I'm sure many of you remember the article I wrote a while back about the new mayor of Lawrence, MA, and his dress code for city hall employees requiring them to dress like grown-ups. At the time, I called for anyone willing to show their support for Mr. Mayor to send me a tie which I would present on our collective behalf. What followed led me down an unexpected path, with a pleasant surprise as its conclusion.
In the week following the original piece, I collected nearly 50 ties from among my readers, a gift for which I thank each of you who contributed. Then I got an email from Paul Fredrick, an online clothing retailer out of Pennsylvania, saying they thought this was a great cause and wanted to be involved. I wasn't quite sure what that might mean, but agreed to be in touch with them after contacting the mayor's office.
The next day, I spoke with the kind assistant to Mayor Rivera. She informed me that the mayor appreciated our offer, but that there was a place where this gift might fill a bigger need. She directed me to the Notre Dame Cristo Rey high school in Lawrence. It's a Catholic school that focuses on lower income kids, getting them office jobs as part of a work/study program that helps defray the cost of tuition. Not only do these kids where ties to school, but also to work. Already they're doing better than grown people with government office jobs. Being from lower income families, the mayor's office felt these kids needed the help more, and I agreed completely.
I informed the representative from Paul Fredrick of this, not sure whether they would still get involved. They did, sending me 350 ties (!!!) as a donation to the school. I was flabbergasted, but my reaction was nothing compared to that of the dean at the school. I dropped the ties off yesterday, in a box so heavy I could barely lift it alone. They are destined to be given to the incoming freshman class.
When those kids grow up and take jobs in places like Lawrence City Hall, or anywhere else for that matter, I doubt we'll have to "force" them to dress, or behave, appropriately. Chalk one up for the good guys.
My sincerest thanks to Mayor Rivera's office, Paul Fredrick, and each of you who donated ties. Generosity and charity never go out of style.