Members’ mission all about building bridges, guiding others across them
Several enthusiastic supporters of the No Place for Hate Committee, some of whom have been participating in the initiative for many years, gathered in person at yesterday’s Select Board meeting to explain how they see their group’s work benefiting the town and why they want to serve on, or continue to be members of, the nonpartisan committee.
Hull NPFH is dedicated to its motto of “building bridges of understanding” while promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion among all members of the community.
In June, the Select Board, at the group’s request, voted in favor of maintaining Hull NPFH as a town committee, comprised of 11 voting members serving staggered terms.
Committee objectives include raising the community’s understanding and awareness of discrimination, racism, bigotry, sexism, fear, hatred, and other forms of bias and responding appropriately if and when such incidents occur.
The purpose of this week’s meeting was to appoint the 11 current participants in the program to various terms on the NPFH committee.
Rhoda Kanet, who has been involved with NPFH since its inception in 2000, longtime supporter Pam Wolfe, and Celia Nolan, who has been interested in social justice issues since her early teens, were appointed to three-year terms. Laurie Girdharry, Steven Greenberg, Paula Nesoff, and Valerie Carlson will serve two-year terms, and Lynn Mazzeo, Deborah Bayer, Heidi Clermont, and Gabriel Ben-Yosef, one-year terms.
Select Board member Domenico Sestito, who made the motion for the several appointments, said he was “just plugging the terms to the names,” indicating he was of the opinion they were all equally qualified. “I hope you will all stay on the committee as long as possible,” he said. “I wish these were all forever terms.”
Wolfe said the time is right for this kind of discussion in town and for some soul-searching. “Do we really walk the walk and create a forum for community discussion to hear what people feel, explore those feelings, and help everybody feel empowered to do something to support [NPFH] values?” she asked.
Paula Nesoff, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, emphasized the importance of not only building bridges but also helping people learn how to cross them. “This is where I want to put my heart and soul,” she said.
Greenberg has been involved with Hull NPFH for a year and a half. “Hull NPFH is a real hallmark of our town as we become more welcoming,” he said.
Nolan said she wants the “best world possible” for her children and to be “the best person I can be.” She likened Hull NPFH to the “continuing life college of being a good person.”
Norwell resident Ben-Yosef, who has been involved with NPFH for several years, is a member of the temple in Hull. “To be here is a fantastic thing, and I would like to take the hope I feel from being here and help to demonstrate that to other people,” he said. “Hope is what everybody needs.”
Select Board Chair Jennifer Constable thanked Kanet and the other committee members who started Hull NPFH 20 years ago. “Here we are with an 11-member NPFH town committee. All that’s needed is a commitment and enthusiasm, which you all have,” she said.
Constable went on to say she agrees the time is right to make the community feel comfortable “in having what people may think are uncomfortable conversations – which is key to broadening this work.”
Board member Donna Pursel said, “Community members see the bridges and trust them; they just need help crossing them.”