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Leominster Boys & Girls Club makes face shields for local medical facilities


UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital is among the local health centers benefiting from a challenge posed to members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to come up with a way to address the shortage of personal protection equipment.

Officials at TPE Solutions in Shirley recently contacted the organization and suggested that the kids research and design a production line to make face shields for local hospitals, with the company fully funding the venture.

Because the club’s robotics and entrepreneurial printing teams were already supported by the company, Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Donata Martin said the members jumped at the chance to put their skills to use for such a worthy community effort.

“They were excited because here they were out of school and trying to figure out something to do, because both of these groups are really active,” explained Martin, who said the teams were left with less to do after the robotics season was canceled and the demand for print orders disappeared due so many local events being postponed during the coronavirus shutdown. “So when [TPE Solutions President] Jonas Angus, who is involved with both of the teams,     asked what they were doing and I said, ‘Nothing,’ he challenged them to come up with a way to help during the pandemic.”

After reading reports about a shortage of face shields at local hospitals, the team members decided to develop a prototype face shield using a 3D printer. The prototype was tried by a local doctor who gave the item a thumbs-up, so TPE Solutions immediately funded the purchase of two new 3D printers — and with the production of 600 pieces, the project was officially underway. Members of the robotics team managed the manufacturing, while the printing team did the assembling, according to Martin.

“It was a nice combination of both groups to design this and work on it together,” she said.

Angus said he was impressed by how the club members rose to the challenge to produce such a quality mask, which he said stands out for its light weight, high quality and low cost.

“It’s functional, it’s very simple to use, and it’s very practical — we’re very happy with it,” Angus said.

In addition to HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital in Leominster, the club is donating face masks to Heywood Hospital in Gardner, Athol Hospital, Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer and other local hospitals and medical facilities that are facing a shortage of personal protection equipment.

The project was expected to continue for the foreseeable future, and club officials say they hope to enlist the help of Boys & Girls Club members from the Gardner clubhouse to help meet what they anticipate will be a growing demand for face masks. Martin said the club has reached out to hospitals in other states that have seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases to see if they would like to receive some extra face shields.

Angus said he is happy to support the club’s project for as long as necessary.

“As long as there is demand, we will absolutely help them to meet it,” Angus said.

 

See Original Article here: https://www.leominsterchamp.com/news/20200723/leominster-boys-amp-girls-club-makes-face-shields-for-local-medical-facilities

Boys & Girls Club kicks off Summer Blast program in Gardner


GARDNER — Local children will be having a blast over the next few weeks at Gardner Middle School, courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club annual summer events program. “Summer Blast,” which is open to kids between the ages of 8 and 12, offers learning experiences through fun activities in the areas of science, sports and the arts.

“This is a recreational summer program that we’ve offered both in Leominster and Fitchburg, and in Gardner,” explained Jon Blodgett, the teen center program director for the Boys & Girls Club.

With the middle school campus serving as the group’s “clubhouse” this summer, participants in the program will meet five days a week until Friday, Aug. 7, to enjoy recreational sports, nature walks, chess competitions and team-building events.

“And a lot of science labs,” Blodgett said, adding that the program will feature several classes on computer science and Lego engineering. “I think learning loss over the summer is a big deal — especially right now, facing what we’ve been facing and with the kids not having been in school for so long, that it was really important for us to open up and service the community as best we can to make up for some of the lost learning.”

Blodgett said the program is also designed to get children prepared for the return of physical contact sports, which he said will hopefully be permitted under the next phase of the state’s reopening plan from the coronavirus shutdown.

“So we’ve set up a bunch of different games that kids can do with social distancing, so we can get them ready for some physicalness along with the social aspect and the loss of learning, and that’s where we really want to help out the community,” Blodgett said.

Event organizers were careful to follow state recommended guidelines when designing this season’s program, Blodgett said. In addition to maintaining safe social distancing during group events, all participants will have their temperature taken before entering the school, and no outsiders are permitted inside the school. Officials said that anyone, including staff members, will be sent home if they show signs of being sick.

“Our classes are smaller this year, with a ration of only 10 students to two teachers, where usually we would have sports with 25 kids, so we had to alter our schedules to meet the guidelines for sanitation, masks, temperature checks and close monitoring of people’s health,” Blodgett said. “To be honest, we know our (participation) numbers are going to be low and we’re going to take a hit financially, but it was important for us to be here for the community.”

