Robotics team will compete for world championship


Robotics team will compete for world championship

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE
By Peter Jasinski
Students in the robotics club at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster demonstrate how their robot works at the club in February.

Students in the robotics club at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster demonstrate how their robot works at the club in February.

 

LEOMINSTER — The Terror Bots will continue their march toward global robotic domination next week as they travel to Detroit for the FIRST Robotics world championship competition.

The 10-member team based out of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster will be facing off against more than 400 other groups of high school and middle school students from around the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Japan.

This is the second year in a row the local students have made it to the international competition and its members are confident that they’ll do even better this year.

“This team is super. We started this eight years ago and we didn’t have a clue,” said Jerry Westwood, one of the team’s volunteer instructors. “Last year we really had a great year and we built on that this year. I’m really proud of the team.”

Seven of the team’s 10 members will be leaving for the competition on Tuesday, but the club is still raising
funds for their travel and lodging expenses. So far $10,000 has been donated by the U.S. Department of Defense
and the medical devices manufacturer Boston Scientific. Donations are still being accepted at the club in the
days leading up to the team’s departure.

Team member JC Oquenda said he was feeling confident and excited to be returning to the competition.
“It was a really cool experience last time because it was my first year on the team and to see the team go that far
was really cool,” he said.

Leominster High School senior Brett Houck is also confident that the Terror Bots will do well in Detroit.
“I’m hoping we do pretty well,” he said. “I’m excited to be going back because this is my last year as a team
member. I didn’t think we’d make it this far, but we did.”

Fitchburg’s ‘Yeast of Eden’ exhibit a savory blend of bread and art


Fitchburg’s ‘Yeast of Eden’ exhibit a savory blend of bread and art

Sentinel & Enterprise

4/2/18

FITCHBURG — Flour, salt, and yeast. Together they make a staple seen around the world: bread.

At the Revolving Museum in downtown, bread has been transformed into art that celebrates its cultural significance.

The “Yeast of Eden — Bread Art Project” exhibit opened Saturday. Dough, pretzels, crackers and other bread products went into the painted figurines, crumb pictures, and silhouettes that are display at the museum.

“Every culture has bread, and food is often an art form,” said Jerry Beck, founder and director of the museum.
“The smell of bread and baking is a universal experience.

Jerry Beck talks about one of the pieces in the exhibit. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVESentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting

Jerry Beck talks about one of the pieces in the exhibit.

The focal point of the exhibit are seven shapes that relate to bread. One is a boot with a farmer on it, which represents the people who grow the wheat used in bread. There’s also a salt shaker, donut, coffee cup, rolling
pin and a house.

On the artwork, pretzels, crackers, matzo, croutons and stale bread are grouped together and resemble a mosaic.

The bread shapes, which are a few feet large, are glued onto plywood and sealed with several layers of urethane
to prevent molding.

More than 200 people helped make the silhouettes at Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum.
Jerry’s 11-year-old daughter, Georgie, added flourishes to the piece shaped like a rolling pin and dough.

Using pretzels and a salt glue mixture, she added a peace sign and 17 stick figurines to honor the victims of the
school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

About 20 years ago, Beck had a studio in Boston. There was a bakery nearby that threw out old bread, causing a
rat problem. To prevent the rodents from coming, he took the bread and began to use it for art.

“It went from a scary scenario to a breakthrough,” he said.
Bread and community involvement have been part of Beck’s work.

He collaborated with students, bakers and artists through the Crumbs Company on bread art projects, which
include a toast mural. At the Jewish Museum of Florida, students helped Beck create a house featuring breads
from around the world.

That involvement has continued in Fitchburg through the Bread Project exhibit.

Beck worked with kids from the Boys & Girls of Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to make a toast mural that was on display at the Visionary Art Museum.

Catherine Judge, an art teacher at Sizer School, attended the opening to see her students’ work on display.

They made the painted figures mounted on baking sheets hanging in the museum’s window front.

Beck introduced her to Country Pizza owner Steve Loukanaris, who donated the dough used for the figurines.
Students liked throwing and kneading it and had to think about how their art would change when the dough
rose.

“It’s a natural type of material that wants to become something,” she said.

Rivera giving Girls Who Code the skills to succeed


Sentinel and Enterprise

By Peter Jasinski

 03/12/2018
Local Girls Who Code chapter founder Josie Rivera assists Abby Muller, 11, of Leominster, at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on SaturdayLEOMINSTER — As a computer science student at Fitchburg State University, one of the most striking things Josie Rivera noticed about her classes was how many more men were enrolled in them compared to women.

“The male-to-female ratio was a pretty big difference,” she said. “In the computer field, you don’t see as many women involved. I don’t really know why, they just don’t seem to lean toward it as much.”

It was because of her studies at FSU that Rivera was hired to work at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster as a computer science programming instructor. During the year she worked there, she also helped found the local chapter of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching young women about programming.

Rivera has since gotten a new job with DRS Technologies, but has remained on at the club as instructor for Girls Who Code.

“She absolutely loves it and she’s recruiting girls all the time,” said club Executive Director Donata Martin. “I think she’s a good example of another woman, and a younger one, who is successful. She’s a role model for them.”

Josie Rivera is the instructor of the Girls Who Code program at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. After seeing few female computer scienceThe club works mainly as an eight-month training course that teaches young women how to do web design, coding, edit photos and video, and even create video games. As Rivera explained, it serves as an early introduction to many of the skills that would likely be encountered in college or a computer science-related workplace.

“I love working with the kids, and when you see them learn something and get excited,” she said.

“They get to the point where they can do things by themselves and then want to show their friends.”Abby Muller, an 11-year-old from Leominster, has been in the club for almost two years and said she initially wanted to join because her father is a computer coder. She said it’s a field she’d want to someday enter, too, but she’s also considering a career in ice skating or dancing.

“I don’t really know what I’d be doing without this,” she said. “I don’t think I would have ever known about a lot of what I’ve learned, or that I could actually code something.”

Thus far, Muller has made a computer game that she modeled after the classic arcade game “Frogger” and is in the middle of developing a website.

The club meets once a week and is open to girls in grades 6 through 12. It is also planning upcoming field trips to Becker College and Google so that members can see the practical applications of what they’re learning.

“When I was their age, I really didn’t know that much about this. I didn’t really learn until I was in college,” Rivera said. “It’s an important field because it’s growing, but to get a job you really need these skills.”

Progress That Matters


Local leaders share lessons for Black History Month

Andrew Mansfield
Reporter

2/27/2018

 

GARDNER  African-Americans with prominent roles in the local community took the stage at Mount Wachusett Com­munity College on Monday to speak about their successes, challenges and belief that everyone, regardless of their differences, should be given the same opportunities.News staff photos by Andrew MansfieldIn celebration of Black History Month, Mount Wachusett Community College held a panel discussion featuring African-Americans who are in leadership roles in the local community. Gardner native Dana Heath is president of Central Mass Flag Football and Gardner Biddy Basketball.

The event was part of the college’s Tea Time Speaker series which is organized by Sharmese Gunn, a resource specialist for Gateway to College, a dual-enrollment program for students who have struggled in traditional high school settings.

“Today, we are celebrating Black History Month by celebrating the leadership of African Americans in North Central Massachusetts,” Gunn said. “African-Americans are trailblazers. … We bring such an important perspective to society. African-American history is American history.”

The event featured seven African-American panelists from the area and was moderated by Irene Hernandez, who is president of Three Pyramids Inc. and The Minority Coalition.

The college’s multipurpose room was packed for the event with students, staff and members of the public.

Hernandez began by going over the history of Africans being enslaved beginning in the 1500s, saying that created “institutional and instructional racism.”

She said even before there were Africans brought over as slaves to America, there were people of African descent who were living in the Americas, a fact that is largely unnoticed historically.

When the discussion turned to the panel, one of the focuses was discussing their road to success and the positive difference they seek to make in others’ lives.

Panelist Dana Heath said he was born in 1979 and is from Gardner. Growing up, he was surrounded by alcoholism and drug addiction in his family.

“I never had a mentor,” he said. “I didn’t even know where my food was coming from the next day.”

He now is raising his own children and has become involved in youth sports over the last several years.

He founded the Central Mass Flag Football League which he said has grown to having almost 700 local children play in last year. He also runs the Gardner Biddy Basketball program.

By coaching local youth, Heath has been able to provide to children the guidance he didn’t have as a child.

“I love watching the kids smile and have fun, be active, rather than running the streets like I was,” he said. “Playing sports, staying out of the courts; that’s what it’s all about.”

Panelist Leona Early spoke about her 30-year career at the nonprofit Montachusett Op­­portunity Council, an anti-poverty agency that serves 30 cities and towns in the region.

She said in current her role as vice president of community programs she is responsible for 75 percent of the programs the agency runs. By staying with the agency over the years and working hard, she was able to show the value she brings and rise to a leadership position where she provides help and advocacy for vulnerable populations.

“I want to be a voice and my job allows me to do that,” she said. “I’m here on this earth to make a difference, make a change.”

The panelists also spoke about some examples of racism and negative stereotyping they have faced over the course of their lives, with multiple panelists saying their intelligence has been doubted by others before simply because of their skin color.

Panelist Donata Martin, who is the executive director for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, recalled that she went to a high school where she was one of the few minorities and she did quite well academically.

But when she applied for colleges, her guidance counselor submitted a very poor recommendation letter that was filled with falsities and led to colleges turning her down.

Martin said there was one school that took her side though, saying an admissions director at Boston University realized the letter couldn’t be true and made sure she was accepted there.

Now that she leads the Boys & Girls Club, Martin said, “I want to make sure the children who come to our club have the same advantages many children with money have.”

The Boys & Girls Club Martin leads also runs a program in Gardner. In addition to her role there, she serves on the board of directors for the Mount.

In general, the panelists spoke about the importance of ensuring all people, regardless of race, income level or other factors, be given an equal opportunity to succeed.

Panelists were asked about race relations and the overall issues they currently see with the country.

“We need to be able to have difficult conversations. We need to challenge the status quo,” Candace Shivers said, who is an associate professor for sociology and human services at the college.

Panelist Angele Goss is director of the Upward Bound Math Science & North Central Mass Talent Search program for the college.

 

Shivers spoke about the importance of advocacy and social activism. She said she served as the student body president while attending American International College in Springfield.

Currently, she is a leader for the union representing Mount staff and is also on the board of directors for the National Education Association which represents education professionals in Washington, D.C.

Panelist Kathy Lewis, who is president of the Tiana Angelique Notice Foundation that focuses on domestic violence and is named after her daughter who was killed by an ex-boyfriend, spoke about how discouraged she is with the political strife and inability to work together that is seen in Washington, D.C.

“I am really concerned about the climate in our nation nowadays to the point where I spend sleepless nights,” she said. “We’re in a state now in this country that we’re the disgrace of the world now.”

Lewis concluded by paraphrasing a quote by Martin Luther King Jr.
“We better learn how to get along together as brothers and sisters or we’re all going to perish together as fools,” she said.

The other panelists at the event were Angele Goss, director of the Upward Bound Math Science & North Central Mass Talent Search program at the college, and Lamont Hicks, a senior officer specialist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the president and founder of the Future Hoops AAU basketball program headquartered in Gardner.

 

Black leadership panelists say strong identity is central to achieving dreams


GARDNER – Moderator Irene Hernandez started a Black History Month panel discussion Monday by telling the diverse audience in the packed lecture room that they are all indigenous people originating from Alkebulan – the real name of Africa – here in the Americas long before Native Americans.

African-American history in the U.S. started well before slavery, going back centuries, said Ms. Hernandez, who is project coordinator at Fitchburg Community Connections Coalition. People of color living here are not displaced, she said.

“Go see ‘Black Panther,’ ” she said. “It is not stereotypical or superficial. It talks about colonization, fatherless children, oppression, subjugation and loss of identity as displaced people.”

To fight against institutional and structural racism, “you have to know who you are and where you come from,” Ms. Hernandez said, and work toward changing social constructs so there is equity, freedom and prosperity for all to allow everyone to live side by side.

“In ‘Black Panther,’ the different tribes of the world show how great we are – intelligent and fierce, with wisdom, loyalty and honor … Our people were here in the Americas long before the Natives were. We are not black and we are not white. We are indigenous people. We are the tribes of Alkebulan – ‘mother of mankind,’ ‘garden of Eden’. Do your history and research. They were called ‘copper tones’ or ‘cinnamon’ people. Colonizers said they looked like Ethiopians because they were the darkest and thought of as ugly.”

The event was part of Mount Wachusett Community College’s Tea Time Speaker Series, held to celebrate Black History Month with a panel discussion titled “African American Leadership in North Central Massachusetts.”

Panelists included: Leona Early, vice president of community programs at Montachusett Opportunity Council; Angele B. Goss, director of Upward Bound Math Science & North Central Mass Talent Search; Dana Heath, president of Central Mass Flag Football and Gardner Biddy Basketball and assistant coach of Gardner High School football; Lamont Hicks, senior officer specialist of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and president and founder of the Future Hoops and AAU Basketball Program; Kathy Lewis, president of the Tiana Angelique Notice Memorial Foundation; Donata Martin, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg, Leominster and Gardner; and Candace Shivers, associate professor of sociology and human services at MWCC.

Each panelist shared their journeys to success and stories of challenges and obstacles they overcame, including poverty, racism and feeling marginalized.

Leadership from people of color can add a level of depth and diversity that can address marginalized populations who don’t always have a voice at the table, the panelists said. Disadvantaged children need mentors, they said, and those who feel marginalized need to find people who they comfortable with to ask questions and not feel intimidated to take a chance and step outside their comfort zone to do something different. Everyone has a responsibility to stand up and speak for those whose voices may not be heard.

Ms. Shivers said when she was hired years ago at MWCC it was “very light,” with only a handful of black faculty and staff. She said she is fortunate that at her place of employment she is able to engage in difficult conversations that may make people uncomfortable about race and may challenge the status quo.

Often, when a person of color enters a room, they have to overcome negative stereotypes just to get to “zero” and then have to work to show who they are, she said.

“People already made up their minds what and who you are,” Ms. Shivers said. “You have to overcome ‘what you’re not’ to get to zero and start from there. That is a heavy carry, especially for someone in school, overcoming things they had nothing to do with to change minds, show who they are, and, by the way, they also have to study.”

Ms. Lewis told the audience she was concerned about the climate in the nation and has spent sleepless nights over it. She called on the youth in the room to live with purpose and become leaders for a better future, citing the student activists in Parkland, Florida, who survived a school shooting Feb. 14 and are fighting for change.

“Learn who you are, fortify and enrich yourself in your history and past sacrifices and losses made for you to be here,” Ms. Lewis said. “Learn to be strong people of culture and innovations and strength and endurance and role models to children. The state of this country, we are actually the disgrace of the world now. I can’t believe what is going on in Washington, school shootings, in the news with (homicides) … It is totally out of control. The younger generations have the power to grab ahold of this mess and change it.”

She quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: “We better learn how to get along as brothers and sisters or we’re all going to perish together as fools.”

Ms. Martin said “so many children don’t dream anymore” and they need to be encouraged to pursue their passions and become scientists and engineers, for example.

“We have to start talking to them about that at an early age,” Ms. Martin said. “Their minds are open. Talk and be with them and the world is theirs.”

Laryssa M. Truesdale, 18, a senior in the Gateway program at MWCC from Gardner, is a student leader in the school’s center for civic engagement that helped organize the event.

“There were a few panelists from my hometown, so it was interesting to see their views and struggles,” Ms. Truesdale said. “All the speakers had very powerful stories of how they bounced back and kept dreaming. It really opened my eyes.”

Bouchards donate passenger van to Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster


Sentinel & Enterprise
10/18/2017

LEOMINSTER — Paula and Chad Bouchard of Ron Bouchard Auto Stores visited the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster recently to present the club with a new van they donated to the club.

Paula and Chad Bouchard of Bouchard Auto Stores stand beside the van they donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster through the RB

The donation was made through the Bouchard family’s RB Racing Charity.

The van, a 2017 Nissan NV worth $35,000, can seat up to 12 children and will be used to transport club members to and from events.

Club Executive Director Donata Martin said the van has already been used for a field trip and will be especially helpful in bringing kids home from the Boys & Girls Club.

She’s working to help empower young women


Sentinel & Enterprise
12/25/17
By Peter Jasinski

 

LEOMINSTER — Charisse Murphy’s human services career has always seen her going to where the demand to help young women is high.

By working with organizations like YOU, Inc. or LUK, she’s been able to help girls in and around Worcester and Fitchburg, but it wasn’t until she started to consider what resources were available in her own community that she decided to do something completely new.

“I had all this training, all this education, and I live in Ayer, where, in that particular part of the state, there really aren’t that many human services,” she said. “I felt like I was helping all these young people, but not the young people I was living near.”

The solution she came up with was EmPOWER ME, a free two month curriculum for building self-confidence in girls in middle and high school. It’s been two years since Murphy came up with the idea and it’s grown to the point that she’s now partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to offer her program to kids in the Twin Cities area.

“It’s actually cool to see that this has now become a thing,” Murphy said. “I’ll drive down a street in Ayer or Shirley now and I’ll see girls wearing EmPOWER ME shirts and I’ll be saying ‘Oh, look! Those girls are wearing our shirts. It’s a thing!'”

When she started out two years ago, Murphy was just working with a handful of fifth grade girls at Page Hilltop Elementary School in Ayer. Since then, the program has seen roughly 65 girls complete the curriculum and expanded into multiple schools.

The course tends to last eight to 10 weeks, featuring activities and conversations that are built around overarching themes like team building, self-acceptance, or healthy life style choices, depending on the age group being worked with.

Above all, Murphy explained that she hopes to create a safe space where girls can feel comfortable sharing details about their lives.

The success of EmPOWER ME in Ayer has since attracted the attention of the Boys & Girls Club in Leominster, where Murphy held her first official meeting last week.

“The difficult thing with it is there are just so many girls,” she said. “There must have been 75 or 80 the other night and they were from 5th grade to senior in high school.”

Which is why Murphy hopes her volunteer work will inspire other area residents to want to get involved. Though they’d need to be trained in how the program’s curriculum works, Murphy said she would hope that other volunteers would be able to facilitate at the Boys & Girls Club or in local schools in the future.

Given the current prevalence of sexual assault in the media and the dialogues it has prompted, Murphy admits that the work has taken on more importance.

“At the Boys & Girls Club the other night, we might not have gotten into what we’re seeing on the news, but the girls did start talking about their experiences and feeling shunned for being a girl and I think that does filter into what we’re seeing now,” she said. “If you’re faced with this, how do you handle it? I think having this safe space is where we have that conversation.”

Defying gravity: Fitchburg native Tara Sweeney shares experiences of flight with area youths


The Worcester Telegram

11/15/17

By Paula J. Owen, Correspondent

 

FITCHBURG — In between flying in zero gravity conditions 35,000 feet up and heading to NASA to help conduct experiments in zero gravity, Tara L. Sweeney took time out last week (Nov. 6-9) to visit with area kids.

Ms. Sweeney, 44, a Fitchburg High School graduate and retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant who now lives in Las Vegas, works as flight director for Zero Gravity Corp. based in Arlington, Virginia. Her roles with the company include flight attendant, weightless laboratory scientist and flight team coach. The company specializes in parabolic flight operations that produce a microgravity environment in a Boeing 727B for private citizens, commercial customers, advanced-learning teams and government entities including NASA.

“I work on a parabolic flight crew,” she said on the phone Saturday while preparing for her flight Sunday to Orlando. “We fly a Boeing 727, 20,000 to 35,000 feet in a parabolic flight pattern. It’s like a big roller coaster in the sky. We get to a point in the parabola where we go weightless just like astronauts do by descending really fast at a 45-degree angle. At 35,000 feet, we nose the plane over and we’re diving back to earth really fast at several hundred miles an hour and experience free-fall and microgravity conditions.”

Those on board experience microgravity for 25 to 30 seconds at a time. Zero Gravity Corp. is the only provider of the service in the country, she says, and the company publishes its flight schedule on its website. People from around the world fly with the crew on adventure flights every weekend throughout the U.S. and the crew also does Hollywood movies, commercials and YouTube videos, she said.

“It’s fun,” Ms. Sweeney said. “We accomplish amazing things. Our next stop is Orlando to do NASA research with our teammates. We have flown astronauts in the past for training and for a nice joy ride.”

NASA, she said, used to fly a similar aircraft and run experiments, but the agency doesn’t do it anymore. Instead, it provides funding and flies with the Zero Gravity crew who help facilitate research.

