By Dan Klein

In our community, among us, are people in great need.  I discovered this through the Acton-Boxborough United Way (ABUW).  

On retiring from my professional life I volunteered with the ABUW and assisted them in reviewing grant applications for the year.  From the 23 organizations that were awarded funding I learned three compellingly revealing things.  While I enjoyed the fruits of my labor, hundreds of my neighbors in Acton and Boxborough were dealing with isolation, potential homelessness, emotional challenges, difficulties integrating culturally, and more.  At the same time I learned about organizations whose wonderful personnel dedicate themselves to alleviating these and other difficulties in our community.  And, perhaps most jarring, I learned how great the gap is between the needs and our ability to address them.

My wife, Shelley, and I have lived and raised our family in Acton for 38 years and in that time our roots have grown deep. We’ve made many wonderful friends and have come to appreciate the many benefits that our AB community has to offer.  In all that time and through all my activities I had no idea that there is a side of Acton and Boxborough that is as far from affluence as one can get. Perhaps it was from social blindness, perhaps from simply not letting myself understand.  For whatever reason, I never encountered it, never sensed it, and never gave it a thought.  But it exists.  And this revelation has moved me.

My understanding was deepened by the recent ABUW Community Needs Assessment.  The needs assessment revealed that between 20-25% of our fellow AB residents are struggling in some significant aspect of their lives.  This cuts across all major demographic groupings including age, ethnicity, economics, and education. 

 I’ve lived here for almost 40 years and had no idea that there was such a great need.  My guess is that a large number of my neighbors in Acton and Boxborough may be similarly unaware.  The good news is that through the United Way of Acton-Boxborough, its activities, and the organizations it supports, many of our neighbors in need are being helped.  But at the same time many, many more are still suffering.  Because of what I’ve learned I am supporting the ABUW by volunteering and, to the extent I can, contributing financially; I plan to continue doing so.

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