Ashley Michel of Gardner said she was eager to take part in the program so she could meet up with some friends she hadn’t seen for a while.

“I haven’t been in the school for months, so to hang out with some new friends and some old friends is really exciting,” said Michel, who has taken part in similar programs after school. “All of the activities, the indoor activities and the outdoor activities, are really fun. And sometimes we do science experiments, and I love science. I love crafts and I like to draw, and sometimes we do that, too.”

Blodgett attributed the success of the Summer Blast program each year to the stimulating content it offered to children while they were away from the classroom.

“It’s not just your regular summer program where you’re just running around, playing tag all day,” Blodgett said. “We really incorporate STEM learning and content, and I think that’s what really sets us apart from other organizations and programs.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Summer Blast program can call 978-534-8358, ext. 115, or visit www.bgcfl.org/.

 

See the full article here: https://www.thegardnernews.com/news/20200630/boys-amp-girls-club-kicks-off-summer-blast-program-in-gardner

Boys and Girls Club 5K goes virtual during pandemic


PUBLISHED: 

To register visit: https://p2p.onecause.com/greatfutures/home

LEOMINSTER — Rather than cancel its annual 5K fundraising event due to COVID-19, the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has decided to host it virtually this year.

The race, now in its 11th year, was moved online following health concerns and is taking place from Sunday to July 6.

“Rather than canceling the race, which is our signature event, we decided to move forward with our one and only fundraiser,” Executive Director Donata Martin said.

The run and walk is an opportunity to raise visibility and money for the club at a time when the funding is needed the most, Martin said.

There have been hundreds of participants in previous years, and organizers are determined to make the event a success despite the challenges.

This year’s goal is $100,000.

“It’s all about helping the club,” Martin said.

Martin said the club, which hopes to open later this summer, is anticipating several new costs in the coming year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of those costs include cleaning the building more often, purchasing cleaning supplies, hand sanitizing stations and art supplies.

Martin added that the club will be a valuable resource for parents heading back to work in the coming months, and that it’s her duty to keep the students safe and healthy.

When the club realized it would have to move the race online, it created a website where participants can create their own page to share their progress with others.

With a virtual 5K race, individuals can choose to run or walk the distance in any setting — outside or even on a treadmill inside. People can do the event at their own pace as well, added Martin.

Medals will be awarded for various achievements, including one for the person participating from the furthest away.

Martin said she was excited for the event and hopes that it can bring the community together like it has in the past.

“Before, it was a one day event and this year we can get so many people to participate,” she said. “Younger kids and older runners can also join. There’s just so much more that we can do.”

Residents interested in registering for the event can go to p2p.onecause.com/greatfutures/home.

To register, there is a $30 fee for adults, $20 for 5K masters, and $15 for students.

Shirley’s TPE Solutions teams up with B&G Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to produce face masks


PUBLISHED: 

SHIRLEY — For Jonas Angus, president of TPE Solutions Inc., partnering with students at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to produce face shields for doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed like a natural fit.

“We wanted to inspire the students and at the same time expose them to engineering, science and understanding entrepreneurship,” Angus, who is an engineer, said about the project to build face shields using 3-D printing equipment his company provided for the start-up venture.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Angus, who is a board member of the B&G Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, contacted Donata Martin, the executive director of the club, and challenged a team of the club’s students to research and design a production line to make the shields because hospitals, in particular, were warning of shortages of personal protective equipment.

Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster member Emily D works on putting together the face shields her team build at the TPE, Inc., production facility in Shirley.

The students from the club’s robotics team and T-shirt business, which are already supported financially by TPE Inc., took up the challenge, Angus said.

When formulating the idea for the production line, Angus said, he has always been inspired by what former President John F. Kennedy said about sending a man to the moon.

“We didn’t know exactly how we were going to (send a man to the moon), but we did, so let’s just go in and save some lives,” he said.

The prototype was then tried by a local doctor, and with positive feedback plans were immediately made for TPE Solutions to completely fund the purchase of two new 3-D printers, he said.

The design of the face shield was based on a PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified) material, selected for its light weight, scratch resistance, superior optics/clarity and lower cost, he said.

