I HAPPEN TO BELIEVE that the Gate City is a small, connected community that likes giving back.
Surely, we are a popular place that has often been recognized by various national publications for being a safe city, a cultural city, a great city to raise children in, a city with a best-run municipality, etc.
But I like to think that Nashua is much more than its “Best Lists” or a geographically ideal location with cool things happening here. Our residents are also actively involved in various aspects that keep a community growing in compassion and moving forward.
And here are two, very different examples that stand out.
Let’s look at Nashua Rotary West. On Saturday, Oct. 19, the club is holding its 2nd annual Duck Derby taking place on the Nashua River behind Riverside BBQ. Thousands of adorable yellow rubber ducks will hit the water at 2 p.m., and it’s always a delight to watch them dive in, so to speak.
The first-place prize of $2,500 will be awarded to the “adopter” of the first duck to make it to the Main Street Bridge. The second prize is $1,000, and the third is $500 for ducks #2 and #3, respectively, for making their swim to the iconic, downtown city bridge.
And this is what makes the event extra special — all proceeds from the derby will be used to provide grants to Nashua-area non-profits and to scholarships to high school seniors.
Duck adoptions are $5/each, a 6-quack for $25, a quackers dozen for $50 or a flock of 25 for $100. There will be a maximum of 5,000 ducks released into the river.
Ducks are available to adopt at NashuaDuckDerby.com or at the Nashua Rotary West’s booth at Nashua Farmer’s Market on Sundays.
Like many organizations sprinkled throughout the city, these folks have a long history of performing good deeds for the community.
Nashua Rotary West’s website includes the following: “The funds we raise from our fundraising activities directly support over 40 local non-profit service organizations, over 10 post-high school educational scholarships, various regional projects, and international efforts for Pure Water and Polio Plus.”
Nashua’s police department is another city-wide organization trying to help the community and its force heal from the untimely passing of one of its own, Capt. Jon Lehto, a 20-year veteran. He committed suicide in early September at 47.
Lehto was considered by many to be a “cop’s cop.” It’s a tremendous loss for the community, and we send our condolences to Mr. Lehto’s family and the NPD.
In the meantime, the city is forming a suicide prevention task force through the Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services. The organization will be working with community health care providers to help give them the tools to recognize signs of suicide and depression.
I congratulate Nashua Police Chief Mike Carignan for bravely sharing the circumstances of Mr. Lehto’s passing with the public. Suicide is never an easy topic to bring up. There is often a stigma attached, and it can make people feel uneasy, and yet, suicide affects many lives. It also happened to my family long ago.
Chief Carignan has brought an extremely delicate subject into the open because he believes a community should heal together, pick up those who have fallen and move forward.
“And we want to get the word out that this is not acceptable, and we want to help people,” he earlier said to the Union Leader. “We are going to try to be a driving force to make sure there are no stigmas associated with suicide.”
I like to believe that Nashua is headed in the right direction.
Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.