After suffering her first bout with cancer in 2002, Pam Manikas Washek decided to turn her pain into purpose by helping others experiencing similar crises. She and her friend Jean Seiden first conceived of Wayland Angels after each of them received caring acts of kindness from their own neighbors as they faced long treatments, while valiantly keeping their families strong and together. In 2010, Pam turned Wayland Angels into Neighbor Brigade to give people in communities beyond her hometown a way to support their fellow neighbors when serious illness or other tragedy strikes.
Pam’s vision was to establish a chapter of neighbor-based volunteers in every town across Massachusetts, then New England and the nation. She believed it was an imperative not only for those who needed the assistance, but also for the volunteers themselves. Pam understood our shared human need for community and our need to care for and be cared by one another.
Pam lost her battle with cancer in 2012, but her legacy lives on in Neighbor Brigade. The organization has grown to dozens of chapters and thousands of volunteers. Having given us the roadmap and pointed us in the right direction, our “angel” continues to urge us forward.