TPE then purchased a significant amount of PETG sheets from Primex Design and Fabrication, set up shop in its warehouse to cut the sheets to the proper 9 ½” x 12” dimensions, and donated the sheets to the Boys & Girls Club which  used them to create 600 pieces and kick off production, Angus said.

The club is now in full production making face shields and donating them to UMass Memorial Medical Center and other area hospitals and medical facilities that desperately need PPE. The face shields are also available for sale at $15 each to the general public, Angus said.

Martin said the timing of the challenge by Angus couldn’t have been better.

“Jonas’ challenge to the members was just what they needed during a time when their whole world was disrupted. Making the face shields helped them to redirect their anxiety and feeling of powerlessness about the virus and the uncertainty about the health of themselves, family and friends and the world. It helped them to think about what they could contribute to helping others and limiting the cause of further spread of the virus. They realized, they are not powerless,” Martin said.

“I am very proud of them. I am very thankful that Jonas was there to help and continues to be a mentor for our members and a catalyst for our organization in this time of uncertainty,” she said.

Vincent S. of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster is shown punching in the dimensions on one of several 3-D printers purchased by TPE, Inc. to produce the face shields being donated to local hospitals.

This was not Angus’ first project with the club to teach students about entrepreneurship. He also set up a T-shirt printing business for the club, paying for all of the necessary equipment. That endeavor, he said, has provided an excellent way for students to understand how to run a business.

“This allows the students to learn coding, engineering and science, many of the skills needed in today’s economy,” he said.

TPE Solutions specializes in both off-the-shelf and custom thermoplastic elastomer products, offering them to a wide range of commercial customers. Founded by Angus 30 years ago, TPE Solutions Inc. helps businesses with all product requirements irrespective of the end use. For more information, visit www.tpesinc.com.

 

 

See the original article: https://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/2020/06/09/shirleys-tpe-solutions-inc-team-up-with-bg-club-of-fitchburg-and-leominster-to-produce-facemasks/

Mentor, Boys & Girls Club show what crisis teamwork can accomplish


Never let a serious crisis go to waste. That saying, popularized by Rahm Emanuel, former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, refers to seizing the opportunity in chaotic times to accomplish things you didn’t think you were capable of previously.

And that’s exactly what Jonas Angus, the president of Shirley-based TPS Solutions Inc., set out to do by partnering with students at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to produce face shields for doctors and nurses batting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted to inspire the students and at the same time expose them to engineering, science and understanding entrepreneurship,” Angus, who is an engineer, told the newspaper about the project to build face shields using 3-D printing equipment his company provided for the start-up venture.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Angus, who’s also a B&G Club of Fitchburg and Leominster board member, contacted Donata Martin, the executive director of the club, and challenged a team of the club’s members to research and design a production line to make the shields for hospitals experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment.

“Jonas’ challenge to the members was just what they needed during a time when their whole world was disrupted,” Martin said.

When formulating the idea for the production line, Angus said he’d always been inspired by what former President John F. Kennedy said about sending a man to the moon. “We didn’t know exactly how we were going to (send a man to the moon), but we did, so let’s just go in and save some lives,” he said.

And to that we can say: mission accomplished.

A face-shield prototype was tried by a local doctor, and buoyed by that positive feedback, plans were immediately made for TPE Solutions to completely fund the purchase of two new 3-D printers.

Angus said the design of the face shield was based on a PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified) material, selected for its light weight, scratch resistance, superior optics/clarity and lower cost.

TPE, which specializes in producing both off-the shelf and custom thermoplastic elastomer products, then purchased a significant amount of PETG sheets, and then set up shop in its warehouse to trim them to the proper 9 ½” x 12” dimensions, which the Boys & Girls Club team used to create 600 pieces to kick off production, Angus said.

The club is now in full face-shield production mode, which they’re donating to UMass Memorial Hospital, other area hospitals and medical facilities that desperately need PPE. The face shields are also available for sale at $15 each to the general public.

This wasn’t Angus’ first entrepreneurship project with the club’s students. He also set up a T-shirt printing business, paying for all of the necessary equipment. He said that exercise provided an excellent way for students to understand how to run a business.

