Respect the Hundreds of Community Volunteers Who Have Spoken Out


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To the Editor:

When the Stamford Board of Education voted to remove Veterans Day and Columbus Day as school holidays at their January meeting, UNICO, the Knights of Columbus and the Veterans Council stepped up to speak out against the decision, sending emails, holding a rally and speaking in person to the board. These Community Service Organizations represent hundreds of members, whose mission is the help the less fortunate in Stamford. Let me try to acquaint you with these amazing groups.

UNICO is on track to give out $25,000 in scholarships to local high school students to help with college expenses, all from our volunteer work. Call the Salvation Army and St Mary’s Church and ask about UNICO’s program at Christmas where we did all the gift shopping for 28 people in need this year.

I was at a Communion Breakfast where the Knights of Columbus and the Columbiettes gave out thousands of dollars to local charities to support their work in the community, money raised through their volunteer work. And let’s not forget their winter coat drive each year that gives out hundreds of coats to those in need.

The Veterans Council, through their volunteers, help the men and women who have stepped up to protect and serve us with medical care, legal care and counseling.

These people are the backbone of Stamford, all volunteers who dedicate themselves to one thing:  helping others. The best of who we are. When Veterans Day and Columbus Day were snatched from them by the Board of Education with no prior notice and with no obvious educational value, these groups obviously felt disrespected and spoke out, in true democratic fashion. However, despite months of interactions with the board, we have been totally ignored. We realize that the board members are volunteers just like us, but they have stepped forward and allowed themselves to be elected to be our representatives. As true representatives, they, like us, must do what they committed to do: represent us and do what we ask. Remember here, that we are not asking them to give us anything, just not to take away federal holidays that have been in existence for generations.

In conclusion, I appeal to Jackie Heftman, chairman of the Board of Education, and Mayor Simmons, a non-voting member of the board to exercise the leadership expected of their positions and do what is necessary to amend the dchool calendar, return Veterans Day and Columbus Day and respect the hundreds of community volunteers who have spoken out.

Dr. Alfred Fusco
Stamford, CT

Fusco is the founding member of UNICO, an Italian-American service organization