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People

Race will honor former Belmont School Committee member

The late Belmont resident Dan Scharfman, who is the inspiration for a Nov. 17 road race to benefit the town’s schools.

The late Belmont resident Dan Scharfman, who is the inspiration for a Nov. 17 road race to benefit the town’s schools.

RUN FOR DAN: Jamie Hood Shea of Belmont said that to know her late friend and colleague Dan Scharfman was to be impressed by him.

They met in 2009, when Shea was astonished that Scharfman, then a School Committee candidate in Belmont, attended a PTA meeting at her son’s school and mingled with parents afterward to learn about their concerns. The following year, Scharfman asked to join Shea and her friend at a coffee shop after overhearing them bemoan school budget issues.

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“The guy cared,” said Shea, president of the Foundation for Belmont Education. A member of the School Committee and Town Meeting representative who ran marathons and ultra-marathons, Scharfman suffered a heart attack in January. He died five days later. He was 55.

“Dan really listened, and he was genuinely concerned about the people in the town and making the Belmont public schools the most excellent they could be,” Shea said. “He was the type of person you meet once and feel connected to. He was a great salt-of-the-earth type of guy who is missed for a lot of reasons.”

Shea said that the Dan Scharfman Memorial Run, which will take place on Nov. 17 at 9:30 a.m., will be a “fitting tribute.” The event will benefit the Dan Scharfman Education Innovative Fund for the Foundation for Belmont Education’s Innovative Teaching Initiative, combining his passions of professional development for teachers and school technology.

While the race will begin and end at the Belmont High School track on Concord Avenue, Shea said, the scenic course was designed to pass by as many of Belmont’s six schools as possible, since Scharfman had devoted so much time and passion to them all.

“We wanted the course to have meaning as well,” Shea said.

The event will feature a 1-mile route as well as a 5-kilometer course.

For more information, visit www.fbe-belmont.org/race.

AMAZING GRACE: In the summer of 2011, documentary filmmaker and former television news journalist the Rev. Liz Walker (inset) of Jamaica Plain went on a fact-finding mission to learn about the slave trade in southern Sudan. In response to the human-rights atrocities she encountered there, she cofounded My Sister’s Keeper, a grass-roots initiative for women and children who are rebuilding their lives and their country.

However, she discovered something else in the war-torn region: a powerful sense of grace among the people who live there.

Walker will discuss the lessons she learned and how everyone can practice grace, regardless of their personal circumstances, on Wednesday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Regis College Fine Arts Center, 235 Wellesley St. in Weston.

The lecture is part of a series sponsored by Sacred Threads, a Newton-based organization supporting spirituality among all faith traditions.

While the perception of South Sudan to the outside world is one of strife and conflict, Walker said she was humbled by the villagers’ expressions of hospitality, regardless of their own poverty, lack of basic infrastructure, and suffering.

Their tradition of giving is in stark contrast, she noted, to the culture of confrontation in American society, perpetuated by the polarized state of Congress, the news media, and the popularity of feuds on reality television, which all contribute to a public feeling of anxiety and fear. Even on social media sites, the postings that get the most attention are tinged with anger, she noted.

“It’s about acknowledging our shared humanity, and actually reaching out to another person,” said Walker, a transitional preacher at Roxbury Presbyterian Church who is also on the ministerial staff of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain. “We all need to practice more grace, not just as a religious term, but as a way of life.”

Tickets are $35; call 617-894-0119 or go online to www.sacredthreadscenter.org.

CHANGES AT MAP:Christine Robertson and Dawn Friscia recently joined the all-parent board of directors of the Medfield Afterschool Program. In addition, second-year director David Traub was elected president of the nonprofit’s governing board.

Immediate past president Susan Crimmins is now vice president. The other board members are Kristine Barton, Jen Cavan, Clare Horn, Heather McCarthy, and treasurer Nora McGowan.

MAP is a nonprofit organization serving nearly 300 children in kindergarten through sixth grade. For more information, visit www.medfieldafterschoolprogram.com.

DOG’S BEST FRIEND: Sherborn resident Louise Coleman (inset) is known locally as founder of Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton. But her work to fight greyhound exploitation also extends to Ireland, where she recently participated in her second Walk for Greyhounds organized by the Greyhound Rescue Association Ireland.

Coleman was one of nearly 100 dog lovers and rescue organization representatives who walked through Merrion Square in Dublin to demonstrate that retired racing greyhounds make excellent family pets. Among the participants were Irish film director Lenny Abrahamson and singer-songwriter Cathy Davey.

Coleman said it is important for the Irish public to be exposed to the gentle and affectionate nature of the dogs. Although the popularity of greyhound racing is declining in Ireland, she said, its negative reputation endures because live hares used in races there meet such a bloody end.

“It used to be that I’d walk down the street in Ireland with a greyhound, and people would cross to the other side,” said Coleman, who estimates she has traveled to the Emerald Isle 30 times since the late 1970s. “People are still a little skeptical, and need to see how good they are with children and other breeds of dogs.”

Coleman has long worked to change the perception of greyhounds as pets. For several years, she distributed information about greyhound welfare and adoption at the annual Dublin Horse Show. She campaigned against the export of racing greyhounds to Spain until those tracks closed, and is now raising awareness of the renewed risk to the dogs’ welfare from Irish breeders seeking to export them to China.

Each year, Coleman coordinates the adoption of a few greyhounds rescued from Spain and Ireland through Greyhound Friends, as well as Greyhound Rescue of New England in Mendon.

For more information, contact her at 508-435-5969, greyhndfds@aol.com, or www.greyhound.org.

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cindy-cantrell20@gmail.com.
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