Kate Findlen spoke with sincere humility and joy in receiving this award.
By Katrina Margolis
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On January 23, Needham Youth Services hosted the eleventh Patrick C. Forde Good Person Memorial Award Ceremony. Honored this year was Kate Findlen, a pillar of service and strength in the community. This award was started after Patrick Forde, a Needham resident and community activist, passed away unexpectedly in 2005 at the age of 51. The award has been given annually to someone who embodies Forde’s spirit, recognizing an adult in the community who has helped make Needham a better place to live through their volunteer work and commitment. Findlen certainly embodies Forde’s spirit, and is an excellent recipient of the award. Her extensive involvement with the Needham branch of Relay for Life, as well as the Needham High School Friends of Music, have proved her fierce commitment to her children, to community service, and to the town of Needham.
The proceedings lead with a performance by Needham High School’s a capella group, Fermata Nowhere. One of Findlen’s daughters is a member of the group, making the performance particularly poignant.
Afterwards, Denise Garlick spoke, presenting Findlen with a plaque from the Commonwealth. The citation read: “Be it hereby known to all that the Massachusetts House of Representatives offers sincerest congratulations to Kate Findlen in recognition of her service to the community as well as truly embodying the spirit of what it means to be a good person.” Garlick was a personal friend of Forde, describing him as a “force of nature, who brought joy to every person he knew.” Her words of praise for Findlen were heartwarming, considering Rep. Garlick’s strong connection to Forde.
Findlen was nominated for the award by her friend, Karen Mullen, who spoke next. “She chaired Relay for Life in 2016 and she’s now on the board of directors for the Needham chapter of Relay. She also is head of the survivors’ committee and she is a cancer survivor herself,” Mullen said. Findlen lost her husband to cancer nine years ago, which was the catalyst for her participation in Relay. “Kate is an amazing mentor to the high school students who participate in Relay each year. Her house is a place for kids to meet and get organized for the event. She helps them with logistics, as well as really understanding why supporting the organization is so important,” Mullen continued. “She helps the kids understand how impactful each one of them can be individually, as well as a group.”
Findlen took the podium to incredible cheers and applause. “When I met with Jon Mattleman [Director of Needham Youth Services], he said I better not get up here and say I don’t deserve the award, because he would come over and smack me in the head with a microphone, so I won’t do that,” she began.
Despite all that she has been through, her sense of humanity and perseverance thrive. “What I will do is say on behalf of the organizations that I have done work for, and all of the people that I see in this audience who are right there beside me who deserve this award for supporting everything I’ve done: I do accept this award with great pleasure and with great humility,” she continued.
Findlen met with Patrick Forde’s wife, Patricia Forde, a few weeks ago. While they had never met, they had an instant connection. “So, even though I had never had the opportunity to meet her husband, Pat, just hearing about him and how wonderful he was and thinking about my own husband, Marty, I think they really would have gotten along quite well. They were really just a couple of nice guys who were fun to be around. Thank you for sharing his memories with me.”
Findlen’s fierce commitment to her children, as well as Needham as a community, makes her an exemplary recipient of this award. Patrick Forde’s spirit lives on, and will not soon be forgotten.