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The DOER Series – April Edition

With a recent couple of scares at the local high school in the past several months, including a full protocol lock down, in talking with a friend of mine who works at the high school, I realized the depth of my next nominee for The DOER Series here in my Authentically Bold blog.

I do not go to the high school often to dismiss my oldest child, but when I do, I am greeted at the front entry by a gentleman that has a conflicting aura about him: he is both intimidating but yet, warm and funny in the same moment. For those of you that know me, I do not get easily intimidated, but I love people with a great sense of humor and particularly those who make fun of me at my expense.

Meet Michael Hume, our April Edition DOER.

 Mike hume

After the seriously scary lock-down at our high school, I asked my friend more about this man after it dawned on me that *this* man is our first line of defense should anyone target our high school through the front entry- way. Without knowing this man beyond our handful of interactions, I know without a figment of a doubt that he would put his life first before letting any intruder get to the thousands of students that go to the high school. My friend confirmed for me that the “scary funny” man (as I described him) that sits at the front desk would absolutely place himself in any line of “fire” that may threaten to harm any of the building’s occupants.

Who IS Michael Hume?

Beyond the tough shell and super teasing personality is a man whose wife describes him as “a very caring and compassionate person.”  Dayna states, “We were both raised in political families and were taught from an early age to give back to our community whenever the opportunity arises.  We have managed to teach our children those same values and are so impressed with the level of compassion that they have toward others!”

Dayna traces back their desire to help outwardly was their decision to become foster parents.  She credits the foster parenting training as being so intense that it allowed Michael and her to recognize qualities that they did not know they had as a couple.

When their son Bo, began to play Pop Warner Football at the age of 8 years, Michael and Dayna became involved in the Pop Warner program in Leominster.  Not only did Michael, as well as Dayna, become board members, but Michael started a long career of coaching, becoming director and subsequently President of the League itself. Dayna was right behind Michael as the league secretary and team mom for Bo’s teams; and even tried her hand at coaching cheerleading.

Michael started the Mighty Might Bowl in Leominster one year so that the youngest kids who do not get the opportunity to have playoffs, could have a chance to play in a “big” game. The parents were so thankful to Michael for giving their kids that experience.  While Michael was President he managed to change the Leominster Pop Warner colors to match the city colors of blue and white and purchased new uniforms for most of the teams.  Based on Michael’s leadership example, his older son Rich also became involved: he mowed the field and helped install the new electronic score board at the field.  Michael further championed for the continued use of the field when the then current city government tried to eliminate the lease of the field. Michael’s diligence, research and perseverance allowed a long time tradition of Pop Warner football to continue on in its Leominster location.

Michael and his family belong to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Leominster; and of the members of the family have all been baptized there. Michael and Dayna were married at the church on West Street.  Church is important to Michael and his family and he has demonstrated that by volunteering at the church’s Thrift Shop every Saturday for five years.

At St. Mark’s, Michael did the one thing that he loves the most; cooking while Dayna worked in the clothing part of the Thrift Shop.  Michael was given several opportunities through his church roots to help others in the community.  For example, there is one couple who came in to the church often, but who did not hail from the Leominster area.  The couple wanted to go to Milford to put flowers on a family grave around Memorial Day; however, they had no method of transportation to get there.  Michael offered to drive them and took the couple on two occasions.

Michael donated all of the food for the thrift shop kitchen and loves making homemade chicken soup.  Another lady who came in regularly became a friend of ours too and loved Michael’s homemade chicken soup.  When Michael and Dayna stopped working at the thrift shop, they continued to bring Michael’s delicious chicken soup to the woman and her husband.

The newest ministry at St Mark’s has been the Community Café held at the Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday evenings.  Michael not only continues to cook, but he has become the meal planner.  The families fed by the Community Café are those who are living in local motels, displaced from their prior residences several miles away due to a discontinuance of a statewide subsidy program. The Community Cafe gives these displaced families not only a night out of the motel rooms where they are cramped with several family members; but a chance to fellowship with each other and actually enjoy a sit down meal as a family.

Michael’s career working for 29 years as a prison guard allowed him to acquired wonderful skills in dealing with people with a deserved level of compassion and understanding.  Perhaps, this experience explains the “tough outer shell” I referenced above. However, it is that soft interior filled with compassion and humor that allows Michael to succeed in his role at Leominster High school.

The students at the high school respond to Michael’s style very well, knowing he is there to not only enforce the rules and boundaries, but that ultimately, this man has their back. Many of the students continue to keep in touch, even after graduation; often times stopping by to visit Michael and bringing him his beloved Diet Coke.

One of Michael’s students from a few years ago lost her dad. The impact that Michael had on this particular student is she repeatedly tells Michael that she wants him to walk her down the aisle when she gets married.

Michael hopes to use his current experience within the high school, coupled with his ties throughout the community from his Pop Warner service, and his church volunteerism to embark on a bid for a School Committee seat this coming year. His passion for the kids and his love of the community deeply drives his ambition to help make some much needed and important changes in the Leominster Schools.

I always say it takes a village to raise children and Michael has certainly paved his way in being a solid, although humble, leader in giving back to his community through sports, church and in the school itself. Mike may not stand and scream his accolades from the rooftops, but his actions prove his character is undeniably changing our local community for the better without any benefit other than filling his big heart. Our big, little city needs more of that…..and he’s is definitely an Authentically Bold DOER.

