Around Town

Woman seeks to spread kindness throughout the city

WESTFIELD-Susan Dubilo is confident that her decades of research and clinical training can help transform communities into Mister Rogers’ neighborhoods.

With the recent movie release of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” starring Tom Hanks, Dubilo is hopeful that the message of “always be kind” that was a mantra of Fred Rogers will resonate with community leaders.

Susan Dubilo, RN, BSN, MA, hopes to implement her Lifting Up Lives! program in Westfield. (Submitted photo)

“I would like to see a community wide program that is infused with the kindness that was heralded by Mr. Rogers,” said Dubilo, who is currently reaching out to colleagues and the general public to see who would be interested in joining a exploratory/steering committee. 

Dubilo, a retired psychiatric nurse who came to Westfield five years ago, said she is hopeful that her Lifting Up Lives! program that was first mapped out in 2011 at the American Public Health annual convention in Washington, D.C., will be welcomed by city parents, business and church leaders, school officials, and health care professionals.

Lifting Up Lives! is all about helping people to learn how to build a comprehensively healthy community filled with kindness where any type of abuse or bullying has a hard time surviving,” said Dubilo. 

Dubilo said that now at 74, she has the time to devote the resources and time to create “community action teams” of adults who can then become role models for others – especially young people.

“I learned early in my career as a psychiatric nurse that emotional nurturance vs. abuse and neglect were major factors in the world of mental health illness,” said Dubilo. “In both my academic studies and my actual practice with people of all ages within a great variety of settings over many years, two things became crystal clear. Destructive interpersonal relationships happened in people’s lives that sadly caused serious harm. However, present and future relationships could be transformed into healthy ones.”

Dubilo noted her program is a “teach adults first approach,” adding the program includes the “hot and timely issue” of bullying.

“Once adults master the issues, they become role models and can educate others,” she said. “I believe my project presents an easy, understandable way to create the kind of world we all want and need.”

One of her first objectives in the new year is to meet with mayor-elect Donald Humason, Jr. once he takes office.

“I offer this program basically free because it’s about much more than money to me,” said Dubilo.

State Sen. Donald F. Humason Jr., who takes office as Westfield’s mayor on Jan. 6, said in an email statement he intends to have an “open door policy” where city residents can either come by and meet with him if he’s available at that time or call to set up an appointment to see him. Humason added he is following a similar policy he exercised as state senator at his district office.

“I also want to do office hours at various times throughout the year that will get me out of City Hall and into the neighborhoods, coffee shops and other places people may go,” said Humason. “It is very important that residents in the city like Susan Dubilo feel empowered to get involved in areas that interest and energize them and I would like to think that city government will be supportive of their efforts to do good things in our community.”

For Dubilo, she is hopeful that her message of creating kindness through many avenues of the city’s neighborhoods will connect with others who feel inspired to become involved.

“I want to assemble a handful of people who would be willing to work together throughout Westfield in order to transform it into a very healthy, highly functional city in which we are to thrive,” said Dubilo. “The quality of our interpersonal relationships in all the spheres of our lives matters a lot.”

For area residents interested in learning more about the Lifting Up Lives! program and how to become involved, contact Dubilo at (571) 220-3103.

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