by Rick Winterson
Occasionally, South Boston Online runs into people who speak almost entirely about the contributions and efforts others put into the South Boston community. They don’t choose to talk about themselves. Instead, they talk about those who were good influences on them. Such a person is Tommy Noto – the 2018 recipient of the South Boston Collaborative Center’s “Community Hero Award”. The Award will be conferred on Tommy next Thursday evening, June 14, during the Collaborative’s Spring Fling at The Lawn on D, 6 to 11 p.m.
We interviewed Tommy at the Paramount. During that interview, it became very clear that Tommy is a devoted family man. Well, actually, Tommy has two families. He’s married to Kristin (Labbe) from Milton, and they have two children – Guilianna (7) and Anthony (4). They have built a home near St. Brendan’s Church in Dorchester’s Adams Village district.
Tommy was born and brought up in South Boston at the intersection of the K and Seventh Streets. That was his home for his first 33 years. During this interview, he frequently referred to the effect his own good family life had on his current activities. He especially praised his mother and father, Mary and Bobby Noto, for the way in which they brought up him, his brother Bobby, and his sister Paula. They were taught “to help others subtly, so people don’t know about it.” They taught Tommy and his sibs that helping to support a community is a team effort. One of Tommy’s favorite sayings, “There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM”, demonstrates that.
Tommy is an Officer in the Boston Police Department. He has been in the BPD for 15 years, and now serves as a member of the BPD’s Gang Unit. When asked how he likes that particular duty, he replied, “I love it!” That reply sheds some light on his approach to dealing with others. He describes his work as “interacting and monitoring” and “guiding young people in the right direction”. The staffing in the BPD Gang Unit (which is a citywide unit) is currently around 65 men and women – Tommy calls them “all great partners”.
When asked about other influences, he talks about Brian Nee and the much-missed Joe “Dodo” Nee (for whom the Collaborative is named). Brian put in a word or two to persuade Tommy to accept the 2018 Community Hero Award, even though Tommy felt that many others in the community deserved the Award more than he did. He refers to Dodo Nee and his many, many fundraising efforts as the finest possible example for all of us to follow.
Tommy’s community concerns extend to cancer victims, addiction, homelessness, and veterans’ issues, as well as to the kids he sees in his work every day. The Collaborative’s Andy Ward says, “Tommy is a neighborhood guy who has stepped up to help others. He volunteers his time putting together events, reaching out to ask if help is needed. He never stops; he’s always a man in motion.”
At the end of this interview, Tommy again mentioned how his folks taught him about helping people. Tommy is a great fan of community fundraising efforts, so make it a point to come and see him receive his Community Hero Award. Attend the Collaborative’s Spring Fling next Thursday evening, the 14th (6 to 11 p.m.). There’ll be entertainment by Dennis Taylor and complementary refreshments. And just as important, the locale will be The Lawn on D – South Boston’s favorite new playground!
See you there.