For several decades now, Lynnfield High School athletes have benefited considerably from the work of the Lynnfield Athletic Association in any given year. However, the LAA now finds itself among the handful of town organizations facing a questionable future without an infusion of new volunteer help.
The has been an annual July 4th tradition in Lynnfield for about 45 years - with about 25 of those years as an LAA event. Before that, it was organized by the former Lynnfield Couples Club. Proceeds from the race and other activities help fund six $1,000 scholarships that the LAA awards to graduating LHS seniors each year.
"I feel it could (fold). Unless someone steps up, this is the last road race," said Linda Rugato, who currently handles much of the day to day requirements of the LAA single-handedly. "I just basically year-round try to promote LAA," she said.
In a recent conversation with Lynnfield Patch, Rugato discussed how she has been trying to find new members to get more regularly involved with the LAA. Her youngest son graduates next year, and Rugato does not anticipate staying involved beyond that point. She has spent six years with the organization, with an older son who is now a sophomore in college. Rugato is assisted by some parents who regularly help out, and also by some high school volunteers. The LAA is also a nonprofit so it needs to ensure that sufficient officers remain in place under its bylaws.
"I don't know if more people have to work now..." said Rugato when asked about the overall state of volunteering in Lynnfield. She is also concerned that prospective donors may think that the Lynnfield Athletic Association is affiliated with the town's various sports programs, when it actually just raises money for the high school teams.
Rugato estimates that the LAA provides the LHS Athletic Department with 25 or 30% of its budget in any given year, paying for things like uniforms in the process and also helping with awards, equipment and related needs. "We don't give everyone everything," said Rugato, "We just pick and choose who needs what the most." In 2010 the LAA upgraded the gym's banners and Rugato's husband and son also built new trophy cases in the past.
The organization also seeks to raise revenue by selling ads in the athletic programs it prints each season, and student athletes also participate in some door to door fundraising, including Tag Day in October.
Those interested in making a donation to the Lynnfield Athletic Association can mail checks to LAA, c/o Lynnfield High School, 275 Essex Street, Lynnfield, MA 01940.
Editor's Note: This is just one of several Lynnfield organizations warning that new volunteers are needed in order to be able to continue some longstanding town traditions - or to help create new ones.
This article talks about how the annual to keep going. A related article describes several specific .
Finally, the recently formed Fields Committee that will work to help build the proposed fields complex near the Middleton Line.