SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WHSM) -- Amid this pandemic and nationwide unrest, sometimes you just need a story that’s about great people, and in this week’s Rocky’s Ace Hardware Surprise Squad, we found you one.

He’s an educator, a father and a husband with a saying we can all learn from: if you see something, do something.

Educators across the country, including right here in western Mass have provided a sense of comfort and community to their students all while social distancing.

The Western Mass News Rocky's Ace Hardware Surprise Squad spoke to the principal of the Zanetti School, Mrs. Clark, about one of her counselors, Mr. Downey.

“Mr. Downey is my school counselor,” Principal Tara Chrisitan-Clark said. “He is an intricate part of the success here at Zanetti, and he's really helped me as a school administrator during school closing to make sure all kids are safe and their well-being is taken care of, and he's just an amazing educator.”

According Clark, Downey has been providing the utmost support for his students and their families during these difficult times we are facing as a nation.

“He’s done such acts of kindness, driving all the way to Brockton to meet a DCF worker for a child in our school that needed a computer,” Clark said.

But he's more than just an educator. The Zanetti School is now considering him a hometown hero after putting out a fire on his way to deliver a goody bag to a student.

Once the Western Mass News Rocky's Ace Hardware Surprise Squad heard about his heroic efforts, we stepped in and knew we had to honor him.

“As we emerge from the worst pandemic, we are extremely grateful for the essential workers including the educators and our store associates,” Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone said. “We could not have done it without you, you make us so proud.”

Downey explained to Western Mass News he happened to be at the right place at the right time just simply by volunteering to help out a fellow educator.

“I think it shows right now what's going on that teachers reached out to the community to raise $1,000 to put together these wellness care kits for our 8th graders to show support, and that was Kelly Shea,” he said. “I was delivering those for her to a family on Harkness, and it just so happens across the street, the house was on fire.”

Seeing the home on fire sparked something in Downey. He said he immediately got out of his car to put it out.

“It looked like someone was burning brush at first,” he said. “This is such a strange scene, so I walked across the street and the entire fence and deck was on fire. But I think the other thing that's most important is several people stopped their cars and jumped right in. It was like a team effort.”

Because of their actions, they were able to mitigate the flames until the fire department arrived.

Downey said there is a timely lesson here we can all learn from.

“I think more than ever this kind of shows we need to all be in this together,” he said. “We used to say, ‘See something, say something,’ but it's kind of more ‘See something, do something’ now and this kind of involves everybody.”

He wants his students and their parents to know between the pandemic and the period of unrest our nation is going through, there are ways to come together.

“We even go above and beyond, and I always say not everyone can get a care package and stuff in Springfield, we are a huge district,” he said. “We have a lot of diverse needs and a diverse population, so what we did with the counselors of Springfield, we have a website called Project Hello, and Project Hello helps to meet the social and emotional needs of Springfield and beyond. We just had last week ‘Diversity Week,’ and there’s a lot of stuff on there. It's actually original content, and it's actually stuff pulled from experts all over the country to put together to help people get through what’s highlighted as more and more of a difficult time.”

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.