Tireless man on the go
University employee contributes to all aspects of life in church and community
by J. Nicole Long
During the day, Thomas Webb ships and receives inventory for the Myles Standish dining hall. And after work, he works.
One of 18 activists honored by the antipoverty agency Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) on October 23, Webb was recognized for his extraordinary energy and commitment to helping. The largest community service agency in New England, ABCD serves low-income communities by supporting education programs and job training and by solving problems for individuals and neighborhoods. Webb serves on ABCD's board of directors as the Jamaica Plain representative and as a member of the board for the Area Planning Action Council, a division of ABCD. Also at the organization's 24th annual community awards dinner, hosted by Liz Walker and Bob Lobel of WBZ-TV Channel 4, retiring U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II received a Lifetime Public Service Award.
Much of Webb's community service is through Disciples Baptist Church, located in the Jamaica Plain housing development where he lives. When the community decided to utilize an empty space in one of the development's buildings to start a church, a lot of work needed to be done to make the space usable. The pews in the church are handmade and are only one example of how the congregation relies on itself. Webb's skills, and his willingness to donate them, help keep the church going.
Some of the many praises pastor Tina T. Saxon sings are of Webb. She says it is notable how ready he is to assist and how varied his skills are. "Once, during a conversation with him, I noticed a broken light. Tommy saw where I was looking and asked, 'That light need to be fixed?' Then he fixed it." Webb also helps her host the formal dinner parties that are part of her administrative duties. "Tommy will set up the hall, cook, serve the food, and clean up," she says. Recently Saxon appointed Webb to the church's board of trustees. "He helps make decisions and handles money," she says. "I don't invite just anyone for that position."
According to Saxon, Webb is a vital element in the community because he is a model of adult responsibility. The African American community survived oppression by maintaining a strong church at its center, she says, but low-income black communities have lost their motivation for spirituality and education. "Tommy helps keep this church together," she says. "And the church has to be together if I'm going to deliver the message that individuals can keep themselves clean, they can get a job, and they can make a difference."
Webb's BU colleagues say that he demonstrates the same spirit of service at his job. "Our chef was out today," says Jim Bruce, Myles Standish food service director, "so Tommy tied on an apron and got started. I think he knows how to do every job in the pl