Local Police Get Scruffy For Charity

By: Tim Wood

Chatham Police officers have pledged not to shave for the month of November to help raise money for veterans services. From left, Officer Michael Murphy, Sgt. Sean Ryder, academy candidate Joshua Holmes, Officer Greg Naylor, Lt. Andrew Goddard, and Officer John Whittle. TIM WOOD PHOTO

If police officers in Chatham, Harwich and Orleans are looking a bit scruffy this month, it's not because the departments have relaxed their regulations. Members of all three departments, and many others on the Cape, are letting their facial hair grow during “No Shave November” to raise money for charity.

More than 120 police departments across the state are participating in the program to benefit Home Base, which raised money to support clinical and support services for veterans and military families impacted by the “invisible wounds” of war. Members of the departments who are pledging not to shave for the month are making $100 donations, and members of the public can also donate via the Home Base website.

The program aims to raise $350,000; as of Tuesday the total was $180,016.

Ironically, it was Chatham Police Sargent Sarah Harris who suggested that the department participate in the program. Chief Mark Pawlina gave his permission to deviate from the department's “strict limitations on facial hair,” said Lt. Andrew Goddard. The only facial hair usually allowed is mustaches that cannot reach below the corners of the mouth.

“Just about everybody” is participating, said Goddard. One of the aims of the program is to spark a conversation when members of the public notice the unusual unshaven appearance of officers, he said.

“It's a real conversation starter,” he said. And when that happens, officers explain what they're doing and why.

Harwich police participated in No Shave November last year, said Sgt. Aram Goshgarian. Officer Charlie Brooks got it going, and this year about a dozen officers are participating. Those that aren't growing a beard are making donations, he said.

“To not have to shave for a month or so is a bonus,” Goshgarian said. “It's a great cause. We owe our veterans a great deal.”

Home Base is a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital program that has served more than 21,000 veterans and family members and trained more than 73,000 clinicians, educators, first responders and community members, all at no cost, according to the organization. The group is headquartered at the Charlestown Navy yard in Boston with a satellite location in Southwest Florida.

To donate to the Chatham police effort, visit because.massgeneral.org/fundraiser/2457514. To donate to the Harwich effort, go to because.massgeneral.org/fundraiser/2471927. The Orleans police donation page is because.massgeneral.org/fundraiser/2474363.

Learn more at www.homebase.org.

For Chatham's Goddard, this is the first time he's grown a full beard. So how does it feel?

“Itchy,” he said.