ACTS OF KINDNESS CONTEST

Recognizing the good in our community.

The local community nominated contestants based on their involvement, selflessness, and hard work. 21 winners were selected and given $500.

WINNERS

Caroline + Elle Conquergood

The two sisters were nominated by their mother, Aubrey. Caroline, a 2020 graduate of Needham High School (congrats!), has been making an active effort to give back to the community during COVID-19. Every week, Caroline and Elle shop for groceries and supplies then deliver them to at least one family in need.

Nominator: Aubrey Conquergood

Needham, MA

Nathan Warner Dorval

Gail Harris and Laurel Sgan are co-founders of the Newton-based nonprofit, ThreadEd Fashion for a Future where Nathan shined as an intern. Nathan recently graduated from Newton North High School (congrats!) where he was part of the Dover Legacy Scholars Program, a rigorous leadership development initiative for Black and Latinx scholars. In addition, he was a member of the Black Leadership Advisory Council and has been a long-time teen leader at the Boys & Girls Club of Newton.

Nominator: Laurel Sgan

Newton, MA

Susan Altman

Susan Altman was nominated by her daughter, Lily Altman. Susan was nominated because she is a generous, thoughtful person who genuinely cares for those around her. She is always giving back to her community in any way that she can without expecting anything in return. She places others' needs before her own and her daughter looks up to her for her selflessness.

Nominator: Lily Altman

Boston, MA

Jessica Nizzari

Jessica is a UMASS Amherst graduate that is currently working at the BI in Boston as a certified nurse’s assistant. Her floor turned into a Covid-19 floor. She is self-isolating and has not been able to be with her family during this pandemic. Jessica has been doing everything she can to make these tough times easier for others.

Nominator: Joan Nizzari

Wellesley, MA

Ronald Slager III

Ron is currently working as a medic for Professional Ambulance. He has been working 80-hour shifts each week to support the Boston community. He was accepted into PA school but due to COVID-19 he is waiting until fall so that he can continue to help our community through the summer.

Nominator: Anne Morrissey Slager

Cambridge, MA

Laquisha Gebhard

Laquisha is a hard-working woman who works multiple jobs while never complaining when life gets tough. She brightens the day of others with her positivity and kindness. Laquisha gives back to her community when she can and makes sure that the people in her life are doing well and are taken care of.

Nominator: Jessica Glisczeski

Lowell, MA

Pat Flaherty

Pat is the Operations Director at Hope & Comfort, a small, community-driven nonprofit organization based in Needham, MA. He personally made it possible for Hope & Comfort to distribute nearly 350,000 basic hygiene products to youth and families in desperate need since March 2020 alone. This represents significantly heightened demand; as a point of comparison, they’ve distributed 70% of what they distributed throughout the entirety of last year in less than three months this year. 


Working weekends and long hours without complaint, Pat single-handedly has made it possible for thousands of Greater Boston youth to have the essentials they need throughout this crisis.

Nominator: Jesse Mattleman

Norwood, MA

Patricia Doyle

Patty normally works for Days for Girls International, a global movement that prepares and distributes sustainable menstrual health solutions to girls who would otherwise drop out or miss school. After visiting an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, Patty developed the idea of creating washable, reusable pads and providing the girls with a personal kit with all they would need to continue their schooling with hygiene and dignity. By 2018, the DfG Kits and health education programs had reached more than one million girls and women in over 100 countries. Since COVID-19, Patty has switched gears to provide over 1,500 masks to South Shore Hospital and the Navajo Nation. She also supplies free cloth to anyone donating masks to South Shore Hospital or BE KIND NEEDHAM.

Nominator: Jean Higgins

Needham, MA

Jean Higgins

While we were surprising Patty we flipped the script on Jean and gave her an award! She started the Be Kind Needham Facebook group and actively tries to advocate for those in need of help. She helps to feed those that are hungry and gather supplies for those who cannot do so on their own. She has continued her efforts to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic and we want to thank her for all that she does for our community.

Nominator: DFCU

Needham, MA

Julie Gage

Julie is the Executive Director for the James L. McKeown Boys & Girls Club of Woburn. She has been working hard to offer virtual programming, social media content, and more to the children that were attending her programs pre-covid. Despite setbacks, she has been going above and beyond and working 7 days a week to provide stability for all her full-time employees. Julie has also worked with donors, staff, and families to organize the purchasing and delivery of food, hygiene products, and school/art supplies to local families who need them.

Nominators: Gabrielle Grasso + Jane Murray

Woburn, MA

Kerry Moore O’Leary

Kerry is a 1st-grade teacher that had to transition to online learning during this pandemic. While teaching from home she also has 3 kids to take care of. She is an engaged and interactive teacher so she misses seeing her students outside of the computer screen.

Nominator: Maria Vasilevsky

Westwood, MA

Tilly Appiah

Tilly is the Sunday school teacher for her church. Since COVID-19, she has been driving around on Sundays to the houses of her Sunday school children. She encourages them to sing one or two songs with her while maintaining social distancing. This puts lots of smiles on the children's faces and brings them some comfort in this time of confusion and uncertainty.

