By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Shrewsbury – In 2010, Shrewsbury resident Matthew Beaton first ventured into politics when he was elected state representative for the 11th Worcester District, representing Shrewsbury and two Westborough precincts. He won re-election in 2010 and then again recently in November. But Beaton will not be serving his new term. Instead, he has been tapped by Governor-elect Charlie Baker to join his cabinet as the state’s secretary of energy and environmental affairs. Fellow Shrewsbury resident Karyn Polito will also be part of the new administration, serving as lieutenant governor.
At only age 36, Beaton noted he is “on the young side” to be named to such a prestigious position. But it is a challenge, he added, that he feels well-equipped to take on, thanks to his background as the co-owner of Beaton-Kane Construction, a full service construction and weatherization/energy efficiency company. Prior to that he earned his Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in biotechnology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and then his Master of Science degree at Boston University, majoring in energy and environmental studies.
As a state legislator, Beaton has always been compelled to continue on his mission to be of service to others, a philosophy that started back when he was a student at St. John’s High School. It was there, he said, that he first got involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest, Inc. (BBBS).
BBBS’ mission is to promote youth/adult mentoring for over 1,200 at-risk children in its service area of 40 cities and towns in the central Massachusetts and Metrowest area.
As a “Big,” Beaton’s match with a “Little” lasted for a year and a half until the boy moved out of state.
Beaton enjoyed his participation in the program so much that he decided to ask for another Little match during his freshman year at WPI 17 years ago.
That relationship with Max Greenburg, who was 10 at the time, continues on.
“He actually works for my company now as a crew chief,” Beaton said.
“It’s so worthwhile and worth the time invested. We did a lot of fun stuff together,” Beaton said of his time as a Big. “I might have been a role model to him but I got just as much out of it as he did.”
“As a young man, he influenced my life so much, too. It really opened my eyes up to a new perspective,” he added. “It helped me to learn how to really get through to someone and understand what they were feeling. It taught me patience and persistence.”
Those qualities definitely help him now, he said, as he and his wife, Laura, parent their own two young children, Sam and Lilly.
Beaton, along with BBBS, recently established an initiative, “Beaton the Odds Fund,” as a way to help raise funds for the kids and their mentors. According to Jeff Chin, the organization’s executive director, BBBS hopes to raise at least $15,000. The monies will help to fund such things as access to outdoor activities that promote wellness, exercise and healthy living. Funds will also help to support training and increased resources to help mentors, as well as families, teach kids information about ways to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. And monies will also be used for an emergency fund to help Littles who can’t pay for access to programs that promote healthier lifestyles, such as afterschool programs and/or camps.
More details will be forthcoming on specific fundraising initiatives in the next few weeks, Chin said. Those who would like to donate to the fund may mail a check to the BBBS main office, 484 Main Street, Suite 360 Worcester MA 01608, and note Attn.: Beaton the Odds Fund, or by contacting Chin at [email protected].
“It’s a great feeling to make a positive mark on someone’s life. It just shows what can happen when you do good things for someone else,” Beaton noted.
As he prepares for the transition from state representative to secretary of energy and environmental affairs, Beaton has been busy working with the governor-elect’s team to select his own staff. Although no official agenda has been set yet, Beaton said one of his main goals will be to explore different options to ensure that the “protection of the environment is first and foremost” but also keep the needs of the commonwealth’s businesses in mind.
“No major changes are needed now,” he said, “just assessing and tweaking.”
Beaton will be sworn in as secretary Friday, Jan. 9.
The organization’s annual meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hanover Insurance Company, The guest speaker will be Tim Garvin, president/CEO of United Way of Central Massachusetts. All are welcome to attend; the suggested donation is $25; RSVP to [email protected]