By Rebekah Hurst, editor
Several years ago when the late Bill Bouldin was serving as the Manchester City Schools Family Resource Director, he spoke with me saying he wanted to offer me an opportunity to give back to the community I loved.
He told me of a program called WeCARE, and how in 1994, Linda (Money) Langham had had an idea and implemented a way to help our less fortunate children in the Manchester City Schools system. Her idea had proven to be life changing for many students and the MCS Board of Education had allowed it to become an annual event. He then asked if I would serve on its board of directors with Langham and others, saying that events of this nature needed people to help organize and raise money. I don’t know about any of you who knew Bill and called him friend, but the thought of saying no to anything he asked never crossed my mind. Bill always had a heart felt reason for anything he asked of another. And when he asked, it was never for personal reasons but for how someone else could be helped. I loved that about him; he was always putting others first. Without hesitation, I said yes.
During the time I spent on the board, I learned so much more about Manchester. I knew that we had many poor living amongst us, but now I knew many of them and they were precious to me. I learned that the smallest things can make the biggest difference in each our lives; whether you are on the receiving end or the one that gives, there is a blessing in both.
I also became very aware of the people in town who could be found consistently working behind the scenes of not just one, but several charitable organizations. I like being close to those who treasure looking for ways to help others; their actions give me a glimpse into their heart and it makes me want to be more like them.
I am thankful to have served with Linda and to have been a part of such a wonderful team of volunteers. When I’d participate at a WeCARE event, I saw for myself on the faces of so many children that when given things that I used to take for granted, their faces lit up as if it was the best Christmas morning ever. On those days, I got to experience the joy of seeing what blessings a community that rallies together brings to its citizens in need.
I am thankful to Bill for giving me that opportunity. He was my teacher at Westwood Jr. High School and I continued to learn from him during my adult years as well. For so many in our community, his passing a few years ago left a deep longing to see him again and to continue his efforts in showing love and compassion to others. His wife, Diane, works tirelessly alongside MCS Family Resource Director BJ Fann, coordinating WeCARE, as well as working with students and families throughout the school year. I bet together, Diane and Bill were quite the pair, seeing as how they treasure the same things.
The July 25 WeCARE event once again showed Manchester’s compassion overflowing with a multitude of volunteers helping to serve over 200 students. You can always tell the mark of a good idea by the longevity of its success. Langham’s idea has had a positive effect on students for 20 years now. I’d say, WeCARE is here to stay and I’m thankful for that, too.