While visiting Fitchburg schools — where she excelled as a youth in academics and sports — and the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, Ms. Sweeney said she thanked them for the success in her life and hoped her visit inspired kids to continue on their quest and for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teachers to stay in the community.

“When I was 10 years old in fifth grade at Crocker School, I set a goal to become an astronaut,” she said. “The school district has a new hashtag it is promoting to dream what you can’t do, yet. When I walk around in a flight suit, I’m often asked, ‘Are you an astronaut?’ I told the kids, I’m not an astronaut, yet, but I’m still working really hard toward that goal. I think that resonated with the kids that I’m 44 and still working towards the goal I set at 10.

“They have a robust STEM system here in the community,” she added. “I offered to help create a STEM mentor program to bring together a cadre of scientists as a resource to continue to play an interactive role in STEM development.”

She said she was also impressed with the kids she met at the Boys & Girls Club.

“I am so thoroughly impressed with Boys & Girls Club in general and specifically the caliber of the STEM program they have created there,” she said. “I feel like I answered 100 questions from a gymnasium full of kids, and every one was thoughtful about STEM and flight and space exploration. It was such a gift. Clearly the kids spend time at the club taking STEM to heart and educating themselves and setting themselves up for success.”

She said she is planning to return in February for a STEM event there.

Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Donata J. Martin, said that after Ms. Sweeney’s presentation, several high school juniors talked to her about applying to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Topics she covered included how global warming can be seen from outer space and if there is time change in space, Ms. Martin said.

“She returns in February during vacation week to participate in our Space Camp,” Ms. Martin said. “We found out that we have many members interested in becoming astronauts or pursuing STEM careers in the myriad of fields affiliated with the space industry. … We have adopted Tara as one of our own.”

Fitchburg native shows kids how science and math builds careers in the skies.


The Sentinel & Enterprise

11/09/2017

Peter Jasinski, Reporter

 

LEOMINSTER — It’s Tara Sweeney’s job to help people experience micro-gravity by flying them to an altitude of 20,000 feet before dipping the plane downward, giving passengers a feeling similar to the weightlessness they’d feel in outer space.

It’s a fun job, and one Sweeney hopes that area students will one day have a shot at as well.

“We need all these kids in here to come up with the big ideas that will propel space exploration in a different way,” she said, prior to her recent visit to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Sweeney, a native of Fitchburg and proud product of its school system, shared her experiences in the Air Force and current work as a civilian with a group of eagerly listening local students on Monday. As she explained, the goal is not just to get them interested in science and math curriculum but to show them that a career like hers is possible.

“We’re very excited to have her,” said club Director Donata Martin. “She went to Fitchburg High and we have so many kids from Fitchburg, but she’s also a woman. We’re trying to encourage the girls to go on and study the sciences more so this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”

Sweeney entered the U.S. Air Force Academy not long after graduating from Fitchburg High School in 1991. She’s since retired and now works for the space entertainment company Zero G, which offers weightlessness flights to paying passengers.

Apart from working with tourists, Sweeney explained that her company has also had to take on more scientific responsibilities in recent years.

“NASA no longer has its reduced-gravity office and it provides funding to companies, universities, and private individuals who continue to do all the amazing science for space exploration. They come on our plane and we then fly all the NASA research experiments,” she said.

Questions from students ranged from how much money Sweeney makes to whether evidence of global warning can be seen from space.

The visit was especially important to Hazel Metinewa, a 10-year-old from Leominster with dreams of one day becoming an astronaut.

“I like how she’s explaining everything and what it’s like when there isn’t any gravity,” she said. “And I got to learn how many miles per hour the space station goes around the planet.”

Though Sweeney explained that very few children who dream of being astronauts grow up to be adults working at the International Space Station, she also said that the future is filled with exciting possibilities for kids like Hazel Metinewa.

“With the advent of space tourism and the commercial space industry, it’s my hope that the industry blossoms and matures,” she said. “The space program has changes so much from when I was a child to where I am now and it’s about to enter a whole other phase.”

An Evolving Relationship


The Gardner News
10/18/17
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.

After the company gave the club a $5,000 donation earlier this June, employees followed-up that effort with a fundraiser in September that provided the club with another donation of $5,200.

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.

Boys & Girls Club program continues to meet GOALS


By Lucy Norton

Boy & Girls Club intern

Just as in weeks past, we had some amazing activities for our juniors including the GOALS program as part of Massachusetts Youth Soccer at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

GOALS Soccer is a program in which local soccer coaches play with the kids and teach them the rules of the game.

This past week, I sat in on one of our more academic activities — Boys & Girls Club of America Summer Brain Gain, which helps to stem summer learning loss.

The leader of the program, Cathy Burgess, said, “It’s a fun way to keep the kids’ brains engaged even though it is the summer. We do activities that use math and science skills, but the kids don’t even realize they are using them when they do it.”

From sitting in on this program, I saw a close-knit group of kids who were genuinely excited about learning despite the fact that they were out of school. Did you know numerous studies show that most of us can lose about two months of grade level in math skills and more than two months reading level if we just sit around all summer?

Another activity I was lucky enough to see was STEAM Week. STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. STEAM Week is facilitated by Sehba Hasan from STEAM Engine where different activities happen each day.

When I interviewed Sehba last week, she told me the activity of the day was called “push and pull,” in which children work with a magnet kit and are able to bring the kit home.

 The program is based on the concepts of magnetism. Students learn various concepts while playing 10 games. Since almost everything — from doorbells to refrigerators to TVs — involves magnets, it is very helpful that the students learn, understand and play with magnets, and understand the fundamentals behind magnets. The different concepts include:

n What is magnetism?

n Attraction and repulsion of north and south poles of a magnet.

n Magnetic field.

n Electromagnets.

n Uses and applications of magnets.

n Materials used for magnets.

The other activities are an ecotarium kit and a digital microscope lab, where children collect their own specimens and examine them under a microscope.

Sehba also designs an activity in which children build a light-up greeting card using circuits.

This week, I organized my own activity with a group of 15 children making hair scrunchies. The idea sprung from a quick conversation I had with the club’s executive director, Donata Martin. I asked her opinion on scrunchies, and she suggested I design an activity for children to create their own.

The activity was a huge hit, and I am planning to offer the activity for the last two weeks of Summer Blast. Another special arts activity we had this week was a volunteer-led knitting program.

The Sprouts, our youngest campers, were busy the past two weeks, too. The theme for Week 3 was “Plants and Trees,” and Week 4’s theme was “Gardens and Bugs.” Throughout Week 3, Sprouts learned the importance of plants to our world, the life cycle of a tree, and how to care for different plants. During Week 4, the Sprouts explored why bugs are important to plants, such as bees in a garden. Some of the other programs included Little Scientist, Gardening Science, and Social Skills.

As always, the Sprouts enjoyed lots of water play on Thursday, and the children got their energy out during Movement Dance with Ms. Kim. The Junior staff’s Veronica led the Sprouts in a bubble-painting activity as well.

We still are accepting registrations for Weeks 5 and 6 of Summer Blast. Visit our website or stop by the club at 365 Lindell Ave., in Leominster, between 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Fitchburg, Leominster kids still having a ‘Summer Blast’


By Zachary Martin, Boys & Girls Club intern

UPDATED:   07/30/2017 10:40:15 AM EDT

The Juniors at the Summer Blast at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster participated in a team-building exercise called Toppings. The

The Juniors at the Summer Blast at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster participated in a team-building exercise called Toppings. The exercise teaches them how to work together by doing different team-building activities, like keeping balloons from hitting the ground while they walk in a straight line down the hallway.

This week, the Sprouts at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster are learning about the different “biomes,” or forests or tundras on our planet, starting with the forest and the different animals that live there.

Their day begins in the computer lab where they play different games based on their grade to help them learn how to spell, read and write, and also how to identify shapes.

Following that program, the Sprouts go outside to practice their soccer skills with the Mass Youth Soccer staff.

At the end of the day, the kids learn about this week’s theme, with the focus on the forest. Grace, 5, told me about how she learned that “some owls are bigger than others.” The kids then made little owls out of cardboard and construction paper that they were able to bring home.

The following day, the Sprouts arrived for another fun-filled day. They go to their soccer clinic in the morning, followed by a nature walk around the building and then lunch. When the kids returned from lunch, they had their lesson of the day with the focus on rainforests and the different animals that live there

On the last day, the Sprouts had their nutrition class and learned about the different types of fruits and vegetables grown across the state, and then they were able to try a mango and a kiwi, which left some of the kids with a smiling face and others with a sour face.

The Sprouts’ day came to a close after learning about the desert and its animals, followed by a quick art session with them coloring some of the different animals that call the desert home.

The Juniors had a week a little different than the Sprouts. With so many programs to choose from, I was only able to sit in on a few of them. However, many were very interesting.

On the more academic side of things, the kids participated in a program called “Maker Camp,” where they spent the last four days building a “dome den,” which is a small-domed diorama that can fit up to four kids inside. The dome den can be made to look like an igloo or the starry night sky or a number of other possibilities.

At the same time, in another wing of the building, the “Book Club” was taking place. This week, the kids were reading “Walk on Earth a Stranger” by Rae Carson. The Book Club focuses on teaching the kids how to read and analyze the book they are reading to better understand it and also to encourage the love of reading for leisure.

The following day, the Juniors in the “Circuitry and Card Making” program learned about electrical wiring and how it works. They were able to put their newfound knowledge to the test by making their own greeting cards with light-up robots on the inside of the card.

“I like making the crafts, and I also enjoy the teacher,” said Talia, 8.

Lastly, a team-building program called “Toppings” was held exclusively for the 13-year-olds. The program teaches them how to work together by doing different team-building activities, such as keeping balloons from hitting the ground as they walk in a straight line down the hallway while only being able to talk to each other. If they are able to talk and not complain or argue with each other then they earn the chance to pick a topping on their ice cream on Friday.

The camp offers just as many sports programs as it does academic ones, including bike riding, soccer, hiking and nature walks, basketball, and capture-the-flag, along with some lesser-known games, like “Spud,” which makes the kids use both their mind and body. Six teams start in the middle, a staff member throws a ball in the air and calls out a number indicating which team must catch the ball, and freeze wherever he or she is standing while all other teams scatter across the gym. The one who catches the ball can throw it at someone to get them out, but if they miss, they’re out. They can pass to a teammate to move the ball around, but if they drop it, they’re out. They can also shoot it in the hoop when they have two or fewer players in, and if they get it in the basket, their entire team can come back in the game.

We are also bringing back old games like “Pick-up-sticks” and “Jacks.”

The club is still accepting registrations for this week, July 31 through Aug. 4, of Summer Blast. Visit our website or stop by the club at 365 Lindell Ave., Leominster, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., to learn more.

No summertime blues here


First of several reports by Boys & Girls Club teen intern Lucy Norton on the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s summer programs.

By Lucy Norton

LEOMINSTER — Our first week has started up again here at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s Summer Blast program.

Juniors have fun working on Recycled Rodeo Project with Jerry Beck, center. Pictured are Brett H., Angel T., Logan W., Jerry Beck, Danitiza T., Tora E., Aiyana W.,and Jazilyn C. Juniors soak up the sun at Camp Collier.

We’re very happy to be back after a long school year, with lots of fun activities with a great group of kids. The Sprouts and Juniors are beyond ecstatic for another great summer here at the club with their favorite staff and friends.

We have some extra-special activities that we are especially excited about this summer. One of our main activities is called “Recycled Rodeo,” a volunteer-based program by our own Jerry Beck, who helped us with our toasted-bread art last summer. Jerry had our kids’ artwork featured in the American Visionary Art Museum’s exhibit called “Yum!”

This summer, we are working on a project in which the kids use natural products, such as recycled items and items from nature, and make them into something new. Our featured items are three huge sculptures that the kids are now decorating and are on display in front of the club for the community to admire.

The first week, they covered the products in tape but the following week Jerry will be bringing in donated fabric from Jo-Ann’s Fabric for the kids to tell their own stories by cutting out pictures and pasting them onto the sculptures.

Our three main sculptures are a dragon, a bird and a giant head.

The dragon has mythology-themed stories on it because of the creature’s significance to fantasy. The bird has stories on it that relate to flying and of the kids’ dreams and aspirations. And the giant head has portraits of the kids made of fabric on it. The community will be able to see these beautiful creations as they evolve.

Jerry tells us that when the kids were working on the sculpture Tuesday, they saw an eagle flying over their heads and believed it was a sign that they were doing good work with their project!

When I asked Jerry’s daughter, Georgie, where her father got his inspiration for this project, she said he comes up with them in his sleep. Sometimes he will wake up and just tell Georgie what he dreamt of, and then they will get to work on how to make it happen.

Jerry has some volunteers from the Sizer School in Fitchburg helping him with this project. One of them, Hannah, tells us her favorite thing about the project is that “we are making beautiful things out of things that some people would not consider beautiful.”

This ties into Jerry’s philosophy for the whole project, which is “turning garbage into gold.”

We take lots of pride in our special activities like Jerry Beck’s, but that’s not all we have going on for the Juniors. Throughout the week, we have great activities to help the kids’ minds continue to work over the summer, including Summer Brain Gain, Economics, Coding and even the Science of Sports. They learn the importance of social skills by participating in programs like Boys Circle and Girls Circle, which are activities in which our Juniors can get together to talk about issues in their lives and address questions they have.

They get in touch with their artistic side in Drawing, Painting, Zentangle and Art. And there are also activities to get the kids outside and having fun, such as Nature Walk, Baseball, Archery, Wiffle Ball, Soccer and Kickball.

This past Thursday, our kids headed out to Camp Collier in Gardner for their weekly field trip. They swam, canoed, made sand castles on the beach, and got to play some soccer and basketball. While the kids were playing basketball, they discovered a bird’s nest in one of the hoops, got some of our staff and successfully rescued the nest and the baby birds inside it.

There were lots of arts and crafts at camp, too. Our Juniors got to make some bracelets and necklaces that they wore home. They have had a lot on their plate this week and are looking forward to another four more fun-filled weeks here at the club.

While the Juniors are exploring this amazing art project and other great activities, our Sprouts are having just as many opportunities for fun and learning. The theme this week for the Sprouts is “Weather Around Us.”

Our 5- to 7-year-olds are exploring and examining important questions, like why the sky id blue and why some clouds look different than others, while learning about different types of weather, the water cycle, the days of the week and even natural disasters. They are doing all of this through observation, play and direct instruction.

The daily soccer clinic offered by Goals Youth Soccer in Lancaster is teaching the kids how to play while having lots of laughs and smiles. The nutrition cooking class was a great experience to taste some new and yummy foods while learning about nutrition and how to eat healthy!

The Sprouts learned important things in activities like social skills, gardening science, exercise and little scientist. They had lots of fun in activities like computer fun, dance, sports and Lego design.

We are always looking for new campers to come in and enjoy the fun with us. If you or your child would be interested in a fun-filled summer of learning and excitement, visit www.bgcfl.org/summer or come see us in person at 365 Lindell Ave.

JAZZ AT SUNSET 2017


JAZZ AT SUNSET 2017
Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 6:30 PM

WICN Public Radio, in collaboration with The Theatre District Alliance, presents Jazz at Sunset, featuring rising superstar Grace Kelly. The area behind the theatre will be transformed into an outdoor, picnic-style concert venue to include food trucks, cash bars and Theatre District Alliance exhibits promoting the various businesses and cultural organizations in the neighborhood.

Jazz at Sunset re-ignites the popular, long-running  series previously held at Worcester’s Ecotarium. Organizers hope to present a six-date series in summer 2018. This first event in July will gauge community interest and support for bringing this highly successful series to downtown Worcester.

Admission for Jazz at Sunset is $20 per person with a limited number of $120 VIP stage-front tables (for four people). Tickets can be purchased through The Hanover Theatre website, at the box office on Southbridge Street or at the event. Free parking will be available in the lot immediately behind the theatre, accessed from Federal Street.

If you are not in the VIP area, please bring your own chair. In addition, you may also bring your own picnic. Beer and wine bars and food trucks will be available. Please note that alcohol MAY NOT be brought in, and must be purchased at the event.

Event will go on rain or shine!

About Grace Kelly:

The Wellesley, Massachusetts born artist, 24, is a seven-time winner of the Downbeat critics poll (as a rising star in the alto sax category). She recorded her first album when she was 12 and received the first of her ASCAP Foundation awards at age 14. Kelly’s appearances include the Boston Pops, Jazz at Lincoln Centre’s Barack Obama inauguration celebration and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Among Kelly’s critically acclaimed releases are collaborations with jazz legends Lee Konitz (GRACEfulLEE, 2008) and Phil Woods (The Man With the Hat, 2011). The disc with Konitz ended up in Downbeat’s Best Albums of the 2000s issue.

A graduate from the Berklee College of Music in 2011, with a degree in professional music, Kelly has taught residency workshops there since 2012. That year also brought another important opportunity to pass on her musical knowledge: the U.S. State Department sent her on an international speakers tour to be an ambassador of jazz and educate the people of Madagascar and the Comoros Islands about music.

Maintaining a busy tour schedule, Kelly has drawn critical praise and new fans every year, headlining over 700 shows in 30 countries at all major jazz festivals. Learn more at gracekellymusic.com.

Non-Profit Spotlight:

Jazz at Sunset is proud to put a spotlight on the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster:

Young People Talk about STEM at Boys & Girls Clubs


 May 9, 2017

STEM Next aims to make STEM come alive for young people, so they can discover their interests and passions and gain valuable skills for the future.

One key strategy for STEM Next is to leverage existing systems, for example, we invest in the capacity of national youth organizations to offer high-quality, hands-on STEM experiences after school. STEM Next supports Imagine Science, a collaboration among the National 4-H Council, Girls, Inc., YMCA of the USA and Boys & Girls Clubs of America to bring STEM to the 18 million youth they collectively serve each year.

In addition, STEM Next and the Noyce Foundation have supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s STEM initiative and other efforts to develop quality STEM programming at their 4,000 Clubs nationwide.

Recently we looked in on one Club to get a sense for how engaging in STEM activities there impacts young people. The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster (Massachusetts) has been building its portfolio of STEM programs since 2009. Currently, young people participate in:

  • Computer science – app and game development
  • Environmental education projects, including raising trout, beekeeping, and producing maple syrup
  • Robotics through FIRST and other robotic competitions
  • Chemistry through cooking
  • Engineering, physics and machines

BGCA Fitchburgg & Leominster, First Robotics Winning Team

We asked the young people what participating in STEM means to them. Their answers validate our belief that high-quality STEM learning equips young people with key skills and capacities to succeed in life – no matter their chosen path. Listen to what they told us:

Hazel, age 10: “Robotics is really fun because we get to think of an idea, test it out. At first our ideas don’t work and we keep playing around with them until they do. We learn to work together and not just to have one person do everything. And we also learn to take our time and be patient because it’s not always going to work on the first try.”

Dean, age 12: “First we have to work together. We need to be good communicators. We learn how to trust people. We work together to code and each of us also built a part of the robot. I was a bit nervous but we have done pretty well!

Jonathan, age 15: “I have learned basic programming and how to design an app. The more I use the program, the more I teach myself. It’s a long process if you want your app to be really good and you want people to enjoy it and recommend it to others. You can’t rush it – you have to think, go over it many times. You also need an outside view. You might think one thing but when you have people test it they see it differently and can give you good suggestions. There are so many steps to making a good app or game. We sit down and come up with a topic. We brainstorm, make a prototype, add more details and plan it out. Our game cheers people up and teaches them math, science and history at the same time. We all got together to present our apps in front of judges who are professionals from our community. The judges gave us advice about improving our apps and we have done it.”

Eric, age 15: “This is not just about building a robot, it’s about life lessons – working on a team, being able to problem solve. We brainstorm in the first week…we learn how to argue with each other – it’s good for the end result. It’s hectic and tense, but if you are challenged to defend your idea, it gets better.

Olivia, age 18: “Being a member of the robotics team helped me realize that I am interested in how different mechanisms go together and how things function. So it’s shaped my career goals. Now I am going to be a biomedical engineer and create better prosthetics.”

Boys & Girls Club director, Donata Martin, noted that since she assumed leadership of the Club, her vision has centered around STEM. “Kids love science, and they don’t have enough time during the school day to explore it. But they have all those hours in the afternoon. We start out with homework and snack, and then it’s off to programs.” Martin offers five key lessons for other after-school programs exploring STEM:

  1. Ask the young people what they are interested in. Start out simple. There is so much you can do right around you. For example, we tapped our maple trees and made syrup – and in doing that, we talked about local folklore and history.”
  2. Partner with the business community. They are interested in what we do because we are developing the workforce for the future. Let them know what you are doing, bring in volunteers to teach, and have your staff work with the volunteers and learn alongside the youth.
  3. Ask the staff and invest in their professional development. We are always asking our staff what they are interested in and sending them to trainings that they want to go to – they come back eager to roll out programs. For example, now we are beekeeping! We’ve extracted 75 pounds of honey. Like the kids, we make mistakes, and then we learn and try again.
  4. Take the kids into the community on field trips so they can see what kinds of careers are there. Find them internships in their fields of interest, expose them to new experiences that broaden their horizons.”

BGCA Fitchburg & Leominster, Youth beekeepers

We are looking forward to keeping up with this Club as they continue to develop the next generation of our STEM innovators. For more about the Boys & Girls Club of America STEM program, click here.

 

Author: Kathleen Traphagen

One day just to give back to community


By Amanda Burke, aburke@sentinelandenterprise.com

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.
Read more…

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, edobbins@sentinelandenterprise.com
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 sentinelandenterprise.com. 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.
Read more…

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

Brutforce.com

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.”
Read more…

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.

Read more…

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…

Sign-ups open for Boys & Girls Club after school program


The Leominster Champion
August 18, 2016

With schools starting in a few weeks, many parents are thinking ahead to what their children will be doing in the hours after school.

For local youth, a popular option is the after school program at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, which is currently accepting applications for the fall program.

The program, which starts on Sept. 6, is geared for kids aged 8-18. Children between 8 and 12 years old spend their afternoons in the Junior Clubhouse, which is open from 2:30-6 p.m. every weekday. Members aged 13-18 spend their time in the club’s Teen Center, which is open 2:30- 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Read more…

Ex-astronaut has campers exploring wonders of science


Former NASA astronaut Don Thomas and Founder /President of Higher Orbits Michelle Lucas listens to some ideas from Madeline Hammar, 11, from Leominster as she explains some of the ideas that her group came up with for experiments in space at the Fitchburg/Leominster Boys and Girls Club this week. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

By Peter Jasinski
Sentinel & Enterprise
August 18, 2016

Photo Gallery | Astronaut visits Boys & Girls Club

 LEOMINSTER — According to Don Thomas, there are about a million things that will catch you by surprise during your first time in outer space, but the one that stands out is something he saw outside the space shuttle’s window during his first mission.

“I was looking out at city lights and the night below me and I saw a small zip of light go by,” the former astronaut said.

The light, it turned out, was a shooting star passing below him.

“Here on Earth, when you want to see a shooting star you look up at the sky. When you’re in space and you want to see one you look back at Earth,” he said.

Read more…

Boys & Girls Club to host event promoting STEM careers


By Anna Burgess
Sentinel & Enterprise
August 13, 2016

LEOMINSTER — Next week, local middle- and high-school students will have a chance to explore the final frontier from their own community.

Go For Launch, an educational and experimental space camp run by nonprofit Higher Orbits, is coming to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster from Monday through Wednesday.

The Go For Launch program will give students a chance to hear space-shuttle experiences from retired astronaut Dr. Don Thomas, and to design their own space experiments — one of which might go into orbit.

The camp’s purpose, in part, is to encourage young people to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, said program director Michelle Lucas.

“I’ve had comments from students that we’ve shown them there’s a lot more options with science than they ever considered,” Lucas said. “We’re not trying to turn them all into rocket scientists, but what we do love is that space is a great way to get students excited about STEM, irrespective of what they want to do when they grow up.” Read more…

Kids get crafty in Summer Blast program at Boys & Girls Club


By Lucy Norton
Sentinel & Enterprise
July 31, 2016

Week 5 of Summer Blast is wrapping up here for the kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. The Sprouts and Juniors are sad to see another another fun week at camp go, but the staff are just as excited as the kids to come back next week to restart some of their favorite activities here at the club!

The Juniors had lots of fun in store this week, including a very special surprise in Kids in Clay. They made edible murals out of toasted bread, and after they are all finished, their artwork will be displayed at the American Visionary Art Museum in the exhibit Yum! in Baltimore.

Tsuhey are also still having a blast in Summer Patch Mural, where they have just finished their Kandinsky Tree and Camp Crafts.

DSC06474 Club members pose by their bread mural, which will be put on display in an art museum in Baltimore when they are finished.

Read more…

Rising to the creative occasion


Boys & Girls Club members part of bread mural project
By David Dore
The Leominster Champion
July 28, 2016

 A close-up of some of the bread mural contributions. David Dore photo

A close-up of some of the bread mural contributions. David Dore photoA group of children gathered in the art room at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Tuesday morning, ready to create.

After getting into groups, they were given their canvas and the tools they would need to bring their visions to life.

There was something unique about these canvases: They were 18-inch by 26-inch baking pans that had been painted gold. And inside the pans were pieces of toast.

Artist Jerry Beck is hoping to turn stale bread and baking pans into a mural measuring 100 feet long and 10 feet high that will go on display later this year at the American Visionary Art Museumin Baltimore. It might even break a world record, according to Beck.

“We hope that we’ll be in the Guinness Book of World Records so kids — they already feel a sense of pride, but when they’ve created a world record, it’s something we think they’ll never forget,” he said. Read more…

Retired astronaut to teach space program at Fitchburg-Leominster Boys & Girls Club


A principal instructor in Go For Launch! will be retired astronaut Don Thomas, who became an astronaut in 1991.

A principal instructor in Go For Launch! will be retired astronaut Don Thomas, who became an astronaut in 1991. Submitted photo

By Eric Stanway
The Worcester Telegram
July 22, 2016

WORCESTER – Those of us old enough to remember the first moon landings and initial exploration of Mars will recall the heady exhilaration of those times. For a while there, it seemed like every kid on the block wanted to grow up to be an astronaut.

The Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster is looking to ignite that spark again in a younger generation, as they initiate their first Massachusetts Go For Launch! program on August 15-17.

“We’re really excited to bring Go For Launch! to the area for the first time,” Katie Hammes of the Boys and Girls Club said. “This is a great way for kids to learn about space, and figure out ways to address the challenges that astronauts face all the time.”

The program is held in conjunction with the nonprofit organization Higher Orbits, which endeavors to make science more accessible to students.

Read more…

Kids beat the heat with cool programs at Boys & Girls Club


By Lucy Norton
Sentinel & Enterprise
July 24, 2016

At the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, members are more than halfway through the six-week Summer Blast program, and are having a great time doing all sorts of activities. Even though they are four weeks in, the kids haven’t slowed down one bit.

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The Sprouts, members ages 5-7, had lots of fun this past week with activities like Summer Brain Gain, which helps keep their minds and imaginations active over the summer, and dance with Miss Kim. There was plenty of giggling as the kids worked together to play parachute games and come up with dances. They also cooled down with water games and kiddie pools the day the Juniors were at the lake. It was a great afternoon.

The Juniors, who are 8-12 years old, have busy schedules as well. There are many STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) programs to keep them busy and learning, like Code Academy and Scratch, where they can learn and use programming skills, Minecraft.edu, Math Jeopardy, and DIY Volcanoes, where members build a homemade volcano and learn about real ones in the process. 3D Printing is popular on the Club’s new 3D printing lab — so far, the kids have printed lots of things that they’ll take home later this summer, including a cartoon cat figurine, a life-size hand, some angel wings and Minecraft mining tools. Read more…

Realtors partner with Boys & Girls Club to help youth


The Leominster Champion
July 14, 2016

The North Central Massachusetts Association of Realtors has partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to ensure that the youth of our area have great futures.

“Realtors help build neighborhoods and communities, and volunteering time and resources with BGCA gives us the opportunity to help enrich and improve the lives of the young people in these communities,” said Michelle Haggstrom, president of the North Central Massachusetts Association of Realtors.

Members rallied together to volunteer at several posts during the 5K fundraising event to support the Boys & Girls Club. NCMAR members Kathryn Weldon manned the hydroblaster, Locke Haman and Tom Ruble fired up the grill to provide a hearty lunch, and Executive Officer Kathy Lore, Pat Toth, April Cover, Brian Cormier, Susan Roser and Haggstrom assisted with pre-race activities such as registration, bib and T-shirt pickup. The funds raised from the 5K race will be used to continue the many beneficial programs at the local Boys & Girls Club.

The North Central Massachusetts Association of Realtors is the most trusted resource for real estate information in Northern Worcester County, and the Boys & Girls Club of America is the premier youth development organization in the U.S. Both organizations have come together to make an ever greater difference in the community.

“We are proud to partner with the North Central Massachusetts Association of Realtors and their members. This partnership will have an immediate and profound impact on our club, our communities and most importantly, our city’s young people,” said Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. “We look forward to this partnership and working together on volunteer projects, club improvements and mentoring, as well as fundraising and awareness initiatives to enable more young people to achieve great futures.”

Rollstone Bank & Trust donates $10,000 to Boys & Girls Club summer program


Published in:
Sentinel & Enterprise
The Harvard Press
The Worcester Telegram
July 7, 2016

Rollstone Bank & Trust recently gave $10,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for its summer programs. The funds will be matched by an anonymous donor, who is matching up to $50,000 in donations.

“We appreciate the continued support of Rollstone Bank for our after school and summer programs,” Donata Martin, executive director of the club, said. “The willingness to help us meet our $50,000 Challenge by giving an additional gift is more than admirable and demonstrates Rollstone’s support of our mission: ‘To inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive and caring citizens. Read more…

Creating a better future


Leominster Boys & Girls Club winner shows what a club could do for Gardner


By Andrew Mansfield
The Gardner News
July 2, 2016

LEOMINSTER – The motto for the Boys and Girls Club is “great futures start here.”

News staff photos by Andrew Mansfield Laura Jenny from the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, at 365 Lindell Ave. in Leominster, won the Youth of the Year award for Massachusetts clubs. Gardner has a Boys and Girls Club program at Gardner High School, with Fitchburg and Leominster being its parent club. Here, Jenny helps kids make cookies at the club in Leominster.

In Gardner’s case, a pilot program that ran this past school year has been looking to its parent club in Fitchburg and Leominster for how to build such an opportunity for its youth.

The parent club took another major step forward in living up to its saying this year, as member Laura Jenny, an incoming senior at Leominster High, won the Massachusetts Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year Award for 2016.

“We’re blown away,” said Executive Director Donata Martin.

The hope is that someday Gardner can build its program to become a full club with the same success and its own building too. The pilot program was hosted at Gardner High School for a group of about 20 middle-school students, run by parent club staff. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club: Tryout is a success


First year of after-school program touted; need for a building discussed

By Andrew Mansfield
The Gardner News
June 24, 2016

GARDNER – Victoria Fils-Aime said she was taught as a child that she couldn’t make it.

She was shy and felt “broken, ugly and weak,” as a teenager; but that all changed when she discovered the trademark symbol of two hands coming together painted on the brick building of her local Waltham Boys and Girls Club.

“It helped me see my full potential,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the club, I don’t know where I would be.”

Fils-Aime was one of a number of speakers at an informational meeting about the Boys and Girls Club held at The Gardner Museum on Wednesday evening.

The occasion was an effort to build on the momentum created this past school year with the opening of a pilot program in Gardner that gave 20 middle-school students a positive after-school outlet, thanks to staff from the Fitchburg and Leominster chapter. Read more…

Youth of Year big booster of Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg, Leominster


IMG_3683

Laura Jenny of Leominster poses outside the Bruce Lawrence Teen Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.Laura Jenny of Leominster poses outside the Bruce Lawrence Teen Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. Submitted Photo

By Amanda Roberge
The Worcester Telegram
June 24, 2016

LEOMINSTER – When asked to nominate a member of the club to compete at the state level with other Youth of the Year winners from their respective clubs, the leaders at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster didn’t hesitate.
A regular at the club since she was 8, Leominster High School incoming senior Laura Jenny, 17, was an obvious choice – but perhaps the reasons were not obvious.

There is no question that she is a poised and intelligent young woman, but for her to win the Massachusetts State Youth of the Year title, which Ms. Jenny now holds following a competition in Western Massachusetts during the first weekend of June, judges must have seen something more.

During the extensive interview process, Ms. Jenny deferred questions about herself in order to promote her local Boys & Girls Club.

“I didn’t want to focus on myself,” she said. “I would rather talk about the club, and how great the staff and the kids are, and all the amazing things we do.” Read more…

Leominster teen named state Youth of the Year


By Christine Smith
The Leominster Champion
June 16, 2016

LeominsterÕs Laura Jenny, 17, a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, will represent Massachusetts in the Regional Youth of the Year competition. With her are Donata Martin, director of Fitchburg and Leominster club, and Jon Blodgett, director of the Teen Center. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

The responsibility and the reality is just starting to weigh in at this point, but Laura Jenny was pretty shocked when it was first announced that she was Massachusetts Teen Youth of the Yearfrom among the many other youths from about 40 Boys & Girls Clubs statewide.

As a longtime member of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, Jenny was feeling a deep sense of honor that day in acting as her club’s representative at the statewide competition held at Westfield State University on June 6.

In her surprise at the moment it was announced, she wished that all the staff and children she has come to share her time with during her more than nine years at her local club could have been on stage with her that day, because she believed they all deserved the honor along with her.

Jenny said her first time experience attending the state competition included making lifetime friends of the many other youths she met during the two day event and kept her wondering, “Why me, and not them?” She said they were all “great kids” and “solid characters.” Read more…

Community Foundation supports programs with grants


The Leominster Champion
June 17, 2016

Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts’ Maribeth Janssens and Phil Grzewinski look on as Donata Martin with the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster receives a $3,000 grant last week at the foundation’s anniversary event at Apple Hill Farm in Leominster. Courtesy photos

Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts’ Maribeth Janssens and Phil Grzewinski look on as Donata Martin with the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster receives a $3,000 grant last week at the foundation’s anniversary event at Apple Hill Farm in Leominster. Courtesy photos

The Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts announced the distribution of 23 grants, totaling nearly $500,000 from its general endowment funds and field of interest funds, during a press event at Apple Hill Farm in Leominster.

“All of the programs we funded will make a difference in the quality of life for our region,” said Phil Grzewinski, president of the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts.

Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts’ Maribeth Janssens and Phil Grzewinski look on as Kylee McCumber with Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz, Inc., receives a $15,000 last week at the foundation’s anniversary event at Apple Hill Farm in Leominster.

Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts’ Maribeth Janssens and Phil Grzewinski look on as Kylee McCumber with Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz, Inc., receives a $15,000 last week at the foundation’s anniversary event at Apple Hill Farm in Leominster.

Eight of the grants were made from the Community Foundation General Endowment Fund, which includes support from seven named funds — ABM General Endowment Fund, Allen & Barbara Rome General Endowment Fund, Brown/Peterson Family General Endowment Fund, Gerald E. Bieler Memorial Endowment Fund, IC Founders Society Endowment Fund, KRC Family Endowment Fund and the W. E. Aubuchon, Jr. General Endowment Fund:

• Becket Family of Services Fitchburg, which specializes in addressing behavioral disorders in children and adolescents, of Fitchburg received a $6,000 grant to purchase additional tools for its vocational programming, allowing it to serve more clients. Read more…

GO FISH: Students release trout in Dunn Pond


By Andrew Mansfield
The Gardner News
June 16, 2016

 

GARDNER – One day we all have to grow up, move out of our parents’ house and dip our toes into the waters of life. That’s a lesson a group of young brook trout learned when Gardner middle-school students let them out into the wild at Dunn Pond on Thursday afternoon.

“I like that about half of them grew up big, a few inches. I like naming them too,” said sixth-grader Jack Keenan.

He was one of a handful of students releasing fish as part of a Boys and Girls Club pilot program this school year. Students began raising them in a fish tank over the wintertime, nurturing them from the time they were eggs to being able to go out on their own. Read more…

Community Foundation awards $433G to 23 local nonprofit agencies, programs


By Anna Burgess
Sentinel & Enterprise
June 10, 2016

LEOMINSTER — As foundation president Phil Grzewinski put it, being able to give away almost half a million dollars after only 15 years of operation is “quite an accomplishment.”

But that is what the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts did on Thursday night.

As the Community Foundation celebrated its 15th year, they gave $433,640 to 23 nonprofit agencies and programs, helping them continue or expand services.

On Thursday, at a celebratory grant-awarding ceremony, Ted Lapres, chairman of the Community Foundation Board of Trustees, looked back on the past decade and a half.

“We’re really proud of what we’ve accompished in the first 15 years,” he said, “but I can tell you I want to see us do even more in the next 15 years.”
Read more…

Leominster’s Laura Jenny named Massachusetts Youth of the Year by state Boys & Girls Club


By Julia Sarcinelli
Sentinel & Enterprise
June 9, 2016

 

LeominsterÕs Laura Jenny, 17, a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, will represent Massachusetts in the Regional Youth of the Year competition. With her are Donata Martin, director of Fitchburg and Leominster club, and Jon Blodgett, director of the Teen Center.SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Leominster’s Laura Jenny, 17, a member of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, will represent Massachusetts in the Regional Youth of the Year competition. With her are Donata Martin, director of Fitchburg and Leominster club, and Jon Blodgett, director of the Teen Center. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

LEOMINSTER — Laura Jenny was named the 2016 Massachusetts Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of America during a ceremony at Westfield State University.

The 17-year-old Leominster High School senior will represent the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, as well as clubs from across the state, when she competes regionally with a chance of competing for the title of National Youth of the Year later this summer.

Jenny, who was the first finalist and award recipient ever to represent the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, was excited about the honor and what it means to her, as well as the chance to represent clubs from across the state.

“The club is my family,” said Jenny, who has been active in the club for nine years. “It’s my second home. I’ve been here since I was 8, and I’m always honored to represent the club because it’s done so much for me. Now that I’m State Youth of the Year, it’s kind of an extension of that, because now I’m representing all of the clubs in the state and all these great kids.”

Jenny is the daughter of Mary and Peter Jenny, and she has a 14-year-old brother, Eric, who has been active in the club for six years.

“I’m very proud of her,” Eric said, “and I think it’s great that someone from our club can be one of the best youth in the entire state.”

Read more…

Higher Orbits brings ‘Go for Launch!’ to Leominster


The Leominster Champion
June 3, 2016

Higher Orbits will host its first Massachusetts “Go for Launch!” program Aug. 15-17 at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg andLeominster.

Middle school-aged students in the area will have the opportunity to participate in the three-day program that that uses space exploration as a platform to launch student engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), STEAM (Art), teamwork, communication and leadership.

Through their participation in “Go for Launch!” students learn about human spaceflight and get insight and feedback through a variety of talks delivered by experienced space and STEM professionals. Speakers scheduled to participate in this event include retired astronaut Don Thomas, former ISS flight controller and astronaut instructor Michelle Lucas, and others. The goal is to illustrate the numerous opportunities that exist in STEM-related careers.

Read more…

Leominster teen wins Youth of the Year honor


Leominster Champion
June 2, 2016

IMG_3683Selected among several local outstanding youth, Laura Jenny will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members for the Massachusetts Youth of the Year title and a $5,000 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The Youth of the Year program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire.

As the new Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, Jenny is a true example of an extraordinary young woman recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America for her leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club to hold seventh Great Futures 5K


The Leominster Champion
May 27, 2016

Mark your calendar for the seventh annual Great Futures 5K Run & Walk, hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. The event will take place Saturday, June 18 at the club, located at 365 Lindell Ave. in Leominster, to benefit the Boys & Girls Club.

The 5K is open to all levels of runners and walkers. Divisions include Adult 18-plus, Masters 40-plus, Seniors 60-plus, Elementary School, Middle School, High School and the Corporate Cup.

The Corporate Cup division, in which teams from local companies compete as a group, is back for the second year after a successful introductory year in 2015. This division has created a lot of excitement among local area companies and organizations who can’t wait to compete again. The Corporate Cup provides local businesses with an opportunity for employees to participate in an event that builds comradery among coworkers and encourages health and fitness.

The race will start at 10:30 a.m. out in front of the club and make the 5K loop around the scenic neighborhoods of west Leominster. Race highlights include medals to the top finishers in all divisions, T-shirts for the first 400 registrants, a barbecue, live music and a Health Fair.

Registering for the 5K is easy. Just visit the event website at www.GreatFutures5K.com or stop in at the Boys & Girls Club Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and pick up a form. Registration is also available the day of the race, but participants are encouraged to pre-register and take advantage of the pre-registration rates.

If interested in having your company participate as a sponsor, contact James Adams at james.adams@ebtc.com Sponsorships are a great way to support the club and let the community know your business supports the youth in the Leominster/Fitchburg community.

The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster offers year-round programming to over more than youth annually The mission of the club is simple and critical: To inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive and caring citizens.

Brown cheerleaders talk science at Boys & Girls Club


 Brown University cheerleaders Aashna Mansharamani and Janice Havasy speak at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Wednesday, May 11. Courtesy photo

Brown University cheerleaders Aashna Mansharamani and Janice Havasy speak at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Wednesday, May 11. Courtesy photo

The Leominster Champion
May 20, 2016

Brown University seniors and cheerleaders Aashna Mansharamani and Janice Havasy visited the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Wednesday, May 11 to speak about their experience in working toward science degrees.

Their visit was possible through the Science Cheerleader program, a group of professional cheerleaders that encourages young women to pursue science careers.

According to the Science Cheerleader website, Havasy is majoring in biology with a focus in immunology. She is also an EMT.

“I chose to concentrate in Immunology because the immune system is crucial to complex organisms, such as humans,” she stated. “While it is vital for human existence, the immune system is also beautifully complex and it’s interesting to learn about the many ways the immune system fights off pathogens. Learning about the human body not only allows me to understand my own body better, but also will undoubtedly help me in my endeavors to become a doctor. In the future, my plan is to become either a trauma surgeon or an ER physician. Either way, I plan to do pediatrics because I love children.” Read more…

Boys & Girls Club to host benefit run and walk


Sentinel & Enterprise
May 15, 2016

LEOMINSTER — The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster will host the seventh annual Great Futures 5K Run & Walk Saturday, June 18, at the club, 365 Lindell Ave.

The 5K, which is open to all levels of runners and walkers, will benefit the Boys & Girls Club.

Divisions include adult 18+, masters 40+, seniors 60+, elementary school, middle school, high school, and the Corporate Cup.

The Corporate Cup division, in which teams from local companies compete as a group, is back for the second year after a successful introductory year in 2015. This division offers an opportunity for employees to participate in an event that builds camaraderie among co-workers and encourages health and fitness.

The race will start at 10:30 a.m. in front of the club, and make the 5K loop around the scenic neighborhoods of west Leominster. Race highlights include medals to the top finishers in all divisions, barbecue, live music and family activities.

To register, go to www.GreatFutures5K.com or stop in at the Boys & Girls Club noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Registration is also available the day of the race, but participants are encouraged to pre-register to take advantage of pre-registration rates.

For company sponsorships, contact James Adams at james.adams@ebtc.com.

Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/community/ci_29895138/boys-amp-girls-club-host-benefit-run-and#ixzz48pG1Tf2A

SHINE Initiative Awards $55K in Grants to Local Agencies


By the SHINE Initiative
May 4. 2016

May is recognized throughout the United States and several countries around the world as Mental Health Month and the SHINE Initiative recently launched its month-long awareness campaign by awarding grants totaling $55,000 to 13 local human service agencies and educational institutions in Central Massachusetts to support mental health education and related services.

The checks were awarded on May 2nd during a reception hosted by Fidelity Bank in Leominster to also celebrate the start of the SHINE Initiative’s 8th annual Quarter Mile campaign, which was established in 2009 by the bank’s directors and employees as a fundraising event to support community mental wellness. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club program teaches teens about bees


By Christine Smith
May 5, 2016
Leominster Champion


Students at the Boys & Girls Club of Leominster and Fitchburg inspect the bees, honey and larvae in the honeycomb with their instructor, Jon Blodgett. Students who attended the day’s program included Caleb Bergeron, 13, and Anthony Wheeler, 15, both of Fitchburg, and Laura Jenny, 17, Brett Houck, 16, Caitlin Doucet, 13, and Monica Cayenne­ Robinson, 14, of Leominster. 
Christine Smith photo

Students at the Boys & Girls Club of Leominster and Fitchburg inspect the bees, honey and larvae in the honeycomb with their instructor, Jon Blodgett. Students who attended the day’s program included Caleb Bergeron, 13, and Anthony Wheeler, 15, both of Fitchburg, and Laura Jenny, 17, Brett Houck, 16, Caitlin Doucet, 13, and Monica Cayenne­ Robinson, 14, of Leominster. Christine Smith photo

Philosophers may argue whether bees are delicate artists for their perfection of the hexagonal shaped compartments of the honeycomb, or exquisite chemists for their amazing transformation of nectar into golden honey, but modern day observers are also noticing an uncertain future for these creatures and their colonies.

For the third year in a row, teens at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster are being taught the basic techniques of beekeeping and observation of these talented insects, and program directors are also bringing to light for students the disturbing facts around an overall dwindling bee population.

It is part of what prompted Laura Jenny, 17, of Leominster, to get involved in the program at the club. Jenny said a science project a couple of years ago for biology class focused on the pesticides farms currently use and how these impact the insects that may visit the fields.

Jenny said an entomologist from Boston’s Harvard University had helped her with her project research, even providing her an up-close encounter with beehives at one of that school’s field stations in Bedford. Read more…

North End Subaru donates $18G to Boys and Girls Clubs


By Joe Atmonavage
Sentinel & Enterprise
April 30, 2016

13100936_1193679080643910_2901440046479536969_nLUNENBURG — Ninety percent of the Lunenburg Boys & Girls Club’s budget is funded by donations. That’s how the organization stays in operation, offering a place for local children.

“Things like this give us some room to breathe while we get to the next event and toward the next grant,” Michelle Belleza, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, said. “It enables us to do all these great things with the kids.”

Belleza is referring to a check that North End Subaru presented to the club, as well as another to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, on Friday at the dealership, totaling $18,515.

“We are part of the community,” said Marty Babineau, the Lunenburg dealership’s general manager. “The biggest part of having a successful business is giving back to the community, especially the kids.” Read more…

Busy beehives provide up-close learning experience in Leominster


By George Barnes
Telegram & Gazette
April 27, 2016

AR-160429350LEOMINSTER – Dressed in a full protective suit, Monica Cayenne-Robinson stood back a little as beehives behind the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster were opened for inspection Monday afternoon.

The 14-year-old Leominster High School student didn’t run away as the hive was opened and honeycombs taken out, but she was a little wary of having stinging insects buzzing around her.

“I’m still afraid of them, but I am starting to get to know them better,” she said.

Monica was one of six youths from Fitchburg and Leominster participating in the beekeeping program at the Boys and Girls Club. The program was created three years ago by Jon Blodgett, teen center director at the club and Leominster Police Officer Patrick Aubuchon at the suggestion of Donata Martin, director of the club. It is a work in progress. Read more…

50 Twin Cities youths attend Empowerment Summit


By Jordan Tillery
Sentinel & Enterprise
April 25, 2016

 

From left, Skyler Robinson, Natasha Clark and Juan Rivera lead a panel discussion during the "I Create My Future" Youth Summit Saturday at the

From left, Skyler Robinson, Natasha Clark and Juan Rivera lead a panel discussion during the Create My Future Youth Summit Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

LEOMINSTER — Local students learned a valuable lesson Saturday — you create your own future.

Nearly 50 students gathered at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to attend the annual Youth Empowerment Summit, organized by LUK Mentoring, the Boys & Girls Club and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D Early Jr.’s office.

“We want to show the kids that they’re capable of anything,” said Najid Figueroa, youth development coordinator for LUK.

The theme of Saturday’s event, which was open to students between the ages of 13 and 18, was “I Create My Own Future” — a message echoed by panelists and keynote speaker Emy Vazquez, pastor of the Lancaster Excel Church.

“You can do whatever you want to do, as long as you live your life,” said Fitchburg High senior Skyler Robinson. “Even if at times things are a little rough, that’s not your final destination, you’re going to go on to something better no matter what.” Read more…

Boys & Girls Club fair lets youngsters see how much it costs to live


By Peter Jasinski
Sentinel & Enterprise
April 15, 2016

Kevin Noyes of People’s United Bank laughs with Anthony Calderon as his spin of the "wheel of life" lands on "broken cellphone"

Kevin Noyes of People’s United Bank laughs with Anthony Calderon as his spin of the “wheel of life” lands on “broken cellphone” during the Reality Fair of Wednesday at the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. (SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / ASHLEY GREEN)

LEOMINSTER — Can you remember how old you were when you learned what it meant to bounce a check or pay for a mortgage?

For the students who attended the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s inaugural Reality Fair, it can be as early as age 11.

“They have no idea what it costs to live,” said Ingrid Adade, a financial-literacy officer for Leominster Credit Union who coordinated the event. “They have no idea what their parents might pay for utilities or for their homes or the cars they drive. This is what life is. This is reality.”

Read more…

Science festival returns to Boys & Girls Club in Leominster


By Amanda Roberge
The Leominster Champion
April 8, 2016

Jonathan Arel of Fitchburg is shown the queen honeybee of a hive by Max Weagle of Leominster at a previous Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster's Science Festival.

Jonathan Arel of Fitchburg is shown the queen honeybee of a hive by Max Weagle of Leominster at a previous Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s Science Festival. T&G File Photo/Paul Connors

LEOMINSTER – When the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster experienced a major renovation in 2012, leaders determined that the organization would be largely a STEAM-focused club. That intentional decision to spotlight science, technology, engineering, arts and math evolved, naturally, into the club’s sponsorship of an annual science fair.

This year, the third annual Central Mass. Science Festival, which has grown steadily each year, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 16 at the club, 365 Lindell Ave. The event is free.
“What we hear from people is that it’s just a really, really fun day,” said BGCFL Volunteer Coordinator Rebecca Cyganiewicz.

Read more…

Third annual Science Festival to be held next weekend


April 7, 2016
The Leominster Champion


The Central MA Science Festival will be back for its third edition Saturday, April 16 at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. 
Courtesy photos The Central MA Science Festival will be back for its third edition Saturday, April 16 at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. Courtesy photosFull STEAM ahead! The third annual Central MA Science Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, 365 Lindell Ave., Leominster.

Put on your lab coats and get ready for a day filled with science, learning and fun. Try some coding, visit a traveling planetarium, or taste a “bug lollipop.”

The Central MA Science Festival seeks to highlight the impact of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) in our lives, ignite scientific curiosity in our community, and create opportunities for discovery. Hands-on activities will be available for children and families of all ages, including a planetarium, live caterpillars, robots, Lego engineering, nature art, airplanes, computer science, geology, solar power, and much more.

The Central MA Science Festival is free and open to the public, and is affiliated with the Cambridge Science Festival.

The festival is sponsored by IC Federal Credit Union, OMNOVA Solutions, Digital Federal Credit Union and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

For more information about the festival, please visit centralmasciencefestival.org.

Boys & Girls Club donates to United Way campaign


United Way of North Central Massachusetts President Phil Grzewinski, right, and Suzanne Farias, second from right, volunteer campaign chair, thank the members and staff of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for their $507.59 donation to the 2015-16 United Way Annual Campaign.

IMG_1902-2

MOC volunteers help with taxes


March 6, 2016
By Anna Burgess
Sentinel & Enterprise

FITCHBURG — Emily Fernandez may not have graduated from high school yet, but she can do your taxes — and she’ll do them for free.

Fernandez, a junior at Monty Tech, offers low- and moderate-income area residents free preparation and filing of their tax returns as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program through the Montachusett Opportunity Council.

MOC has operated the VITA program for more than 10 years, assisting anyone with an income of less than $54,000 and anyone eligible to receive tax refunds from the Earned Income Tax Credit. Read more…

Aviation program takes wing at Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg/Leominster


Kneeling from left, Kevin Corsani, 13, and Jordan Thompson, 13, two of the Fitchburg and Leominster Boys & Girls Club aviation club members, talk about the electric four-channel model aircraft that they built, under the supervision of Alfred Dean of the Wachusett Radio Control Club.

Kneeling from left, Kevin Corsani, 13, and Jordan Thompson, 13, two of the Fitchburg and Leominster Boys & Girls Club aviation club members, talk about the electric four-channel model aircraft that they built, under the supervision of Alfred Dean of the Wachusett Radio Control Club.

The Worcester Telegram
February 25, 2016
By Bill Thomas Correspondent

LEOMINSTER – Many hands make flight work, and in the case of the local Boys & Girls Club aviation program, that spirit of cooperation has translated into a radio-controlled model airplane.
“During the building process, it was necessary to ask for the help of others, and many responded to our needs with donations of the transmitter used to control the plane and a flight simulator that allowed the builders to learn how a model plane flies,” said program instructor Al Dean.

It was Mr. Dean’s friend Paul McCracken who donated the simulator and transmitter.

“The kids can practice 15 minutes of landing and taking off” with the model, “and now they’re not cracking it up anymore,” Mr. Dean said, reached while vacationing in New Orleans.

The largesse of Rollstone Bank & Trust of Fitchburg provided the rest of the components, which included the propeller, wheels, battery, battery charger and servos, which operate the rudder.  Read more…

Boys & Girls Club nurturing trout


By Peter Jasinski
Sentinel & Enterprise
February 12, 2016

Gavin Ward and Xavier Chadwick check out the trout Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Peter Jasinski

Gavin Ward and Xavier Chadwick check out the trout Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Peter Jasinski

LEOMINSTER — Nearly a full month into the Boys & Girls Club’s trout-raising project, things are looking up.

Current estimate are that 75 of the 80 fish eggs that were delivered to the club last month have hatched and, as far as everyone knows, those 75 fish are still alive.

Knowing for sure isn’t easy, though. Each hatchling is only about the size of a grain of rice right now, and they’re all hiding beneath the many pebbles at the bottom of their tank.

It’s the fifth year the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has been raising baby fish until they’re big enough to be released in the wild, and, according to program coordinator Luci Arel, the enthusiasm hasn’t waned.

“They’re fascinated by it and very interested in learning the challenges these fish face in their environment,” she said. Read more…

It’s Going Swimmingly: Boys & Girls Club raising trout


Gardner News
Andrew Mansfield
February 2, 2016

trout2 GARDNER  Children from the Boys & Girls Club are getting a lesson in the local ecosystem, even though it’s a little hard to see right now.

Instructor Mike Scherer, formerly of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, is helping them raise brook trout in a fish tank.

The fish eggs recently hatched and the trout are barely visible in the tank right now, but the hope is they’ll keep growing and the kids will release them into the wild at the end of the school year.  Read more…

Boys & Girls Club Names New Board Members


Gardner News
February 1, 2016

LEOMINSTER — The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster announced today that Thomas Mutti, Mark Bodanza, and Jonas Angus will join its local Board of Directors.

“All three men bring years of experience that will be an asset to the Club as it continues helping local youth achieve their full potential,” said BGCFL Board chair Justin Gelinas. Read more…

Magic of Motown at Mount Wachusett


The Telegraph
Gardner News
January 20, 2016

Magic of Motown is Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and more as the five-member singing group goes through a musical journey of the great Motown years. Magic of Motown’s vocalists are: Denny Mendes, Donald McCall, Arthur “AJ Smooth” Jefferson, Steven Wood and Evelyn Dillon. The concert will benefit the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation’s scholarship program and the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

What: Magic of Motown

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22

Where: Mount Wachusett Community College, 444 Green St., Gardner

How Much: $50; $100 “VIP.” (978) 630-9276

Boys & Girls Club receives Hannaford Helps grant


Leominster Champion
January 8, 2016

Celebrating the $5,000 Hannaford Helps donation are, top row from left, Ean Rose,| Hannaford director of operations for District 20; Dave DeJohn,Local children will attend youth development programs at the Boys & Girls Club ofFitchburg and Leominster and the Boys & Girls Club of Lunenburg, and gain access to nutritious food and school supplies as they receive a $5,000 Hannaford Helps donation.

The donation is part of a larger program launched by Hannaford this year. In the past, the supermarket chain has contributed more than $4 million to local charities each year, and this winter’s gift from Hannaford Supermarkets represents a 10 percent increase in those funds. All of the new money is focused towards helping children to attend youth development programs focused in increasing their aspirations, giving them new life skills and helping them accomplish their full potential, and the clubs are excited and thankful to be named as two of the recipients. Read more…

Early holiday gift for local kids


$5G Hannaford donation supports Boys & Girls Clubs programs

Sentinel & Enterprise
December 23, 2015

Celebrating the $5,000 Hannaford Helps donation are, top row from left, Ean Rose,| Hannaford director of operations for District 20; Dave DeJohn,

Celebrating the $5,000 Hannaford Helps donation are, top row from left, Ean Rose,| Hannaford director of operations for District 20; Dave DeJohn, Leominster Hannaford store manager; Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster; Marc Bonneau. Lunenburg Hannaford store manager; and Lancaster Street Hannaford Store Manager Joe Goody. With them are club members Hannah Cote, Sasha Gendron, Kamryn Snow, Jillian Cote, Hailey Joseph, Anthony Cucchiaira, Deanna Bailey, Jocelyn Silverberg, Jaeda Gairepy-Dargin, Alyssa Boisvert, Joshua Diaz, Kyle Rodriguez, Ariana Grossi, Kendra Grant, Chloey Picard, Ryan Deltergo, Shawn Deltergo, Rose Christian, Lauren Gosson, Nicolas Soto-Luna, and Diosmar Santana. COURTESY PHOTO

LEOMINSTER — Local children will attend youth development programs at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster and the Boys & Girls Club of Lunenburg, and gain access to nutritious food and school supplies as they receive a $5,000 Hannaford Helps donation.

The donation is part of a larger program launched by Hannaford this year. In the past, the supermarket chain has contributed more than $4 million to local charities each year, and this winter’s gift from Hannaford Supermarkets represents a 10 percent increase in those funds.

All of the new money is focused toward helping children to attend youth development programs focused in increasing their aspirations, giving them new life skills and helping them accomplish their full potential, and the clubs are excited and thankful to be named as two of the recipients.

The mission statement of the Boys & Girls Clubs is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

This is demonstrated through quality, engaging programs, professional and caring staff, and providing a safe environment that fosters learning and leadership.

“With these Hannaford Helps contributions, we are focusing on the fact that a community is only as strong as its next generation,” said Hannaford President Mike Vail. “We’re really excited about the impact of these donations because of the nature of these organizations. We are proud to support the work of educators, counselors, coaches and volunteers who are so impressive in their commitment to develop young people in the communities where our associates live and work.”

Hannaford Helps has set a goal of increasing the amount of meat, produce, bread and other fresh items donated directly from Hannaford stores to community food pantries and meal programs by 20 percent or 1.5 million meals in 2016. Hannaford donated 14.6 million pounds of rescued food to hunger relief last year.

Monty Tech Senior LeBlanc An IT Ace


By Peter Jasinski
Sentinel & Enterprise
December 15, 2015

From left are Raquel Hudson, Boys & Girls Club of America’s director of partner strategy & volunteer engagement; Mike Cipriani, a network technical

From left are Raquel Hudson, Boys & Girls Club of America’s director of partner strategy & volunteer engagement; Mike Cipriani, a network technical specialist for AT&T; Monty Tech student Michael LeBlanc; and his parents, Brian and Raeann LeBlanc. Michael LeBlanc is holding the laptop he received for being the only one of more than 100 students in the country to pass both tests during a computer-repair program sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of America along with AT&T. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Peter Jasinski

 LEOMINSTER — Last summer, more than 100 students across the country took part in a rigorous computer-repair program sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of America along with AT&T that culminated with two examinations.

Of the students who took the tests, only Michael LeBlanc, a senior at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, managed to pass both.

“It’s a little overwhelming, to be honest,” LeBlanc said. “I did not expect to be the only one out of who knows how many to pass.” Read more…

Retailers team up to support Boys & Girls Clubs during holidays


Submitted to the Leominster Champion
December 11, 2015

This holiday season, retailers are rallying around Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) to support the gift of a great future for kids and teens around the country. Sixteen BGCA partners will donate and encourage their customers to donate to the organization now through January 2016.  Read more…

Fitchburg-Leominster Boys & Girls Club Helps Kids Build Guitars


By Peter Jasinski
Sentinel & Enterprise
December 10, 2015


From left, Rebecca Silva, Zia Thompson and Josh Melendy look on as volunteer Caoilin O’Connor shows them how to build wooden guitars Wednesday at theFrom left, Rebecca Silva, Zia Thompson and Josh Melendy look on as volunteer Caoilin O’Connor shows them how to build wooden guitars Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE PHOTOS / Ashley Green

 

LEOMINSTER — Legendary musician and guitar builder Les Paul once said, “I need to take a piece of wood and make it sound like the railroad track, but I also had to make it sound beautiful and lovable so that a person playing it would think of it in terms of his mistress, a bartender, his wife, a good psychiatrist — whatever.” Read more…

IC Announces ‘Change For Charity’ Distributions


Leominster Champion

“Change for Charity,” announced by IC Federal Credit Union in June, has awarded its first recipients of the new program.

“The funds, donated quarterly, are raised through our coin machines, of which a portion goes to service-oriented organizations in our area that you, a family member, or even a neighbor may receive help from,” said Tony Emerson, president and CEO of IC. “We are proud to make these first distributions on behalf of the fund, for a total of $8,636.42.”

Serving up an appreciation for ‘real food’


Free cooking classes offered at Boys & Girls Club

By David Dore
Leominster Champion
December 3, 2015

Amid the measuring, the mixing, the baking and the eating, there was the hope that the children left the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster with a new appreciation for healthy food and how to make it.

About 20 children recently finished an eight-week cooking class at the Leominster club sponsored by Watertown-based ChopChop magazine and supported by a $100,000 grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation.

The kids, aged 8-12, learned how to create a variety of meals considered both healthy and family friendly: Smoothies, scrambled eggs, pasta and sauce, green salad and vinaigrette, quesadillas, beanie burgers, pizza and honey pear crisp.

“The recipes kind of build on skill,” explained instructor Abby Reich, special projects associate at ChopChop.

The program was designed by Sally Sampson, publisher and founder of ChopChop and former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses. The free classes have been offered at Boys & Girls Clubs acrossMassachusetts, including in Worcester, Boston and Lawrence, since last year.

During the Nov. 5 class, the second-to-last session, the children made vegetable pizza with a biscuit-type dough that needed no rising or resting. As they waited for their pizzas to bake, the kids played games such as “Heads Up,” a guessing game where the answer was a type of vegetable (in this case, broccoli).

“Our goal at ChopChop is to get kids and their families inside the kitchen cooking real food,” Reich said. “There’s a lot of really wonderful benefits that comes from that. It teaches the kids independence, but on top of that it teaches that they can try new foods and enjoy them, and they have these basic skills they can use in the kitchen. It not only brings families together, but it also encourages healthy eating and it encourages all of the wonderful things that you want for your family.

MWCC’s Music Of Motown To Benefit Scholarships, Boys & Girls Club


Sentinel & Enterprise
November 29, 2015

magic-of-motown-4fd32541bfc504d6Magic of Motown will perform at Mount Wachusett Community College in January to benefit the MWCC Foundation’s student scholarship program and the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

GARDNER – A musical journey through the Motown years will take place at Mount Wachusett Community College’s newly renovated Theatre at the Mount on Friday, Jan. 22, to benefit the MWCC Foundation scholarship program and the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Magic of Motown at the Mount begins and 7:30 p.m. and features a cast of singers and dancers that recreates the harmonies, dance moves and stylish looks and legendary musicianship of the era. The performance includes the hits of Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, the Four Tops, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, the Isley Brothers and others. Backed up by a six-piece band, Magic of Motown includes vocalists Evelyn Dillon, Denny Mendes, Donald McCall, Arthur “AJ Smooth” Jefferson and Steven Wood.

“We are delighted to present this community event to benefit the Boys & Girls Club and the MWCC Foundation’s scholarship program,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “We’re partnering to help students of all ages build a great future.”

Since 2001, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has worked in youth development with young people ages 8 to 18 from many economic, social and family circumstances.

“We are grateful to the community for its ongoing support, particularly Dan Asquino and Mount Wachusett Community College, for serving as our primary sponsor and host of this event, among everything else they do for the club and the community,” said Leominster attorney Justin Gelinas, chairman of the nonprofit organization’s Board of Directors.

Sponsors to date include Mr. & Mrs. Daniel M. Asquino, The Ronald M. Ansin Foundation, Heat Trace Products, Heywood Hospital, I/C Federal Credit Union, Enterprise Bank, Advanced Cable Ties, Fidelity Bank, HealthAlliance Hospital, Bemis & Associates, GFA Federal Credit Union, Workers’ Credit Union, Rollstone Bank & Trust, Hometown Bank, North Middlesex Savings Bank, Simonds International, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Leominster Credit Union, Geosearch Inc., SimplexGrinnell, Zottoli Family Trust, Molds International, Mr. and Mrs. Scot Barrett, W.E. Aubuchon Foundation, Fitchburg State University, Dunkin Donuts, Mr. Marcus Moran, Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Martino, DiGeronimo Properties, and GVNA Healthcare.

Tickets are on sale. General admission is $50. Special VIP tickets are $100 and include reserved seating and a cocktail reception. In case of inclement weather, the snow date is Saturday, Jan. 23.

For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, contact MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli at czottoli@mwcc.mass.edu or 978-630-9276. Tickets may also be purchased online at mwcc.edu/foundation/motown.

North County Neighbors: Monty freshman first to serve on state council


Worcester Telegram
November 13, 2015

Grace Kirrane of Fitchburg, second from left, joins other SkillsUSA-Massachusetts state officers in attending the Washington Leadership Training Institute held recently in Washington, D.C.  As part of their itinerary, the students met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). Submitted Photo

Grace Kirrane of Fitchburg, second from left, joins other SkillsUSA-Massachusetts state officers in attending the Washington Leadership Training Institute held recently in Washington, D.C. As part of their itinerary, the students met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). Submitted Photo

FITCHBURG – Grace Kirrane, 15, a sophomore in the Health Occupations program at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, has become the only freshman to have served on SkillsUSA-Massachusetts State Executive Council.

 

“I heard a lot about SkillsUSA from friends, and I wanted to see what it was all about,” she said. After being elected chapter vice president for Monty Tech last year, she attended the organization’s annual fall leadership conference and was very impressed by a state officer’s speech. “I felt she was speaking to me when she told us that it is our job to paint our own future. … I started researching the duties and responsibilities of being a state officer, and decided that’s what I wanted to do,” she said. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club Pilot Program Has Begun


Club runs after-school program for middle-school students at Gardner High

By Andrew Mansfield
The Gardner News
November 11, 2015

GARDNER – The Boys & Girls Club has made its way to Gardner, giving a new generation of kids another option for after-school activities.

“It’s really fun. There’s robotics, computers and art. You can do your homework and have snacks,” said Neffy Pereira, a participant of the new pilot program run by the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. Read more…

Giving kids the tools to achieve: MyTurn helps at-risk students finish school, find career path


By Anna Burgess
Sentinel & Enterprise
October 29, 2015

Tim Salafia, 18, left, and Justin Akins, 16, are two of the 15 local youth currently enrolled with MyTurn Inc. Both boys are working at paid internships in

Tim Salafia, 18, left, and Justin Akins, 16, are two of the 15 local youth currently enrolled with MyTurn Inc. Both boys are working at paid internships in their future career fields through MyTurn. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Anna Burgess

FITCHBURG — Amanda Ludwig credits youth career center MyTurn Inc. with helping her son find focus, direction and a career path.

“If it wasn’t for this, he wouldn’t be in school at all,” said Ludwig, a Fitchburg resident. “It saved his future, in a way.”

Her son, Justin Akins, was a 16-year-old high school dropout last year. Now, he is one course away from earning his HiSET high school diploma equivalent, has so far scored well above average on the HiSET tests, and is working as an assistant automotive technician at A & P Auto in Fitchburg.

By the time he finishes the MyTurn program this winter, Akins will have a completed high school education and on-the-job experience in his chosen career.

The difference between her son a year ago and her son now, Ludwig said, is “like night and day.” Read more…

Youngsters in Fitchburg, Leominster get lessons in healthy cooking


By Amanda Roberge
The Worcester Telegram
November 1, 2015

Ruby Riggs, 10, of Fitchburg checks her quesadilla under the watchful eye of Abby Reich.

Ruby Riggs, 10, of Fitchburg checks her quesadilla under the watchful eye of Abby Reich.

The kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster have discovered that healthy food tastes better when you make it with your own two hands.

Thanks to a $100,000 grant through the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, sessions of healthy cooking classes have been taking place across the state over the last year, beginning at the Worcester Boys & Girls Club in July 2104. The grant was part of a much bigger initiative that sought creative ways to tackle the issue of childhood obesity. Read more…

Cooking program a hit at Boys & Girls Club


By Peter Jasinski
October 26, 2015

Abby Reich, special projects associate with ChopChop, shows off an avocado during a cooking class held for students at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg &

Abby Reich, special projects associate with ChopChop, shows off an avocado during a cooking class held for students at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg & Leominster on Thursday.

LEOMINSTER — Who said cooking is only for the grown-ups? Admittedly, being older makes it easier to reach ingredients on the top shelf, and maybe makes you a bit more confident working at the stove, but that isn’t what cooking is about. For students at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg & Leominster, cooking isn’t about age, it’s about passion.

“I am very passionate about cooking, and I was willing to do anything to get into this class,” said 11-year-old Zoey Ellis.

Ellis is one of the lucky 20 local children, selected among a list of 90, who we’re able to get into the ChopChopKids cooking program being offered at the Boys & Girls Club. The eight-week program features a different healthy dish each week that is cooked by kids under the supervision of on-hand support staff. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club to get a trial run


Pilot program at school could be precursor to a new club
September 25, 2015
Katie Landeck
News Staff Writer

GARDNER A pilot program of the Boys and Girls Club is set to open at Gardner Middle School this November, giving students a place to go after school.

“We wanted to start some sort of an after-school program at the middle school,” said school Superintendent Denise Clemons. “A lot of people have worked hard to make this happen.”

For the past few years, local officials including Mayor Mark Hawke and Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel Asquino have been working to bring a Boys and Girls club to Gardner. This is the first step in making that happen.

“This is one little program we hope we can build off,” said Mr. Hawke. Read more…

BOYS & GIRLS CLUB Summer Blast Program full of opportunities for kids


By BGCFL Junior Staff member Renee Mercier
Sentinel & Enterprise
August 16, 2015

DSC04725   The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s Summer Blast Program has been a fun educational experience for all. Our variety of programs provides something enjoyable for every child.

When asked their favorite part about the club, the campers said everything from sports to science. Rowan likes art the best. “We can paint, draw, and we even made little puff balls out of yarn.” she explains.

“My favorite part about the Boys and Girls Club is spending time with my friends,” Tora says. Read more…

Unified – Featured Article by Club Members Domanique and Desarae Dudley


By Domanique and Desarae Dudley
Sentinel & Enterprise
August 5, 2015

Club Note: Two of our Teen members, twins Domanique and Desarae, had the opportunity to work on the Alphabet Project at the Sentinel & Enterprise this summer, which included the chance to experience journalism in action by writing their own piece for the paper. On the day the letter “U” was featured, the twins’ article, entitled “Unified”, was on the front page.

20150805_063106_Letter U_200Twin #1: “What’s Desarae thinking right now?” To everybody reading this: I have no clue! Being twins doesn’t give us special powers. I am a regular human being just like you. Read more…

Longsjo Classic Gives Back


By Anna Burgess
Sentinel & Enterprise
August 1, 2015

Longsjo Board of Directors members Donn Ingemie, left, and Sam Squailia, right, hand over a $500 check to American Legion Post 151 at the Leominster

Longsjo Board of Directors members Donn Ingemie, left, and Sam Squailia, right, hand over a $500 check to American Legion Post 151 at the Leominster Veterans Center on Tuesday afternoon. The Longsjo Foundation wanted to give back to nonprofits as a way to thank all those who came out to volunteer during the annual race series in June. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

FITCHBURG — As part of an ongoing effort to have the Longsjo Classic embraced as a community event, the Longsjo Foundation donated $2,000 to local nonprofits this week as a “thank you” for their participation in the race.

Representatives from the Longsjo Foundation Board of Directors traveled to four area nonprofits to present donations as a show of gratitude for the organizations’ help preparing for the 2015 Longsjo Classic. Read more…

Four local nonprofits earn national certification


Worcester Telegram – 8/2/15
Nashoba Publishing – 8/7/15

FITCHBURG – United Way of North Central Massachusetts and three other local nonprofits have been certified in volunteer management by Points of Light, a national nonprofit organization that promotes community service.

United Way of North Central Massachusetts, Leominster-based Boys & Girls Clubs of Fitchburg and Leominster, Loaves & Fishes in Devens and Our Father’s House in Fitchburg completed the extensive program requirements to earn Points of Light’s Service Enterprise certification. Read more…

Racing to Help


LCU_5K team

Worcester Business Journal
July 20, 2015

Leominster Credit Union had a team of 35 participating in the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Great Futures 5K race. The credit union donated $1,020 to the club as well. Pictured from left: Bryon Goguen, Roland Paquette and Kathy Hurley of the credit union; Patty Fields, resource development director, Boys & Girls Club; and Nicole Florio, Melissa McDonald and Andrew Squire of LCU.

Interacting With Police: Teens Lead in Training Peers


P.L.A.Y.By Jamal Abdul-Alim
Youth Today
July 22, 2015

In order to make Protecting Law Enforcement and Youth, or PLAY, a reality at The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, Mass., club member Laura Jenny, 16, and her schoolmate, Isaac Annan, 15, had to put together a budget and presentation, giving the pair firsthand experience in designing, financing and implementing a program. Read more…

Avidia donates to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster


Leominster Champion – July 23, 2015
The Community Advocate – July 19, 2015
Worcester Telegram – July 14, 2015

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(l to r) Todd Wood, Leominster branch manager of Avidia Bank; Donata J. Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster; Mark R. O’Connell, president & CEO of Avidia Bank; and children of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominsterr. (Photo/submitted)

Region – The Avidia Charitable Foundation recently donated $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. This donation will help with operational support of Project Learn STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).

Avidia Bank is a $1.2 billion mutual community bank, headquartered in Hudson, with branches in Hudson, Westborough, Clinton, Leominster, Marlborough, Northborough and Shrewsbury.

IC is adding up ‘Change for Charity’


Nashoba Publishing- 7/10/15
Worcester Telegram – 7/12/15

FITCHBURG — A little change can make a big difference. That’s the premise for IC’s new “Change for Charity” — a program in which the community can help support local organizations by using IC’s coin machines.

Read more…

No Free Lunch? Tell Ebony Fagan


By Jon Bishop
Sentinel & Enterprise
6/15/15

Ebony Fagan was recently chosen as the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year.  SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Ebony Fagan was recently chosen as the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year.
SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

FITCHBURG — No one was surprised when the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster named Ebony Fagan, an incoming senior at Fitchburg High School, its Youth of the Year.

Except, of course, for Ebony Fagan.

Read more…

Fitchburg’s Sizer School collaborates with researcher to create art exhibit of birds


Anna Burgessbirds-of-a-feather-2
Sentinel & Enterprise
6/15/15

WILMINGTON — With help from the Fitchburg Revolving Museum and dozens of local students, green-chemistry education nonprofit Beyond Benign has designed an exhibit that represents a beautiful marriage of art and science.

Beyond Benign is the sister organization of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, run by scientific researcher John Warner. The institute works to develop green-chemistry technologies while Beyond Benign, run by Warner’s wife, Amy Cannon, focuses on K-12 student outreach and education. Read more…

Revolving Museum works with Boys & Girls Club


Leominster Champion
6/12/15

TRM Director Jerry Beck collaborates with young people from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on the “Bird-Land” public artwork. Courtesy photo

TRM Director Jerry Beck collaborates with young people from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on the “Bird-Land” public artwork. Courtesy photo

WILMINGTON — The Revolving Museum, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster and the Sizer School are showcasing their artworks created in Fitchburg as part of Pete Myer’s “Birds of a Feather” photographic exhibition at Beyond Benign and the Warner Babcock Gallery and Laboratory Space.

Pete Myers, a leading scientist in the field of environmental health, is showcasing more than 50 photographs of birds from the east coast near his home in Virginia, from the California coastline, and also from his travels around the world for speaking engagements. The images are breathtaking and capture birds in a number of rarely seen natural states.

“The Revolving Museum is thrilled to be partnering with Warner Babcock and Beyond Benign by involving young people, artists, educators, and community members in collaborative groundbreaking art and science public art projects, exhibitions, and events,” said Revolving Museum Founder/ Director Jerry Beck. “This will allow our vision to expand and be impacted by an extraordinary team of scientists and help bring awareness to the green movement.” Read more…

Ebony Fagan picked as Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year


IMAG0060The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster is proud to announce that Ebony Fagan was recently chosen as the Club’s Youth of the Year, and had the opportunity to represent the organization at the recent state competition.

Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s way of recognizing members who embody the values of leadership service, academic excellence, and healthy lifestyles. They exemplify the critical impact that Boys & Girls Clubs have on the lives of young people. Read more…

Leadership Summit Donation


Leominster Champion
6/5/15

49p1.previewWorcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. presents a check to help fund the 16th Annual Youth Leadership Summit, held April 23 at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. Open to middle school and high school youth, the Youth Leadership Summit (also sponsored by Subway/ Grinnell Enterprises, the Boys & Girls Club and LUK Inc.) included workshops, awards, a Lunch Information Fair, entertainment and more. Courtesy photo

‘Corporate Cup’ gives boost to annual Boys & Girls Club race


By Nick Mallard
Sentinel & Enterprise
6/2/15

LEOMINSTER — Even a light rain couldn’t put a damper on Sunday’s Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Great Futures 5K walk and run.

The sixth annual edition of the race drew 340 runners and walkers — doubling last year’s turnout — all showing up in moist, muggy conditions to support the club.

Crossing the finish line in just under an hour, 82-year-old Marilou Crohan was just like many of the other participants: a bit wet, but wearing a smile from ear to ear. Read more…

Memorial assistant named new principal at Reingold School in Fitchburg


By Anna Burgess
Sentinel & Enterprise
6/2/15

FITCHBURG — Martha Clark, currently the assistant principal at Memorial Middle School, will take over as principal of Reingold Elementary School next year.

At Monday night’s meeting of the School Committee, Superintendent of Schools Andre Ravenelle introduced Clark as the replacement for retiring Reingold Principal Kathy Brady.

Clark, who has been the assistant principal at Memorial for the past year, was chosen from more than 30 applicants by a search committee made up of Reingold parents, staff and other local educators. Read more…

SHINE awards grants to 10 agencies


Worcester Telegram
5/31/2015

LEOMINSTER – The SHINE Initiative Advisory Board awarded grants April 30 totaling more than $40,000 to 10 Central Massachusetts human service agencies and educational institutions, in support of mental health education and related services.

The recipients are: Alternatives ($3,000), with programs in the Blackstone Valley, Worcester, Gardner and Leominster; Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster ($4,000); CAPS/FLLAC Educational Collaborative of North Central Massachusetts ($4,000); Children’s Friend ($4,000) Worcester; Community Healthlink ($5,000), with programs and services in Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster and Worcester; Doctor Franklin Perkins School ($4,000) in Lancaster; Family Health Center ($5,000), Worcester; Jewish Family & Children’s Services ($4,000), Worcester; Leominster Education Foundation ($4,000); and Worcester State University ($10,000, 2-year grant). The grants awarded by the SHINE Initiative were made possible with funds derived through a series of events, including its signature Keep Your Mind Open in the autumn and the Quarter Mile campaign in May to coincide with national Mental Health Month.

Since 2013 the SHINE Initiative has awarded $152,000 in grants to 20 nonprofit organizations to support and promote mental health awareness, education, research and direct services. The SHINE Initiative was formed in 2004 as a social enterprise with support from Fidelity Bank. Its mission is to be a leader in recognizing mental illness in children and young adults as a mainstream health issue.

In recent years it has collaborated with middle and high schools, colleges and universities, mental health and youth-serving organizations to promote and sponsor awareness and education of behavioral, emotional and mental disorders that affect young people and their families.

Corporate Cup brings new challenge to 5K race


By David Dore
Leominster Champion
5/22/15

Next weekend’s Great Futures 5K, a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, will have a brand new group of runners.

The sixth edition of the race on Sunday, May 31 will have a new division known as the Corporate Cup, made up of teams from local companies.

“This division has created a lot of excitement among local area companies and organizations,” said Boys & Girls Club Resource Development Director Patty Fields. “The Corporate Cup provides local businesses with an opportunity for employees to participate in an event that builds camaraderie among coworkers and encourages health and fitness. The Corporate Cup is expected to bring in up to 200 additional walkers and runners.” Read more…

Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Certified as the First Service Enterprise Organization in Massachusetts


Leominster, MA – The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster is pleased to announce that it has been certified by Points of Light as a Service Enterprise organization!  A Service Enterprise is an organization that fundamentally leverages volunteers and their skills throughout their organization to successfully deliver on its social mission.  The Service Enterprise Initiative (SEI) is a social innovation built on the Service Enterprise concept, which promotes transformational change within qualifying companies and non-profit organizations and was inspired by Reimaging Service.  The effort to bring the Initiative to Massachusetts was spearheaded by the United Way of North Central Massachusetts’ Volunteer Center, Community Builders, who worked with a select few nonprofit organizations to achieve their certification. As a result, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster proudly claims its place as the first Club in Massachusetts and the second Club in the U.S. to become a Service Enterprise. Read more…

A showcase of all things STEAM


By David Dore
Leominster Champion
4/10/2015

2p1.previewIf you’re looking for airplanes, bees, or maybe robots, you’ll probably find it at the Central Massachusetts Science Festival.

The second edition of the Science Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 18 at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, 365 Lindell Ave., Leominster.

“It is a celebration of STEAM, which is Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics,” said festival coordinator Rebecca Cyganiewicz, the Boys & Girls Club’s volunteer resources coordinator. “It’s a free family event, and we’ll be showcasing a lot of the programs we run here are the club.” Read more…

North End Subaru in Lunenburg donates more than $10,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs


By Cliff Clark
Sentinel & Enterprise
3/29/2015

No Published Caption

LUNENBURG — The annual North End Subaru “Share the Love” sales event resulted in a donation of more than $10,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lunenburg, Fitchburg and Leominster on Saturday morning.

“This is going to make a huge difference to the children in both clubs,” said Michelle Belleza, director of the Boys & Girls Club of Lunenburg, after accepting the donation of $10,877 from Subaru.

The donation will be equally divided between the two Boys & Girls Clubs that serve Lunenburg, Leominster and Fitchburg children.

“We didn’t ask for this. They approached us, which I think makes it even more important that they recognize the value of what the club does for children,” said Belleza. Read more…

Ready to ‘Recycle’: Boys & Girls Club Robotics team heads to district competition


By Christine Smith
Leominster Champion
3/6/2015

In an upcoming district level competition that will mean a match up against 32 other teams from the northeast coastal region, Team 3623 — known as TerrorBots — from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster have bagged and tagged their robot and are gearing up for travel to Springfield for arrival on March 5.

The team has been preparing for the 2015 challenge Recycle Rush for about six weeks, with the combined help of several students from Grades 8-12 and their mentors and coaches. Read more…

Making a difference, one meal at a time: Community Café serves displaced families


By Peter Jasinski
Leominster Champion
2/13/2015

Jackie Mestre, 10, of Lowell serves cupcakes at the Jan. 20 Community Cafe birthday celebration.  David Dore photo

Jackie Mestre, 10, of Lowell serves cupcakes at the Jan. 20 Community Cafe birthday celebration.
David Dore photo

The exact total number of displaced families living in Leominster changes depending on who you ask.

It’s true that the number fluctuates as the families that succeed in their struggle are replaced by the next ones to arrive. What’s known for sure is that each of these people needs to have something to eat.

The Community Café is one of the more recent creations that helps address this problem.

Staffed by more than 80 volunteers, the Community Café is made possible by the combined efforts of the Leominster school system, the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

“A little over a year ago we heard about these families at the Days Inn. We discussed it and said, ‘There’s got to be something we can do to help these families,’” said the Rev. James Craig, rector of St. Mark’s. “It’s really been a remarkable journey we’ve been on.”

Every Tuesday night, families are bused in from their hotels to the Boys and Girls Club for a meal that lasts for about an hour. The numbers of those attending varies based on the number of occupants in each hotel, with a low week bringing in around 70 people and a busy night having more than 120. According to Craig, the majority of the crowd is made up of children, and on the busiest night more than 150 arrived. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club offers course for teens about peer depression


By Katina Caraganis
Sentinel & Enterprise
1/26/15

Laura Jenny, a Leominster 10th-grader, asks a question at the Leominster Boys & Girls Club during the suicide-prevention meeting on Friday. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Laura Jenny, a Leominster 10th-grader, asks a question at the Leominster Boys & Girls Club during the suicide-prevention meeting on Friday. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

LEOMINSTER — Sometimes all a person needs is to know that someone is there for them.

Teenagers at the Boys & Girls Club of Leominster and Fitchburg are learning how to identify the symptoms of mental illness and to direct their peers to professional help.

The training, called the Swensrud Depression Prevention Initiative, was developed by Boston Children’s Hospital and is being offered free to teenagers in grades 9-12. So far, 11 teens have taken part in the training at the club.

Leo Gonzalez and Laura Jenny are two members of the Boys & Girls Club who received the training. Gonzalez, a 10th-grader at Sizer, a North Central Essential Charter School in Fitchburg, said his high school is accepting of all kinds of students, no matter their background.

He wanted to learn how to be more supportive to classmates.

“You always try to comfort someone you see having a bad day, but you don’t always know how,” Gonzalez said. “This really showed me how to identify depression and point them in the right direction to resources and an adult who can help them find a therapist or whatever else they need.” Read more…

“Resolve and Rescue” author visits Boys & Girls Club


Leominster Champion
1/9/2015

Pictured are, front row, members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster with, back row, Martin Connors, president and CEO of Rollstone Bank & Trust, author Mark Bodanza and Club Executive Director Donata Martin.  Courtesy photo

Pictured are, front row, members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster with, back row, Martin Connors, president and CEO of Rollstone Bank & Trust, author Mark Bodanza and Club Executive Director Donata Martin.
Courtesy photo

Author and historian Mark C. Bodanza recently paid a visit to the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to discuss his newly released book “Resolve and Rescue.”

“Resolve and Rescue” tells the story of a woman from Leominster, Frances Drake, born in 1814, who worked for decades to end slavery and contributed tirelessly to the abolitionist movement.

Greeted with cheers and applause by the children of the BGCFL, Bodanza explained the history of slavery, the abolitionist movement, and the remarkable life of Drake.

In 1841, after living in Boston for a period of time, Drake returned to her hometown of Leominster with her husband, purchasing a home on 21 Franklin St. The Drakes’ antislavery involvement began in Boston and gained momentum in Leominster. Believing strongly in the abolitionist movement, the Drakes helped escaped slaves. Their home on Franklin Street was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Read more…

Teens in Leominster learning to recognize depression in peers


By Paula J. Owen
Telegram & Gazette
12/23/14

LEOMINSTER — Sometimes all someone needs is for a friend to ask, “Are you OK?”

Teens at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster are learning how to identify symptoms of mental illness and how to direct other teens to help.

The training — the Swensrud Depression Prevention Initiative developed by Boston Children’s Hospital — is offered free to teens at the club. So far, 11 teens in Grades 9 through 12 have taken it.

Donata J. Martin, the club’s executive director, said staff members were also trained.

“We want to work with kids ahead of time,” Ms. Martin said. “They might not talk to adults, but they might talk to peers.” Read more…

Leading the way to a happy holiday


By David Dore
Leominster Champion
12/26/14

The looks on the children’s faces made it all worth it.

That’s what some members of the Torch Club at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster said after delivering around 100 wrapped Christmas gifts for children at Riverside Village Apartments in Leominster on Friday, Dec. 19.

Members of the Torch Club at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster stand with Rocco Spagnuolo, second from right, the club's advisor, while delivering around 100 toys to Riverside Village Apartments Friday, Dec. 19 David Dore photo

Members of the Torch Club at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster stand with Rocco Spagnuolo, second from right, the club’s advisor, while delivering around 100 toys to Riverside Village Apartments Friday, Dec. 19 David Dore photo

“We’re completely overwhelmed by the kindness of the kids over at the Boys & Girls Club,” Riverside Village Apartments Resident Service Coordinator Julie Almy said.

And it was all their idea.

The Torch Club is a “small-group leadership development program … targeted to youth ages 11 to 13,” the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster website states. “Within some 1,300 Torch Clubs across the country, members elect officers and plan and implement their own activities and community service projects. Each Torch Club receives an official charter from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.” Read more…

3-D printer brings Fitchburg, Leominster teens’ project to life


By Cliff Clark
Sentinel & Enterprise
12/8/14

LEOMINSTER — Three-D printing technology holds the promise of one day forcing a complete rethinking of the manufacturing process, and teenagers at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster are using it today to have some fun and learn at the same time.

“We’re giving our members the skills for the workforce of the future,” said Donata Martin, the club’s executive director.

Huddled around video monitors, several members were giggling and laughing as they fired up the computers to give the characters, that they developed for a story project they decided upon, shape and volume. Read more…

‘Hour of Code’ at Boys and Girls Club brings excitement


By Christine Smith
Leominster Champion
12/19/14

2014_hour_of_code

Teens at the Boys and Girls Club of Leominster and Fitchburg attach wires from a circuit board to their “NES controller” made with paper and tin foil. The activity was part of “An Hour of Code” at the club on Dec. 10. Christine Smith photo

The excitement was unmistakable as the teens gathered around their design for an NES controller — not a small 3-D version, but a large rectangle flat piece of paper with tin foil layered on top for buttons — with the plan to hook it up to a circuit board and play a video game.

It was this creation process and the result that teachers at the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster hope will inspire local kids to explore and maybe even find an interest and a future in computer programming and designing. Paul LeFebvre, who runs a humanoid robotics program and mentors the robotics teams at the club, noted the smiles on the kids’ faces.

LeFebvre and Kyle Sargent, who is also an instructor on staff at the club, both said that giving the kids creative projects like this generates enthusiasm for computer science. LeFebvre said that when the projects are fun, the kids are more apt to sit down and want to get more involved with the more tedious work of such things as real coding. Read more…

J.U.M.P. programs help level the playing field


By Dave Greenslit CORRESPONDENT
Telegram & Gazette
11/19/14

Back in August, Clever Chaves was stressing out about college, not sure if he could afford to go.

But for the past four years, the Fitchburg resident has participated in a program called Just Understand My Potential, and someone has done just that. An anonymous donor is paying for Chaves to attend Fitchburg State University and, if Chaves stays focused and committed, graduate school, as well.

clever_and_bill

Bill Spacciolli, left, J.U.M.P. program director and founder, and Clever Chaves, Fitchburg State University freshman and JUMP scholarship recipient. (MATT WRIGHT)

“He could see from the way I’ve talked about Clever that he would be a good investment, to give him a chance. He wanted to level the playing field for him,” Bill Spacciapoli, the founder and executive director of J.U.M.P., said of the donor.

Though he didn’t foresee college funding c oming, leveling the playing field for underserved minority kids is what Spacciapoli had in mind when he founded J.U.M.P., the nonprofit organization he put into operation in 2010.

His idea was to introduce youths to the outdoors through hiking and backpacking and, in the process, get them on a path to becoming accountable and responsible.

“Backpacking is a great way to learn that,” Spacciapoli said in an interview at Fitchburg State. “Nature imposes it on you.” Read more…

Volunteers serve homeless in Fitchburg


Sentinel & Enterprise
08/01/2014

FITCHBURG — Members and volunteers of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, along with employee volunteers from IC Federal Credit Union and Slattery’s Restaurant of Fitchburg, came together Tuesday to provide a fresh-cooked meal for neighbors in need.

“Homeless families living in shelters and hotels don’t typically have access to a kitchen in which they can cook a nice hot meal for their loved ones,” said Tony Emerson, president and CEO of IC. “We were humbled to be able to provide that, as well as an area for the kids to run around and enjoy the playground for a little while.”

The evening was held at the Boys & Girls Club on Lindell Avenue in Leominster. For more information on how you can help or donate food, clothing and other much-needed supplies, contact St. Mark’s Church of Leominster at 978-537-3560, or the Boys & Girls Club at 978-534-8358.

Gail Allen – Lawyer transmits her family’s legacy of service to others


By Anne O’Connor, Correspondent
Sentinel and Enterprise
08/02/2014

Gail AllenSENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

Gail Allen SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / Ashley Green

LEOMINSTER — When Gail Allen returned to school as an adult to earn a law degree, she had only one regret.

“It cramped my style,” she said. “I had been really involved with the community before. It was wonderful to be able to do this. My family was fine with it.”

Her husband and two children were used to seeing her in the community.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of different things,” she said.

The former chair and present member of the Board of Trustees of HealthAlliance Hospital is a past president of the HealthAlliance Guild and before that the Leominster Hospital Guild. HealthAlliance formed when area hospitals merged in 1994.

Following the tradition of her own parents, Allen included her children in her charitable activities. Read more…

TV actor brings stories of black trailblazers to children in Fitchburg, Leominster


By Paula J. Owen
Telegram & Gazette
7/23/14

LEOMINSTER — Children at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster were inspired after hearing the story of a little known African-American inventor who blazed a trail for others with his many patents.

If not for Sweet Blackberry, 7-year-old Robson L. Depaula might never have heard about Garrett Morgan.

Mr. Morgan’s patents included a breathing device that led to the design of World War I gas masks, and improved sewing machine and traffic signal patents, though he only had an elementary school education. He was born in Kentucky on March 4, 1877, and began his career as a sewing-machine mechanic.

“I didn’t know who he was,” Robson said in the cafeteria of the Boys & Girls Club after eating lunch Tuesday.

The second-grader from Fitchburg watched a short animated film before lunch created by actor and writer Karyn Parsons — founder of Sweet Blackberry, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching children about little- told stories in African-American history. Read more…

Some fresh ideas from ‘Fresh Prince’ Karyn Parsons co-start in visit to Leominster


By Jack Minch
Sentinel and Enterprise
07/23/2014

Actress Karyn Parsons talks to kids Tuesday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster about AfricanAmericans who have done great things.SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

Actress Karyn Parsons talks to kids Tuesday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster about AfricanAmericans who have done great things. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

LEOMINSTER — Actress Karyn Parsons, who played the character Hilary Banks opposite Will Smith on the NBC television show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in the 1990s, appeared at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Tuesday to share an educational history program she developed.

Parsons left acting for a while after leaving the television show and started a family.

She formed the Sweet Blackberry Foundation to tell stories about African-American achievement that don’t make it into the history books in ways that make them interesting to children.

As a student, Parsons said she didn’t enjoy history because it was boring facts and dates. When she had children, she got involved in their education and wanted to help bring history to life for them.

She put in motion plans to create Sweet Blackberry.

Children can recite the Little Red Riding Hood story easily, so they can learn factual history if it’s presented as entertainment, Parsons said.

Years earlier, Parsons heard the story of Henry Box Brown from her mother, who was a librarian. She’d planned to write a book about it but decided to make Brown the subject of her first video. Read more…

Breaking bread: Volunteers in Leominster offer struggling families respite from hotel life


By Paula J. Owen
Telegram & Gazette
7/1/14

Volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club in Leominster begin filling plates to serve to local families in transition. From left are Terri Whitney, Brad Hager, Donna Tyler-Monroe and Terry Downing. (T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON)

Volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club in Leominster begin filling plates to serve to local families in transition. From left are Terri Whitney, Brad Hager, Donna Tyler-Monroe and Terry Downing. (T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON)

LEOMINSTER — On Tuesday nights at the Boys & Girls Club in Leominster, Community Café volunteer Brad C. Hager said, there is no separation between the volunteers providing the meal and the homeless families who are bused there to enjoy it.

“You read so much negative about the families living in hotels, but here, they’re with us,” Mr. Hager said. The prayer volunteers start off each meal with “We’re all one here.”

Mr. Hager is one of around 50 volunteers from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Leominster who have provided more than 650 meals on Tuesday nights since May 13 for homeless families living at the Motel 6, Days Inn and Orchard Street shelter in Leominster — moved there by the state because there is not enough shelter space for the families.

On Tuesday night, the group served spaghetti and meatballs, bread and green beans. Past meals included barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, chicken piccata, macaroni and cheese with hot dogs and shepherd’s pie. Read more…

Leominster team takes ‘Science of Sports’ honors


Sentinel & Enterprise
6/15/2014
LEOMINSTER — Raytheon Company and the New England Patriots celebrated the sixth annual “Science of Sports” Science Fair at Gillette Stadium June 1, awarding scholarships to the participants of the three teams that best demonstrate the principles of math and science in sports: Leominster, Hudson, and Salem. Read more…

Kids from Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster come up big at Science of Sports fair


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
6/03/2014

 

From left, in back, New England Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater, Kraft Group Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and Raytheon Chairman William H. Swanson, pose with members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster who won the Science of Sports fair at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. They are, from left, Thomas Kirrane, 12, Pathways Academy; Vincent Diaz, 11, Johnny Appleseed Elementary School; Abigail Kirrane, 10, Crocker Elementary; Ashlee Aldana, 12, McKay School; Deanna Bailey, 9, Crocker Elementary; Tino Makwasha, 11, St. Leo School; and Veronica Scott, 12, Memorial Middle School. PHOTO COURTESY Patriots website

From left, in back, New England Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater, Kraft Group Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and Raytheon Chairman William H. Swanson, pose with members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster who won the Science of Sports fair at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. They are, from left, Thomas Kirrane, 12, Pathways Academy; Vincent Diaz, 11, Johnny Appleseed Elementary School; Abigail Kirrane, 10, Crocker Elementary; Ashlee Aldana, 12, McKay School; Deanna Bailey, 9, Crocker Elementary; Tino Makwasha, 11, St. Leo School; and Veronica Scott, 12, Memorial Middle School. PHOTO COURTESY Patriots website

LEOMINSTER — A team from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster won the sixth annual Science of Sports fair at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Sunday for its work studying the traction on prosthetic legs.

“It’s exactly what we want for our children — to be able to go to competition and be able to explain to people all the science, technology, math and engineering they are learning here at the club,” Executive Director Donata Martin said Monday.

Each team member earned $1,000 from Raytheon and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation to use toward a summer camp for STEM or toward their freshman year in postsecondary education.

The science fair is part of Raytheon’s MathMovesU program, which is meant to foster interest in math and science. It’s held annually at Patriot Place at Gillette Stadium.

“I love the Science of Sports science fair,” said New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft on the team’s web page. “I am always amazed by the creativity of the projects.”

This year’s victory was the best showing for the club since it captured second place in the competition in 2012. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster – Grand Prize winners of the “Science of Sports” Science Fair


By New England Patriots
www.patriots.com
6/2/14

FOXBOROUGH, MA – Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and the New England Patriots celebrated the sixth annual “Science of Sports” Science Fair at Gillette Stadium yesterday, awarding scholarships to the participants of the three teams that best demonstrate the principles of math and science in sports: Leominster, Mass., Hudson, Mass., and Salem, Mass. Since 2009, Raytheon and the Patriots have partnered to present this science fair that encourages Boys and Girls Club members from across New England to imagine and execute projects that explore math and science as they relate to the sports they love.

More than 150 middle school students participated on the 30 teams, representing Boys and Girls Clubs from 21 communities across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The five-month-long program was supported by 90 Raytheon employee mentors. The teams competed to present their projects to a panel of executive judges including Raytheon Chairman William H. Swanson, The Kraft Group Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, and Patriots wide receiver and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Read more…

Local athletes take the time to give back


By Matt Stewart
Sentinel & Enterprise
05/31/2014

Fitchburg High sophomore Michael Bourque helps repair bikes Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. Bourque was part of a group of athletic directors and student ambassadors from throughout the Midland-Wachusett League who volunteered their time Thursday at the clubÕs Leominster site on Lindell Avenue. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

Fitchburg High sophomore Michael Bourque helps repair bikes Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. Bourque was part of a group of athletic directors and student ambassadors from throughout the Midland-Wachusett League who volunteered their time Thursday at the club’s Leominster site on Lindell Avenue. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

LEOMINSTER — Leadership, bonding with fellow students, and a sense of duty to the community — these are among the traits that participation in sports helps to foster.

A select few area high school student-athletes got the opportunity to put those qualities to work on Thursday, when the Midland-Wachusett League student ambassadors and athletic directors took part in a day of community service at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

“These kids didn’t hesitate and just jumped right in and did projects today,” North Middlesex Athletic Director James Bunnell said. “It was an all-around wonderful day. It was a good opportunity for kids who have leadership qualities to display them.

Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Experiences like these are the ones that the kids hopefully remember and learn from.”
The student ambassador program gives two to three students each from local high schools the chance to represent their school’s student-athletes with the league’s governing structure. Students engage in leadership training, activities and also community service projects as part of their development as student leaders. Read more…

Kids leap to higher potential in J.U.M.P.


By Amanda Roberge
Telegram & Gazette
5/13/14

J.U.M.P. participants, including a group leader with fake beard at left, filter water on the 19 Mile Brook Trail, Carter Notch, in New Hampshire's White Mountains. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

J.U.M.P. participants, including a group leader with fake beard at left, filter water on the 19 Mile Brook Trail, Carter Notch, in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Underneath the stacks of paperwork that are a natural consequence of running a nonprofit, Bill Spacciapoli yearns for the open trails, where he belongs. He knows, about all else, the magic that awaits him in the woods.

A longtime hiker and lover of nature, it was 2005 when he started putting the wheels in motion for an idea. He would share his passion with others ? with those who had challenges beyond the typical, struggles that could be not remedied but rather made lighter by some fresh air and the accomplishment of a goal, even one as lofty and seemingly unattainable as climbing a mountain.

By 2007, he had begun dabbling in the fine art of grant writing, become officially incorporated as a nonprofit called Just Understand My Potential (J.U.M.P., for short) and figured out how to partner with area organizations to find youths suitable for the program. Read more…

Church volunteers join to help feed homeless children


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
05/09/2014

LEOMINSTER — Volunteers from St. Mark Episcopal Church have been so moved by the struggle of homeless children living in the city that dozens have volunteered to serve weekly dinners for them, said the Rev. Jim Craig.

The church is part of a growing coalition of churches trying to help the children, said Bob Doucette who is facilitating meetings.

“I’ve got five churches already, whether doing something or planning something, and I have to get a couple more,” said Doucette who is reluctant to bring any attention on himself. Read more…

Leominster wrestling show May 3 to benefit Boys & Girls Club


By Amanda Roberge
Telegram & Gazette
4/30/14

Clash_at_the_Club_Poster__2nd_annual-page-001LEOMINSTER — With a long corporate history of raising money for charity, last year Hannaford Supermarket Manager Dave DeJohn decided to use that commitment to local community to hold an event near and dear to his heart.

He grabbed his costume, transformed into his wrestling alter ego “Danger” and organized an event that ultimately raised $1,500 for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster while providing a top-notch entertainment experience to the audience.

This year’s second annual Clash at the Club, which is part of the World of Hurt Wrestling network and will feature an opportunity to see live wrestling featuring former WWF World Tag Team Champion Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, will be a bigger and better version of that initial event, said Mr. DeJohn. This year’s event will take place at 7 p.m. May 3 at the club, 365 Lindell Ave. Read more…

Egg hunt planned for Saturday


Sentinel & Enterprise
04/17/2014

FITCHBURG — Looking for some spring fun? Get out into the warm weather and enjoy the Spring Egg Hunt in Gateway Park. This free and “egg-citing” event will take place from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday.

All eggs will be filled with candy and prizes. Expect some special eggs with prizes such as books, toys, gift certificates, and more. Please bring your own basket or bag to collect eggs. Read more…

From playground to streetscapes, money to build Fitchburg board approves block grants


By Alana Melanson
Sentinel & Enterprise
03/14/2014

FITCHBURG — A natural play area for children at Green Acres and gateway streetscape improvements are among this year’s federal Community Development Block Grant projects.

Mayor Lisa Wong said she’s excited about the Green Acres playground project, at a cost of $15,000, which came out of an interactive process with residents. She sees it as a sign of innovative projects to come out of the Fitchburg Housing Authority.

“The housing authority has really come a long way,” Wong said. “The management and the board have sort of broken down the silo around them and really understood how important Green Acres is to the development of the city, to families, to youth.” Read more…

Finding Gateways to progress: Partnerships, schools called keys to tapping cities’ potential


By Alana Melanson
Sentinel & Enterprise
03/13/2014

FITCHBURG — Collaboration and making education work from birth through college are going to be the keys to success in Gateway Cities such as Fitchburg and Leominster, local education officials said Wednesday.

At a Gateway Cities Education Vision Forum hosted by MassINC at Fitchburg High School, local public school and higher-education officials, as well as representatives from some community partners, gathered to discuss ongoing education initiatives and the future of communitywide learning systems in the Gateway Cities.

Ben Forman, executive director of the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute and research director of MassINC, said Gateway Cities and their residents are critical to the future success of the state, because together they hold a quarter of all kindergarten through 12th-grade students, and a third of all students under age 5. Read more…

Green thumbs gather in Leominster, gird themselves for growing season


By Michael Hartwell
Sentinel & Enterprise
03/02/2014

resized_DSCN4873LEOMINSTER — The Doyle Center gave more than 100 gardeners refuge from the cold winter on Saturday and a chance to prepare for the rich, warm spring ahead.

The third-annual Gardeners Gathering workshop event was put on by The Trustees of Reservations and the Growing Places Garden Project, which helps impoverished people grow their own food. It had workshops for gardeners, such as organic pest management and maintaining healthy garden soil, along with a seed swap.

In attendance was Bob Mersereau, the volunteer in charge of the youth garden project at the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts. That project is in collaboration with the Trustees of Reservations and Growing Places and provides garden space for middle-school and high-school youths in the area who have never gardened before. Read more…

Survivor the Musical’ to benefit Boys and Girls Club


By Katina Caraganis
The Sentinel and Enterprise
01/18/14

GARDNER — It was a battle of which contestant could outsing, outdance and outstrategize their fellow opponents in the fifth annual Mount Wachusett Community College “Survivor the Musical” music theater event Friday night.

The annual fundraiser, which this year raised funds for the Boys & Girls Club of Leominster and Fitchburg, puts local business people together on two tribes doing what they can to outwit and outlast their counterparts while participating in various games surrounding musical theater.

Deb LaPointe of HealthAlliance Hospital came out the winner of the night, becoming one of three finalists to hula hoop their way to the finale. The ousted members were called back on stage to cast their vote for the winner, but after it ended in a three-way tie, the audience crowned their favorite with a round of applause. Read more…

Fitchburg wins $400G Federal Reserve grant


By Alana Melanson
Sentinel and Enterprise
01/16/14

BOSTON — Fitchburg is one of six cities to win funding in the Working Cities Challenge, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston announced Wednesday.

Fitchburg will receive a $400,000 three-year implementation award for its proposed eCarenomics Initiative. The grant was one piece of a total $1.8 million award given to the six cities Wednesday for proposed projects that aim to build on cross-sector collaboration and strengthen civic leadership. Twenty cities had applied to participate in the challenge.

The eCarenomics Initiative is “an effort to develop shared metrics for neighborhood health and well-being with the goal of making the North of Main neighborhood a place where residents choose to live, work and invest,” according to a statement issued Wednesday. Read more…

NASA Grants Award to Boys & Girls Club Robotics Team


Leominster Champion
1/9/14

nasa-logo-fullsizeLEOMINSTER – The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, Team 3623, has been selected to receive NASA Robotics Alliance Project grant award for this 2014 competition year.

The team was mentored by the Leominster Devil Dawgs when they began. This is the team’s 4th season and they will compete in two events in March, first at WPI and then Bryant University.

The team is composed of 10 teens and volunteer coaches and mentors from the industry (i.e. mechanical engineers, computer programmers, college students, past FIRST robotics participants, and this year teachers). Engineer Jerry Westwood, of Bionostics, Inc., Devens, has been a coach and mentor since Day 1, the very first season.

At this bank, lessons are dividends


Leominster Credit Union’s Boys & Girls Club program makes financial sense
By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise

LEOMINSTER — Saving, spending, sharing and investing are the cornerstones of financial literacy, and Leominster Credit Union is taking its lessons to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to build a strong foundation for young people.

“To make them well-rounded and responsible persons in the community,” said Assistant Vice President Ingrid Adade.

The credit union opened a “savings bank” at the club Tuesday to teac

Children are dressed for fun while taking part in the Leominster Credit UnionÕs after-school program at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Tuesday.SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

Children are dressed for fun while taking part in the Leominster Credit UnionÕs after-school program at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Tuesday. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE

h students about saving money as part of a financial literacy course. Adade teaches the course with volunteers from the credit union, including Tracey Springer, James Ellis and Debbie Greenfield.

“Fortunately for me, Leominster Credit Union feels this is something that is needed in the community,” Adade said. “My job is to go to the community of all ages to spread the word of financial literacy.”

The credit union has been teaching the program at the club for about three years and has 20 to 25 students this year. The class revolves around a game with six adventures in which students look for a young boy named Stone Broke that Adade created.

They face challenges and obstacles such as caverns learning the principals of financial literacy along the way such as how to balance a checkbook, pay bills, buy property, invest and save money. Read more…

Program encourages girls to learn about science, technology


By Alana Melanson
Sentinel & Enterprise

LEOMINSTER — As Fitchburg State University student Samantha Glaze-Corcoran poured vinegar into a cup of baking soda Thursday afternoon, eight sets of eyes watched intently, eager to see what would happen.

Shrieks of delight rang out across the room as the resulting sudden burst of foam overflowed from the top of the cup and covered the table below.

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/ JOHN LOVE Amelia Collard, 9, and Kylie Perrault, 8, get excited when they pour some vinegar into a cup with baking soda and it overflows as part of a science experiment.

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/ JOHN LOVE
Amelia Collard, 9, and Kylie Perrault, 8, get excited when they pour some vinegar into a cup with baking soda and it overflows as part of a science experiment.

They shouted choruses of “Again! Again!” and “Do ours now!” hoping to see the fizzy reaction one more time.

The group of second, third and fourth-grade girls, participating in the Science Club for Girls at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, had just received their first lesson in acid-base reactions — and couldn’t get enough of it.

Next door, a group of fifth-and sixth-grade girls, engaged with engineering curriculum, were working together to design structures capable of holding heavy books using only paper and masking tape. Focusing on form and functionality, Pauline Bruun, 9, of Fitchburg, arranged 11 paper cylinders of varying widths in a square shape and fashioned a casing around them. Her structure was strong enough to withstand the weight of all of the 14 large hardcover books in the room — some of them thick textbooks — equaling to about 26 pounds.

Fitchburg State University chemistry professor Aisling O’Connor, partnering with the Cambridge-based nonprofit Science Club for Girls, received a $10,000 grant from the American Association of University Women that brings science programs to local girls in grades 2-7 who are members of the Boys & Girls Club or enrolled in the Cleghorn Neighborhood Center’s after school program. Read more…

CHAMPION OF THE WEEK: Book Signing With A Legend


By Caroline Keras
Leominster Champion

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster had a special treat when Celtics legend JoJo White visited the Club recently. White was there to talk with Club members, take photos and sign 50 copies of his biography “Make It Count: The Life and Times of Basketball Great JoJo White,” along with the book’s author, Leominster resident and historian Mark Bodanza.

Celtics legend Jo Jo White and local author Mark Bodanza pose for a photo with two members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Celtics legend Jo Jo White and local author Mark Bodanza pose for a photo with two members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Bodanza, who remembers White’s career well, was thrilled to have the opportunity to write the book for a Celtics great whom he had become friends with over the years.

“It is a distinct honor and privilege to have written JoJo’s book, not only because he was a great player, but is a great man,” he said. White won two championships in 1974 and 1976 as the Celtics point guard, as well as a gold medal as part of the 1968 U.S. Olympic team in Mexico City. He currently serves as Director of Special Projects and Community Relations for the Celtics. The book chronicles everything from White’s 33 points in a triple overtime win against the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals, which many call the greatest NBA game ever played, to White’s decision to play in the 1968 Olympics despite many African American players boycotting as a result of race issues.

“JoJo loved the game and decided to play none-the-less,” said Bodanza.

As part of his latest job with the Celtics, White often goes around to various organizations to give motivational talks and perpetuate Celtics Pride. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club class equips learning disabled students with computer skills


By Alana Melanson
Sentinel & Enterprise

LEOMINSTER — Last school year, Andrew Emery, a student at the Caldwell Alternative School in Fitchburg, was able to make his own video games in a computer programming class offered at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

This time around, Emery, 17, of Fitchburg, is assisting his fellow students who are new at computer science, and learning along the way.

“It’s useful because I do want to get into a graphics program, so this is a fun way to do it at school,” Emery said Thursday.

The class is funded by a grant from the Computer Science Collaboration Project through its Engaging Youth with Disabilities program. According to Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Donata Martin, the two installments equaling $4,500 were awarded to a collaboration of the club, the Caldwell School and Fitchburg State University. Read more…

Where memories are made: Boys & Girls Club opens doors in Leominster to a home transformed


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise

LEOMINSTER — The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster officially opened its renovated and expanded Ronald M. Ansin Junior Clubhouse with a ribbon cutting at 5:39 p.m. Wednesday, but the journey to that point started modestly 11 years ago, officials said. “This is our building, as a community, Leominster and Fitchburg,” said Board of Directors member Jim Adams. About 150 supporters, children and their families attended the sunset ceremony and toured the building, which features study space, meeting rooms, common areas, a café and gymnasium with a stage that has electronic lighting equipment. There are basketball courts and playing fields outside. “We are so blessed to have this kind of home — a state-of-the-art physical plant that will enable us to continue our firm commitment to the young children and teenagers of our regions and to better serve their needs for programs and services that help them reach their full potential,” said Board Chairman M. Marcus Moran. Read more…

Fitchburg State instructor gets grant to teach girls specialties


September 8, 2012

FITCHBURG – Fitchburg State University Assistant Professor of Biology/Chemistry Aisling O’Connor and her partners have received a $10,000 grant for their work with girls in Grades 2-7 in science, technology, engineering and math.

The grant, from the American Association of University Women, is for work Ms. O’Connor is doing with the Cambridge-based nonprofit Science Club for Girls, the Fitchburg public schools and the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

The local collaboration runs science clubs for girls at the McKay Campus School and the Boys & Girls Club and uses undergraduate female science majors at Fitchburg State as mentor scientists. The grant will allow the program to expand to Memorial Middle and South Street Elementary schools.

Rockets launch kids’ interest in science


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise

 

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE Volunteer Bob Mersereau of Shrewsbury, a member of the Aldrich Astronomical Society Inc., brought his rockets to the Leominster/Fitchburg Boys and Girls Club on Wednesday morning to show the kids. Kids watch one of the rockets as it shots into the sky.

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE
Volunteer Bob Mersereau of Shrewsbury, a member of the Aldrich Astronomical Society Inc., brought his rockets to the Leominster/Fitchburg Boys and Girls Club on Wednesday morning to show the kids. Kids watch one of the rockets as it shots into the sky.

LEOMINSTER — Dozens of members from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster started a countdown from 10 and when they reached one … nothing happened.

After a short launch delay and a couple of adjustments, the first compressed air-powered rocket took flight Tuesday morning outside the club.

Olivia Latino and Andrea Harding, both 8, squealed as the rocket took off with a popping noise.

It was a clear example of Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion, which dictates that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, said Nancy Howe, of Holden, who put on the demonstration with Bob Mersereau, of Shrewsbury

 

“If you push something, it pushes back, Howe said.

Mersereau is a volunteer at the club and both he and Howe are member of the Aldrich Astronomical Society Inc., which meets at Anna Maria College in Paxton. Read more…

Loading packs for adventure


White Mountains climb is a mission of fun, growth for local teens
By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise

LEOMINSTER — Angela Salazar slipped a backpack onto her shoulders with a smile and started talking about a hike she is taking in the White Mountains this weekend.

Next to her, John Rodriguez and Tim Acosta also picked up empty packs.

They will be part of a small group from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster hiking in the White Mountains with the nonprofit group Just Understand My Potential.

Each hiker is responsible for packing personal gear they need for the trip.

Harvard-based JUMP provides backpacks, hiking shoes, food, transportation and other equipment to get the kids out on the trail.

The hikers are not allowed to bring any electronics such as iPods or cellphones, said Teen Center Director Jon Blodgett.

JUMP Executive Director Bill Spacciapoli approached the club about three years ago offering to partner with it for the program, Blodgett said.

The club helps find young people to participate and provides adult volunteers to chaperone.

Spacciapoli is a mechanical engineer for Lincoln Laboratories who lives in Harvard and started JUMP in 2007 as a way to help children.

“That is the focus, to give these kids a chance to raise their expectations and see what is possible for them,” he said.

He has a core group of about eight volunteers with JUMP who plan outings

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such as this weekend’s for weeks or months.

JUMP started slowly until developing a partnership with the club in 2010.

Blodgett, the club’s caretaker Chris Melvin, and a teenager at the club joined about three JUMP volunteers recently for a 16-hour Wilderness First Aid training workshop taught by Solo Wilderness Medicine in Conway, N.H.

“It is really a good training,” said Spacciapoli, who is an EMT.

This weekend’s trip will be the club’s third this summer. Members will leave Friday afternoon and return Sunday afternoon.

They will sleep in huts provided by the Appalachian Mountain Club or under tarps, Blodgett said.

“It’s fun, but there’s a level of seriousness that comes along with these hikes,” he said.

The hiking program fits the Boys & Girls Club’s mission to help young people grow into well-rounded adults, said Executive Director Donata Martin.

They learn to be stewards of the environment, learn some science and get some exercise, she said.

“It gives the children a chance to be in the outdoors for an extended period of time, which in many cases they have fear of doing,” she said. “Spending overnight in the woods is something that’s new for them.”

The teenagers all seem to have their own reasons for taking part.

Salazar, 14, is going into ninth grade at Fitchburg High School.

This is her first year in the program, and she likes the opportunity it gives her to get out of the city.

The program also gives opportunities to take responsibility, Salazar said.

Rodriguez, 16, is a 10th-grader at Fitchburg High and has gone on one hike so far.

He said the hikes give him time to hang out with friends, talk and joke.

“The first hike I went on, I got to spend time with my good buddies, and we were cracking jokes the whole time,” Rodriquez said.

The hikes get progressively more difficult, Blodgett said.

Salazar’s first hike was only a mile or two long, but she got a blister and Rodriguez teased her that she slowed the group down.

Acosta, 16, is an 11th-grader at Fitchburg High. He has gone on hikes June 1 and June 22, but is skipping this weekend to spend time with his sister, Gabby Piro, who is turning 10.

Acosta said he likes the exercise from hiking.

“I think it’s really good exercise and gets me out of town,” Acosta said.

Loading packs for adventure


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
July 18, 2012

LEOMINSTER — Angela Salazar slipped a backpack onto her shoulders with a smile and started talking about a hike she is taking in the White Mountains this weekend.

Next to her, John Rodriguez and Tim Acosta also picked up empty packs.

They will be part of a small group from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster hiking in the White Mountains with the nonprofit group Just Understand My Potential. Read more…

Rollstone Bank & Trust Pledges $25,000


rollstonePictured left to right: James P. Adams,Vice President of RBT and member of the BGCFL Board of Directors and chairman of its fundraising committee; M. Marcus Moran, Jr., chairman of the board of BGCFL; Donata Martin, Executive Director of BGCFL; and Martin F. Connors, Jr., President & CEO of Rollstone Bank & Trust.Rollstone Bank & Trust, through its Charitable Foundation, recently donated $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster (BGCFL), as part of a $25,000 commitment to the organization. The funds will support the immediate and long-term needs of the BGCFL, which helps provide the children of our communities with a safe, fun place to learn and grow. Read more…

Donation will stock food cupboards at Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster


Sentinel & Enterprise

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE The LongHorn Steak House of Leominster and Marlboro along with the Olive Garden of Leominster and Capital Grille of Chestnut Hill give the Boys & Girls Club ofFitchburg and Leominster a check for $4,000 on Tuesday night at the club. From left are Jeff Dixon, managing partner of Capital Grille; Tami Muldoon, general manager of Olive Garden; Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club; Tiffany Rogers, managing partner of LongHorn Steak House in Marlboro; and JesseLamoureux, managing partner of LongHorn Steak House in Leominster.

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE
The LongHorn Steak House of Leominster and Marlboro along with the Olive Garden of Leominster and Capital Grille of Chestnut Hill give the Boys & Girls Club ofFitchburg and Leominster a check for $4,000 on Tuesday night at the club. From left are Jeff Dixon, managing partner of Capital Grille; Tami Muldoon, general manager of Olive Garden; Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club; Tiffany Rogers, managing partner of LongHorn Steak House in Marlboro; and Jesse Lamoureux, managing partner of LongHorn Steak House in Leominster.

LEOMINSTER — Donata Martin knows what to do with the $4,000 that four restaurants donated Tuesday.

Since the money came from restaurants, said Martin, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, it will be used to buy supplies for the club’s Healthy Habits Program.

“This is going to help provide us with the fresh fruits and vegetables for that class,” Martin said.

LongHorn Steakhouse on North Main Street teamed with Olive Garden on Orchard Hill Park Drive, LongHorn Steakhouse in Marlboro, and The Capital Hill Grille in Chestnut Hill to donate the money. Read more…

Tech company gives to Boys & Girls Club


Sentinel & Enterprise
May 22, 2011

FITCHBURG — OMNOVA Solutions recently made a donation of $3,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts. The OMNOVA Solutions Foundation, on behalf of the Fitchburg location, will donate $27,500 in 2011 to surrounding communities for education, health/welfare, civic and arts programs.

