MOUNT DESERT — Jim Willis, chief of the Mount Desert and Bar Harbor police departments, had never heard of Robert Faherty, retired superintendent-in-chief of the Boston Police Department, before he got a phone message from him a few weeks ago.
Faherty is chairman emeritus of the Boston-based non-profit Cops for Kids with Cancer, which gives $5,000 with no strings attached to families with children who are being treated for various types of cancer.
Faherty wanted to send Willis a check to be passed along to the family of Elijah “Haji” Avila of Northeast Harbor. Avila, 15, had surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital this past summer to remove a tumor in the femur of his left leg. He now has a prosthetic femur.
While he was in the hospital, a social worker told his parents, Kyle and Lelania, about various organizations they might consider applying to for grants, including Cops for Kids with Cancer. They filled out the application in July, but heard nothing until Willis showed up with the check in mid-October.
When Faherty called Willis about delivering the check, he wasn’t aware that Willis and Kyle Avila not only know each other but that they both work in the Town Hall in Northeast Harbor. Kyle Avila is the tax assessor for the town of Mount Desert.
“One day Jim [Willis] came up to my office and said, ‘Follow me,’” Avila said. “We went down to his office and he pulled Durlin [Lunt, the town manager]. And I thought, ‘Oh, what did I do?’
“Then Jim played the voice mail [from Faherty]. It was a total shocker.”
A few months ago, Haji Avila, who loves computer games, built a gaming computer with components donated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Now, he has used some of the $5,000 from Cops for Kids with Cancer to buy a special gamer’s phone.
As for the rest of the money, his father said, “We’re stashing away some of it for savings. And we have a family policy, to kind of offset our consumption, that whenever we buy tech, we donate to some environmental organization.”