Friday, May 4, 2012

Update: Column spurs community compassion



The power of a columnist is incontrovertible. Not long ago, Boston Globe columnist Brian McGrory  wrote a moving piece decrying the plight of Shirley Simmons, mother of the late Darryl Williams. Back in 1979, he was the innocent victim of senseless violence in Boston, violence that made him a quadriplegic and confined him to a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Shirley Simmons gave up her job and devoted herself to his care for three decades, until his death. McGrory revisited her story in March when she fell behind in her mortgage payments, and the Stoneham Bank threatened her with foreclosure. I picked up McGrory’s piece in a blog on March 22nd.

Dan Shaughnessy wrote movingly of Darryl Williams that “Darryl had every reason to complain and hate. And yet he never complained and he never hated.” In fact, he became an inspirational speaker, and a moving example of the ability of the human spirit to express virtue.

News of the bank’s move against Shirley Simmons prompted a community outpouring. Richard Lapchick had worked with Darryl at Northeastern University’s Center for Sports and Society and is custodian of a fund set up in his memory. To help fend off the bank’s action, people now gave to help Darryl’s mom. Lapchick is now executive director of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports in Orlando, Florida, where the fund now resides. Several days ago, I  received a letter from him, reporting that the fund has recently collected approximately 25 percent of what is needed to pay the mortgage off in full. The fundraising continues, but Lapchick writes that he is “more inspired than ever by the compassion that drives the human spirit.”

Thanks to all who have given or will give. The combination of the human spirit and written word can be a marvel to behold.

I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts in the comments section below.

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