Robinson Gardens Youth Group
His passion runs deep for serving the community
You might say politics – and a passion for helping people – run deep in the heart and soul of Springfield City Councilor Marcus J. Williams.
Brought up in a family where community and civil service are a given, it wasn’t much of a stretch when the 28-year-old grant writer at a local housing agency ran for a seat on the council, and won. That was two years ago, and he hasn’t looked back.
Williams recently visited the Youth Group at Springfield Housing Authority’s Robinson Gardens Apartments, where he shared his political and social vision, along with a few real-life examples of how he has put passion to practice.
“I can remember being younger and going to see city leaders speak,” he said. “It was just so powerful to me, and such an opportunity to lead and help out your community,” said the Ward 5 councilor serving sections of Pine Point, Upper Hill and Sixteen Acres.
Williams told the Robinson Gardens that much of his city service is spent dealing with issues that may seem mundane – snow removal, parking, business regulations – but are vitally important in their own way, especially to the people they impact directly.
For example, it was through his and others’ efforts that resulted in a mobile food truck ordinance, passed earlier this year. Neighborhood concerns are guaranteed to bring up issues that come to his door, Williams noted.
“It’s a lot of work, extended hours,” Williams explained. “But it’s the kind of work that you’re happy to do, because you know you’re helping people and you’re giving back to your community.”
Williams is the youngest African-American elected to the council, a point of pride for him. He told Robinson Gardens teens that having a diverse roster of elected officials is crucial for the health of a city as diverse as Springfield is.
Williams is the nephew of state Rep. Bud L. Williams, a City Councilor himself for 23 years, until earlier this year when he stepped down to devote full time to serving the city in the Statehouse. Marcus Williams said his uncle has been a mentor to him.
For the teens at Robinson Gardens, Williams’ visit was proof that elected officials care.
“He was good,” said Nate Hunt, who is 16. “He was interesting and very motivated. You can tell he’s a leader, not a follower.
Christian Davis, 15, said he found it “pretty cool to hear what’s going on in the city. He’s got his goals set – you can tell he goes after what he wants.”
Aysha Serrano, 14, admired his will to help others.
“He’s doing good things for people, and he’s helping the city,” said Aysha.
Williams said his visit was aimed at showing teens that they can reach for goals that can make a difference in their community, wherever that is.
“I hope they can see the possibilities that are out there, and see that anything can happen. They can do anything they set their minds to,” Williams said.
His visit was courtesy of SHA Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell, who runs the after-school program at Robinson Gardens. Mitchell brings in speakers from the community monthly, who share their stories and inspire.
“Mr. Williams was just great,” Mitchell said. “He’s a young guy, someone they can relate to and see the possibilities that lay before them. In this case, a lot of them don’t know much about local government, so this was a lesson for them as well.”
Williams is a grants writer at Way Finders, a local housing agency. He is a graduate of Boston College and a lifelong resident of Springfield.
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