Getting to know the real Dorchester

To the editor:
I live in Maryland and was privileged to attend the Mass that honored and remembered Martin Richard. I was going to Plymouth, where I was born, on business. I happened to find out about the Mass from the Richard family website. So I came up a day early to attend. Being a practicing Catholic, I attend Mass out of town and find it a great experience.

I stayed at the Comfort Inn on Morrissey Boulevard. so I could walk to St. Ann’s. On Saturday, I decided to go for a long walk to see the church and then the immediate neighborhood. I went up Ashmont (the hills almost did me in), went south eventually to Minot and then headed north up Adams Street to reconnect with Ashmont.

It was along Adams that I saw Dorchester as it probably really is. I came across a lemonade stand just before 6 p.m. It was staffed by about six girls mostly young. It was a Godsend because I was in need of some refreshment. More importantly, I had my spirit uplifted. These girls were raising money to buy Jane Richard a gift. The gift is “Julie, an American girl doll.” They needed $110 and had raised about $300. The cups had stickers on them. “B Strong” and “I Made Jane Smile.” About this time a father drove up to collect the girls and the chairs and table. One little girl thanked me for supporting them and then put another sticker on my cup.

These young ladies gave their Saturday afternoon on a nice day over to doing a kindness. Even though they had likely been on this street corner for hours, they were bubbly and friendly. This did more for me than the lemonade.

I will always admire the courage and dignity of Bill Richard’s tribute to his son. The reception afterward was another act of courage by Bill and Denise. To endure hours of standing and chatting with people (even though you know and like them) had to be grueling. It seems to me that this was a birthday present of sorts from the Richards to those supporting them.

While I was drinking a coffee, I stood in the very back of the gym and took in the scene. Children everywhere being children (running and just having fun). One young boy came back several times to sneak chocolate doughnuts. I ended up talking to a lady handing out napkins at the doughnut table. Linda is a crossing guard at Martin’s school.

We talked about a variety of things. I did mention the negative impression many seem to have about Dorchester. Her comment to me was that, “People don’t give us a chance,” the implication being that they are too quick to judge and don’t get to know Dorchester.

About 1 p.m., I had to leave for Plymouth. I did not want to go. There was a lot of life and love in that gym. I did not want to walk away from that. Linda and I exchanged a hug. We wished each other well. The line waiting to see Bill and Denise stretched out the school door. I can only imagine how many more hours that remained. Knowing the little I do about the Richards, I bet they stayed until the last person came by. One can only be in awe of people like Bill and Denise.

Thank you for your time. Wishing you and Dorchester all the best!