"Thanksgiving—Delayed": Dave Manzo gives Thanksgiving Hall address

Dave Manzo, President of Cotting School, RL Trustee, and father of alumnus Lou Manzo ’03, gave the Thanksgiving Hall address on Tuesday before the holiday recess.

Mr. Manzo recounted three stories from his youth and young adulthood that taught him the value of difficult times, the hardest things. He suggested that we allow the experiences we have found most adverse or challenging into the litany of things we give thanks for—"times that you now, in retrospect, appreciate."

For Mr. Manzo, an angry racial encounter with someone he had been sent to help taught him that relationships take time, and involve risk. "It's not about what you want to do or what you want to give. It's about meeting the person where he or she is." His mother's ability to live through MS, using her warm hospitality to bring the world to her, taught him lessons about character, fortitude, and how to see someone's strengths—and not his or her weakness or disability—that he cherishes in his present work with the children at Cotting School. From his high school friend Mark, an athlete whose cancer diagnosis in senior year and subsequent leg amputation didn't stop him from sports, further study, play, and volunteering at Haley House—Mr. Manzo learned something of how to live: "We are not just living for ourselves, but setting examples for our peers and those who will come after us." Mark taught him to cherish life, and to laugh.

This Thanksgiving, Mr. Manzo said, be thankful for "all the things right in front of you—your parents, family, and friends, and even for that extra portion of turkey." But he suggested too that gratitude comes in many forms, unrecognizable forms. "Sometimes, it comes in lessons delayed."

See photos from hall here.

In 2004, Mr. Manzo became the sixth president of the Cotting School, located in Lexington, Massachusetts. Founded in 1893, Cotting School is America’s first day school for children with a broad spectrum of learning and communications disabilities, physical challenges, and complex medical conditions. Prior to assuming this position, Mr. Manzo served 20 years as president and executive director of COMPASS, a community-based nonprofit organization in Jamaica Plain. COMPASS provides special education and enrichment services to high-risk, inner-city children. Before joining COMPASS, Mr. Manzo worked for several years with Boston’s homeless, also serving as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pine Street Inn. Since 1980, Mr. Manzo has taught at Boston College’s PULSE program. The recipient of Boston College’s Exemplary Service Award, the Award of Excellence in Public Service from the Alumni Association, and the Lyndhurst Prize, Dave Manzo is an exemplar of all that is right and good and just and lives in the spirit of loving service to others.

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