OMNOVA Solutions is a worldwide technology-based company that produces emulsion polymers, specialty chemicals, and decorative and functional surfaces for a variety of commercial, industrial and residential end uses. The company is headquartered in Fairlawn, Ohio, with a local plant in Fitchburg that employees 28 people.

 

Leominster children release young salmon into Millers River


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE Emilie Arel looks over the fry as they swim around in a tank at the Boys & Girls Club in Leominster. The group took the fish to Millers River and released them on Friday.

SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVE
Emilie Arel looks over the fry as they swim around in a tank at the Boys & Girls Club in Leominster. The group took the fish to Millers River and released them on Friday.

LEOMINSTER — About 15 middle school-age children leaned way over the bank of the Millers River in Royalston to peer at the tiny fish they were releasing from three buckets Friday afternoon.

The fish were hesitant to leave at first.

“The first one got out and came back in,” said Leonardo Budzinski, 10, of Leominster.

Before long, though, all the young Atlantic Salmon swam out and darted for the bottom of the brown river.

It was the culmination of a the MassWildlife Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Atlantic Salmon Egg Rearing Program that students at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster have been taking part in since February. Read more…

BEST FEET FORWARD


 

5K walk/run on May 20th to benefit Boys & Girls Club

BY TARA KERRIGAN CUCCHIARA
Sentinel & Enterprise
May 11, 2012

John Clementi of the Clementi Family Trust presented the $35,000 gift to club member Maggie Norton.Participants of all ages are welcome to register for the Great Futures 5K Race to take place on Sunday, May 20th, starting at the Boys & Girls Club located at 365 Lindell Ave., Leominster.

Registration will open at 10:30 a.m., with the race beginning at 12 noon. Registration is $10 for seniors, $15 for adults, and free for children under 18.

Richards died unexpectedly in January of 2011 at the age of 69, leaving behind a legacy of philanthropic acts in the Lancaster,Fitchburg, Lunenburg, and Leominster communities. In fact, in lieu of sending flowers to the funeral home, his family requested donations to be made to the Boys & Girls Club. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster scores touchdown in Foxboro


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise

SUBMITTED PHOTO Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster science STEM team accept their $750 scholarship for their second-place finish in the Science of Sports Science Fair at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. From left are Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson; Raytheon mentors William Marksteiner and Richard Stephens; team members Leo Gonzalez and Kyle Klimowicz; Patriots owner Robert Kraft; team member Hunter Sergey; volunteer coach Chuck Kostopoulos; team member Trevor Leger; Boys & Girls Club unit director Rocco Spagnuolo; team member Enrique Marquez; Patriots player Danny Woodhead; and volunteer coach Kevon Plouffe.

SUBMITTED PHOTO
Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster science STEM team accept their $750 scholarship for their second-place finish in the Science of Sports Science Fair at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. From left are Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson; Raytheon mentors William Marksteiner and Richard Stephens; team members Leo Gonzalez and Kyle Klimowicz; Patriots owner Robert Kraft; team member Hunter Sergey; volunteer coach Chuck Kostopoulos; team member Trevor Leger; Boys & Girls Club unit director Rocco Spagnuolo; team member Enrique Marquez; Patriots player Danny Woodhead; and volunteer coach Kevon Plouffe.

LEOMINSTER — Trevor Leger and Enrique Marquez admitted they were nervous, but once New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft walked up to them with running back Danny Woodhead and Raytheon CEO and Chairman Bill Swanson on Sunday, they relaxed.

Leger, Marquez and their teammates from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster first made three presentations to panels of judges at the Science of Sports Science Fair inside Gillette Stadium to earn a place in the finals with five other teams.

“Obviously, we were nervous,” said Trevor, 13, an eighth-grader at Sky View Middle School in Leominster. “Then the judges came, and we presented our information, and it was easy.”

A team from the Boys & Girls Club in Roxbury earned first place, but each member of the Fitchburg-Leominster team still won a $750 scholarship.

“One of the judges was saying it was neck and neck,” said Rocco Spagnuolo, the unit director for the local club.

The scholarship can be used toward college or a camp specializing in math or science, Spagnuolo said. Read more…

Donation will stock food cupboards at Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
May 9, 2012

LEOMINSTER — Donata Martin knows what to do with the $4,000 that four restaurants donated Tuesday.

Since the money came from restaurants, said Martin, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, it will be used to buy supplies for theclub’s Healthy Habits Program.

“This is going to help provide us with the fresh fruits and vegetables for that class,” Martin said. Read more…

Brockton takes part in science fair at Gillette


By Glen Farley
The Herald News
May 7, 2012

Brockton students are among the 115 middle schoolers from Boys & Girls Clubs to participate in the event.

From the Patriots:

Raytheon and the New England Patriots award 15 scholarships to Boys & Girls Club “Science of Sports” Science Fair winners

 

Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson, The Kraft Group Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and Patriots running back Danny Woodhead selected the top three winning teams

 

FOXBOROUGH, Mass., (May 7, 2012) – Over the past four months, more than 115 middle school students from Boys & Girls Clubs throughout New England worked with Raytheon mentors to prepare for this year’s “Science of Sports” Science Fair, presented by Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) and the New England Patriots. Yesterday, May 6, 23 teams hailing from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island gathered at Gillette Stadium to present their projects that test the science and math behind their favorite sports and to vie for college scholarships. Read more…

They’re swinging away for science glory


Boys & Girls Club team puts wood to test at UMass Lowell bat lab
By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise

 

Leo Gonzalez, Kyle Klimowicz, or Trevor Leger could have been playing basketball, PlayStation or ping pong, but instead were sitting in a small office figuring out how to put together a display board for a scientific experiment Thursday.

They are part of a team at Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster competing for scholarship money in the Science of Sports Fair.

The team is scheduled to go up against 19 other teams at Gillette Stadium on May 6.

The New England Patriots, Raytheon and Boys & Girls Club are sponsoring the competition. Read more…

Youths overcome obstacles


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
April 21, 2012

LEOMINSTER — Carolina Correa was just 6 years old when her grandparents were murdered in her native Colombia.

Six months later her father was stabbed 36 times and left to die on the steps to their home.

Violence and tragedies continued to pursue her early life but Correa told about 200 young people at the 13th annual North Central Massachusetts Youth Summit that she made a decision to persevere and go to college after arriving in the United States.

“Life has a funny way of throwing obstacles at us,” Correa said. “My life isn’t perfect, your life isn’t perfect. Don’t use it as a crutch.” Read more…

Long journey for salmon begins at Leominster Boys & Girls Club


By Amanda Roberge
Worcester Telegram
March 7, 2012

The journey of the Atlantic salmon lasts many years and will take them to the coast of Greenland and back again before they are fully mature.

But these days, their voyage begins in some unlikely places — such as the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster. About 200 salmon eggs are calling the newly renovated facility on Lindell Avenue home.

Under the guidance of educator Mike Scherer, club members are getting a hands-on, comprehensive education about the ecological issues involving the species of anadromous fish, which is endangered in other parts of New England and has long been dwindling in population along the Connecticut River. Read more…

Lesson to Leominster, Fitchburg kids goes beneath the surface


Sentinel & Enterprise
February 12, 2012

LEOMINSTER — Children from the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster recently saw the effects of water pollution and contamination on marine life, thanks to a hands-on demonstration from an expert.

When researchers examine the overall experience of migratory fish, they have to take into account not only the migratory habits and challenges, but also the environmental challenges that exist even apart from migration. The water table structure is altered with dams and its condition is altered with pollutants, sometimes as a result of development, both residential and commercial. Read more…

Drawbridge open to extending fundraising career at Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
January 20, 2015

LEOMINSTER — Jim Drawbridge started a hockey team at Wachusett Regional High School in 1960 and then started a club team when he went to Hillsdale College in Michigan.

He stayed on as a coach after graduation, but when the school made hockey a varsity sport, it offered him a job in fundraising, which started him on a 40-year career.

Drawbridge retired in August but took a part-time job working 20 hours a week as the senior organizational advancement director for the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster last week. Read more…

First a new name, now a new website for B&GC of North Central Massachusetts


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
January 20, 2012

LEOMINSTER — The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster announced Thursday that it has launched a new website, www.bgcfl.org, to reflect its name change.

The name was legally changed from the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts in August and was announced at the board of directors’ annual meeting in October.

“The name change reflects a board decision to focus on the kids of Fitchburg and Leominster and create room for other clubs to develop in the region’s cities and towns,” Executive Director Donata Martin said in a statement released jointly with board President M. Marcus Moran Jr. Read more…

Brown brings message to locals


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
January 18, 2012

Two days before officially kicking off his re-election campaign, Republican Sen. Scott Brown visited North Central Massachusetts on Tuesday, which was a stronghold for him during his first campaign two years ago.

He went through Fitchburg, Leominster, Westminster and Wachusett Ski Area in Princeton, and said he is hoping his campaign against Democratic challenger and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren will be a civil one.

Brown and Warren campaigns are talking about making a public denouncement of political attack ads from third-party supporters.

“It’s something I called for last time,” Brown said, referring to his win over Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election to replace Ted Kennedy in 2010, “and something I called for this time.” Read more…

Kids compete at robotics meet


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
December 18, 2011

 

LEOMINSTER — Teams from as far as North Andover competed in a second-chance First Lego League robotics tournament at the Boys & Girls Club of Central Massachusetts Saturday and even though teams from Sharon and Walpole took the top prizes, local teams had strong showings.

“This is just a local tournament because the state championship was down in Worcester (yesterday) and there are teams that did not get in or qualify,” said Marie Keane of Leominster Youth Robotics.

Keane worked with Tina Joyce of Leominster Youth Robotics and Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club to co-sponsor the event.

It was the first competition hosted by the club, Martin said. Read more…

Boys and Girls Club membership doubles


membership doublesThe Boys and Girls Club, located on Lindell Avenue, Leominster, has seen an increase in membership.

LEOMINSTER – Despite renovations keeping parts of the club closed, enrollments jumped dramatically at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster—helped by a 100% increase in the number of kids enrolling from Fitchburg due to improved bus transportation—and membership is expected to continue to rise throughout the year.

“We went from 136 kids enrolled by last September 30, 2010 to 219 members this September 30,” said Donata Martin, club’s executive director. Read more…

Boys and Girls Club membership doubles


Sentinel & Enterprise
December 2, 2011

.LEOMINSTER – Despite renovations keeping parts of the club closed, enrollments jumped dramatically at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster—helped by a 100% increase in the number of kids enrolling from Fitchburg due to improved bus transportation—and membership is expected to continue to rise throughout the year.

“We went from 136 kids enrolled by last September 30, 2010 to 219 members this September 30,” said Donata Martin, club’s executive director.

The second largest contingent of kids—105 kids enrolled from Leominster last year, up from 74 the year before—is from Leominster. Read more…

Panera Bread presents $5,040 ‘Dough-Nation’ to Boys & Girls Club of North Central Mass


Sentinel & Enterprise
November 11, 2011

The money, raised through Panera’s Operation Dough-Nation program, will be used to further the organization’s mission to enhance the development of children and prepare young adults to be responsible, productive members of the community through social, educational, physical and cultural programming for boys and girls in the North Central Mass area.

“Panera Bread is proud to support the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Mass, a vital element in the lives of the youth in the area,” said David Peterman, franchise co-owner of Panera Bread inLeominster. “We are pleased to know that our Operation Dough-Nation dollars are put to good use in the Leominster community.” Read more…

Panera Donates $4,100 to Boys & Girls Club


PAneraPanera Bread of Worcester donated $4,100 to the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester through Panera’s Operation Dough-Nation program. Pictured, from left to right, are: Ron Hadorn, executive director, Boys & Girls Club of Worcester; and Lynette Mailhiot-Becerra, general manager, Panera Bread.

Vesna Kea honored as Youth of the Year


 

The Ninety Nine Restaurant, Fitchburg, recently recognized Vesna Kea of Leominster, as the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts 2011 Youth of the Year.vesna

The Youth of the Year is a national Boys & Girls Club recognition program to recognize exceptional Boys & Girls Club youth and to highlight their drive for personal development to achieve their dreams.

Each of the more than 4,000 B&G Clubs in the country selects a Youth of the Year who go on to compete in regional and state competitions until a national Youth of the Year is selected.
Pictured (left to right) is Jon Blodgett, Boys & Girls Club Bruce Lawrence Teen Center Director; Vesna Kea,Youth of the Year and Fitchburg Ninety Nine Restaurant manager, Dale Rawlinson.

Constructing a new chapter for Boys and Girls Club


Expansion begun on Lindell Ave. building
STORY BY CAROLINE KERAS

The ‘lazy, hazy days of summer’ do not apply to the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts, as they are gearing up for a season filled with activities and plenty of action.

A highlight of this exciting time, however, is the start of construction that will ultimately yield an expanded teen center, a life skills center, a science center, and a garden out in the back of the Club’s current location on Lindell Avenue.

Many of the students who utilize the services of the Club are already excited for the completion of the project, which is slated to be for sometime in 2013.

“It’s going to be a bigger area, bet- ter stuff to do,” said 12-year-old Michael Nunez.

“We’re going to have a lot more room to run around,” said Katrina Vaughn, also age 12. Read more…

TRUSTEES CELEBRATE NEW COMMUNITY GARDEN


 

LEOMINSTER – The Trustees of Reservations, in partnership with The Boys and Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts, held an opening celebration of the new Lindell Avenue Community Garden located at Doyle Community Park on Sunday, June 12.

During the celebration, participants shared seedlings and planned their garden plots.

The garden was a flurry of activity as families enthusiastically planted vegetables and swapped gardening stories. There was laughter and leadership demonstrated by youngsters from the Garden Club at the Boys and Girls Club who were eager to share what they have learned about gardening in the past three months under the direction of Bob Mersereau, a dedicated volunteer for the Club.

Read more…

Lindell Ave Community Garden


Contact Information

Leigh Rae
Director, The Trustees of Reservations Doyle Community Park & Center
lrae@ttor.org
978.840.4446 x1938

Leominster, MA – June 15, 2011 – The Trustees of Reservations, in partnership with The Boys and Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts, held an opening celebration of the new Lindell Avenue Community Garden located at Doyle Community Park on Sunday, June 12, 2011. During the celebration, participants shared seedlings and planned their garden plots. The garden was a flurry of activity as families enthusiastically planted vegetables and swapped gardening stories. There was laughter and leadership demonstrated by youngsters from the Garden Club at the Boys and Girls Club who were eager to share what they have learned about gardening in the past three months under the direction of Bob Mersereau, a dedicated volunteer for the Club. After an hour of hard work in the garden, a lunch celebration, graciously donated by Sean Patrick’s Restaurant in Lunenburg, was held in the gymnasium at The Boys and Girls Club. Read more…

Students participate in the “Science of Sports”


Students from the Leominster Boys & Girls Club competed against 18 other teams at the Third Annual “Science of Sports” Science Fair held at Gillette Stadium.

The students presented their projects to executive judges Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, Raytheon Chairman and CEO Bill Swanson, and Patriots safety Patrick Chung.

The Science of Sports is a youth outreach and mentoring program that uses sports as a context to teach the principles of math and science, with the help of Raytheon employees who serve as mentors to the student groups throughout the months leading up to the science fair.

Leominster team members of “Leominster Wrestlers” included: Chris Agosto, Trever Leger, Brady Martin, Michael Nunez, Peter Pixoto, and Michael Viola. Leominster Raytheon mentor was Matt Ciampaglia.

 

EB Carlson Donates $10,000 to Boys & Girls Club


eb carlsonEB Carlson Marketing Inc., a West Boylston independent sales company that represents consumer goods manufacturers, has donated $10,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of North Central MA for enrichment and recreation programs. Pictured from left to right: EB Carlson General Manager Leslie McNamara and President Ed Carlson; Boys & Girls Club staff members Jon Blodgett, Rocco Spagnuolo and Donata Martin, and club board member Dan Flynn.

Unitil Donates $5,000 to Boys & Girls Club


unitilUnitil Corp., the New Hampshire-based utility company that serves Fitchburg and some surrounding towns, donated $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts, which offers after-school programs in Leominster. Pictured are John DiNapoli, municipal and community services manager for Unitil, and Donata Martin, the club’s executive director.

Boys & Girls Club to hold fundraisers, celebrations


By Marisa Donelan
Sentinel & Enterprise
March 24, 2010

LEOMINSTER — Ever since the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts set up shop in the former Julie Country Day School, it’s gotten bigger and better, Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong said Tuesday.

Wong joined Leominster Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella and Board of Directors member Sal Napoli for an early kick-off of Boys & Girls Club Month in April, and told the kids they should be proud to be a part of the organization.

“There’s a lot of Boys & Girls Clubs all over the country, and they’re all staffed and run by local people, people that the community knows,” she said.

The Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts will hold several programs throughout April, including a recognition of the club member of the year, a family day during April Vacation and three “Step Up & Eat Out” nights as fundraisers, Executive Director Donata Martin said. Read more…

Youth summit set for April 23 in Leominster


Sentinel & Enterprise
April 15, 2010

 

LEOMINSTER — The 11th annual North Central Youth Leadership Summit, takes place on Friday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of North Central MA, 365 Lindell Ave.

The Youth Leadership Summit originated more than 10 years ago to counterbalance the negative press youth were receiving, by bringing greater awareness to and appreciation for all the positive contributions youth throughout North Central Massachusetts were making in their communities. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club of North Central MA receives grant of over $24,000


24,000 grantMembers of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern New England and Representatives from The Napoli Group present the Boys & Girls Club of North Central MA and numerous members of the Club with the check. SUBMITTED PHOTORonald McDonald House Charities (RMHC®) of Eastern New England recently presented the Boys & Girls Club of North Central MA with a $24,550 grant to be used for the conversion of an old kitchen into a science lab and classroom space.

The Club moved into a former school building at the Doyle Conservation Center in 2008, where it emphasizes handson learning methods to teach children about science.

They currently provide programming for more than 600 children in subjects such as maple tree mapping, kid’s gardens, animal tracking, and astronomy, on which it partners with MIT and Harvard.

 

Fallon awards $15G grant to local Boys & Girls Club


By Jack Minch
Sentinel & Enterprise
November 4, 2009

LEOMINSTER — The Fallon Community Health Plan awarded the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts a $15,000 grant Tuesday.

The money will be used to pay transportation costs for more Fitchburg students to attend after-school programs at the Lindell Avenue facility, said the club’s executive director, Donata Martin.

Transportation is expected to be in place within 30 days, said Ladd Lavallee, chairman of the club’s Board of Trustees.

The club serves about 150 students daily. Officials expect about 50 more Fitchburg children to use the club weekly when transportation is increased, Martin said. Read more…

Boys & Girls Club spotlights organization’s achievements


By Kerry Miller
Sentinel & Enterprise
November 6, 2009

The Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts has had a lot to be thankful for in 2009, including one year in its new location, an increase in science programs and a chance to honor a few of the many local kids who make the club possible.

The club held its “Back-A-Kid Celebration of Achievements” annual gathering last night at its joint Fitchburg and Leominster clubhouse, at 365 Lindell Ave. in Leominster.

“I’m grateful for all of you being here. It’s been an exceptional year. The economy we’ve been in it’s made the services we provide more important than they’ve ever been in this type of a club,” said Ladd Lavallee, chair of the board for the club. Read more…

Coins in fountain could make wishes come true


By Brandon Butler
Sentinel & Enterprise
September 26, 2009

FITCHBURG — When visitors to the Courtyard by Marriott Fitchburg throw money in the fountain at the entrance to the hotel, they’ll be supporting the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts.

On Friday, hotel and water resort officials dedicated the fountain to the Boys & Girls Club and pledged to donate all money raised from the wishing well to the club.

“We always get asked, ‘what happens to the money?'” said Rick Lofria, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. “Now we have a great answer.”

Ladd Lavallee, chairman of the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts Board of Directors, said the club gets most of its operational money from donations.

“In these economic times, it’s never been harder to raise money for our club,” Lavallee said. “At the same time, the economic conditions have made the services we provide even more valuable. So this, and any other donations, are really important for us.” Read more…

Omnova Solutions Donates $3,000 to Boys & Girls Club


omnovaOmnova Solutions Inc. in Fitchburg recently made a $3,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts. The technology-based company, headquartered in Fairlawn, Ohio, will donate a total of $27,500 to education, health/welfare, civic projects and the arts in 2009. Pictured, from left to right, are: Sarah Degnan, administrative assistant at Omnova Solutions; Anthony Fratturelli and Nathaniel Perkins, members of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Mass.; and Thomas Cleveland, operations manager at Omnova Solutions.

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