By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Westborough – What started as a simple Saturday morning visit to the local Arcade Shoe Repair turned into something so much more than that, bringing an entire community together to help a sick neighbor, recently.
Janet Lavine visited the shop, owned by Bill Horne since 1974, to have a snap put on her daughter’s jacket and to get her belt fixed.
She had heard that Horne’s wife, Lynne, was ill and quietly asked his brother-in-law, Ron Parker, who helps out at the store on Saturdays, how she was doing. After hearing that she was struggling, Janet thought she would put together a basket of food and a couple of gift cards to help make Lynne’s life a bit easier.
She posted on the Wicked Wise Women of Westborough Facebook group to ask if anyone else would like to contribute. That private group has over three thousand members and looks to share interests and create community within the town. Almost two hundred people contributed immediately to Lavine’s effort.
“People were dropping off gift cards from local restaurants, home repair stores, grocery chains, etc. to my home,” Lavine said.
Some wanted to contribute money. So Lavine set up a Venmo account.
“It grew and grew!” she said.
Even local businesses got in on the community project, donating flowers.
Giving gifts in a time of need
Gifts in hand, Lavine soon returned to Bill Horne with gift cards, a basket full of treats and money for Bill to use as he pleases.
“To say that Bill was overwhelmed would be an understatement,” Lavine said. “He shed some tears, as did I. I told him how much he means to this community and he told me, quite simply, that he loves what he does and is so thankful for all of this. Even I was overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.”
Continuing work as a familiar local destination
Bill Horne and his lifelong local business are beloved fixtures of town life.
Online during this recent outpouring of support, some chimed in with specific memories and reflections.
“He kept my beloved hiking boots alive for many years and now my daughter brings him her boots, belts and purses,” Customer Janet Anderson wrote “…Bill has been so helpful and we rely on him.”
Feeling gratitude in spite of COVID-19
With the pandemic looming, this past year, Horne has had to cut back his hours to only Saturday mornings, where the shop is now open from 8:00am until 12:00pm. Ron Parker opens the shop, these days, and Bill comes in later in the day to tackle repairs.
“With my wife’s health issues, I simply could not expose myself, or her to this virus,” Horne said, recently.
He noted he and his wife both have now received COVID-19 vaccines. They’re set to get their second doses, soon.
As this pandemic does begin to pull away, it’s the recent goodwill from people like Lavine that is particularly uplifting Horne, though.
“I still cannot believe what the Westborough community has done for my wife and I. Serving this community for the past forty- nine years has not felt like a job at all. I truly enjoy what I do,” he said.
Hearing Horne’s appreciation, Janet Lavine has been responding with one goodhearted retort.
“I told him he can’t retire,” she says.
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