The first project of Westford Remembers after its inception in 2010, this bench is dedicated to two victims of 9/11 from Westford, Susan MacKay and James Hayden. (Kristen Su)
The first project of Westford Remembers after its inception in 2010, this bench is dedicated to two victims of 9/11 from Westford, Susan MacKay and James Hayden.

Kristen Su

Westford Remembers makes a mark on its community

October 18, 2021

Differentiating a tight-knit community from a run-of-the-mill town is the devotion of its members to honoring and supporting their neighbors. Locally, Westford Remembers’ commitment to its townspeople has fostered a community full of generosity and spirit.

Westford Remembers, formed by committee president Nancy Cook and committee vice president David Christiana, started off in 2010 to organize memorials around town that recognize the tragedies of 9-11. Until the start of the pandemic, the organization’s main goal was to preserve the history of the town through memorials. However, when the pandemic hit the world, Westford Remembers decided to use its platform to make a notable transition to mainly aiding in a service-based way.

“So many families in our own community were terribly affected by the pandemic, even if people might think no one in Westford could be [as Westford is a pretty affluent community],” Cook said. “We were inspired to help out in any way we could.”

Cook and director of operations Jamie Holmes took charge of the COVID-19 operations. The pair worked through the organization’s Facebook page, providing anonymous Google Forms and contact information for members of the community to request financial assistance. 

“Some people may be hesitant reaching out. We get it. So, we offer them the opportunity to have a go-between communicate with us so that they remain anonymous. That way, they are more comfortable seeking our help,” Holmes said.

From helping families out with groceries to funding household necessities, Westford Remembers does not turn down many requests, demonstrating the level of empathy and dedication the organization has towards its town. In fact, they often take on every case they receive, finding a way to accomplish each project.

“I have hard time saying ‘no’. Often times, Jamie has to tell me that we cannot commit to a project. Yet, we still commit and manage,” Cook said.

Additionally, Westford Remembers focused many of their early 2021 fundraising efforts on Westford’s Krebs family, after their two-year-old daughter, Rosemary Krebs, was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. Cook and Holmes spearheaded raffles, apparel sales, dine-for-a-cause events, and donation outlets for the community to ease the Krebs family during a difficult time.

“The community really came together to support the Krebs family. It really showed us the power of a strong, generous community,” Holmes said.

Currently, Westford Remembers is raising money for twelve-year-old Matthew Davidopoulos and his family, assisting them through Davidopoulos’ diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Specifically, the organization plans to cover the costs ($70,000) of a van that accommodates Davidopoulos’ needs due to his disease. In a similar manner to the Krebs fundraisers, Westford Remembers has been holding dine-for-a-cause events (for example, one at Evviva Trattoria on  Aug. 6) and accepting donations through venmo (@westford-remembers). 

Westford Remembers has successfully covered the down-payment for the van, but is still looking to acquire more funds for the family.

According to Cook, she and Holmes make a strong duo in their efforts to positively impact the community. 

“We each bring our own strengths to the table, which allows us to do well in our projects and put the best products, in terms of memorials, forward,” Cook said.

The importance of Westford Remembers and the accomplishments of its members have certainly not gone unnoticed. Cook especially has earned numerous awards (2016 Westford Kiwanis Person of the Year, 2017 Westford Person of the Year, 2011 Unsung Heroine Award by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women) for her contributions to the Westford community.

“It’s the service that really matters to all of us. The service is what motivates us every day,” Cook said. 

Even before the pandemic, Westford Remembers assisted individuals of the town. 

Over the summer of 2019, Robinson School Principal Kevin LaCoste suffered a severe spinal cord injury as a result of falling from a tree. Shortly after the tragic event, Westford Remembers reached out to LaCoste and his family. In only six weeks, Westford Remembers was successfully able to renovate the principal’s home with the necessary accommodations. Through simple donations and dine-for-a-cause events, Cook and the Westford community left a forever mark on LaCoste and his family.

“It was really humbling for me to walk into my home after all the renovations. It truly showed me how kind our community is,” LaCoste said. “Nancy took charge of the project and got it done efficiently. Even to this day, people from the committee reach out to me to make sure everything is alright, and it touches my heart.”

The organization continues to honor history through memoriam events. Recently, Westford Remembers held a 9-11 exhibit in the Westford Historical Museum as well as a candlelight remembrance. In addition, the committee arranged “thank you” signs for Veterans’ Day. 

As for the future of Westford Remembers, Christiana plans to keep restoring historical monuments around town as well as sculpting new pieces for the community, while Cook and Holmes have no intention of slowing down their efforts to support the people of Westford.

“I hope that we can grow our committee in size and be able to have larger fundraiser in which we can have ample money in our account. We want to be a support system in town for as long as possible,” Holmes said.

The following interactive series of infographics proves more background information on Westford Remembers.

The following photo gallery documents the various memorials funded or created by Westford Remembers.

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