Family Business

A business family's tradition of community service


4 min




Watch the Woodmans, a third generation business family in the food industry operating Woodman's of Essex based in Massachusetts, USA, with employees in the 5th generation, share their multigenerational experience of supporting their community through philanthropy. In a family business, starting to give back at the founder generation encourages the future generations to follow in the same path.


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Stephen Woodman
My grandfather was a giving person and one story that I, that I remember is that he bought the first ambulance for the town of Essex, to bring people in need to the local hospitals because Essex does not have a hospital.

Maureen Woodman
I was not here with Chubby and Bessie but I know they started these firemen suppers and these firemen dinners. Chubby and Bessie were always involved with that, Chubby was the head of the fire department, Timmy who is generation 4, he has been the captain of the fire department, and Stevie’s 3rd son Ian, is very involved he is an EMT in town so its carried through the generations.

My father-in-law, a man with 7 children so, how interesting that he could still afford to give to everyone. He did strange things that people never ... View More knew. He bought refrigerators for people. I think our business always had single women or a lot of women working, they always had trouble. He would always help them. If there was a fireman’s picnic or if the school needed anything, when people would die in the town, it would be call Woodman’s, we had a death, can you get chowder up here. We delivered chowder to probably every person’s funeral on Cape Ann, always.

Stephen Woodman
What my dad taught us about giving back to the community and helping out your neighbour, he did not do with words and in fact he did it with actions but what we found out is we when were growing up we never knew he did it. He would see someone that did not have a Christmas and buy presents and meals and things for the whole family uh, give money so someone could go to college or go to school. We never knew that until most of it until my dad passed away and we started getting these stories back of how your dad did this and what your dad for me and story upon story just coming back.

Maureen Woodman
When Dexter passed away it was like, the town stood still. The phone just went crazy, all the vendors, all the sales people, all the employees from years, what can we do and we started to get these cards and these letters and in these cards were these stories with $10 bills, $5 bills.

Stephen Woodman
A friend suggest, let us let us put a scholarship in his name.

Maureen Woodman
We called it the L. Dexter Woodman’s Scholarship Fund, we took that money, my mother-in-law donated a $1000 dollars herself and we started the fund. Our real mission when we started was we were going to pay for college, that is what we wanted to do, because that is what Dexter did, he gave for these kids to go to college.

Stephen Woodman
It has been over 20 years that we have run the scholarship and given money away. We have given over $600k in scholarship to college kids.

Maureen Woodman
And we just added two new scholarships this year to children working in the restaurant. It is truly a foundation now.

Kristi Swett
It was just kind of how I grew up, as a graduate of Essex elementary, I got the Essex Pride Award for just volunteering time in the community, and I did not think of it as something I had to do, or oh my goodness I am doing it, it was just a way of life and you know something you did. So, without even thinking about it, like they instilled that in me.