Faith can be an overused word in our American lexicon. Sometimes, I think people misplace "confidence" with faith, like, "I have faith that the sun will come up tomorrow," or "I am faithful that the Red Sox will make the playoffs." Before you groan and turn the page thinking that this is a column about my religious views, stop and, well, have faith. The faith that I'm talking about is more of a "trust in and loyalty to" kind of dynamic, as in, I have an unyielding faith in our local government, but my faith in some of those entrusted to lead it has been waning lately, and with it, my faith in our community.
On Sunday afternoon, all that changed. As the playground behavior in the corner conference room at Town Hall was reaching its nadir this past week, dozens of volunteers were planning an event that indeed restored my faith in our community, and reminded me why Falmouth is a truly special place to live. I had the good fortune and pleasure to attend the annual "FUNd" Raiser event on the grounds of the Falmouth Service Center, and was reminded that events like this one, and the people that make it happen, are what is right with Falmouth. This event was teeming with locals just giving or giving back to an organization that exists solely to help neighbors in need. They came out to show their support and show it they did.
As I enjoyed a musical number from The Rev. Nicole Lamarche of the Cotuit Federated Church accompanied by Rabbi Elias Lieberman of the Falmouth Jewish Congregation, I turned to share a smile with Rev. Bob Murphy of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth. That's community, folks. That's faith. As I was smiling and soaking in that good will, I got a warm handshake from a Falmouthite who knows a thing or two about music: gifted pianist, teacher and big band leader John Salerno. He, too, was there just to share in the goodness and leave behind a couple of bucks to make sure that the hundreds of Falmouthites who struggle to put a meal on the table can have that meal, and as important, a family gathering. We shared a memory of his big band sound at my wedding those many years ago, and he faded into the crowd - a crowd that included a generous participant in the day's events who seemed at peace - activist and videographer Paul Rifkin.
I had the pleasure to share a laugh and a burger with tireless volunteers John and Debbie Netto, who were among the throngs of volunteers coordinating the food for this family event. These were no pre-formed patties - they were genuine hand-made backyard burgers - and were a genuine delight. Johnny actually had a great idea for our fab five in town hall - he volunteered to fill a bus with our Selectmen as a team building exercise and drive them to the Service Center to help paint the building. I'm buying the paint, if you're interested.
Speaking of the Selectmen, our Chair Pat Flynn was there with friend and political veteran Thelma Goldstein. If Mildred Allen enjoys the moniker of Falmouth's spry centerian, then Thelma is certainly deserving of the title of our spryest nonagenarian. Just her presence was a boost to many at this event, and her energy and wide smile are a lesson to any Falmouthite on keeping a positive attitude and having faith.
A positive attitude is what another attendee, Rick Smillie, is all about. As we shared stories on the best place in town for breakfast, Rick shared goodwill with many a passerby.
I guess that's what this event at the house that faith built was all about - good will. It came in many forms: from volunteers, to attendees sharing some dollars, to neighbors in need getting a good meal, to a man restoring his own faith - faith as in "trust in and loyalty to" - in his community. That's a gift from the Falmouth Service Center for which I will always be grateful.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.