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Columnist Gabrielle Gould: ‘The people here who can — do’

  • Onlookers watch an acrobatic performance by Rachel Hipszer, of Brattleboro, who is a member of SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton, during the annual Amherst Block Party, Thursday, Sept. 19, in downtown Amherst. gazette file photo



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

With one month under my belt as the new executive director of the Amherst Downtown BID, a nine-month resident of the town of Amherst and a seasoned parent, I can honestly say that September was a whirlwind of excitement, energy (and yes, a bit of stress, as I started a new job and did the annual back-to-school scramble).

It was a year ago almost to the day that we were here in Amherst to close on our 110-year-old farmhouse and attend the storied “Block Party” to see what kind of community we had relocated to. Never could I have imagined that just one year later I would be trailing Ann Tweedy, the BID’s marketing director, as she and the tireless and passionate BID board expertly and effortlessly brought the event back to life for its eighth year in a row!

The weather was perfect, the evening a success and once again I was reminded of what a truly beautiful community we chose to join.

I fast forward to the end of this September when I want to touch on the start of the school year. I heard a lot from Amherst residents and business owners about the town preparing for the annual deluge of college students — something we had not previously experienced.

For me and countless others across the globe, we were faced with the task of preparing our kids for the inevitable end of summer: The long lists of school supplies, the sports signups (or realization that they started weeks earlier), the arrival of class schedules and torment of explaining to your child why they did not get the exact electives they put as first choice. I could go on.

For myself, I added (just two days before school began) my new place at the Amherst BID. I walked into a new office, new staff, new board of directors and what I knew would be a formidable job. At week’s end, I was a little worse for the wear and realized how lucky I am to be in this great community, supported by my board, my husband and friends. But what of the single parents, or the parents and guardians working two or three jobs to provide for their school children? How is anybody still standing at the end of September?

The answer, I suppose, is they may not get it all done, perhaps some do, I cannot even say we did — but we did our best. What I do see and know is that the people here who can — do. And they do not stop at doing for themselves.

They do for those around them as well. We all see and hear of teachers making sure the extra folders and pencils get to the kids who need them, the coaches and parents put money on the counter for the burgers for the team, the Health and Human Services are vigilant and remarkable in their support and best efforts.

A month goes by, the stress of launching them into the next year slows to a simmer and we take a breath to look around and, for myself, ask “was I one of the ones who ‘did’ and can I ‘do more’”? The answer for me is always yes, I can and will do more, and with a community such as the one here in Amherst, I know WE can!

The Block Party is wrapped up, September has come to an end and we now look forward to the brilliant and awe-inspiring changing of the leaves, watching them fall as we continue on to Rosh Hashanah, Halloween Thanksgiving and shorter days for all.

It is a great time to get to the Jones Library and start chipping away at those more weightier non-“beach read” novels or biographies, a time to start diligently admitting that yes, we should have paid attention in high school calculus because if for no other reason you might have a kid in the house that needs help with homework!

It is also time to remember that there are a lot of great movies coming to Amherst Cinema, that Share, Amherst Coffee and Black Sheep have that 3 p.m. cuppa that might save you from yourself as you work into sunset and, after that, a choice of 37 restaurants are beckoning if the stovetop is not on your mind.

Fall sports are in full swing and even if you do not have a player on the team, it is a lot more fun to watch the game live at Amherst High, UMass and Amherst College, than on your screen at home. And best of all is the time you can carve out to get outside and hike the hills and ranges around us: Be it Amethyst or Holyoke Range to see the magnificence of the change of season, breath in the crisping air and prepare for winter and all that Amherst has to offer in all seasons!

A time of celebration, of holidays and families, of giving thanks and perhaps giving a little more to others. Happy Fall! #supportlocal #eatlocal #shoplocal #downtownamherst

Gabrielle Gould is the executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District. Her column appears on the fourth Friday of every month.