During the 2008 Great Recession Rahm Emanuel saw an opportunity to use the crisis to create a more responsible global financial network

Jonas Angus and his Boys & Girls Club team not only formulated a goal, but took it to fruition, benefiting those health care professionals who put their lives on the line daily.

We in the Twin Cities are fortunate to have this kind of compassion and talent to tap.

For more information about TPE Solutions, visit www.tpesinc.com.

 

 

See the original article: https://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/2020/06/11/mentor-boys-girls-club-show-what-crisis-teamwork-can-accomplish/

Boys & Girls Club keeps learning alive in Gardner


Boys & Girls Club keeps learning alive in Gardner

By Stephen Landry / slandry@thegardnernews.com/ Read the article on Gardner News here

 

GARDNER — With classes across the school district in a bit of a disarray due to current events, at least a few students are stepping up to make sure such critical skills such as “Brain Surge,” “Reading Time” and “Survival Skills” are not being forgotten during these critical weeks of the coronavirus shutdown.

That is why officials at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Leominster and Fitchburg and the Gardner campus have provided students with a virtual programming learning system, one that is taught by local high school seniors and first-year college students, and covers a wide variety of STEAM-related topics (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

“We started our virtual programming about a week after all of the schools closed because we realized that all of the kids would need something to do while at home,” explained Ladda Kosaketh, Gardner Clubhouse coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club.

The online project, called “Brain Surge,” is offered each weekday on the club’s Facebook page at noon. The program features a daily spotlight of STEAM-related online games and activities, with special highlights featuring special activities from sites with cool math games, Science Kids, and an Hour of Code and Scratch.

Among those putting online lesson plans together for the site is Charles Perrow, a dual enrollment student at Mount Wachusett Community College and Gardner High School.

“I had gotten involved with the B&G Club online through my coworker, Troy (Thomas),” Perrow said. “He told me that Ladda was looking for people to hire, and I volunteered for her for a few days to evaluate me, and I ended up getting hired.”

Troy Thomas, a senior at Gardner High School and a first-year student at Mount Wachusett Community College, said he first because involved in the local Boys & Girls Club by volunteering two years ago. He advanced to the paid position of youth development professional earlier this year.

“I wanted to take part in the virtual programming because working is an important part of my day-to-day life, and I would much rather do something productive that could be beneficial to the community than do nothing,” Thomas said.

Among the topics covered in a typical STEAM Hour include such science-related experiments such as building bridges, catapults, creative lettering, chemical reactions and making clay. Other courses offered include Survival Skills, in which kids are taught ways to keep safe while engaging in common activities such as camping, hiking and swimming. Virtual field trips, cooking hours and career spotlights are among the other courses offered during the online classes.

“I just usually think of different STEAM-related subjects or topics that kids would be leaning about in school, and find ways to incorporate those topics into a fun and interactive activity,” Thomas said.

“For my lessons, I try to look for something that kids will still be engaged in yet still find a bit relaxing,” Perrow said.

Kosaketh said she is proud of the teaching topics her two youth development professionals have managed to come up with so far for the project.

“They’re the ones going on the internet and determining what people like and enjoy, like math and puzzles and cooking,” Kosaketh said.

“What makes being part of the program so good is that I can still work during the shutdown,” Perrow said. “When the shutdown is over, it’s going to be even better because just interacting with the kids is just so much fun.”

“I enjoy working for the kids and getting a chance to make a difference, whether it’s just helping a kid with their homework, helping them find their potential, or making their day just a little bit brighter,” Thomas said. “It is a truly rewarding experience that you can’t get at any traditional teen job. I would pick empowering the people of our nation’s future over bagging groceries any day.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the online programming being offered is invited to check out the Boys and Girls Club’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/bgcflGardner/, for more information.

Twin Cities Boys & Girls Club executive director honored at Statehouse


By MONICA BUSCH | Sentinel & Enterprise
March 4, 2020

LEOMINSTER — Donata Martin, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Leominster, Fitchburg and Gardner, received a Black Excellence on the Hill award last month, when she was honored for her work with North Central Mass. youth.

“Each and every day, Ms. Martin works with her team to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens,” read a description of her from the event’s Feb. 11 program.

Martin was nominated for the award by state Reps. Natalie Higgins, D-Leominster, and Susannah Whipps, R-Athol.

