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Amy Maxman and Jamil Kharrat, Safety & Security Officer talk to a girl in Aleppo, Syria. COURTESY PHOTO/AMY MAXMAN

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Getting to know Winchester folks who do good work for the larger community has been the subject of this column, but this week your reporter talked with a woman who does good work for the entire world.

Abby Maxman has been the director of Oxfam America since 2017, after a career working for other organizations that help people, including Care where she was deputy secretary general. 

“We’d lived outside the U.S. for more than 20 years, and our three kids had never lived in America,” she said. 

So when it came time to find a place to live, she and her husband, Charlie Danzoll, wanted a central location so she could easily travel when she needed to. 

“We bought our house sight-unseen, with our realtor showing us the house online,” she said. 

They now live on Grove Street and they enjoy walking through the Town Forest, and one of their children now attends Winchester High School. 

“There’s so many wonderful things about Winchester,” Maxman says. 

She thinks many residents might take for granted some of them, including the town library—“A beautiful building,” she says, “and the Minuteman Library System is excellent.” 

She also appreciates the downtown shops, the commuter rail, the Farmers Market, and the ease of having doctors and dentists right nearby. 

 “It’s just a quaint New England town,” she says.

Maxman emphasized the approach Oxfam takes to helping people deal with inequalities in race, gender, climate issues, and humanitarian problems. 

“We want to bring back stories about people’s strength and dignity,” and how they’re helping themselves and their country get on the right track. 

And unlike similar organizations, Oxfam doesn’t seek funding from the government or even from most corporations. 

“We want to be an influential voice,” she says, without the perception that they’re a government-sponsored organization.  Consequently, Oxfam survives on grants and individual donations.

“We welcome a $5 donation that you might send us instead of buying coffee,” she says. 

A native of Philadelphia, Maxman travels abroad about once a quarter, but she’s all over the U.S. two or three times a month. 

“I think I’m home 70% of the time,” she says, although her husband doesn’t quite agree.

Her last trip was to Israel and whereas she used to go to Gaza, the war is preventing that, but she did meet with her staff there and also with many Gaza residents who’ve been displaced by the war. She also visited community members in Jordan and has gone to Haiti, Syria, Dubai and many other countries.  She came by this naturally, having served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Lesotho. 

Asked how many languages she speaks, she says she’s only fluent in English and French but learned a smattering of Sesotho, the national language of Lesotho. 

Maxman is a helper extraordinaire and like other helpers we’ve covered in the News, she is grateful that other residents can help her do the helping. 

Winchester News is a non-profit organization supported by our community. If you appreciate having local Winchester news, please donate to support our work, and subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

 

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