SHIRLEY-- With a generous gift, a family business changed the life of another family in town.
"We wanted to give back a little bit to the community," said Adrian Chamorro of A&G Towing/Repair in Shirley. "We had been looking for someone to give a car to for a couple of months and found the Shirley Friendship Fund through the town."
Chamorro and his father Gabriel had been working on a 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 Hatchback and wanted to give it to a deserving family.
Shirley Friendship Fund Chair Heidi Conley knew just the recipient for the vehicle, a co-worker who had been without a car since May. She conferred with Selectmen Holly Haase and Enrico Cappucci and decided that Traicy Barrett would be a worthy beneficiary.
Conley called Barrett, of Shirley, and asked her to meet her at the police station last Wednesday. "I have a car for you," she told her.
As Barrett nervously waited for Conley to arrive, Police Chief Samuel Santiago, Lieutenant Alfreda Cromwell, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin and Cappucci approached her. Conley got out of her car and introduced Barrett to Chamarro, who presented Barrett with the vehicle.
"I don't know what to say," Barrett said. "Thank you!" Then, admiring the shiny black car, she added, "I think I'll call it my bat-mobile."
After hugs all around, Chamarro drove the vehicle to Barrett's home and went over the particulars about the vehicle with her.
The Shirley Friendship Fund is a small community-based group of volunteers that has been serving residents of Shirley for over 50 years. SFF helps residents with one-time donations that have helped local families during tragic illnesses, paid for funeral expenses, and offered fuel assistance.
SFF is funded by donations from local businesses and residents. Each fall, the charitable organization sends letters throughout the community soliciting donations. This money helps between five and 65 families annually, depending upon the need and number of donations.
Families fill out applications, available on the Town of Shirley website, which are then mailed to P.O. Box 564, Shirley, MA 01464. Donations may be sent to the same address.
Each family in need receives a food basket that will provide a Christmas dinner plus extra breakfast foods. For the past five years, The Bull Run has provided the turkeys; the Shirley Hose Dept. provides all other Christmas dinner items.
In addition, each child in a family receives warm clothing. All toy requests are hung on "giving trees" at Main Street Bank, Fidelity Bank, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, and MCI-Shirley Minimum security prison.
"We often try to provide families with gift cards to enjoy bowling, a movie, or roller skating, too," said Conley. "This is great for a family activity during school vacation."
"Every year the amount of families and donations are different. We've started to include personal care items and laundry soap, which are collected by residents," she added.
Applications for assistance are available at http://www.shirley-ma.gov/Pages/ShirleyMA_WebDocs/shirley-friendship-app.pdf.
Anyone who would like to donate, shop, or wrap gifts for families or provide other assistance can reach Conley at 978-425-9681.