Editorial: Selfless example

Posted

“If you don’t like it, do something about it.”

Words to live by. Yet, too often, people will spot a problem, complain ad nauseum about it to anyone who will listen, and then carry on their merry way, only to continue their ranting the next time they experience the same issue. Litter in the park? Many will take the time to complain at a Town Council meeting, but won’t bother to organize a clean-up effort. Neighbors hosting a loud party? The weekly police log is full of people who call the cops instead of simply walking next door to ask the revelers to keep it down.

Those who rely on others to solve their own problems instead of taking responsibility for themselves could learn a thing or two from a 10-year-old.

Lindsey Medeiros, a fifth-grader at Guiteras School, felt the school lunch offerings weren’t exactly meeting her and her classmates’ expectations. It’s not an uncommon complaint; school lunches have been in the same category as airplane food for generations — it meets the basics, but isn’t exactly 4-star fare. But what was uncommon was Lindsie’s response.

After complaining to her parents, they offered her the prescient advice above — don’t just complain; take responsibility.

So Lindsie went to work. She researched school lunch provider Chartwells and some of their competitors, creating a chart to detail where Chartwells was falling short compared to others. She started a petition, spending her recess talking to classmates about the issue and garnering their support and their signatures. She even made a public presentation before Mass at nearby St. Elizabeth’s Church, and sat down with a reporter to promote her cause after her presentation drew media attention.

Lindsie’s efforts did not go unnoticed. Principal Cynthia Sadler met with Lindsie to address the students’ concerns and contacted Bristol-based Chartwells. Recently, the president of the company and other executives went to Guiteras to meet face-to-face with Lindsie and three of her classmates — Alana Martin, Robert Cairo and Mimi Burns — to discuss what changes can be made.

While not all issues can be solved — lunches cannot be fully made fresh in the schools given elementary schools’ lack of large kitchens — the meeting has resulted in some small changes. New cheese will be used on pizza to make it more appetizing, for example. Students will be called up according to their lunch choices, instead of by class, to expedite the process.

They may be small changes, but they are changes nonetheless. They are certainly bigger changes than would have been made if Lindsie had taken the tack of too many of her elders and just kept complaining while taking no action. Her selfless actions — she won’t even enjoy the fruits of her labor as she moves on the middle school — are an example to those who step over litter or calls the cops instead of walking next door.

If you don’t like it, do something about it.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.