Sarah Dorer ~ Bedford’s 2022 Citizen of the Year

Sarah Dorer, Bedford’s 2022 Citizen of the Year ~ Courtesy image, Bob Dorer (c) 2022 all rights reserved

Sarah Dorer had ambitious plans for Bedford Day: volunteer time at three organizations’ booths, after helping launch the parade as a member of the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT).

So much for planning.

Dorer this week was informed that she is Bedford’s 2022 Citizen-of-the-Year. And her first official activity will be to ride in the Bedford Day parade.

Bedford’s 43rd citizen-of-the-year was chosen by an ad hoc committee from nominations submitted by residents.

Her wide-ranging resume of community service spans almost 40 years – indeed, it’s still growing. And she affirms, “I’ve loved everything that I’ve done.” Recognition, she said, is “not anything I ever expected. I have been working for a small community that I love.”

Dorer, 68, grew up in Manhattan and moved to Bedford with her husband Robert in 1983. Their children Whitney and James were born in 1984 and 1986, respectively. An elementary and special education teacher and administrator, Dorer began a 23-year career with the Bedford Public Schools in 1988.

The citizen-of-the-year looks back on her wide-ranging involvement and said she realizes its interconnectedness.

It began soon after her arrival, with the League of Women Voters. “My mother-in-law was heavily involved in her community in Wilmington, DE,” she explained.

In 1988 Dorer and Judy Babcock founded the Bedford Family Connection, now beginning its 35th year. “It was from a personal need,” she explained. “I thought, ‘Maybe other people have this need.’ And all of these people came together. Creating something that’s still really important is one of my proudest accomplishments.”

Dorer said her involvement with the League “gave me the structure for founding BFC. Things sort of build on each other.”

The Dorers also became members of First Parish Church in 1985, and Sarah has served as a volunteer teacher, committee member and chair, organizer, gardener, co-leader for church trips to Transylvania, Romania, Covid testing-team member, and past and current Governing Board member.

The Bedford Family Connection is a feeder to the schools. As a co-founder, Dorer said, she realized, “I’ve got to find out what’s going on in the schools.” That led to “tons of volunteering over the years: classroom volunteer, member/officer in Parent-Teacher Associations, president of Bedford High School Parent Association, elected parent representative for three School Councils. Dorer stresses that “I am an educator as well as a parent.”

Dorer was “heavily involved” in 1988 with the change from two neighborhood elementary schools to the current configuration. “At that time I knew nobody in the schools. It really was from an outside perspective.”

Educated in private schools, Dorer said, Bedford was her first experience with public elementary and secondary education. From that perspective, she said, she found Lane and Davis Schools redundant. “I thought, ‘This doesn’t make any sense to me in this tiny community.” As a curriculum specialist, Dorer felt consolidation made sense.

The League of Women Voters was involved with fact-finding, she recalled, with some members favoring the status quo. In the community, “there was a lot of angst,” —especially among faculty who would have to separate from professional colleagues.

“A lot of what I did in the early years was youth and children directed, and then I stayed involved because that’s an important thing,” she observed.

CERT was organized in 2005, and Dorer said she signed up right away. The group played a major community role during the initial months of the pandemic, helping with traffic management at the food bank, and vaccination and testing clinics. Dorer continues to volunteer two days a week with the food bank. “That has been a constant for two-and-a-half years.”

Beginning in 1996, Dorer was employed by the Bedford Public Schools – as the elementary schools’ enrichment/gifted coordinator and teacher, and elementary math curriculum coordinator. She has been a volunteer with the high school’s Tenacity Challenge since 2012.

Since 2006, Dorer has filled a variety of board positions with CSF of Bedford, Dollars for Scholars, and is co-chair of the Endowed Funds Committee. In 2019 she was honored with a scholarship named for her. Former students and colleagues marked her retirement with perpetual honor. The presentation said Dorer “has taught an entire generation of students to love not only math, but the process of learning, striving, and challenging yourself to think in new and unexpected ways.”

What drives her consistent involvement? “It goes back to how I was raised,” she explained. As the oldest of seven in a Manhattan apartment, “at a young age, I was watching younger siblings, taking responsibilities for household chores, It’s just expected when you have a large family; if something’s needed you step in and just do it.”

She continues to serve as a Corporator for Emerson Hospital and a local election worker and checker for town meeting.

Dorer hopes younger generations follow in her footsteps. “There are so many societal changes, and for young people with children there’s not a whole lot of time to give some kind of volunteer capacity,” she acknowledged.

But that’s what it takes to build community – “knowing that you’re working to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected], or 781-983-1763

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Tim Bennett
August 31, 2022 5:19 pm

I can’t think of a more deserving recipient. Congratulations Mrs. Dorer!

Elizabeth Harper
August 31, 2022 2:19 pm

Congratulations Sarah, “you earned it! “

Rebecca Cennamo
August 31, 2022 1:33 pm

She sooo deserves it! She never stops working for others!

Leah Devereaux
August 30, 2022 9:53 pm

So grateful to Sarah and Judi for founding Bedford Family Connection! This award is well deserved, CONGRATULATIONS SARAH!