Each year, the streets of downtown Walpole fill with those watching a parade honoring the Friends of St. Patrick Person of the Year. After the parade, everyone can follow the trail of green clothing and costumed leprechauns to an annual luncheon featuring Irish Step Dancing, a traditional corned beef and cabbage, and a variety of other entertainment.
Within the merriment, the Friends of St. Patrick upholds one of its core values – a dedication to helping others and celebrating those who do so. This year, the Person of the Year is Paula Kavolius, President and Founder of the Hope of Possibilities (HOPe) in Easton, a non-profit organization created to help children with developmental disabilities and their families.
“What really excites me [about the event] is seeing the best in people,” Kavolius said. “That’s what really excites me is all the children we’ll be able to help and have a great time while we’re doing it.”
Friends of St. Patrick President Donnell Murphy said Kavolius, a Walpole resident, had been chosen for the award by the members of the group’s board. He added that while the event was always a fun day for Walpole, the real goal was to encourage helping others through charity. The Friends also donate to a few charities of the winner’s choosing.
“[The Person of the Year luncheon] is probably more about giving back to the community,” Murphy said. “The real purpose of the whole thing is for fundraising.”
Next year, for the 30th year of the event and organization, the Friends of St. Patrick plan to donate $30,000 to a local charity. For their 25th anniversary, the group donated $25,000 to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
“We like to give [the donation] where it makes a larger impact,” Murphy said.
As Person of the Year, Kavolius has chosen the Walpole Charities Foundation and the Noreen Deady Memorial Fund. Both Kavolius and Murphy said that while several causes are highlighted during the event, people can contribute to these and other charities throughout the year.
“We [House of Possibilities] opened our doors in 2009 and in five years we’ve helped over 1,000 kids and their extended families,” Kavolius said. “We’ve really only scratched the surface of the need out there.”
Kavolius added that while she is accepting the award, it is the children and families of HOPe she hopes will truly be honored.
“I’m delighted to be voted Person of the Year, but it’s the children who are the real persons of the year,” Kavolius said. “They’re the real heroes in this story. I’m accepting this award on behalf of all of them.”
HOPe is also holding a fundraising raffle to win a 2014 Fiat. Tickets can be purchased by calling 508-205-0555.
This article was originally published on Walpole Wicked Local by Caitlyn McGoff.