By Emily Williams
Anne Boston lives and breathes Vestavia Hills, and she has the ink-filled calendar to prove it.
On March 3, the community will recognize her devotion by presenting her with Leadership Vestavia Hills’ 2016 Lifetime Achievement award.
“I certainly didn’t expect it,” Boston said. “When they called me to tell me, I was just taken aback because, frankly, I didn’t do what I do to get an award. I do it because it makes me happy. My husband likes it too, because it gets me out.”
Though Boston and her husband both grew up in the Birmingham area, she wasn’t entirely willing to return.
She said she could have done without her time in Chicago – too much snow for her taste – but it led to her life in what she calls “God’s country.”
“We went to Winter Park, Florida, which is a suburb of Orlando and we were there for nine years,” she said. “I loved it. I did not want to come back to Birmingham – in fact, I think that’s what I’m going to put in my speech.”
But return she did, though her children chose not to follow. So, without her flock to entertain her, she needed something to fill her days.
“I really wanted to know something about the surrounding area and the beginnings,” she said. “So that’s really how my involvement started, going to meetings to learn more about Vestavia.”
In 1985, Boston joined the Vestavia Hills Historical Society and hit the ground running. Back then, Boston said, the organization was much larger than it is now and she believes that is due to changes in technology. Nowadays, it’s much easier to search a city on the Internet for general information rather than make the trip to the library to filter through historical documents.
Boston has since served as president of the society and has been in the position of treasurer for nearly two decades. Some of the society’s biggest achievements in her tenure were publishing a history book – which she says is still for sale today – and obtaining new offices in the Vestavia Hills Public Library.
“We were in a room at the old library and things were just scattered in boxes,” she said. “Somebody left the window open once and I just saw things that should have been valued disintegrate.” Now the Historical Society has its own conference room to display historical photos and memorabilia as well as a connecting storage room to house its collection.
“Right now our historical society only has 45 members, so we have really gone out and sought people of all ages,” Boston said. “There are senior citizens; there are middle-aged people and younger people who really care about the community.”
Hitting the pavement and meeting people is how Boston got involved in the community and it’s how she has recruited people to join her various endeavors.
In addition to the Historical Society, Boston is chairwoman of the city’s Beautification Board.
Boston recalled that she was approached by then-Mayor Pat Reynolds and Beautification Board Chairwoman Pat Linton and asked to join the board.
“I remember telling them, I didn’t know how to arrange flowers,” she said. “They assured me that they would have plenty of people to arrange flowers and that I would never have to and they were right. I’ve cooked, I’ve cleaned, I’ve mopped, but I have never arranged any flowers.” It’s a gift she says her sister was blessed with, but one that she has never excelled in.
“I’ve worked with four mayors and I feel that I have worked with the pillars of the community,” Boston said. “Even though I wasn’t here at the beginning of Vestavia – I feel that it was well on its way when I moved here – but I have learned so much about it.”
And Boston isn’t slowing down any time soon, one of her new goals is to get a new car for the city’s seniors transportation program – a program she helped start. She continues to take shifts giving senior citizens who can no longer drive free transportation.
“You get so attached to your riders and many of them are in their nineties,” Boston said. “When we first started we had a lot of riders every day, but the numbers are becoming lower. So many have gone to nursing homes.” Nursing homes have their own transportation services, so the program focuses on the elderly who live in apartments and houses.
Boston and the other volunteers transport riders to the grocery store, beauty shop and library on Wednesdays and to the doctor and dentist on Thursdays.
“I don’t typically drive on Fridays, but I have one special lady who comes every Friday to the library. We’ve got a used bookstore that I work in occasionally and see her,” she said. “We just want them to get out and participate in activities.”
Boston said that being active is one of the things that keeps spirits up and she couldn’t do without her busy schedule. She is currently preparing for the Vestavia Belles presentation in late March and plans to man the polls on voting day.
“I really am so lucky that I have a lot of energy,” Boston laughed.
She firmly believes that her community involvement has been one of the best effects of her leaving Florida, even if she was reluctant at first.
“I moved back here not knowing anyone,” Boston said. “I had family in Birmingham and family in Vestavia, but if you really want to be involved, you can certainly get involved. Nobody is going to say, ‘We don’t want you because you’re a newcomer.’”
Boston will be honored at Leadership Vestavia Hills’ Community Leadership Awards Banquet on March 3. She will be honored along with Drs. Julian Maha and Michele Kong, founders of KultureCity – a Vestavia Hills-based non-profit organization that promotes acceptance and equal treatment of individuals with autism. The event will be held at Vestavia Country Club from 6-8 p.m. Tickets are $50. For more information, visit www.leadershipvestaviahills.com.