SPRINGFIELD — Growing up as one of 16 children Karon Tyler learned the value of community early in life.
“Growing up in order to play outside on Saturdays the first thing you had to do was your chores. It seemed like my family was always the first ones outside. At that time I didn’t realize it was because of the number of people we had to do the job,” she said. ” As years went on I started thinking if everyone pitched in what a big difference we could make.”
Tyler is one of six Springfield residents chosen as role models in their community by Live Well Springfield, an initiative of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, which includes more than 30 private and public organizations focused around the issues of lighting, safe streets, and nutritious food for children in Springfield.
The “Guess what I did?” Resident Advocate Role Model Campaign will highlight local residents throughout the year who get involved in community issues by volunteering, advocating at public meetings and more.
For Tyler better street lighting in the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods has become her passion.
“We want to make sure kids are safe walking to and from school, if you’re trying to drive and can’t see what stree to turn out that’s a problem,” she said.
For Jill Douglas making sure children get nutritious meals every day is her goal.
“I work for Square One and we are teaching them to eat healthier, but a lot of kids are not able to do that at home. We try to give them hearty meals for breakfast, lunch and snacks so that we know at the end of the day when they leave their tummies are full,” she said.
An employee at Square One since 1983 Douglas said she knows those children need to eat healthy meals in order to grow and excel in life.
“Those children are our future. They could be the next mayor of this city and we have to make sure they get properly fed,” she said.
Antonio DeLesline has a full time job at MGM, but volunteers as a resident advocate for Way Finders. His focus is making streets safer for bikers, walkers and drivers.
“I have a passion for helping others. We all can serve, all we have to do is put one foot in,” he said.
Samantha Hamilton, Live Well Springfield manager, said the goal of the campaign is to honor people who go above and beyond for their community.
“These people are very passionate about helping the residents and the communities they serve,” she said. “They have been doing the work in the community for many years and they are advocates for change.”
Other role models include Natanael Velez, a case manager for Catholic Charities, Awilda Sanchez, a semi-retired nurse who volunteers her time at Brookings School and Audrey Jenkins. a resident health advocate for Way Finders.
Taken from MassLive.com, written by Elizabeth Román | firstname.lastname@example.org