June 6, 2023 By Carol Britton Meyer
When longtime Hingham resident Tom Hoffman looked outside at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, he was greeted with a giant lawn sign bearing the message: "Congratulations, Hoffy! -- Hinghamite of the Year" -- an honor bestowed annually on a deserving individual by the Hingham Anchor based on a nomination process.
The word he used to describe his reaction was "stunned," he said in an interview. "Last year's Hinghamite of the Year was Deirdre Anderson, who I have known for years. I coached one of her sons, Teddy, in Hingham Youth Football."
Affectionately called "Hoffy" by the many people who know him in town and outside of Hingham, his has become a household name from his many volunteer activities involving so many members of the Hingham community and beyond.
When asked why he volunteers so much, his answer was, "Well I don't have a boat, I don't golf, and my children are no longer at home, and I love making a positive impact. It keeps me from getting bored, I have a good time doing it, and I meet many great people along the way."
Longtime Hingham Youth Football involvement
His many activities include involvement with Hingham Youth Football since 2002 as a coach and past president and treasurer; his efforts in support of the Hingham High School turf field project; past treasurer of the Friends of the South Shore Country Club; Hingham Food Pantry volunteer with his wife, Debbie; founding member and treasurer of the South Shore Special Needs Athletic Partnership -- which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year; past president and treasurer of the Hingham Sports Partnership; and a member of the Fourth of July Parade Committee as well as running its 50 Flags fundraising campaign -- now in its ninth year -- with Sue Rizzo, who he knows from HYF.
Hoffman joined the parade committee after being named grand marshal in 2014 and has remained an energetic and enthusiastic member ever since. "We're hoping to have 20,000 flags in the ground around the Fourth of July holiday," he said.
Tom and Debbie are also involved with Wreaths Across America involving placing wreaths in honor of veterans and the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes program, which honors Gold Star families who have family members who have lost their lives in service to their country. He and other volunteers also place flags on veterans' graves for Memorial Day.
Hoffman is also a member of the Hingham Veterans' Council.
Tom and Debbie have four children, Lindsey, 35; Greg 29; Allison, 29; and Colby, 25.
Looking toward Flag Day on June 14, Hoffman and other Veterans' Council members will give a short slide presentation about the history of the American flag and flag etiquette at Plymouth River School.
Hoffman also serves on the corporate council of Hope Lodge in Boston -- a facility that provides free housing to cancer patients from all over the country who are being treated at Dana Farber/Massachusetts General Hospital -- which does fund-raising for Hope Lodge.
Helped build Field House at Lynch Field
Hoffman was also involved in the building of the Field House at Lynch Field 15 years ago, working as a Hingham Youth Football coach and president of the Hingham Sports Partnership with Hingham residents Rob Murray and Al Kearney -- the architect who designed the building -- raising funds and doing the general contracting as part of the renovation of the field. "My kids used to call the field 'Brother Lynch' because I spent so much time on that project!" he said.
Hoffman's father was a ship's captain who traveled all over the world for 42 years -- which meant he was away from home a lot -- so Hoffman appreciated the support offered by his football coaches, who he said helped raise him -- so football has always been close to his heart. "I always wanted to coach football -- which I also did at the college level -- and I worked in the Patriots' front office for nine years. I enjoy being involved with HYF -- the season isn't that long, it keeps me busy, and I meet new families."
Tom and Debbie moved to Hingham in July 1987 after visiting friends who lived there, two years earlier. "We loved the town and being so close to the ocean, so we decided to move here after looking around and finding a house on Spring Lane," he said.
"Eleven years later we built a house on Sherman Way, where we have lived for 25 years."
The Hoffmans found out a week before the closing that Debbie was pregnant with their first daughter, Lindsey, and so were especially appreciative of Hingham's fine school system.
"Hingham reminded me of my hometown of Chatham Boro, New Jersey, which was founded eight years before Hingham was founded and is also an old historic town," he said.
