The Open Door has established a new award in honor of a local philanthropist.
Dubbed the Dick Wilson Upsizer Award after Dick Wilson of Magnolia, the award was created to recognize the quiet and steady dedication of a lifetime spent doing good for others.
“Dick has shown what a lifetime of doing good does for a community and The Open Door is proud to establish this award in his name. He’s an inspiration,” said Julie LaFontaine, president and CEO of The Open Door. “From helping kids on the sports field to building homeless shelters, to creating a corporate culture of giving both in Boston and here in Gloucester, he says what he means, and he means what he says. He rolls up his sleeves, and is committed to ‘doing-good-ness’ and committed to community.”
The first recipient of the new award is Wilson himself, The Open Door noted, because of his love of community and support of countless local charities through Beauport Financial Services’ Richard D. Wilson Community Response Gift Fund.
Through the Gift Fund, Beauport Financial gives 10% of each year's company profits to a select number of charitable organizations in the community.
Over 35 years, said David McKechnie of Beauport Financial Services, Wilson has been mentoring young financial advisors at Beauport on ways they could give back to the community as individuals and as a firm.
“It’s great to honor our wonderful friend from Magnolia who has a big heart, big ideas, and a tenacity to get things done for the Cape Ann community he loves so much,” said McKechnie.
For Wilson, the award was a surprise.
He said Wednesday that over the years he had been trying to keep a low profile, but he wanted to be an example at a time where the community needs all the help it can get as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread.
"I think the best way is to investigate all the possible ways to be of service," he said, explaining that both the giving of finances and time are "really valuable to Action, Pathways, and The Open Door."
"We need that more now than ever and we need it desperately," he said.
LaFontaine said she and her team at The Open Door have received an outpouring of generosity and service from so many people this year. As they award Wilson with the newly established Upsizer Award, they grant The Open Door's 2020 Unsung Hero award to the community.
"The Open Door can only be as good as the community that supports the mission," LaFontaine said. "This community is packed with true heroes who have helped alleviate the impact of hunger during the pandemic."
Over the past nine months, The Open Door has received support in the form of personal protective equipment, financial resources, food, and meals.
A video chronicling the community's response to the events of 2020 can be found at foodpantry.org/unsunghero.
"We have witnessed the good that happens when people help people," LaFontaine added.
Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.