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By Rama K. Ramaswamy
The day after the tragic Pulse attack in Orlando, World of Wellesley President Michelle Chalmers organized and invited friends and neighbors to gather at Wellesley Town Hall green. The invitation read: “Wellesley community, neighbors and friends, please join us at a community peace vigil, honoring those who tragically died or were wounded in Orlando, their families, friends and their community. Let's come together to show unity in our humanity and to stand in support of our LGBT neighbors, all Muslim neighbors, and all of our first responders. A vigil for peace, love and kindness. Monday 6/13. 7-8 p.m. at the Wellesley Town Hall Green. Bring a candle to light and some will be provided. If any houses of worship and/or anyone else, are welcome to share a prayer and/or thoughts for peace and love. Please pass the word to others. Thank you for your joining us, if possible. And, thank you for finding your own way each day to shower others with acts of kindness that counter hate.”
Later, Chalmers said, “it was a meaningful event,” and about 200 people attended, candles in hand. Alice Peisch, current Chair of the Joint Committee on Education and a member of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting, was in attendance, as was WHS Principal, Jamie Chisolm. WMS and high school teachers, Interim President of MassBay, Lynn Hunter, and Executive Director of OutMetrowest, Jack Lewis (who also spoke) also attended. About 20 Wellesley College students, a few Muslim families and Reverend Josh Fetterling of Village Church, who wrote a dedicated poem and read it aloud under the settling twilight, rounded off the crowd.
Hunter made her feelings clear with the following sentiments, “our hearts go out to the victims, their families and loved ones in Orlando, Florida, following the tragic events over the weekend. We stand in solidarity with the people of Orlando, with our LGBTQ friends and family, and join communities both at home and abroad to express our support for all who are grieving over this senseless and tragic loss of lives. As we learned that two of the victims of this vicious attack have ties to Massachusetts, we are reminded of the interconnectedness we share as a people. As an academic community, we are also called to uphold our educational and civic values, including civil discourse, diversity and respect. I want to remind our community that MassBay offers free counseling services on campus for students who are in distress or need guidance to help process this weekend’s events. Counseling services are also available to groups of students who may want to process the events together. Students can call 781-239-3142 to make an appointment, or visit the counseling offices in Student Development on the Wellesley Hills campus. Faculty and staff have access to free counseling services through the Employee Assistance Program (www.HigherEdEAP.com). There are many ways to come together, and I just wanted to share one gathering hosted by one of MassBay’s long-time community partners, World of Wellesley.” Chalmers said, “I’m a bridge-maker. It is my purpose to bring people together and give voice to truth and find opportunities to listen, learn and love.” For more World Of Wellesley news and information, visit http://www.worldofwellesley.org.