FRAMINGHAM, MA -- Peggy Holland has been answering suicide hotline calls since 1986.
A decade ago, she became one of the first volunteers for Framingham-based Call2Talk.
This month, she was one of four senior citizens honored by the Framingham Council on Aging at the 3rd Annual Senior Heroes Awards. Holland was honored for her efforts in health/healthcare. Other recipients included Margaret Kelley, William Rabkin, and Norma Shulman.
More than 75 individuals attended the ceremony at the Callahan Center on Thursday afternoon, May 25.
In 2020, Framingham Council on Aging member Glenda Thomas came up with the idea to recognize “seniors who promote diversity and inclusion.”
The hope of the awards is that “more people will see that we are all honored when we value and respect our difference and share our cultural histories with one another,” said the Council in the program book. Individuals nominated senior citizens and a Committee including Thomas, as well as Robin Dateo, David Fuller, Council on Aging member Kathie McCarthy, Council on Aging member Brian Sullivan, former City Councilor Margareth Shepard, and former Framingham Elder Service Director Grace O’Donnell selected the four honorees.
Margaret “Meg” Kelley, a lifelong Framingham resident, was the senior hero recipient in social development. A retired school teacher, Kelley has served as a volunteer at St. Bridget’s Parish for decades. As the volunteer co-director of the food pantry, she has recruited and scheduled adult and student volunteers. She also has conducted numerous food drives.
Kelley is also a passionate Framingham History Center volunteer. She is a weekly volunteer host, serving as a docent for public school students. She co-authored the book The ABCs of Framingham History.
Kelley’s lifetime motto is “be kind, take care of others, and help those in need.” She is an active Framingham Garden Club volunteer and co-chaired the fundraiser “Music in Bloom,” which raises money for the Club’s scholarship program.
Besides Call2Talk, Holland has volunteered for the Partakers College Behind Bars program at MCI-Framingham’s women’s prison. For 15 years, she has mentored female inmates in college level classes. For two decades, Holland has volunteered as a tutor with Framingham Public Library’s Literacy Unlimited program helping individuals learn English as a second language.
Through Family Promise MetroWest, Holland has cooked and delivered meals for homeless families. For 20 years, Holland has volunteered for the REACH program, which assists survivors of domestic violence. She also has volunteered with the United Way of Tri-County.
Bill Rabkin was the recipient for arts/culture for his volunteer efforts with Access Framingham.
“After moving to Framingham, he joined AFTC as a volunteer in 2009 to gain skills in video production,” wrote the Committee in the program book.
“He has used the skills he learned to create video programs at the Temple he attends, at the Framingham History Center, at the Callahan Center, and the Framingham Library. He has been the face behind the camera at so many events,” noted the program book. “The time he commits to videotaping and editing makes it possible for people who could not attend these programs in person to enjoy them at a later date on local, free cable.”
The final recipient was Shulman, who was honored for her public service. Shulman was honored her “many roles as a volunteer in the City to educate and recruit people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds, and culture to register to vote and to get involved in local government.”
“For 48 years, 27 of which Norma was a Town Meeting member, she has been a strong activist to ensure that all voices within the community are heard, included, and counted,” noted the program book. “As a Democratic State Committee elected member, a 20-year member of the local Democratic Committee, and as a delegate to the State and National conventions, she has a mandate to welcome diversity in the group’s activities.
She is co-chair of the MA Democratic Women’s Outreach Committee encouraging and supporting women in roles as candidates, elected officials, leaders and advocates,” noted the program book.
“She is encouraged to see more organizations and individuals making specific efforts to declare and follow up with making Framingham a welcome community. Examples of this are the Black Student Union, Pelham Apartments, Welcome Framingham, and other local organizations that seek to attract youth, people of color, LGBTQ+ community, people of diverse physical abilities and varied religious backgrounds,” noted her bio in the program book.
Senate President Karen Spilka’s office, represented by aide Dennis Giombetti, awarded citations to all four honorees.
State Representatives Jack Patrick Lewis, Kate Donaghue and Priscila Sousa awarded House of Representatives citations to the quartet of honorees.
City Council Vice Chair Janet Leombruno, at-large City Councilor George P. King Jr., District 3 City Councilor Adam Steiner, and District 7 City Councilor Leora Mallach attended the ceremony.
The Friends of the Callahan provided the funding for the hired photographer, the commemorative plaques for the four honorees, and the refreshments.