A scientific connection

N.E. Peptide helps out Boys & Girls Club
by Andrew Mansfield
The Gardner News

GARDNER It looks like the Gardner Boys & Girls Club has formed a new relationship with a philanthropic partner that can also enhance science learning.

On Wednesday, the club received a $5,000 donation from the Gardner business New England Peptide and there was also dialogue about having children tour the facility, which is filled with lab equipment, in the future.

“It made a lot of sense. It’s an incredibly worthy cause,” New England Peptide President and CEO and Sam Massoni said of the donation.

“That’s the kind of ties we like to make with employers,” Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Executive Director Donata Martin said.

The Gardner club runs out of Gardner High School, is for fifth-graders through eighth-graders, and is finishing up its second school year. It is a program of the club for Fitchburg and Leominster.

There has been a steady push among community leaders to build up the Gardner club with the goal for it to one day have its own site.

With a STEAM focus for the club, standing for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, partnering with New England Peptide is a logical fit.

The company is located at 65 Zub Lane in the Summit Industrial Park, which is off Route 101 near the Ashburnham border.

Massoni said he is from Leominster and founded the company in 1998, originally in Fitchburg with the company moving to Gardner 15 years ago. The company manufactures peptides which can be used in medicine.

“It’s a fancy word for a small piece of protein for researchers worldwide,” Massoni said.

He elaborated further, saying there are 20,000 proteins in the body and that proteins can regulate disease. Manufactured peptides can be used to block a pathway, produce antibodies and treat or cure a disease.

Massoni said peptides can be used for any disease, adding that cancer makes up the largest portion of New England Peptide’s business.

Spurring the thought to become involved with the Boys & Girls Club was employee Kyle Sargent, who works as a lab technician.

For three years, Sargent worked as a science program instructor for the Fitchburg and Leominster Boys & Girls Club and said the club’s activities “gives so many opportunities.”

Before working at New England Peptide, he studied chemical engineering and chemistry at UMass Amherst.

Martin mentioned one activity the children at the club in Leominster have been able to do is grow their own bacteria. One activity the children at the Gardner club have been able to do is raise brook trout and release them into Dunn Pond.

She described the Boys & Girls Club as pursuing an immersive approach to learning in various subject matters, which can inspire interest among the children about what they could potentially do for a career as adults.

“We’re about having them start younger,” she said. “You can chart a course for the future.”