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Lifelong friends run Boston Marathon to help those in need

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Featured, Featured: Features

Pucci-Sisitsky

Zack Sisitsky (left in both photos) and Nate Pucci have run together for almost two decades starting with the Sharon Timlin Memorial 5K events in the early 2000s to the 2023 Boston Marathon this April 17. The two lifelong friends are shown as youngsters in the photo on the left and just a few weeks ago as they went on a training run in New York City.

Almost every year of their lives, Zack Sisitsky and Nate Pucci have run to support a charity. The Hopkinton natives, now in their early 20s and friends since kindergarten, started running in the annual Sharon Timlin Memorial 5K which began in 2004. This year they will run the Boston Marathon, with Sisitsky raising funds for the Hopkinton Emergency Fund (HEF) and Pucci supporting the Mental Health Collaborative (MHC).

While running for different charities, the two friends note the organizations mesh together in the tagline, “You can’t have good mental health (MHC) if your basic needs aren’t met (HEF).”

The Hopkinton Emergency Fund is a 501(c)3 started in 2020 by a team of volunteers, led by Sisitsky, to help town residents needing immediate financial support.

Home from college due to the COVID pandemic, Sisitsky said he “was looking for ways to help in the community. I connected with someone working in Hopkinton’s social services. She explained the town needed an emergency fund to help residents with immediate needs.”

He said many other towns have this type of fund, which provides temporary payments for rent, car repairs or the like. The grant helps the person in need for a month or two until a long-term solution can be found.

Starting virtually, HEF volunteers raised enough money to provide their first grant in April 2021. “In the two years since we began, we have given over $31,000 in grants,” said Sisitsky, who besides helping start the fund also acted as a co-director for one year.

Since the confidentiality of the clients is paramount, HEF partners with the Hopkinton Senior Center, Hopkinton Youth & Family Services, Project Just Because and the St. Vincent de Paul Society for referrals. HEF grants are paid directly to the vendor such as the landlord or car mechanic.

While not active in the day-to-day operation of HEF, Sisitsky continues to help with fundraising and to spread the word about its mission. “Even in a well-off community like Hopkinton, residents can experience hardships that hurt them financially. The Hopkinton Emergency Fund provides immediate emergency support until other organizations can come up with long-term help,” he said.

Supporting another organization helping those in need, Pucci is running for the Mental Health Collaborative, which works to build resilient communities through mental health education and awareness. Founded about four years ago by Abbie Rosenberg — who is Sisitsky’s mother — with a grant from a client who died by suicide, MHC works to reduce the stigma of mental health assistance, increase knowledge and give individuals the skills they need to flourish.

Having served on the MHC youth advisory board, Pucci notes this year the organization hopes to have more programs in schools and increase outreach to disadvantaged communities. “COVID has created more mental stress for everyone,” said Pucci. “We all need to know how to deal with those needs.”

Thanks to the generous contribution of his employer, Cove Hill Partners of Boston, Pucci reached his fundraising goal. He has since been working to help raise funds for Sisitsky.

While the two friends cannot often run together since Sisitsky lives in New York City and Pucci in Boston, the two keep in touch by phone while training, do virtual runs together and occasionally meet to train in person.

“I am very excited to be running the Marathon,” said Sisitsky. “It has always been a goal since I was a little kid in Hopkinton, enjoying Marathon Monday. It will be great to do it with Nate.”

Pucci agreed, saying, “Growing up in Hopkinton, it will be really cool to participate in an event that I have watched all my life. Running in the Marathon is a dream of both Zack and mine.”

To contribute to Sisitsky’s fundraising for the Hopkinton Emergency Fund, visit GivenGain.com/ap/Zack-Sisitsky-raising-funds-for-Hopkinton-Emergency-Fund/? or send a check directly to Hopkinton Emergency Fund, Inc., P.O. Box 44, Hopkinton, MA 01748.

While Pucci has reached his fundraising goal, anyone interested in supporting the Mental Health Collaborative or getting more information about the organization can visit MentalHealthCollaborative.org.

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