Cook On Concord: In honor of heroes, known and unknown
There are many heroes among us doing great work — not for the notoriety but because it is the right thing to do. Several of these have come to mind lately, and I would like to note four of them here.
Earlier this year, Dick Winneg was named the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year earlier this year. He and his wife Fran have spent a lifetime in their adopted community of Manchester doing good and not seeking credit for it.
A businessman who started his own manufacturing business, Winwood Sportswear, Winneg also contributed seed money to help others start several businesses, was instrumental in the founding and operation of the Derryfield School, helped form and foster the Manchester Regional Foundation of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and started the Winneg Family Fund there. He has been a longtime trustee of the Elliot Hospital, instrumental in causes for the Jewish community and Temple Adath Yeshurun and has been a responsible property owner and landlord in the city, with properties on South Willow Street, North Elm Street and Holt Avenue.
David Scannell, a state representative from Manchester’s Ward 2 and community relations coordinator for the Manchester School District, voted his conscience as a state legislator when he voted with the majority of the House to lessen the penalties on possession of a small amount of marijuana. Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, never missing a political opportunity, slammed Scannell and called on him to resign his job with the school district.
In an eloquent written response, Scannell noted that his constitutional right to vote his conscience could not be abridged, wished the mayor and his family a Happy Easter and stood his ground with grace and wit.
Kathy Staub started and runs an organization called Manchester Citizens for Quality Education, which works with those interested in improving Manchester’s public school system.
Playing no favorites and sparing no “sacred cow,” Staub is relentless in pointing out opportunities for quality improvements in program and process. Recently, she has conducted a detailed analysis of the budget proposal of Mayor Guinta and what its effect on Manchester’s school system would be.
In one paragraph, she said: “I’ve been watching this dance for thirteen years now and I think maybe it is time to introduce some new steps, maybe a nice samba or a gavotte. We need to look beyond the next election and start thinking about what we need to do and how we can accomplish it given the fiscal challenges. I was pleased to hear my alderman, Jim Roy, ask a question about how the proposed budget will get us off the D.I.N.I. (District In Need of Improvement) list. Dan O’Neil also asked the Mayor what his ideas were for getting this School District off the school improvement list. He replied that he himself did not have a blueprint but he was sure it could be done in the amount he was proposing (a $7 million plus reduction from the current year spending level) … The aldermen are thinking about making the schools better. We can change the conversation. Send those letters. Make those phone calls. We have the power.”
Staub is a mother who started out as a volunteer at the McDonough School in Manchester, and educated herself on the issues. She is a hero others should emulate. She also makes a difference every day.
Brendan McCafferty is assistant principal at Beech Street School, which is the most diverse school in the state and has the highest percentage of non-native English speakers. The school also serves as a community center for the inner city of Manchester.
McCafferty has started a program called “Bring It,” which runs after-school programs. He has had an alliance with the Boys and Girls Club of Manchester to serve hundreds of students, and also invites their parents in to receive instruction in English, how to live in the United States successfully and other topics. No wonder he was named one of the “40 Under Forty” this year by the BIA and Union Leader!
People wanting to do good can contribute to his organization by sending a contribution in care of Beech Street School, 333 Beech St. Manchester, N.H. 03103.
P.S. Under the above-referenced Guinta budget, Brendan has been “pink slipped” along with other assistant principals, and may lose his job.
Brad Cook is a partner in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups.