One day just to give back to community

By Amanda Burke,

LEOMINSTER — The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has one mission: Serve the children.

Sometimes, that means day-to-day building upkeep falls through the cracks.

But not on Thursday, when about 40 employees from international real-estate firm Keller Williams dug out their gardening gloves or grabbed a drill to help the youth development organization tidy up for spring.
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A foot in the door

By Paula J. Owen

WORCESTER — Juan R. Martinez Jr., 19, started working when he was 14 with a landscaping company to make money to buy himself new shoes and go to the movies with his friends.

His parents struggled financially and couldn’t afford to buy him some of the things his friends had, like an iPhone or new clothes, he said, but finding a job in the city as a teen is nearly impossible, Mr. Martinez said of his experience, unless you’re lucky enough that your family owns a business.

“It’s difficult for kids to find jobs in the city,” Mr. Martinez said. “If you don’t have a mom or dad who owns a company, it is almost impossible to find a job. I wasn’t able to get new things other kids had because my family couldn’t really afford that, so I had to work.”

So, at 14, he turned to Worcester’s Community Action Council, which helped him find a job through the organization’s “YouthWorks Summer Jobs Program,” established to create summer jobs for low-income, at-risk, inner city youth between the ages of 14 and 21. Each summer, youths are given 18 hours of pre-employment training, along with six to seven weeks of meaningful paid work experience, and daily supervision and support through the program, funded through the state and administered by the Commonwealth Corp.

“I have friends who haven’t had a job in a few years,” Mr. Martinez said. “I feel like people don’t like hiring youth because they feel it is a liability because of their age and experience. I don’t understand why because youth are the most ambitious out there.”

A few years ago, the Quinsigammond College student started working for DeJongh “Dee” K. Wells, co-founder of Future Focus Media, a photography and filmmaking company on King Street, through the program at WCAC. Mr. Martinez says he loves the work and calls Mr. Wells his “sansei,” a Japanese term meaning “teacher.”

“He teaches more than photography,” Mr. Martinez said. “I’m learning a whole bunch of different skills I can take anywhere that will help me get other jobs.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in July 2016, 11.5 percent of people 16 to 24 years old were counted as unemployed. Additionally, research has shown that health and wellness factors are strongly tied to income levels and that children from lower-income homes are more likely to be overweight and in poorer health than those from higher-income homes.

As the summer job season gets underway, Attorney General Maura Healey is promoting work opportunities for young people, while raising awareness about their right to a safe and healthy workplace, with a youth summer jobs grant program. The program uses $300,000 in settlement funds to focus on promoting physical wellness and disease prevention among the state’s young people.

“We are pleased to be providing this funding that will advance healthy living and tackle obesity in at-risk communities for a third year in a row,” Ms. Healey said.

Mr. Wells said he started hiring youth in 2011 through WCAC summer program and also independently year-round.

“We know that youth need summer jobs, and we’re also teaching life skills and a trade they can always do,” he said. “Yes, we’re teaching photography and filmmaking, but we’re also teaching preproduction planning, creating timelines and sticking to it, and how to organize themselves. Those are soft skills that a lot of friends and family taught me that I am teaching them in a different setting while teaching photography that they will always have as a job or side hustle.”

Carrick J. O’Brien, director of the job and education center at WCAC, said the youth summer job market in the city looks a “little bit bleak.”

“Last summer we were able to put 370 youth to work, primarily from the Worcester area,” Ms. O’Brien said. “It is a win-win situation. The youth have an opportunity to gain some meaningful work experience, and it is also free labor for the employers that provide a good, safe, work experience, help with mentoring and help show them the way it is in the real world.”

All those papers. All those tests. They earned it.

Cheers all around as area seniors receive chamber scholarships

By Elizabeth Dobbins,
UPDATED:   05/13/2017 06:32:29 AM EDT

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Leominster Superintendent of Schools James R Jolicoeur, left, and Leominster High Principal David Fiandaca celebrate with LHS

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Leominster Superintendent of Schools James R Jolicoeur, left, and Leominster High Principal David Fiandaca celebrate with LHS scholarship recipients at the North Central Mass. Chamber of Commerce Good Morning Scholarship Breakfast on Friday.

With them, from left, are seniors Laura Jenny, Mark Pothier, Alivia Burns, John Gove, Kristen Maguy and Kyleigh Olivier. See slide show at SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE PHOTOS / JOHN LOVE

LEOMINSTER — The achievements of the 24 students presented scholarships at the “Good Morning” breakfast had many local leaders lightheartedly taking another look at their own credentials Friday morning.
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North End Subaru does its Share for Boys & Girls Clubs

LUNENBURG – Subaru of America Inc. and North End Subaru on Friday presented a check for $22,071 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fitchburg/Leominster and Lunenburg as part of the 2016 Subaru Share the Love event.

From Nov. 17 to Jan. 3, customers who purchased or leased a new Subaru vehicle could select from a list of charities to receive a donation of $250 from Subaru of America.

This year, for the first time throughout the life of the program, there was no cap on the total donation from Subaru of America to its Share the

Love charitable partners. By the end of this year’s event, Subaru hopes to reach a grand total of nearly $90 million donated since the creation of Share the Love.

For 2016, Subaru of America selected the four national charities ASPCA, Make- A- Wish, Meals on Wheels America and the National Park Foundation. Subaru retailers could also elect to add a local charity, and North End Subaru selected the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fitchburg/ Leominster and Lunenburg as its ” hometown charity.”

