Independent Thoughts: Residents work on public needs fund

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While Zack Sisitsky’s sophomore year at Georgetown University was upended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he recognized there are far more people for whom the pandemic has caused greater issues.

And while there are many accomplished charitable organizations in town, they can be limited in their scope. Thus the idea for an emergency public needs fund was hatched.

The idea, Sisitsky is quick to acknowledge, was not his. There are similar funds in other towns, and the idea for it had been circulating through some members of the community, but none of them was able to devote the time to it.

Sisitsky, along with Hannah Krueger, a teacher who grew up in Hopkinton, have taken on the task of getting this organization started.

“I’ve aways been involved in nonprofits and fundraising roles in the community,” said Sisitsky, who grew up volunteering for the Sharon Timlin Memorial Event, which until this year was organized by his mother, Abbie Rosenberg. “I got connected to some people in town who discussed that there was a need for an emergency public needs fund in Hopkinton. Basically, the way they described it was we have a lot of great organizations in Hopkinton — like Project Just Because, Hopkinton Youth & Family Services, the Hopkinton Youth Commission, the Hopkinton Country Club Charitable Foundation — and these places are awesome to help individuals and families who have needs. But essentially any funds they give or any help or services they can offer are earmarked toward specific causes. So, Project Just Because helps with food and clothing donations, Hopkinton Youth & Family Services helps with challenging family situations, and the list goes on for what each organization can or cannot help with.

“Hopkinton Youth & Family Services and the town in general was seeing an increasing number of cases where families and individuals had needs that extended beyond what these organizations could offer. So there was really no place for them to go. So this project is a financial safety net to support residents who are experiencing challenging circumstances, who have needs that expand beyond what the organizations we currently have can help with.”

As an example, Sisitsky said if a working parent’s car breaks down and requires a repair, the fund could cover the cost — making the payment directly to the mechanic.

“One of the keys to this fund is that we want to keep everything anonymous,” Sisitsky said. “At no point is the fund supposed to know who the recipient is who needs the service. We’re going to work through other organizations in town. Project Just Because, Hopkinton Youth & Family Services, these other organizations are going to be referral organizations to the fund. So anyone who has a car repair payment, equipment and travel fees for youth sports, getting their son or daughter’s picture at school, these little needs that they can have here and there — or they can be bigger, it’s not just for small payments — they would go through a referral organization, say Hopkinton Youth & Family Services. Hopkinton Youth & Family Services would review their application and then come to the fund [with the information] without revealing who they are or anything about them. We’d review it, confirm that this is a legitimate need. They would tell us how much money and what vendor, then we’d write the check and give it to Hopkinton Youth & Family Services, and they would give it to the vendor. … So we’re able to provide them that need and that money without ever knowing who the person is.”

Sisitsky said the plan is to have a board in place by the end of this month and file for nonprofit status in August, which will allow the organization to start accepting donations while it waits for governmental approval as a charitable organization. Anyone with an interest in joining the cause can email Sisitsky at zcs14@georgetown.edu or Krueger at hmkrueger@gmail.com.

Sisitsky noted that while Hopkinton’s reputation might be as a town with many expensive homes and financially secure residents, the town is not immune to financial distress.

“Suburban poverty is real in Hopkinton,” he said. “When you drive by the high school and see all the cars in the senior [parking] lot you wouldn’t think that, but they’re seeing these needs. They’ve seen it for years and they’re seeing it more and more now as more people move into Hopkinton and obviously with this pandemic accelerating financial needs. So it’s definitely kind of an under the radar thing but it’s certainly a huge issue. We want to start this initiative for community members to pay it forward and help each other out.”

Added Sisitsky: “Everyone is going through different challenges. We’re all in the same storm but in different ships. This can be a really powerful initiative for the community to pay it forward. I’m really excited to see what holds for it in the future.”

Election items of note

Town clerk Connor Degan shared some interesting information (at least it was interesting to me) about the June 29 Town Election.

There were 12,540 residents registered and eligible to vote in the election. Of those, 7,511 were unenrolled, 2,903 were registered as Democrats and 1,964 were Republicans. There were 55 members of the United Independent Party and 53 Libertarians. There were 10 other party affiliations, but none had more than 18 members. Of note, there were two members of the Pirate Party and one member of the Pizza Party (yes, really).

Some might have noticed that the ballot read “Board of Selectmen” rather than “Select Board,” which is the new name the town voted last year to call the primary board in town. According to Degan, while there was a bylaw change voted upon at 2019 Town Meeting, there would need to be a change to the town charter for it to be reflected on the ballot. The next charter review is not until 2027 (10 years after the last one). There is a process where the name could be changed earlier, but it would require a Town Meeting and ballot vote, and Degan noted the process would require time and money.

Fischer, Kelly to play D1 baseball

Congratulations to Hopkinton High School rising seniors Joshua Fischer and Conor Kelly, who announced earlier this month that they will play collegiate baseball at the Division 1 level. Fischer announced plans to play at Fairfield, while Kelly is headed to UMass Lowell.
The duo helped the Hillers go 16-6 and reach the Division 2 state championship game in 2019. Fischer, a left-handed pitcher, started the final game and pitched four-plus innings of one-run ball in Hopkinton’s 2-0 loss to St. Mary’s of Lynn. Kelly is a left-hitting outfielder who also pitches.

“I am excited to announce my verbal commitment to further my academic and baseball career at Fairfield University,” Fischer tweeted on July 2. “Thank you to my coaches, family & friends who have supported me along the way. Go Stags!!”

Baypath bids farewell to Godfrey

Baypath Humane Society recently announced that Cornelia Godfrey is leaving after eight years as the shelter operations manager.

“The dedication that Cornelia has shown to animals at the shelter and those waiting to be rescued is unmatched and unwavering,” executive director Elizabeth Jefferis wrote in an email, adding: “Cornelia’s compassion and commitment have been at the heart of Baypath. Each day, Cornelia ensures that Baypath meets the needs of the animals in our care. It is this — her intense focus on what is best for the animals — that has helped us maintain low staff turnover and to structure a business model admired by the community and our partners.”

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