After they moved to town, the Hoffmans joined the Newcomers Club, and Debbie got involved with the Mothers' Club and served as PTO president for Plymouth River School. "I used to say I was the first husband of the PRS PTO -- in the days before email -- stapling flyers together to hand out to students returning to school in the fall!"
Debbie fully supports all of Tom's activities and is involved in many of her own, including coordinating volunteers who serve food and make sandwiches for Father Bill's, including the veterans' home on Fort Hill Street.
Volunteering is 'very rewarding'
Hoffman wouldn't have it any other way. "I'm a believer that everybody should use 10 percent of their many waking hours trying to do something good for somebody else," he said. "This makes for a better community, and if you have fun doing it -- which I do -- it's very rewarding."
What he likes most about Hingham are the "great friends" he has made and that there are so many things to do in town, including dining at its many fine restaurants. "You hardly have to leave town!" he said.
That said, he and Debbie's future hopes include taking a river cruise with friends that will eventually take them to Normandy.
As far as his job as a financial advisor goes, Hoffman has told the people he works with that he will continue working "until I can't see and hit the fast ball anymore. I enjoy what I'm doing," he said.
His flexible work schedule allows him time to spend part of the winter at Marco Island, Florida, with Debbie and part of the summer at Chappaquiddick Island.
When asked how he keeps track of his many activities, Hoffman quoted his motto: "When you think it, ink it! Either write it down or put it on your iPhone calendar!"
The nominations submitted for Hoffman to be named Hinghamite of the Year include the following comments:
- Sue Rizzo -- "Known to many as 'Coach Hoffy,' he has dedicated his efforts to the town in immeasurable ways over several decades. He has supported countless youth and community causes. Tom also fosters a spirit of volunteerism -- he leads by example but also brings others together through volunteering."
- Parade Committee Chair Jim Murphy, who pointed to Hoffman's work with the Fourth of July Parade Committee, among other activities -- "Hoffy quickly helped to transform our 50 Flags Campaign from a fledgling fundraiser into the 'main event' that creates the largest source of funding annually raised for the parade. Hingham's largest annual event is privately funded [no tax dollars are used], so Hoffy's efforts have directly impacted the strength of our parade and allowed the Parade Committee to continue to bring in the variety of bands and entertainers and groups of horses blended with the civic floats that create such a balanced parade each year. His personal effort installing thousands of American flags each year is heroic and inspiring."
Murphy went on to note that "Hoffy doesn't do it all himself. Each effort requires a core of individuals, with some individual crossover among his volunteer efforts. But the one constant across them all is Hoffy and his seemingly boundless energy, which includes being emcee to various charities for large events or even to fill in after a golf tournament where a few minutes of his time could raise several hundred to several thousands of dollars for a worthy cause."
- Pamela Berigan -- "Tom has given back so much to the Hingham community. I got to know Tom about 10 years ago when we formed the SNAP board. He is so dedicated to our program, and we are so lucky to have him. Hoffy, as everyone knows him, is tireless in his efforts for our community. . . . His vast reach within the town allows him to pull together so many volunteers to support his efforts. His programs are so successful because 'everyone loves Hoffy,' and therefore everyone jumps on his wagon."
- Irma Lauter -- "Tom has worked with so many great nonprofits in Hingham and town committees over the years. He never seeks the spotlight and is always there when people need help. It is time to recognize him -- I wish we had more Hoffys in Hingham."
- Donna Keaney -- "During SNAP board meetings, Tom always seems to have a great idea to bring our group together with other organizations to help others. Tom is always thinking of others. How he has the time for a family and full-time job along with all his volunteerism is truly remarkable and inspiring, which is the best word I can think of to describe Tom. Along with all the good he does for people, he is inspiring others to participate and help their neighbors -- whether that neighbor is next door or in another town. 'Hoffy' is someone I look up to and am inspired by."