By Zenya Molnar
Shrewsbury – Attorney John Collins of Shrewsbury actively serves as an inspiring community member as he participates in many volunteer positions, including as general counsel on the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and a member of the Shrewsbury Board of Health.
As general counsel, Collins represents the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association on the Violence Against Women Act Advisory Committee. The committee exists to aid the Executive Office of Public Safety in drafting policies and procedures on domestic violence for police departments and creating guidelines for police officers to follow when called for domestic violence. Collins's main job is to provide his services as a lawyer, but the position also encompasses lobbying for the Chiefs of Police Association and conveying information from the committee to the police chiefs so that police officers are knowledgeable about the state's current policy.
One example of action the committee has taken is the distribution of over 1,000 rape kits to hospitals. Collins ensured that police officers were aware of the operation and that they knew how to treat the kits once received and how to use them for evidence.
He has been involved in his job drafting procedures and reviewing new policies with the Chiefs of Police Association for 35 years.
Collins has also been a chair of the Shrewsbury Board of Health, which acts as an advisory committee, sets policy, and hears repeals, since the late 1970s. He helped to establish the Wheelabrator Shrewsbury Residue Landfill, a site where Millbury's Wheelabrator waste recovery facility disposes its ash residue. According to Collins, the project has been continuing for 30 years.
“One of the best things that the Board of Health was able to do for the town is to convert a landfill that could have been costing us millions of dollars and could have been a public health problem into a resource,” Collins said. People have been coming from all over the country to see how well it is run.”
He credited the staff of both the Board of Health and the Wheelabrator's facility for their successful work.
When discussing his inspiration for serving the public, Collins said that he wanted to find other opportunities to help his community.
“Being a lawyer, you realize you could spend all your time just practicing law,” he said.
In addition to his profession, Collins became involved in many activities that he enjoys, including his children's sports programs, Boy Scouts, and the Shrewsbury Rotary Club. Being on the Board of Health gives Collins yet another opportunity to serve the town.
Collins said that the most rewarding aspect of his community service is his involvement with the Boy Scouts, which has given him the most personal satisfaction.
“[It is] an opportunity to see young people benefit from the character and training they get from the Boy Scouts.”
Collins's participation in the Rotary Club is an equal achievement; the Shrewsbury Rotary Club has worked with Rotary International to eradicate polio around the world, and that goal is almost complete.
“When you think about the little club in Shrewsbury,” Collins said, “we are not that big; but when we joined together with millions of Rotarians around the world, we decided that we would try to wipe out polio everywhere in the world. In a couple of years from now, that will be accomplished because of the Rotary Club.”
Collins asserted that Shrewsbury gives people a great opportunity for service; one just has to look around and find what fits. He has advised young lawyers that the town government has many roles for people who want to volunteer, which is a good investment of time.
He believes that people owe it to the community in which they live to give something back.
“As lawyers, we have an obligation to make our community a better place. We are not just here to make money and take care of ourselves. One of our real obligations is public service.”