Nominator: Grace Smith

Boston, MA

Heidi Scott Wolfe

Heidi Scott Wolfe was nominated by Tara Stepanian. Heidi is a certified ophthalmic technician at BostonSight, a nonprofit eye care clinic and research center in Needham that is dedicated to restoring vision and improving quality of life. Heidi not only cares for her patients during treatment, she also trains them on how to apply and remove their devices, which takes extraordinary patience and grace. She has remained in the office since the start of COVID-19 to support her patients. She puts her patients' needs above all else and is an extremely giving person.

Nominator: Tara Stepanian

Needham, MA

Jenn Shambaugh

Jenn lives in a building for the elderly and disabled. She helps her neighbors every day by taking them shopping or to appointments. She does this out of kindness and is the type of person that believes in helping others whenever she sees that she can. Jenn is well thought of in her community because of her genuine compassion for others.

Nominator: Sheila Shambaugh

Salem, MA

Alicia Santamaria + Gemma Joyce

At their studio in Needham, Total Eclipse Dance Studio, they have been dedicated to providing dance lessons despite obstacles. The dance studio has remained open and they have adapted their business model so they can continue to offer support to students!

Nominator: Bruce Patz

Needham, MA

Maxwell Surprenant

Maxwell co-founded Catching Joy, Inc., which promotes volunteerism and acts of kindness. Dedicating 15-20 hours per week, he organizes creative, hands-on service projects to share the responsibility and joy of giving. He has aided more than 70 nonprofits and mobilized more than 75,000 people to get involved, locally, nationally, and globally. As an immediate response to COVID-19, Maxwell launched COVID-19 Marathon: 26+ Ways to Make a Difference, finding ways for people to do good from home. He has made, collected, and distributed 2,000+ (and counting!) heart cards to hospitals, nursing homes, and shelter homes.


He has assembled and distributed several hundreds of blessing bags filled with hygiene products to the Needham Community Council, Boston Rescue Mission, Pine Street Inn, and Heading Home. In addition, he serves as a national youth reporter covering art, sports, politics, and social justice issues.


Most recently, he earned the 2020 Prudential Spirit of Community Award and the 2020 Presidential Volunteer Service Award. He empowers youth to get informed, get involved, raise their voice, and take action.

Nominator: Joy Olaes Surprenant

Needham, MA

Pamela Wohl

Pam is the Meal Delivery Liaison for the Ellie Fund at the Wellesley Service League. Pam will pass along the kindness by splitting up the award money and donating it to multiple people she delivers to.


Ellie Fund patients are immunosuppressed and cannot safely leave their homes to shop for food or order from local restaurants; they rely on prepared and delivered meals for themselves and their families. Pam has been exceedingly supportive and flexible given the current circumstances within our community. She and the WSL continue to deliver meals and flowers to patients in spite of today’s challenges and risks, always asking, "What else can we do?" The simple act of delivering meals doesn’t only address intense food insecurity but provides hope to these patients during a very frightening time.

Nominator: Ellie Fund

Wellesley, MA

Mikey Fanning

Mikey Fanning was nominated by the Needham Community Councill. Mikey decided to make a difference to kids in Needham who depend on school lunches. He put gas in his truck and started to make dump runs for Needham residents. For each run he collected a small fee that he negotiated with each client. He has personally collected over $900 to donate to the Food Pantry. Mikey continues the program and is generously donating his time and effort to help our community. Best put in his own words "I'm so glad I can help kids eat like champs."

Nominator: Needham Community Council

Needham, MA

Jennifer Briggs

Jennifer was nominated by her friend, Joan. Jennifer is a nurse working overnights during COVID-19. She is comforting patients while their families cannot be with them. She ensures that all of her patients are treated with kindness and compassion. She gives families the peace of mind that their loved ones are being taken care of. When not at the hospital she is raising her 18-month-old daughter.

Nominator: Joan Cullinan

Braintree, MA

Dan Mcmann

Dan works at the Needham Community Council as the Facilities Manager. He continued to work in the building throughout quarantine. Dan drove into Boston every week to transport food from The Greater Boston Food Bank, set up food distribution, and did anything needed to ensure daily operations at the food pantry persisted. He played a major role in keeping the Needham Community Council open and running during these hard times. 

Nominator: Needham Community Council

Needham, MA

Cara Soulia + Kristen Collins

#TheFrontStepsProject, was a “coffee moment” idea between Boston photographer, Cara Soulia, and marketing consultant, Kristen Collins. Cara and Kristen were nominated by Debbie Winnick of the Needham Community Council.


The project started when the two were unable to continue business as usual during the shutdown from COVID-19. Cara photographed Needham families on their front steps, gave them the photo, and only requested the families to make a donation to the Needham Community Council Food Pantry. Their project went "viral" and has been picked up by photographers across the country and internationally. With the project's success, they will be releasing a book in November 2020.


Over $45,000 has been donated to the Council and $3,250,000 (and counting) has been donated food support agencies around the world!

Nominator: Needham Community Council

Needham, MA

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