To the editor:
My first interaction with a mayor in Beverly came when I was in the sixth grade. After a brief introduction to then-Mayor Peter Fortunato, he invited me to City Hall for a visit. Not knowing proper protocol, I stopped by after school one day with a friend, unannounced.
As I was trying to explain to his amused secretary the situation, the mayor walked in and said, “So good to see you again!” I left with a rundown of the issues of the day, a tour of the building and a signed copy of a book on the history of Beverly. I also left with an appreciation of civic service that causes me to view any civic servant with respect until a person or group takes action to not warrant it.
My next encounter with a Beverly politician was my introduction to Ray Battistelli. I knew Ray as the father of my sister-in-law. When I was looking for a Scout service project to complete, I was directed to speak with alderman and humanitarian Ray Battistelli for ideas on what could be a quality community service project.
I did not really understand who the needy were, and through this project, I began to understand how fortunate I was in life and what an honor it is to be in a position to help those in need. As Ray and I delivered money and clothing I collected to bring into the Pine Street Inn in Boston, I took out a camera to take pictures for the summary report of my project. Ray allowed me to take pictures of the place, but not the people. He explained that “everyone deserves dignity,” imparting on me a lesson that took years to fully appreciate.
My point in sharing these stories is to highlight how elected officials can have a profound impact by engaging the citizens (including our youth) to achieve what should be a common goal of making a positive impact in your community.