Community Connections

Susan has been a source of critical advice, often at key junctures in my married life.

I couldn't tell you her last name. She has six, maybe eight kids. Most are grown. And she's a bit of a curmudgeon.

But she's taught me everything I know about choosing a rose. "If you're going to get just one, you may as well get a good one," she said after my first few visits.

Let me back up. My wife likes roses. A dozen or two would be nice, but so would a ski condo in Vail, Colo. A single long-stemmed American Beauty works wonders. A few years ago, I began stopping by once or twice a month at the flower counter at Stop & Shop supermarket. A gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and a Majestic.

"Squeeze the base of the bud, here. It should be firm.... The neck ought to be straight.... Cut the stem at an angle when you get home...."

With Susan's advice, this $2.50 gift brings a touch of romance and joy to my wife for days.

Susan's a community touchstone, a person I look forward to seeing regularly.

On a larger scale, Paul Guidi has a similar relationship with folks in Holliston, Mass. This week he'll be honored with a plaque as the town's "Citizen of the Year."

He's not the mayor or a business big shot. For most of the past 38 years, Paul has bagged, stocked, and waited on customers at the Superette, a small family-run grocery store. He's the owner now. And he quietly donates to the local food pantry. He serves as an emergency medical technician at the fire house on Monday nights. He's also president of the Model Aircraft Club.

But to most residents he's just "Paul" at the Superette. He calls the honor "humbling ... it's nice when people appreciate what you do."

Who's the Citizen of the Year in your daily life? Tell us about a community acquaintance or friend who makes a difference, in small ways or large, for you.

* We're home. Let us know how we're doing. Write to the Homefront Editor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail

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