VIPS - A Falmouth Constant [Troy Clarkson]

Thirty years ago, I was sitting in Mr. Carroll’s Social Studies Class at Lawrence School, waiting for him to yield the “hammer of knowledge” as he called it and impart some wisdom on me and my classmates.  He did.  I still remember some of the civics lessons he taught and use them daily in my work and in my writing.  Thirty years ago, Falmouth was governed by a three-member full-time Board of Selectmen, who held meetings nearly every day to do the peoples’ business.  Thirty years ago, having a Sony Walkman with a cassette blaring Air Supply was a sign that you had the latest technology and you were indeed cool. 

 Boy, how things change in thirty years.  Some things, however, even some Falmouth things, remain constant.  Next month, when the Falmouth Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) hosts a gathering of supporters, donors, and volunteers for their 27th annual golf tournament at the Woods Hole Golf Club, one of Falmouth’s most successful and venerable volunteer organizations will shine brightly yet again, raising money for its myriad of programs and raising hope and enthusiasm for the community volunteers who have logged more than 800,000 since the inception of VIPS nearly thirty years ago.  Indeed, some things remain beautifully constant.

The annual golf tournament is one of the major fundraisers for VIPS every year.  I have played in many VIPS tourneys over the years, formerly held at the Falmouth Country Club and sponsored and organized for years by tireless volunteers and community benefactors like Bob and Paula Crane and Don McCarthy.  Those folks deserve a warm thanks and note of appreciation for more than two decades of stewardship of this great event as a new team of volunteers, led by Falmouthite Rick Kelleher, bring a new set of traditions and new enthusiasm to the new venue in Woods Hole, indeed one of the most picturesque golf courses in Massachusetts, if not the nation. This year’s event is sure to be one of the more memorable, most certainly more so than the year when Woods Hole pro and old pal Glenn Kelly and I teamed up for a tournament entry that was sure to be a winner – we came in last.  That didn’t, however, dampen our enthusiasm for the day or for this great event. 

VIPS Director Tracey Crago noted to me that the sense of community commitment that is instilled in our young Falmouthites through the many volunteer programs, both as recipients and participants, has created a culture of compassion and a community commitment that is now a generation old.  “Lots of things have changed since the early 1980s when VIPS started, but volunteerism has remained very strong among adults and is on the rise for students. VIPS works with students beginning in the 7th grade to introduce them to volunteer opportunities within the schools and throughout the community. Our Lawrence School and Falmouth High School students logged nearly 8,000 hours last year alone,” said Tracey, noting that students who see volunteers in their classrooms from Kindergarten right through graduation learn a sense of commitment that leads to better citizens.  That’s creating a better Falmouth.  That’s creating a caring community.  Interested golfers, volunteers and community members can reach Tracey at: [email protected] .  “Falmouth has always been an incredible community when it comes to lending a hand. The VIPS program is a product of that kind of thinking and dedication. We have grown from eight volunteers at the high school to over 1,000 volunteers who give so freely of their time, talents, and energy in support of the students and staff of our schools,” explained Tracey.   An incredible community, indeed – and lend a hand they do – to our students and our community – our Falmouth.

800,000 volunteer hours.  Committed student and citizen volunteers.  Money raised that stays in town and benefits our community.  That sounds like a pretty good formula to me.  I’m sure that thirty years from now, when the I-Pod is tomorrow’s walkman, Falmouthites will still be talking about and getting benefits from VIPS – and Air Supply will still be cool. 
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