The Gardner News
Andrew Mansfield, Reporter
GARDNER- The Gardner Boys & Girls Club and the company New England Peptide have formed a strong bond together through a common passion for science.
New England Peptide lab technician Kyle Sargent, who worked as a science program instructor at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for three years, has helped to spearhead New England Peptide’s fairly new relationship with the Gardner club.
He recently visited Gardner High School, where the club operates out of, to present the company’s donation from its fundraiser last month.
“This one, we were challenged as employees to raise funds. We decided to have a corn hole tournament,” he said. “It was a pretty successful day.”
Corn hole is a lawn game that involves two teams squaring off to toss small bean bags at a platform that is raised off the ground and has a hole in the center of it. The goal is to toss the bag into the air and have it land through the platform hole.
Sargent said many area businesses and Boys & Girls Club partners participated in the fundraising event along with the New England Peptide employees. They are led by company President and CEO Sam Massoni who has shown his support for the charitable cause.
New England Peptide is located at 65 Zub Lane in the Summit Industrial Park, which is off Route 101 near the Ashburnham border.
The company manufactures peptides, which are short amino acid chains that are similar to proteins. Peptides can be used by researchers to create medicines to treat or cure diseases.
A large portion of New England Peptide’s business is manufacturing peptides that are used for cancer research.
The biotechnology focus of the company pairs well with the club’s emphasis on STEM curriculum, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The Gardner club is now in its third year and operates at the high school every day after school, with a variety of educational and recreational activities for children to participate in.
The club is open for Gardner students in grades five through eight and this year, there are almost 40 members, about double the amount of members the club had in its first year pilot program.
The hope among the club’s leadership and supporters is for the Gardner club to ultimately have its own site. The parent club to the Gardner program is the Fitchburg and Leominster club, which is led by Executive Director Donata Martin.
In addition to the money being given by New England Peptide, she said there are plans to have the Gardner club’s students take field trips to the company.
“They’ll really be able to understand what goes on at the company,” she said.
Another possibility going forward is to have a student who has graduated from the club intern at the company when they are a senior in high school or in college.
Considering the mutual interest in science between the company and club, Martin described their relationship as a “good partnership” and a “win-win situation.”
Sargent indicated that New England Peptide is happy to be involved with the club, as it provides the local students a chance to learn about biotechnology, an industry that is more common out in the Boston area.
He said that he thinks last month’s corn hole fundraising tournament is “going to be an annual thing.”
“We’re looking to partner with the Boys & Girls Club in a lot of ways,” he said.