Cynthia Whitty

Issue Date: April, 2019
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Ashland’s many volunteers contribute their time and talents to advancing causes, projects, organizations and town committees. In recognition of National Volunteer Month, Ashland Local Town Pages has selected one volunteer, Kelly Woods Vaast, to thank, and will highlight other volunteers throughout the year.

How long have you been an Ashland resident? My husband Todd and I moved to Ashland in 2004—so just about 15 years ago. We had been living in the city and were looking to buy our first house. Ashland was the perfect location for us—not too far from Boston but in a location where we knew we could have a house with some land and be on the commuter rail.
Moving to a small town was such an eye opener. Neither of us had really been involved in our community or neighborhood when we lived closer to Boston, but as soon as we got to Ashland, we had neighbors coming over to say hello, folks bringing us dinner and offering to lend us tools and lawn equipment; it was wild! That small town, community spirit has really defined our life in Ashland, and has been a constant for the whole time we’ve lived here.

Describe your volunteer experiences in Ashland. Kate Correia, who was my next door neighbor in our first Ashland house, was involved with the Friends of the Ashland library. She and I bonded over a shared love of books, and she asked if I’d like to get more involved. I think I was really hesitant at first. I didn’t know what to expect or how much time it would take, but I went with her to one meeting and then slowly starting volunteering with the Friends. During my time with the Friends, I realized how much small community organizations really do for our town.
A few years later, I heard that Ashland was thinking about starting a farmers market, and [they were] looking for people to help plan the first year. Access to fresh and local foods is one of my passions, and the idea that if we could bring more events to downtown, we’d help to draw more people to downtown and create a more vibrant Ashland. I was part of the artisan committee in year one, selecting jewelers and potters and photographers to appear at the market, and haven’t looked back since! Currently, I’m on the Board of Directors, as well as the Artisan and Special Events committees, and we are in the middle of planning the 8th year of the Ashland Farmers Market. It’s an event and an organization that I am incredibly proud to be a part of.

Why do you volunteer? One of my all-time favorite quotes is: “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” That’s why I do it. I’ve seen the positive impact that volunteering has on our town, and I want to do what I can to support that.

What else do you do? While living in Ashland, my husband and I grew our family. Our sons Hunter, Trey and Miles attend the Ashland schools, and are kind, silly and active boys. Raising them has been more of an adventure than I ever imagined—everything from ER visits to camping and hiking trips—but it is never boring! I work in Product Management, and just accepted a position at a K-12 Education company after spending a few years doing more corporate-based education. Mostly, we’re looking forward to spring and summer so we can be outside more, and get to see more of our friends and neighbors.
As we plan the 2019 Event days for the Ashland Farmers Market, I’d love to hear from folks in town about which events they like the most (Wine & Cheese day? Strawberry Fest? Harvest Brunch?) and any new ideas they have for fun, themed days. Send me your thoughts at . . . and thank you!