Boston, MA - Generosity was in the air Saturday afternoon at the Amory Street Housing Development, as Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined Governor Deval Patrick for a day of giving back - on the Bruins' off day, no less.
Ference, along with his daughter Ava, 7, and a group of student volunteers from Project 351, painted canvases, assembled care packages and crafted fleece blankets and scarves for the residents of the housing development, which caters to the elderly and disabled. Project 351 is a non-profit organization, which Governor Patrick began to empower students to make a difference in their community through service.
The organization is comprised of one 8th grade student from every town or city in the Commonwealth, who are nominated by his or her teachers. Students serve for a full calendar year and participate in various community service and leadership programs throughout their time as ambassadors.
The Amory Street Housing Development was one of five sites at which Project 351 served on Saturday to kick off the Class of 2013’s year as student ambassadors to the organization.
“That recognition that some of these kids deserve is that they have that drive and that ambition to do what’s right, and they should be honored, and they should be celebrated for it,” said Ference. “That’s what makes us human, to care for one another.”
Ference and his daughter worked alongside the student ambassadors to paint large, colorful canvases emblazoned with words such as love, kindness, honor and joy. Ference used strokes of sky blue paint on his creation to fill in the letters of the word ‘hope, ‘ while Ava Ference pressed star-shaped sponges dipped in purple and red paint onto the canvas to add a personal touch.
After completing their artwork, father and daughter joined a circle of volunteers gathered around a maroon fleece blanket to assist in cutting and tying knots to finish off the piece. Shortly after, Ava made her way to a group of smiling students – and new friends - who coached her in the construction of fleece scarves.
Ference expressed how beneficial he feels it is for his daughter to participate in these projects with him.
“She’s been involved coming to things… seeing what life is like outside of her bubble. It’s important for me, as a parent, to show her what makes this a special city and makes this a special state is that people do things like this,” said Ference. “Now I see her and she’s right into it, and she’s getting her hands dirty, and it makes me really proud.”
Governor Patrick voiced similar sentiments about the importance of service in young peoples’ lives, stating that Project 351 is a way for kids to be encouraged to give back.
“This is a way to acknowledge those kids and celebrate them,” said Patrick.
And the B’s defenseman shared how exciting it was to see the pride on the volunteers’ faces to be involved in program, adding that it gives hope for a future of young people who believe in giving back.
“They’re excited to be part of something bigger than just being.”
“That makes it where you see a future where they’re going to keep doing things like this just because it’s not required - but because they want to, and that’s great to see.”