of a community.  Surely there had to be something significant for me following my decades in the professional world of corporate life. 

What I did not anticipate was that full time service in my faith and local community would open me to the kind of down-to-earth compassion, generosity and decency that opened to me among the people of Southington.  Nothing spectacular on any given day, (though there have been some extraordinary actions of this community), but mainly people engaged in simple day in and day out acts of human kindness, quietly and without fanfare. 

Eventually I saw that I was telling these stories in my writing as the years went by. Frankly, it strengthened my faith in God and sense of purpose spiritually. The old aphorism that it is better to give than to receive became clear to me as I sensed a new and special personal kind of reward, an inner understanding of being part of God's love and charity. I had become part of a giving community. The greater reward was to have been present in a place where I might share that with others in my passion for story telling.   

I don't doubt that there are other communities where, like Southington, people care for the hungry, the impoverished, ill-clothed, jobless, homeless, the sick, the aging and the lonely. But the fact that I had found my way to this particular community was my reality of it. 

I have no definitive conclusion as to what makes this town such a special place. But, family and faith-driven values are a major part of the equation. And, there’s a strong sense of history, of the place of the past in the present, a drive for civic duty and town loyalty, all deeply grounded in Southington’s roots. Many Southington families have remained here for generations! This is their home. And, theirs is a sense of responsibility for everything about it, especially the nurturing love and education of our children.   

One previously untold true tale ...

With tributes to the men and women of our armed forces and veterans of military service still reverberating in our minds with gratitude and patriotism it seem appropriate to tell you this short story. Each year for the past eight years, at a special moment in our local Memorial Day Service in Southington, on the footsteps of American Legion Kiltonic Post 72's Hall, a white Cross has been solemnly placed under the flagpole by the Color Guard of the Knights of Columbus, 4th degree Assembly 122.  
An American symbol
of those who made
the supreme sacrifice
for country and
way of life. 

"The year was 2008." said John DiSantis, a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Vietnam Era, (1961 to 1967), a faithful member of the 4th degree of the Knights of Columbus and officer of the Legion's Kiltonic Post. 

"As Post Commander, at the time, I wanted to do something special at our Memorial Day Service to commemorate the honored men and women of our Armed Forces killed in battle, never made it home, and were buried in cemeteries in foreign lands.  I thought, a white cross like the many we see around the world might be a fitting tribute to incorporate in our Memorial Day Services. So, I asked my stepson, Sisto Salzillo,  a cabinet maker, if he would make the cross for me. He did.  At that year’s opening ceremony, the Knights’ Color Guard placed the new White Cross at the foot of the flagpole. The silence of the gathered crowd said it all. ” Thus was born the tradition in Southington of honoring our fallen heroes at a special moment as we display the now familiar military gravesite marker. “Since then, it has become a part of our celebratory tradition on Memorial Day and Veterans Day services.”, DiSantis said. 

John DiSantis remembers
“It also led to the idea of George Roberge, then Faithful Navigator of the 4th degree assembly of the Knights, to display the white cross at all our assembly meetings in prayerful remembrance of those who died for our country.”   

For those who may at times put our history too far behind them, remember that it has been the the men and women who have put their personal lives on hold in the service of the United States of America whose sacrifices have served to uphold the freedoms you enjoy in this country today. 

Roger Mathieu presents the symbolic
white cross on May 25, 2015 

John DiSantis (l) and
Craig Jones, Color Corps
Commander of K of C
Assembly 122

Monday, May 11, 2015

Knights of Columbus Isabella Council 15 Announces a Benefit for Relay for Life - May 22, 2015

The Southington Knights of Columbus Isabella Council 15, The Elks Lodge and the Nancy Lee Salerno Foundation jointly honor the years of contributions to Southington Relay for Life of Mike, Patty and Mary Boissonneault.

Deputy Grand Knight of the Isabella Council 15 of the Knights of Columbus, Bill Shatas,  who is chairman of the council’s Relay for Life team announced a pasta and meatballs supper would be held together with the Southington Elks Club on Friday, May 22nd at the Elks Lodge located at 114 Main Street in Southington.  Menu includes pasta and meatballs, salad, dessert, coffee and tea with food donated by Nancy Nurtures Foundation honoring Nancy Lee Salerno, killed by a drunk driver in 2012. For tickets, at $12 pp, contact Bill Shatas at 860-302-4556 or Rosemary Champagne at 860-621-8328.

Mike and Patty Boissonneault and their daughter, Mary will be honored for their years of dedicated service to Relay for Life in the American Cancer Society’s battle against cancer.
The Boissy Open family golf tournament, led by the Boissonneault family brings  together 150 golfers each year supporting the efforts of Relay for Life . In the past 10 years, funds of about $15,000 have been raised.
Mary Boissonneault, a genuine fighter against cancer, helped her Southington H.S. DECA team raise $8,000 for Relay in 2010.  Then, as an intern for American Cancer Society and event director of the Rocky Hill Bark for Life in 2012, Mary helped the campaign raise $10,000. As the event director of UCONN’s Relay for Life in 2013, Mary led a drive which raised over $60,000 at the school.
“Beyond those efforts, the Boissonneault family has also supported our Knights of Columbus  Relay For Life Team during the past three years, helping us raise almost $17,000 for Relay”, Shatas said.  Patty, a cancer survivor since 2006, said:  “We’ve been walking the ‘Relay’ since it started in town. “My dad died of cancer in 2001 and our family and friends  have been touched by cancer through the years.”

Friday, May 8, 2015

STEPS Youth Group Holds Car Wash to Benefit Relay for Life Sat. May 16th

The STEPS Youth Council’s Relay for Life Team is holding its annual Car Wash next Saturday, May 16th, at the YMCA from 10 am to 3 pm.   

With the annual 24-hour Southington Relay for Life set to step off in two weeks at the Southington High School Athletic Field at 4 pm on Friday, May 29, the  STEPS Youth Council and Youth Committee are ready to launch the most successful campaign their Relay Team has had in the past. 

STEPS Car Wash 2014
These kids really get it. 

"Some of our youth understand it only too well in their own personal lives", said Sarah Lamb, Southington HS junior who is also a member of the STEPS Youth Council and the STEPS Advisory Board and Coalition.  

"Kids understand the importance of working together as a team to make a difference in our town, to make a difference in the lives of people.  They are inspired by that." said Heather Bartley, STEPS Youth Committee coordinator.  

Southington H.S. Junior, Trever Rogers, who is also a leader in the STEPS Youth Council and a member of the STEPS Advisory Board, said:  "We want everyone to know that every dollar raised in our car wash will go to Relay to help the American Cancer Society fight the battle of cancer. We'll also be there with our tent on May 29th doing the Relay and meeting all our friends and family who are involved with this continuing fight against cancer."