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By Alex Oliveira
Hometown Weekly Reporter
World of Wellesley (WOW) President Michelle Chalmers addressed the Rotary Club of Wellesley last Tuesday night as part of a developing mission to unify the resources of Wellesley’s many civic groups.
“There’s a lot of amazing organizations doing amazing things,” Chalmers said at the outset of her speech, “and nobody knows each other.”
Beyond serving as president of World of Wellesley, Chalmers sits on the boards of Friends of Wellesley METCO, Wellesley a Better Chance (Wellesley ABC), and The Housing Authority of Wellesley. Serving on these many boards and helping them coordinate their efforts gave Chalmers an idea:
“Being on all these boards I started to see a lot of overlap, and it got me thinking, I wonder if more of that can happen.”
Chalmers reached out to Rotary treasurer John Adams to coordinate the speech, and used the hour-long meeting as an opportunity to introduce World of Wellesley to the Rotary Club and share some upcoming initiatives with the group.
World of Wellesley was founded in 1990 after Boston Celtics player and Wellesley resident Dee Brown was misidentified as a bank robbery suspect, and was put to the pavement with guns drawn and publicly arrested by local police. Brown was exonerated – the first-round draft pick was not the black male who had robbed a South Shore Bank – but the incident sparked introspection and discussion among Wellesley residents about the inclusivity of their community.
The Brown incident and aftermath inspired a woman named Tere Tedesco to found World of Wellesley with the simple mission of “Making Wellesley a welcoming place for everyone.” Nearly thirty years later, the organization is running strong, organizing community conversations, book clubs, spelling bees, film screenings, musical performances, and even pushing local legislation, all with the aim of making Wellesley a welcoming place for all its residents.
As a part of her goal of ongoing civic coordination, Chalmers encouraged The Rotary Club to support the World of Wellesley’s current drive to celebrate Wellesley’s original residents by doing away with Columbus Day and founding Indigenous People’s Day.
“If I remember, fifty years ago when the Racial Imbalance Act happened and towns were asked to think about integrating their school, Wellesley was one of the first seven towns to volunteer. I think we should be one of the first seven towns of Massachusetts to do this now. I invite everyone and anyone who might be passionate about this to join us and support this.”
Further information about World of Wellesley (WOW) can be found at www.worldofwellesley.org.
Further information about the Rotary Club of Wellesley can be found at www.wellesleyrotary.org.