“It Takes a Hive”: Community Volunteers Advance Waltham Boys & Girls Club Mission

Honeybees are best known for pollinating and spreading color and beauty to the world. Our neighbors from Weston have always been caring and passionate advocates of the Waltham Boys & Girls Club’s mission to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most realize their full potential. In November 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, long-time supporters Charlotte Weeple and Board Member Leila Hooper, together with a dynamic group of Weston women created the “Weston Honeybees” as a way to meet the ongoing needs of local nonprofits while spreading positivity and hope throughout the community. This philanthropic group of 80 women has created a buzz ever since through their volunteerism and fundraising efforts to raise over $25,000 to support Waltham Boys & Girls Club youth and families.

“At a time when many of our community members were feeling the isolating effects of the pandemic and the divisiveness of the political situation, we wanted to find a way to come together and give back,” said Weeple. As a member of a Women’s Breakfast with a Mission event planning committee, Charlotte took the initiative to explore interest around town. “When planning the 2020 virtual Women’s Breakfast with a Mission last fall, we thought it would be an opportune time for us working bees to come together formally to take care of the beehive while creating a sense of togetherness on behalf of a worthy cause.” And that’s how the Weston Honeybees came to ‘bee’.

Thanks to Weston Honeybee’s dual mission of service and their vision to expand the connection between neighbors, the response has been truly enthusiastic. Hooper recalls that moment when the Women’s Breakfast Invitation was sent to a small group of close friends which then swelled into critical mass. “Everyone passed the word along, and before we knew it, we engaged the support of 80 women and four women-owned businesses to help establish the Weston Honeybees.”

What started as an idea to simplify online donations and rally communal support, has quickly become a dedicated movement with a direct and tangible impact. “Charlotte and Leila created an opportunity for the Weston community to come together and make a real difference for their neighbors at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club. We are grateful to each and every Honeybee,” said Executive Director Erica Young. “I’ve had several meaningful conversations with these women who continue to offer their support to our youth in many different ways. We could not do this important work without people like them!”

As longtime Weston residents, Charlotte and Leila consider themselves fortunate for the support that surrounds them and wishes to extend that love and kindness to others.  “Everyone in The Honeybees appreciates that there is an opportunity to give back. We are all families. When we heard about how the Club pivoted during the pandemic to provide their members with food programs, remote learning support, and financial assistance, our community was quick to mobilize and do whatever it takes to ensure their good work continued beyond the pandemic,” said Charlotte.

The group has become a force to ‘bee’ reckoned with finding ways to engage the next generation. Weston High School students continue to support the Club by volunteering for event set-ups, gift bag deliveries, and more recently by organizing a winter clothing drive for Club members and their families. The Weston High School Class of 2021 named the Waltham Boys & Girls Club a community partner for service projects and recently the Class of 2025 took over.

When asked what inspires the group’s ongoing commitment to support Club youth and families, Charlotte and Leila said “the pleasure of knowing that it helps. The pandemic has been leveling for all families and we shouldn’t ignore or lose sight of the challenges our neighbors face. This kind of volunteerism shows us a different way of life and helps our children think about human dignity and appreciating each other for who we are, not for what we have. It’s really meaningful work.”