By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Albert Schweitzer was quoted as saying, “Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own.”
Cathy Kea of Southborough has taken that message to heart, and has made a career of finding ways to enrich her community and the lives of many people. Seventeen years ago before the birth of her first child, Jacob, she and her husband Bob moved from Charlestown to the suburbs. She had a successful career in retailing and worked until her son was born.
A neighbor introduced her to Kindergroup, a cooperative playgroup for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
“It was a great way to meet people and have the kids socialize with other children,” Kea said.
Regular meetings allowed flexibility. The group sponsors other activities such as progressive dinners, Santa Day, Easter Egg Hunt and Heritage Day. These events provided another opportunity to get involved in her new community.
“That’s how I started volunteering,” Kea said. “I signed up for different responsibilities and eventually became the head of the group by the time I had two boys. A woman at the Senior Center was running the Meals on Wheels program and was looking for a driver. I started doing that when our second son was just 7 months old.”
Since then, Kea has been delivering meals to 12 to 14 houses every other Thursday.
“When you deliver to these people, you develop a real connection,” she noted. “You get to learn the history of the town. You hear local stories and learn about local politics. You hear their family stories. My kids were exposed to a different generation, and they loved it.”
Right now Kea spends a lot of her time as the president of the Southborough Organization for Schools (SOS), which is made up of dedicated parents of children enrolled in the four Southborough K-8 schools. Her involvement started as a kindergarten room parent. Next, she ran the Mary Finn School parent group, then started working with the Cultural Arts Program, which brings various presentations on art, music and literature to all the schools and helps with arrangements for all sorts of field trips.
“Through the SOS you get to know the teachers and administrators along with the superintendent,” said Kea. “Our monthly SOS meetings give us an update on what’s going on in the schools, budgets, technology and a way to communicate about what parents want to see.”
In addition, this local dynamo makes meals for Our Father’s Table at St. Matthews Catholic Church every six to eight weeks. During the school year, she attends a monthly book club group. She is a member of P.E.O. International, an organization helping women pursue higher education, which was one of her mother’s charities and has been part of four generations of her family. She and her husband work together on the Wounded Warrior Project, hosting soldiers as houseguests. Her sons playing high school football, and she cooks pasta dinners for the team.
Her newest project for the last year-and-a-half has been the Southborough Community Fund, which has awarded its first series of about $27,000 worth of grants to different local nonprofits. Kea’s advice to other stay-at-home moms: “Find something you like to do. You make new friends. You get out. Have fun with it!”