The check was presented to the local Boys & Girls Clubs by Martin Babineau, dealer principal of North End Subaru.

Central MA Science Festival picks up steam

LEOMINSTER – It was full STEAM ahead on a sunny Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for the fourth annual Central MA Science Festival.

The popular, free event highlights the importance of STEAM-related learning (STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and there were plenty of hands-on exhibits for the more than 500 visitors who had come through by 1 p.m., with another two hours to go, volunteer Kelly A. Hartnett said. Read more…

YUMMM! Visions of Food at AVAM

Bret McCabe
February 21, 2017

Ruby C. WilRuby C. Williams, "Farm Boy with a Duck." Part of Yummm! at AVAM.liams sells produce at a stand along Florida’s State Road 60, which runs east-west through the Sunshine State from Clearwater Beach on the Gulf of Mexico, through Tampa, and on to Vero Beach on the Atlantic Coast. She hand-paints signs to entice passing motorists to stop, and her advertisements are rendered in bright acrylic paint on board. Sometimes they’re simple—an orange circle on a matte grey background cheerily offering “sweet orange Florida’s best” or a bold red circle with a short green stem and leaves announcing “farm tomatoes.” Other signs deliver an almost aphoristic uplift, such as a green and gold flower surrounded by text that reads, “It’s getting better,” or a portrait of a woman in blue on gold board that suggests, “It’s a great thing to love someone.”
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A look at 20 local people who helped make 2016 memorable

For the seventh year, the Sentinel & Enterprise is looking back at the people who won our hearts, stimulated our minds and piqued our curiosity over the past 12 months.

These local people — among them politicians, public servants, professors, performers and community advocates — helped make 2016 memorable.

1. Kevin Roy

Roy’s quick response to a fire in the early hours of Feb. 10 earned the Fitchburg Fire Chief and 41-year department veteran a Medal of Valor during the Firefighter of the Year awards this November.

When a fire started in a house at 174 Walton St., Roy could see the blaze from his home.

He entered the duplex and pulled an unconscious 60-year-old man to safety.

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Organizers put final touches on 23rd annual Appleseed Festival

Sentinel & Enterprise Staff
Sentinel & Enterprise
September 14, 2016

Organizers are planning for another successful Johnny Appleseed Festival on the weekend of Sept. 24-25. 		Courtesy PHOTO / Richard MarchandSentinel and

Organizers are planning for another successful Johnny Appleseed Festival on the weekend of Sept. 24-25. Courtesy PHOTO / Richard Marchand

LEOMINSTER — On the weekend of Sept. 24-25, the city will celebrate its 23rd annual Johnny Appleseed Arts and Cultural Festival. And while plenty of activities are planned, organizers are still seeking sponsors.

“After last year’s event, it is hard to imagine this year’s event could be even bigger and better,” said Richard Marchand, who has been organizing the festival for 18 years.

Last year, the festival was followed by the 100th anniversary parade, which was the culmination of a long year of planning and city-wide activities to celebrate the city’s centennial.

“This year, we get back to the basics being a day to celebrate community with events and activities that are cross generational to be enjoyed by all,” he said.

The main stage located at the opening of Church Street onto West Street will have live entertainment all day long.

From 9 a.m. to noon, school-based instrumental and chorus groups will perform. Read more…

Reaching for the stars: Space-themed program touches down in Leominster

By David Dore
Leominster Champion
August 26, 2016

Former NASA astronaut Don Thomas, back left, and Michelle Lucas, back right, founder and president of Higher Orbits, stand with the 17 middle and high school students who took part in “Go for Launch!” last week at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. 
David Dore photo

Former NASA astronaut Don Thomas, back left, and Michelle Lucas, back right, founder and president of Higher Orbits, stand with the 17 middle and high school students who took part in “Go for Launch!” last week at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburgand Leominster. David Dore photo

Before they could imagine going to space, about 15 middle and high school students had a few things to learn here on Earth — such as how to speak in front of a group, present materials and overcome nervousness.

“Everybody gets nervous,” Michelle Lucas said. “It’s just kind of natural.”

Lucas, a former International Space Station flight controller and astronaut instructor, urged them when speaking to an audience to make eye contact, speak loudly enough to be heard in the back of the room, change their rate of speech if necessary (depending on the situation and the part of the country they’re in), pause and breathe when needed (but don’t use filler words such as “um” and “uh” too much), and “keep it simple, but informative” in their talks and PowerPoint presentations.

As for overcoming nervousness, Lucas told them to take a deep breath, relax and trust their knowledge — or do what works for them.

And, she said, don’t forget to smile. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club wraps up summer with a Blast

By Lucy Norton, teen intern
Sentinel & Enterprise
August 21, 2016

LEOMINSTER — On our last week here at the Boys & Girls Club, we had an especially fun week planned to make sure the kids remembered us until our upcoming school year.

The staff and kids had a blast this summer and were very sad to say goodbye to their favorite summer camp. But that didn’t stop us from having a blast on their last week of the Summer Blast Program.

Our Juniors started back again with their bread mural and lots of other fun arts activities, including Tie-Dye Fun, Camp Crafts, Art in the Garden, and even Pokemon Origami, keeping up with the worldwide phenomenon that is Pokemon Go. Some of the kids’ favorite STEAM activities this week were Lego Design, Minecraft EDU, Science STEM mentoring and Robotech. In our cooking programs this week, the kids made scrumptious Taco Fiesta Salad and baked up some delicious treats in Easy Baking. Read more…

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