I have long said that Dalton, Mass. was the best place for a kid to grow up. It seemed everything done in town was done with kids in mind. The Youth Center. The Penny Carnival. The summer carnival. The Follies. Halloween festivals. The Community House.
And the playing fields. So many playing fields.
Dalton is not a big town -- set in the beautiful Berkshires in the western part of the state -- Dalton is cozy. Small.
Yet playing fields abounded. It seemed every neighborhood had its own field. Craneville Park, Greenridge, Pine Grove, Ashuelot (Craneville Elementary), the Legion, not to mention the high school fields.
There was always plenty for kids to do -- plenty of games, playgrounds and endless expanses of green.
But moreso than the activities, it was the people that made Dalton so kid-friendly.
People who coached the teams, ran the activities, volunteered their time and gave of themselves so the kids in the community were safe, happy, active and involved.
It was the people that made up the fabric of our town. And the fabric of Dalton, Mass. was that of your favorite well-worn sweatshirt. Comfortable, familiar and reliable.
I've learned of course that Dalton does not have a monopoly on great childhoods. Communities across the country, including one just north of the university, thrive on the service of its people. You know the ones -- they coach the youth teams, season-in and season-out. They volunteer in the concession stand. They may even, just for the fun of it, take the pictures that will fill so many frames and family photo albums . They chaperone field trips and volunteer on special school days and not-so-special school days. They may run your Homeowners Association or at least get its work done. They organize fundraisers. They teach. They coach. They mentor. They serve. They make a difference.
The picture frame next to my desk reads: "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove ... but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."
Sometime this week, Dalton will stand still as an untold number of "children" -- over 25 years worth -- will turn out to celebrate the life of Robert "Boog" Powell. His life was dedicated to Dalton. He taught. He coached. He mentored. He served. He was as much a fixture in Dalton as the library, the fire station and Crane's mills.
He was what Dalton was all about.
He made a difference in the lives of many a child. And he will be missed.
Assoc. A.D./Media Relations
Photo credit - Courtesy of Todd Madison