They were among the many who said goodbye. Some served in government. Some served the interests of their neighborhoods in public settings while others did so from home. Some offered spiritual direction. Some built things, and one delivered the mail with diligence and equanimity. For all that, they had one thing in common: A connection to Dorchester during their lives.
Thelma D. Burns very much earned her designation as Boston’s “community service champion.” She served as co-founder and executive director of The Storefront Learning Center, one of Boston’s first programs focused on the needs of inner-city youth. Her involvement with Boston’s marginalized youth grew to include her service in two different Metropolitan Council of Education Opportunity (METCO) program communities, first Cohasset and later Belmont, where she spent more than 20 years as program director. After her retirement from METCO in 2001, Thelma focused on the needs and concerns of Boston’s senior community. She served on the Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Board of Directors for more than 35 years in multiple capacities and headed the ABCD Dorchester Neighborhood Service Center board for more than 15 years. She also operated in a leadership capacity on numerous community boards, including Central Boston Elder Services, the Mayor’s Senior Advisory Council, and the Roxbury YMCA.