“It was quite an honor to be recognized by the state folks,” Martin said on Wednesday. She said that while she works with state officials, “you never really know how much people notice.”

Martin was named executive director of her local Boys & Girls Club branch in 2009, and since then she has worked to promote intensive and extensive Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) program at their facility.

In part, she said, this is the product of her own love for science, which she said began when she was a child and would attend events at the Boston Museum of Science.

“I just felt that if I had that excitement as a child, other children would as well, and that’s what we’ve found here — that they do,” Martin said.

Sparking that interest in children at the Boys & Girls Club, she said, is also about promoting basic critical thinking and problem solving skills, even if club members don’t necessarily realize at first that that’s what they’re learning.

Many of them spend their time at the club participating in a slew of STEAM projects, whether that’s building robots, caring for trout, 3D printing or painting in the art room, Martin said.

“They really do need to problem solve, so they learn the engineering method and the scientific method without even knowing that they are learning engineering or scientific methods,” Martin said.

Martin is visibly enthusiastic when describing the multitude of STEAM programming available to club members, and grows excited when sharing her hopes for expanding their offerings. One area she really wants to get into is artificial intelligence (AI), building on already extensive and accomplished robotics and coding programming.

In the art realm, she said, she’d like to start incorporating more music, and possibly drama.

She likened children’s brains to chalkboards that she and other staff members have the opportunity to write on.

“You expose them to as much as you can educationally and see where it goes,” Martin said. “And you really do spark a lot of interest in different fields.”

The Boys & Girls Club provides programming for children and teens, many of whom attend the center five days a week, and sometimes on Saturday.

Martin said she plans to continue diversifying their project areas for as long as she heads the Twin Cities branch, always working “to open their minds to different fields of science.”

Team Terrorbots 3623 gears up for robot comp


Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster’s robotics club member and a junior at Leominster High School Vincent Soubbotin works on cutting material in the club’s shop room as the team gears up for the First Robotics Competition this month.

By  | Sentinel & Enterprise

LEOMINSTER — The clock is ticking for Team Terrorbots 3623, a group of local students and members of the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster who are gearing up to take part in the FIRST Robotics Competition on Feb. 28.

On Monday, the team was in the midst of its six-week build period, and members were working hard to ensure their robot was prepared for competition.

Still, under construction, the robot doesn’t have an official name yet.

“The frame of our robot is done and now we’re just working on the final mechanisms,” said program coordinator Jacob Janssens, who has been taking part in the robotics competition for 12 years.

“This particular competition is a capstone for what the club does with its S.T.E.A.M. programs,” Janssens said. “It brings all of the science education, the technology, engineering, math, and art all together. They get real experience with the machines, the safety that comes with that, high-level programming, engineering, and design.”

If successful, they will move on to the District Championship in West Springfield, and then the World Championship in Detroit, where they would compete against about 400 teams from across the globe.

“This year, the robot has a ball shooting mechanism, which is very impressive,” said Janssens. “These kids have been working hard, and I know they’ll be ready in two weeks.”

Team member Jancarlos Oquendo, a junior at Fitchburg High School, said the robot this year will need to accurately shoot a ball at a target and climb obstacles during the competition.

“This is probably the most powerful machine we’ve made since I’ve been here,” said Oquendo, who joined the team about five years ago.

Jalen Leider, 16, a junior at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School in Fitchburg works on a part for the robot in the shop room at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Jalen Leider, a junior at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, is tasked with driving the robot during competitions.

“It can get pretty tense while you’re driving with the other two teams,” said Leider. “It’s pretty stressful, but it’s also pretty fun.”

Oquendo said getting involved in the robotics team has allowed him to learn new skills while also gaining a hobby and several friends in the process.

“I came into this with zero knowledge of how to do anything, but I ended up falling in love with it,” Oquendo said. “We just work well together. During the regular season, everybody feels like a family away from home.”

Leominster High School junior Vincent Soubbotin, who designed this year’s robot, said he enjoyed the engineering challenges and design process of putting together a robot.

Logan Vifquain, a junior at Leominster High School, drills a piece for the construction of the robot in the shop room at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

“The challenge of making this and then actually building it is very intriguing to me,” said Soubbotin. “I’ve always been interested in technology and then I came here a few years ago … and I’ve been in it ever since.”

