If everyone had their way, there would be no Walk For Ersilia this coming Saturday, Sept. 28.
In fact, in a perfect world, Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo would be side by side with her friends from Everett and the Kiwanis Club raising money, serving others and celebrating a great fall Homecoming weekend.
But life is often not perfect, and in the wake of her murder earlier this year in what was a domestic violence incident, her fellow Kiwanians and legions of friends are doing what they believe Ersilia would have wanted – to help others less fortunate and serve the children of the community.
Marlene Zizza, treasurer of the Everett Kiwanis, said the walk was something that came organically out of the tragedy and loss that all were feeling after losing Ersilia so suddenly. Having been the vice president at the time, Ersilia was the most devoted member of the club – mostly due to the fact that its mission was to help children and lift them up. She had joined in 2001.
“It’s a very bittersweet Saturday for us,” said Zizza. “It’s heartbreaking why we are doing this, but we feel lifted by the knowledge that Ersilia would be very proud we are doing this. We all believe that sincerely in our hearts. We’re so thrilled by the participation and collaboration of everyone in the community. We’re so thrilled and excited but at the same time we’re very sad. It’s a very conflicted feeling but it’s what we can do to continue her legacy. This is her legacy – to continue helping those less fortunate with the struggles in their lives.”
Ersilia was a constant in Everett circles, particularly at St. Anthony’s Church, the food pantry and in the Kiwanis – to name only a few of the things she did. Her loss hit the community very hard, but after much time thinking about it, the Kiwanis felt that raising money for a scholarship in Ersilia’s name through an inclusive walk would serve her memory correctly.
The scholarship will add to the nine already given by the Kiwanis, but will be in Ersilia’s name. It will be for a student with financial needs and with a background in community service.
“We feel the walk if a very appropriate way to continue her legacy of service because all the proceeds from the walk will help others in need,” said Zizza. “The walk, for us, came out of the loss we felt and the things we learned from Ersilia and the example of her stewardship to help others.”
The registration for the walk will begin at 7 a.m. at the Everett Recreation Center. It will continue until 8:30 a.m. and entry is $30. One can sign up online as well, and then check in at the registration.
The walk will start at 8:30 a.m., but there will be an opening ceremony beforehand.
“Ersilia’s children, family, parents and siblings and the mayor will speak,” said Zizza. “There will be a blessing and the family will lead us off with the walk.”
The walk will go down Elm Street, onto Ferry and Broadway and then circle back via Fuller and Washington back to Elm. It will end in Glendale Park where Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Stacy DeMaria will sponsor a BBQ.
Zizza said they already have around 400 people signed up and expect more by the start of the walk.