Note from the Editor: This is an article in a series called "Wethersfield Heroes," where our students work to highlight and honor those in our community going above and beyond amidst the tumultuous year. If you know someone that you would like to nominate as a Wethersfield Hero, please contact Mr. Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by: George Zack
If you’re at all familiar with the town of Wethersfield, you have probably heard the name Ken Lesser before. Ken Lesser has been one of the most active members of the Wethersfield community, dedicating much of the past ten years to virtually every corner of the town, and working with the schools, residents, and even politicians to make this town a better place.
And why does he do this? To give back to the community he loves.
Lesser has lived in Wethersfield for over a decade, and he has always been giving back in his own way.
Six or seven years ago, he began to ramp things up. Around 2016, Lesser helped start the Wethersfield Mayor’s Charity Ball, which raises money for multiple charities in the town, especially for those who are considered food insecure.
According to Lesser, “We have almost 25% [of our kids considered food insecure], and I thought that was a really high number in our middle class town, so from there I started the Wethersfield mayor’s charity ball to raise money for hungry kids.”
The Ball also raises money for senior citizens in town, as well as providing preschool scholarships for families who cannot afford to send their children to preschool, and according to Lesser, the Mayor’s Charity Ball has “raised in six years, over $120,000.” As he says this, a subtle expression of joy and pride begins to show on his face.
A few years later, Lesser decided that one of the best ways he could continue providing for and giving back to the community was by becoming a member of the town council, where he would have more resources and a wider reach to sustain his work, and he ended up running in the 2017 town election, where he won a seat.
“I ran to make a difference. I believe politics is all about helping people, and when you are in office you have the chance to help people with different things, and I like giving back to the community I live in and to try and make it a better place”.
Lesser wants his community work to benefit everybody, and when he was elected to Town Council, he took leaps and bounds towards doing so. Lesser reflects on this saying, “Being in elected office really is a nice opportunity to learn more about the town. We get lots of reports about different things going on in town, and it gives me, and all of us serving, an opportunity to try and enact good things that help everybody in town.”
Lesser feels the most impactful thing he was able to accomplish while on Town Council was helping lead and create the Wethersfield Veterans Commission. According to Lesser, there are over 1300 veterans in town, and while on the council he learned many of them were considered poor or in need of a variety of services. Naturally, he wanted to do something about it, and so with the help of his colleagues, the Wethersfield Veterans Commission was born.
“I was the advocate, sponsor, and driving force for that because I believe we need to help our veterans as much as possible, and that’s why the Commission was started”.
Lesser’s contributions to the town don’t end there. Lesser was appointed to the Wethersfield Board of Education in 2019, and has been on ever since. He has worked closely with the WHS community, acting as coordinator for the youth career advisory board, and also as one of the driving forces behind the leadership club here as well.
Lesser hopes that his work on the career advisory board providing lunch and learns, job shadowing, and internships for students will give them a glimpse into what could be their future.
As head of the leadership club, Lesser works with students to help them discover their natural leadership skills and nurture them to make each student a leading and also serving member of their community. This all culminates at the end of the year in the club’s yearly project. Last year, students made care packages for senior citizens in town to help them stay safe during the pandemic, while also providing them with necessities to save them a few trips to the store.
This area of both leading and serving in the community is Lesser’s area of specialty, and spreading his knowledge and experience with the next generation in the leadership club is what he considers to be his most important accomplishment as a member of the Wethersfield Board of Education.
Ken Lesser has played a big role in shaping much of the great community work that has, and is still being done in Wethersfield. He has truly reached every person in some way shape or form, and will continue to create an impression on the town that lasts for generations to come.
If Ken Lesser isn’t a Wethersfield Hero, I don’t know who is.
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Written, edited, and produced by Wethersfield High School students, covering all news and events.