Bostonians Are Always There In Time Of Need.

From Fallen Heroes to Special Needs Kids, Bostonians of all stripes are always there in time of need. This is nothing new. This is what makes its people special. But if you watch the national media, or listen to so called academic experts, you’ll repeatedly hear it said, “That the American people are divided, nobody cares anymore and absolutely nothing gets done.”

Locally, others say that Boston has changed and it’s not the same city that it once was and nothing gets done. Wait a minute. That might be the way that some in the media might want it to be for controversy and ratings, but let me tell you what I saw last Saturday night in Boston. It’s a lot different than what you hear in the news from so political experts.

But, let me start out by saying that Boston has had a long and well-known reputation for its commitment to help the sick, needy and downtrodden. America’s very first Settlement Houses for the poor and hungry started in Boston. Drop-in centers and soup kitchens for desperate street people along with organizations like the Salvation Army, Morgan Memorial, Food Bank, Center House and Catholic Charities are legendary.  We grew up watching our neighbors, standing outside super markets, churches and banks holding a can raising money to help a worthy cause. From the Jimmy Fund and support for kids with cancer, to the Knights of Columbus who help handicapped children.

And thanks to a lot of caring people this fight continues today. From the McCourt Foundation’s neurological research, Bill Kelly Financial Services charity, to all our churches, mosques and synagogues helping victims of famine and AIDS in Africa and earthquakes in India. This level of concern has always an important part of our culture, no matter your race or religion, or how tough times were for families. People always felt proud to contribute and still do. And, they didn’t do it for attention or praise, that is the last thing on their mind.

Thankfully that historic and noble condition continues in Boston and I saw some of that Saturday night in Boston. Children with Autism had the backing and support of Local Teamsters 25 Union, and its concerned President Sean O’Brien, along with other generous union, political and business leaders, who supported a giant fundraising Gala at the Wang Center. For 10 years, the Teamsters have sponsored fundraising efforts with all the money raised going for programs for children with Autism. One such great program they support is organizing sports and recreational programs for Special Needs and Handicapped kids. I see the joy that the Challenge League brings every Sunday to 200 young boys and girls from the South Shore, who play baseball in Braintree.

The only people happier than the kids on the field, are their proud parents watching from the stands. After the summer months, the program moves into soccer. When the kids put on their Major-League uniforms and take the field, every kid feels like they are playing in the 7th game of the World Series. Every child is warmly welcomed to participate by caring volunteers.

All parents have to do is contact League officials “Oakie” O’Connor or Anita at (<>).

But last Saturday nights Autism Fundraising Event at the Wang Center was not the only great event in town. J.J. Foley’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on Berkeley Street in the South End once again opened its doors to support our Mass Fallen Heroes. The yearly event to help veterans has become so popular that Boston sports celebrities love to stop by and bring with them an item to auction off, to show their support for our heroic wounded veterans. As organizer Pat Foley pointed out, patriotic Americans from the South End to Quincy love to demonstrate
what it means to be concerned and caring citizens.

South Boston Catholic Academy was also packed Saturday night with parishioners, friends and admirers in honor of recently passed away Lori Mirisola Miller to support deserving children receive a great education.

Boston is well known as the birthplace of American independence, the center of great hospitals and universities. The home of world championship sports teams. But for me it will always be the “City of Neighborhoods” and where people still care and look for one another. From our Special needs children to our brave needy Veterans, or children’s education, whether you’re new comer to our city or long-time resident, we’re all Bostonians and proud of it. Sure, some will complain about everything that is wrong about Boston, I’d rather tell you about all the heroes I see who fight and work hard for opportunities for all our deserving people.

Ray Flynn is the former Mayor of Boston and baseball coach in the