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April 25th, 2014

Heroes that we present to our children

I’ve been thinking recently about the heroes that we present to our children. I’m not sure that guys who can hit a ball or catch and throw a ball and get paid millions and millions of dollars each year are my idea of good role models. Back in my day, I think that we did have many heroes who were sports personalities, but those guys played their sport because they loved the game, and almost to a man, they never ever made the kind of money that even the least of the guys make today. I’m not sure that many of them were great role models either, but then again, they were never touted as such. And today’s overpaid athletes certainly don’t conduct themselves as role models for anyone!

Now as an older adult, I think that we do have many heroes among us, but most of these heroes go unsung. But I think if we look around our own towns and states, we would find many people who are truly heroes. And these people go about their lives doing good and making a tremendous difference in the lives of those whom they touch. But, they are unheralded and as a rule, not held up as the heroes that they truly are. I will bet you, not only are they not lauded for their contribution to society, they don’t consider themselves heroes either, unlike the mega-rich, mega-recognized athletes and movie “stars.”

So, what I am asking you to do today is this, take a good look around your neighborhood and figure out who the hero is who is living in your midst. And once you find them, give them a hug, a handshake or whatever you are comfortable with to let them know how much you appreciate what they do and who they are. And now, I want to share with you my two favorite heroes.

Number one is Theresa Tomasi. Theresa is a single parent who lives in Essex who has dedicated her life to the welfare of children. She has 27 (yes, I said 27) adopted children from across our country and around the world. Her children come from Ghana, Ecuador, India, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Canada. And many are children with special needs. Theresa served the State of Vermont for 11 years a case worker for “Aid to Needy Families and Old Age Assistance” in Burlington. As Director of Social Services in the DeGoesbriand Hospital and as Director of Social Services at the Medical Center of Vermont, she served both hospitals for 29 years. She established the first Child Protection Committee at the Medical Center of Vermont, this committee combined all of the relevant agencies pertaining to child services for the first time. Theresa is a UVM alumna and winner of the David Goldberg Award for Commitment to Improving the Lives of Vermont Children and the Child Protection Network Lifetime Achievement Award. She is not just a local hero but someone who has made a global impact. And I must tell you that Theresa looks younger and more wonderful than you can imagine and I think it is because her generosity and her lifestyle shine through her face very single day! I am proud to not only know her but to be her friend. She is truly my hero.

My other hero lives in Dennis on Cape Cod. Her name is Carole Bell and she is the dynamo that I always wish I could be! She has dealt with two bouts of breast cancer, a double mastectomy, and a diagnosis of having a tumor on her pancreas (which turned out to be benign) which included a frighteningly extensive surgery. And, unlike me, she never complained and always was “up.” Carole has continued to be the driving force in the Preservation Trust in Dennis as well as every other town project, including serving on the Dennis Beach Committee, which was a thankless job, at best. There is no job or position that is too big or too controversial for Carole to participate in. She is a whirlwind of activity that you can count on to keep Dennis a beautiful and lovely place to live while still serving the visiting tourists. I can’t even imagine what would have happened to the town without the driving force of Carole. She is my hero and although I can’t even begin to keep up with all her activities and interests, I do consider Carole a good friend and I am proud to single her out as one of my actual heroes

Think about it, neither of these women can hit a ball or throw a pass and I am almost 100% sure neither of them make millions of dollars for all they do for their communities. But I do know that neither of them lead a life that would embarrass anyone. And I also know for a fact that neither of them uses performance enhancing drugs!

What do you say to your child when he or she finds out that their “hero” who makes millions of dollars every single year, is found to be abusive to his or her partner, outrageous in their behavior when they are “out and about,” mistreat their children or worse are pedophiles, and as a group, take performance enhancing drugs to be able to continue their lifestyle? As a parent, it will be a good thing to encourage your children to think about the heroes that they know or could know, and not to worship those who have fame and fortune but no morals. Fame and fortune is seldom what a child thinks that it will be.

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