A wife and mother and volunteering icon has died after a 10-year battle with cancer.
Pam Washek, the co-founder of the Wayland Angel Food Network (now the Neighbor Brigade), passed away Dec. 2, according to an obituary published on Boston.com.
Today, Wayland's chapter of Neighbor Brigade is just one of more than 30 in the state of Massachusetts. There is also a chapter operating in Nashua, N.H., as the only non-Massachusetts chapter at this time.
The Medfield Neighbor Brigade chapter was founded in the fall of 2010 (the group started at the Medfield Angels earlier that year).
Medfield founders Laurie Nealon and Kathleen Cahill sent a message to the Medfield Angels on Monday to share the news.
"Pam started the Wayland Angels in 2001 and then launched Neighbor Brigade in 2010. Pam was passionate about this work and very proud of her volunteers and the compassionate work that they have done in their communities," said Nealon and Cahill in the joint message. "Pam will be well remembered daily, not only by her family and friends, but by the many Neighbor Brigade volunteers and the families that these volunteers have helped."
"In her honor, we will continue to carry out Pam's labor of love here in Medfield with our Neighbor Brigade community. It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked so closely with such an amazing woman. We are all better for knowing her and inspired by the legacy she left behind," said the message.
How it began...
In 2003, Washek and fellow Wayland resident Jean Seiden came together in the midst of their individual cancer treatments to found the Wayland Angel Food Network, a group dedicated to organizing neighbors to provide meals for one another in times of need and crisis.
According to Washek's message on the Neighbor Brigade website, the Wayland Angel Food Network quickly evolved to include more than simply providing meals for families, so the organization came to be known simply as the Wayland Angels.
The idea spread to other communities and, though Seiden died from her illness in 2006, Washek said in her message that she "was determined to extend the Angel network even further" and soon founded the Neighbor Brigade. (Check out the attached video to learn more from Washek about the vision and history of Neighbor Brigade).
Today, the Neighbor Brigade has chapters throughout Massachusetts and has attracted national attention.
A September 2012 write-up in "Heroes Among Us" section of People magazine reported that Neighbor Brigade now includes more than 3,300 volunteers spread out throughout the various chapters.
Washek continued to serve with Neighbor Brigade as its executive director.
What Patch readers are saying...
In a recent article on Wayland Patch seeking nominations of local hereos, Patch user "tscheide" wrote, "The word "hero" must have been created in order to describe Pam Washek."
The comment continues:
She has always taken her own life experiences and put them to good use for the benefit of the rest of us. After Pam was diagnosed with cancer years ago, she only became MORE motivated to help others. Even through her own painful journey, she never lost sight of how she could make life easier for others. Pam saw a need - support for neighbors in crisis, and translated that into the Wayland Angel Network. But that wasn't enough for Pam, whose compassion needed to reach even further. Pam transformed that Angel Network into Neighbor Brigade, which enabled her to touch even more lives. That is Pam- a warm, compassionate, giving person who would never want to be considered a "hero"! But she is a such a hero, in the true sense of the word, simply through her quiet but passionate quest to make life better for us all."
According to WaylandeNews, there will be calling hours for Washek on Wednesday at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Weston as well as a service on Thursday at the same location. The times have not yet been announced.
The Boston.com obituary is included below:
Washek, Pamela (Manikas) died peacefully in the care and comfort of her family on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 following a courageous battle with a lengthy illness. Pamela is survived by her husband, Kevin Washek and their three daughters, Ainsley, Kathryn and Jessica. Funeral arrangements are incomplete and have been entrusted to the care of the John C. Bryant Funeral Home of Cochituate Village, Wayland.