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Duffy Health, Including Service Center, Subject of 'Visionaries' Documentary

Written by Brent Runyon, Falmouth Enterprise
January 8, 2010 

A North Falmouth documentary filmmaker shot footage at the Falmouth Service Center this week, which will be part of a documentary broadcast on public television stations across the country later this year.

Bill Mosher of Arthur Hennessey Drive is making a documentary as part of his long running series “Visionaries,” which features nonprofit organizations around the world that have innovative solutions to social problems.

The program will mostly focus on the Duffy Health Center in Hyannis, which provides health care and support services to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Duffy Health Center works closely with the Falmouth Service Center to provide health care to Falmouth's homeless, and a segment of the half-hour program will be devoted to the service center.

“I think the Falmouth Service Center is an incredibly cool place,” Mr. Mosher said. “Falmouth has something really unique here, and that is neighbors helping neighbors in need.”

Mr. Mosher has visited pantries and homeless shelters all of the world, he said, and usually there are paid employees and wealthy volunteers helping the poor.

At the Falmouth Service Center, it is different. “There’s a feeling that the person volunteering behind the counter is only a paycheck or two away from being in the opposite position,” he said. “There’s a real dignity there.”

In the past 13 years, Mr. Mosher has produced 160 documentaries about nonprofit organizations all over the world with innovative solutions for problems such as homelessness, health care, and senior care.

“The work is really about searching the world for positive solutions to problems,” he said.

The program is hosted by actor Sam Waterston of the television show “Law & Order,” who volunteers his services.

Mr. Mosher said he tries to do at least one program about organizations on Cape Cod each season.

His crew shoots about 20 hours of footage over three weeks, and then he edits it down to a half-hour program. He edits the footage in North Falmouth, but never uses a script or a narrator to tell the story.

“To me, it’s like writing a story but making it out of clips of people and stringing together a story that way.”

He said he works that way because his goal is to make people understand what it feels like to be in a situation rather than simply disseminate information.

The Duffy Health Center program will be a traditional documentary, but it will also be a new kind of multimedia program.

Mr. Mosher received a grant from the Ash Institute at Harvard University to design a computer program that creates a living documentary.

Users download the program to their computer. They can watch it as a traditional documentary, and they can also click on characters to find out more about them.

The program will also update over time, and new footage will be added to the documentary. For instance, if a viewer is interested in what happened to a homeless person in the Duffy Center program, they click on their picture and find out the most up-to-date information.

In 1998, Mr. Mosher and his organization were in talks to buy the 88-acre Peterson Farm off Woods Hole Road at the same time the town was considering purchasing it for open space.

There they planned to build a graduate school specializing in media and philanthropy in partnership with Suffolk University. Town Meeting voted to purchase the property by a slim margin after a 2 1/2-hour debate.

Mr. Mosher went on to create the graduate school in western Massachusetts, but closed it after five years, after administration at the school changed.

Mr. Mosher moved to Falmouth 14 years ago with his wife, Christina A. Mosher, to place their children in the Falmouth Public School System. “We loved the Falmouth schools,” he said.

Their son Michael D., 15, is now a sophomore at Falmouth High School, and their daughter Michelle C., 16, is a junior, also at FHS.