 2014-01-13 21.36.13

If you have a DOER you would like to nominate for a future edition of The DOER Series, please contact me at rsoulliere74@comcast.net.

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The DOER Series – February Edition

Who gets depressed when they read the daily news lately? I know I find it easier to steer away from the likes of CNN because the headlines are often graphic and depict verbiage that describes death or rather horrible manners in which humans treat their fellow humans. I am not apathetic, but I need a bit more balance in my life when it comes to the stories I read.

Swing over to social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram and there are more positive inspired posts <okay, okay and thousands of selfies galore> for one to be lifted up by. My newsfeed is filled with several people getting healthy and encouraging others to do so (myself included), stories shared of laughing babies, bleating goats (how can one NOT laugh at a bleating goat?), and more silliness. My newsfeed is also streaming with those who continually applaud themselves for all the *good* they are doing in the world. Please do not get me wrong, I absolutely adore and admire people who are making pervasive change in our little universe. However, there is a big difference between just *doing* and *talking* about all that you are doing in exchange for the public accolades or trying to make others feel badly because they may not be doing what *you* are doing for the greater good.

However, in my futile attempt to steer clear of being negative myself – I thought, “What about all of those that are doing good deeds, paying it forward and changing our world *WITHOUT* the self-promotion on social media?” As I thought about this premise, I realized that even in my own little Central Massachusetts community, there are SO many people who are indeed undertaking amazing deeds of kindness every….single….day…..and yet, they are not asking for anything in return. These people I have named The Doers.

dreamers and doers

Circling back to my desire to read more positive news that will soften the disheartening stories of the barbaric acts of ISIS, or those dying in awful and tragic accidents; I had an epiphany! Why not use my blog as a method of sharing positive stories about The Doers? The people who are choosing authentic acts of kindness deserve to be applauded in a bold way……so here in my Authentically Bold: Rebecca way, I will pay it forward by highlighting a special Doer each month (with their permission, of course).

My first nomination: Amy Conley McManus

amy mcmanus

I have known Amy for well over ten years now, possibly a few years more. My friend recommended Amy to me as a hairdresser when my other hairdresser decided to leave the field. My relationship with Amy was pretty much love at first sight as she knew what I wanted and/or needed nearly every appointment at her salon, Trinity Salon in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Amy is nearly the same age as I am and went to another local school, so often, my appointments would share stories from days gone by or include updates on who we may have run into or had conversation with.
Amy shaved my head for me when I started chemotherapy for the second time and was about to lose my hair again. Despite the sadness in her face to have to perform a hair service I did not ask for, she stoically and gently moved the razor around my large skull. Amy gave me suggestions and products to care for my scalp while my insides were poisoned. She laughed with me as I went in a few months post chemo and had this wiry, unruly “pubic” hair as I called it.

As the years have surpassed, I have noticed that Amy’s giving spirit seems to be increasing and rubbing off on those who surround her. Without any hoopla, Amy hosts fundraisers and collects donations or physical items for soldiers who are stationed overseas or currently, an animal shelter that has significant needs.

Most specifically, last year in 2014, Amy hosted the fundraiser of all fundraisers to help some crazy lady who had the idea to run the Boston Marathon as a means of not only celebrating life after cancer and a 40th milestone birthday, but as a way of showing the world just how Boston Strong we all are after the horrific marathon bombings just the year before <hint: that would be me>. Knowing that in exchange for my race bib to the marathon I had a very lofty fundraising goal, Amy approached me and offered to do a full day event with all proceeds going to help my Team Eye & Ear efforts. Amy rallied the entire salon of stylists and nail technicians, all of whom follow in Amy’s giving spirt and they donated their time, their products, their services and so much more to raise over $2,000 for Team Eye & Ear.

Despite a hip labral tear at mile seven, I knew I had to push through and finish the race even if it took me many more hours. I personally knew so many cancer survivors that were counting on me to finish, but when the pain became blinding – taking a minute to recall how much effort Amy and her staff had put into propelling me TO the marathon helped me plow forward and eventually cross that blessed blue and yellow finish line on Boylston Street in Boston.

Amy will be the first to tell you she does not do “much” and what action she takes is minimal compared to others. By highlighting her as The Doer of the month, I hope she realizes that there is no such thing as doing too little or minimal good deeds. The impact of her actions flows beyond her desire to do a little, by rippling outward to those she works with and further to those who are the recipients of her acts of kindess. Ask the soldier(s) who were on the receiving end of her care package and one may assume the response is a heart full of gratitude. If the animals could talk, I am certain the items being collected will ensure an unlimited amount of tail-wagging, tongue licking, barks and meows.

More examples of the DOING that Amy and her salon gals have DONE:

  • Raffle for the Healing Garden in Harvard, MA
  • Dancing with the Realtors for Habitat for Humanity in 2007 and 2008
  • Donation to a client’s 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer
  • Cut-a-thon for the Ayer Relay for Life
  • Care packages for overseas soldiers serving our country
  • Countless gift certificates and baskets for several other fundraisers.

Personally, my heart is full and knowing the acts that Amy undertakes for no reason other than it feels good to pay it forward, makes me authentically proud to call her a friend and a fellow Doer.

start doing

If you have a DOER you would like to nominate for a future edition of The DOER Series, please contact me at rsoulliere74@comcast.net.

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