Lauding those who help others

Neal Opper (left); Cheryl Opper, founder and executive director of School on Wheels of Massachusetts; US Senator Scott Brown; School on Wheels student Darren Roper of Holbrook; and his mother, Bonny.

BREAKFAST WITH CHAMPIONS: The Brockton Youth Foundation honored three people and three organizations at its fourth annual Breakfast With Champions.

Among the winners was Cheryl Opper, founder and executive director of Schools on Wheels of Massachusetts, which provides homeless students with customized academic services, tutoring, supplies, and educational advocacy.

Attending the event with Opper was Darren Roper of Holbrook, who was the organization’s first student eight years ago. He is now a high school senior and works with his original tutor preparing to attend college in the fall. He will be the first in his family to do so.


Also winning an award was Ossie Jordan of Brockton, a youth advocate and community leader for more than 25 years. He is past president of the Brockton NAACP, served nine years on the Brockton School Advisory Board, and hosted the NAACP Forum on Brockton Access Cable for 21 years.

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Clifford Murray of Abington, principal of West Middle School in Brockton for the past four years, was honored for helping to significantly improve the test scores of all students at his school. He was also cited for instilling a sense of charity in his students by promising last year to dye his hair if they collected more than 1,200 cans of food for the local food pantry. They did, and the next day he showed up with his hair dyed gold.

The Brockton Midget Football League was honored, along with its executive board: Kathleen McKernan of Abington and Joel McKernan, Michael Williams, David Rooslet Jr., David Rooslet III, Will Fleury, and Bruce Dansby Jr. all of Brockton. Organized in the 1950s, the Brockton Midget Football League serves more than 250 Brockton youths ages 10-14 and is run by volunteers and board members, many of whom have more than 20 years of service.

Kids Take Action, an organization at Brockton’s North Middle School, was also honored. The group consists of 20 students who learn community service by doing it, under the direction of the program’s advisor, Maria Mair. Over the last year, the group has held a clothing drive, visited local hospitals and nursing homes, helped the Brockton Blue Dog Animal Shelter get started, and collected and delivered food baskets for Thanksgiving.

Also honored was the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Brockton High School. Known as the Boxer Battalion, the JROTC was formed in 1994 to develop discipline and leadership among its students, many of whom attend college with a full scholarship from the military. The cadets serve as the official host of many school events, help with Special Olympics, and compete in drill competitions. Last December, the drill team won the Governor’s Cup for the Best Drill Team in the state for the third time.


HONORING ADVOCATES: The state Department of Developmental Services honored people and families from across the state for their work in providing care, community inclusion, and self-determination for people with disabilities, during the 16th annual Celebrating Families event at the State House.

Louis Nisenbaum of Lakeville posthumously received this year’s Gunnar Dybwad Leadership Award, which is given to someone who has enhanced the lives of those with disabilities. For more than 40 years, Nisenbaum worked with people with disabilities to empower them, rather than simply provide them with care. He started a community residence in Attleboro, one of the first run by a private, nonprofit group, and founded The Nemasket Group, a human services agency focused on community integration. He also cofounded Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change, a group supporting families of the disabled across the state.

Also honored at the event were Susan, James, and Jacqueline Draper of Duxbury, for the volunteer work they have done for the Arc of Greater Plymouth; William and Joan Mullare of Norwell, co-founders of Friendship Home in Norwell; David and Steven Harrington of Plymouth, for their lifelong support of their sister, Cathy, and support of the Arc of Greater Plymouth; John Sullivan of Mansfield, who helped found the Charles River Arc, Charles River Workshop and three group homes, as well as the Coalition of Families and Advocates; and William Cannata of Walpole, statewide project coordinator of the Autism and Law Enforcement Coalition since it began in 2003.

HAILING VISION PROGRAM: Mayor Thomas Koch of Quincy proclaimed May 6-12 as Lions Week in Quincy, in recognition of the Quincy Lions Club’s efforts to make eye health and vision care available to local residents in need. The club has a myriad activities scheduled for the week, including presenting the club’s Frank McCauley Community Service Award to Bettyanne Lang, director of material assistance at Quincy-based Interfaith Social Services. She will receive the award May 10 at an awards luncheon at The Neighborhood Club in Quincy.

The main thrust of the week is a citywide collection of used eyeglasses and the annual Quincy Lions Club 5K Run/Walk for Sight on May 12.


The glasses can be dropped off in marked collection boxes at businesses in Quincy and Braintree, including Harvard Vanguard Optical Shops in Quincy Center and Braintree, branches of South Shore Savings Bank, and the Kennedy Senior Center and Manet Community Health Center, both in Quincy. For a full list of locations, visit

The 5K run/walk race starts at Pageant Field in Quincy and will raise money for eye disease research and free eyeglasses for those in need. In addition to race events, there will be entertainment, food, raffles, and free vision and hearing screenings at the Lions Eyemobile. For information on the race or to register, visit

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at