Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


August 8, 2013

A special MVP

Volunteer honored for giving children the gift of play

If a young child sees a toy on a shelf, he or she will get the toy and play with it. That’s not always the case for the children at The Developmental Day School at The Professional Center for Child Development in Andover.

For the young special needs children at the school on Osgood Street, a disability sometimes stands in the way of their play time and enjoyment.

Unless “Dr. Evans” is around.

He’s not really a doctor. He’s a beloved 25-year volunteer at the school who rewires and fixes toys so the kids there can play with them.

Ellsworth “Elly” Evans, a retired engineer from Westford, was one of 26 volunteers for New England-based nonprofit organizations recently recognized by the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation as a 2013 Myra Kraft Community MVP. The honor came with a $5,000 award for The Developmental Day School.

“To me, volunteerism means using your skills to fill a need,” Evans said in a statement. “Adapting toys for special needs children allows them to play with and enjoy something that would otherwise be useless to them. The joy of seeing these children play is a great reward for me.”

Parent and community liaison Ellen McGrail Waddill said she will never forget Evans’ compassion when her son, Tim, who has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder, attended The Professional Center. Evans rewired some toys especially for Tim, who does not walk, talk or move very much and is also blind.

It was Waddill who nominated Evans for the Myra Kraft Community MVP honor.

“I remember taking my son to Toys R Us and feeling so sad that he could not use any of the regular toys all the other kids were using ... when every little kid was getting a Tickle Me Elmo for Christmas, Timmy wanted one, but could not activate it,” she said.

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