Most people in Haverhill know about Brightside, and everyone who knows the story about Brightside's revitalization also knows its recently retired president, Doug Edison.
Edison, 58, stepped down from the voluntary position effective at the end of May after a successful three-year effort guiding Brightside's resurgence.
A successor has not yet been named.
"Doug Edison did a fantastic job as the head of Brightside," Mayor James Fiorentini said. "He fought tirelessly for the organization, put in countless hours to support its mission, and was not afraid to get his hands dirty and do new work. He will be sorely missed by the city and its residents,"
After retiring from a career in finance, Edison and his wife Pam relocated to Bradford from Kentucky when his wife accepted a promotion with the multi-national electronics firm for which she works.
Doug brought his guitar collection, golf clubs and political activism with him and in 2008 joined with the local Democratic Party organization to do volunteer work for the Barack Obama campaign.
During that campaign, Edison met Denise Johnson, another Haverhill resident and a member of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas' staff. Johnson had been the first president of Brightside and, when she stepped down in 2006, the organization faded.
After campaigning for Obama in 2008, Edison returned to his guitar playing and golf outings. But a smoldering interest in Brightside surfaced.
"In the spring of 2009, Rochelle Newman, an original Brightside board member, and Susan Kane, organized an Environmental Summit that took place at Winnekenni Castle," Johnson said.
People from different city organizations and the mayor met to revitalize and reform some of those groups.
Johnson and Elaine Barker were there for Brightside and spoke on behalf of the group, which they said hoped to reorganize and make a comeback.
"Four people volunteered at that event. Doug (Edison) was one of them," Johnson said.
"They called me and asked me to take the president's job (at Brightside)," Edison said.
Once they brought Brightside into compliance with I.R.S. rules for nonprofits, Edison and his small group found a sponsor in Trinity Ambulance, which donated $5,200 to the organization, Edison said.
"We were able to get a new computer and begin raising awareness with a booth at the annual Tattersal Farm Fair and signed up volunteers," Edison said.
Brightside then held its first event under Edison's leadership the Bloom Fest.
With a growing roster of volunteers, Edison and Brightside created the Haverhill Goes Green environmental fair. The third annual green event was held at GAR Park in April.
Organizer extraordinaire that he is, Edison said he has always disliked asking people for money. It helps to be asking for a good cause, Edison said, but he still did not like that part of his job.
What he does enjoy is making good things happen. "I liked the people-part of the job," he said about his three years with Brightside.
The city knows who he is and what he has done on Haverhill's behalf in tough times.
Edison brought a focus and determination to Brightside's resurgence. He hopes those who follow and pursue new venues for the organization will take advantage of the momentum the revitalized volunteers and staff bring to their efforts.
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