Volunteers find unity, purpose at One Boston Day happenings

Volunteers created “peace flags” inside the IBEW Local 103 Freeport Hall on Sunday at an event organized by the Martin Richard Foundation. (Daniel Sheehan photo)

By Daniel Sheehan, Reporter Staff
Dorchester Reporter — April 18, 2018

Hundreds of volunteers gathered on Sunday at IBEW Local 103 in Dorchester to celebrate One Boston Day, a city-sponsored commemoration of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that seeks to channel the “Boston Strong” ethos into a citywide day of service.

Sunday’s event in Dorchester, organized by the Martin Richard Foundation, featured live music, food trucks, service projects, and a variety of children’s arts and crafts activities, including one where kids make hundreds of “Peace Flags” with messages of hope and healing.

The crowd inside the auditorium was dotted with dozens of blue MR8 jackets. This year, 115 runners – including 2014 marathon winner Meb Keflezighi – ran the marathon for team MR8 in honor of Dorchester’s Martin Richard, who was eight years old when he was killed while watching the marathon pass on Boylston Street five years ago with his family. With the added star power and so many runners being sponsored, the foundation exceeded its goal by raising more than $1 million.

“It’s gratifying to see so many people step up,” said Gov. Charlie Baker, who spoke briefly at the event and lauded the “determination and perseverance” of the Richard family.

Team MR8 runner and volunteer Michael Gosselin said the race has new meaning for him. “I think what is great is that the Richards are an example of, when something does happen to you, it’s how you respond and move forward, and that’s what they’re teaching the children in the community, and that’s what really mattered to me the most.”

Another runner, Vicky Shen of South Boston, said her city has always been about kindness and community, but it was a terrible event that brought those qualities to the fore.

“It’s not about looking back at what happened in 2013, it’s about understanding what came out of it, and what the community has had in it the whole time,” she said. “Really there’s a lot of bridges being built.”

The Martin Richard Foundation’s Sierra Rothberg said the foundation has created a platform for people to join together and volunteer. She hopes that’s one legacy of what happened five years ago.

“Everybody wants to do something really good and positive on this day, and I think throughout the year, but this is kind of a moment for everyone to really pull together, and we’re really seeing that today, with numbers and spirit.”

Mayor Martin Walsh, who also spoke at the event, thanked the Richard family and all the runners and volunteers before inviting all the children in the building to join him up front with to thank Martin.

“Let’s, on three, thank Martin for teaching us valuable lessons every single day of his life, and for still teaching us today,” said the mayor. Toward the end of the event, a children’s choir from Boston City Singers performed a rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” followed by a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m., the time of the bombing in 2013.

Bill Richard concluded the event with a quote from his wife Denise: “Perhaps we rely on the notion that we need life-altering situations to make kindness matter. Kindness need not be displayed in random acts but with intent and purpose. Kindness is a vital part of the effort to foster a peaceful and just region, nation, and global community. Kindness supports human dignity, and should be shared freely, neighbor to neighbor, block by block, until everyone is recognized as equal.”

Simón Ríos of WBUR contributed to this report.