Like many others across the country, Rep. Seth Moulton spent Sunday doing community service.
On the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance — also the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks — the Massachusetts Democrat and his staff got their hands dirty for the residents of Lynn, in the Bay State’s 6th District.
They built and maintained gardens at The Food Project, assembled care packages for fire and police stations around the city at Tech Skills USA, and painted a mural for the Lynn English High School.
“We have ambitions to make it even bigger,” Moulton said about next year’s 9/11 anniversary.
Moulton started the program “Serve with Seth,” in which staffers join him periodically for community service projects, during his 2014 run for Congress — “so we don’t lose sight of why we’re there,” he said.
“From the very beginning, I said this has got to be part of what we’re doing,” said the congressman, an Iraq War veteran. “The idea of public service is fundamental to why I’m in office. I served in a war where I saw some of the consequences of failed leadership in Washington and that’s fundamentally what drove me to Congress.”
Staffers in his D.C. and district offices are just as enthusiastic about it, he said.
“They love it. We consciously hire people who understand the service ethic,” he said. “We have a lot of military veterans on our staff. We very much look for people who understand service when we hire people so they love the opportunity to get out and get their hands dirty.”
And, according to Moulton, it not only bonds the staffers but bonds them with his constituents.
“When we go and work and serve dinner at a soup kitchen or something like that, we not only meet the homeless constituents but we also meet volunteers,” he said. “It’s a network-building event that goes well beyond our office walls.”
Before Sunday’s activities, Moulton awarded the Peter J. Gomes Service Award to constituent Andrew DeFranza for his work on affordable housing in the community.
The congressman launched the award this year to celebrate constituents who value service.
“In this case, we had six finalists who are all incredibly impressive and doing really amazing things,” Moulton said. “Andrew is a special case because he has not only turned his affordable housing initiative into a great success, but he founded the whole thing himself.”
Moulton named the award after an early mentor, Peter J. Gomes, who was a professor, preacher and theologian at Harvard when the congressman was a student there.
“I would not be where I am today without his call to serve that I heard in my college church,” he said.
The next “Serve with Seth” event is set for Sept. 23 when the Moulton team will volunteer at the Arlington Food Assistance Center.