The rules of the competition require that teams spend no more than $5,500 on their robots, with no single piece of equipment costing more than $500.

Team Terrorbots 3623’s robot remained unnamed as of Monday.

Teams from Boys & Girls of Fitchburg and Leominster compete in ‘Future City’ competition


SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

February 11, 2020

One team is recognized for excellence

 

 Students at the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster built two futuristic cities so they could compete in the New England competition “Future City.” Future City is a project-based learning program where students imagine, research, design, and build the cities of the future. They had two team from the club compete in the competition. This group called their city “Future Town.” From left is Amya Burgos, 9, Amelia Carboni, 10, Anabelle Bien-Aime, 12, and Nicholas Carboni, 13. They are holding the three awards that their city won at the competition. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

LEOMINSTER — Two teams at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster have spent the past several months building futuristic cities to compete in the New England competition “Future City” and one team was recognized for its efforts.

Future City is a project-based learning program where students imagine, research, design and build the cities of the future. Keeping the engineering design process and project management front and center, students work in teams to ask and answer an authentic, real-world question: How can we make the world a better place?
The Future City competition focuses on creating cities that could exist at least 100 years. Each of the cities built must incorporate a solution to a design challenge that changes each year. This year’s challenge for the kids was clean water.

One of the Boys & Girls Club teams, called Moon City, with teammates, Desmond Batch, Ava Bettencourt and Aaron Traingue, chose a threat to a city’s water supply, located on an island in the Indian Ocean, and designed a resilient system to maintain a reliable supply of clean water that included desalinization of ocean water.

The other local team, Future Town, with teammates Amya Burgos, Amelia Carboni, Anabelle Bien-Aime and Nicholas Carboni, situated their city in Michigan on the coast of Lake Erie. The biggest threat to their city was a significant pollution problem in the drinking water.
Helping them learn about clean water during the building process was Jeffrey Murawski, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Works’ wastewater division. The students also got help from two directors at the center, Christopher Mora, the education director, and Allison Digirolamo, the science education director.

 Students at the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster built two futuristic cities so they could compete in the New England competition “Future City.” Future City is a project-based learning program where students imagine, research, design, and build the cities of the future. They had two team from the club compete in the competition. This group called their city “Moon City.” From left is Desmond Batch, 11, Ava Bettencourt and Aaron Traingue. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

The teams from the Boys & Girls Club of Leominster and Fitchburg were the only Boys & Girls Club group that competed. All the other teams where from middle schools around New England.
The Boys & Girls Club’s Future Town team won three different awards including best model, one of the toughest competitions considering there were more than 20 teams from the New England region. They also won the award for citizen engagement and the most brilliant use of natural resources.

The teams participated on Jan. 26 at the regional competition held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

AIS celebrated Manufacturing Month with events, educational sessions


The Leominster manufacturing company is also celebrating its 30th anniversary!

LEOMINSTER — AIS, the largest manufacturer of commercial office furniture and seating in New England, celebrated Manufacturing Month with a number of events and educational sessions throughout October.

Events included visits by Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, tours and discussions for local students, and an employee appreciation day.

The official national Manufacturing Day was Oct. 4 (held annually the first Friday of October) and AIS held events that day as well as throughout the month.

Manufacturing Month activities focused on the importance of manufacturing to the local economy. The events also helped AIS to mark its 30th anniversary. The company was founded in October 1989 by Bruce Platzman and Arthur Maxwell.

“When a local economy rests on a solid manufacturing foundation, local businesses of all sizes and industries benefit. We’re proud to be the largest employer and manufacturer in Leominster and proud to be celebrating 30 years,” AIS President and CEO Bruce Platzman said.

Manufacturing is 10.1% of Massachusetts’ total economic output and comprises 7.8% of the Commonwealth’s workforce (about 250,000 people in the state work in manufacturing), according to MassDevelopment.

With over 600 employees who work in manufacturing jobs at its headquarters location, AIS is one of the largest employers in traditional manufacturing in the state of Massachusetts. More than 250 women work at AIS’s Leominster location, and more than 30 countries are represented in the employee population. With 800 employees nationwide and annual sales of more than $220 million, AIS’s dealer-centric focus and network extends across North America. AIS has been awarded “Manufacturer of the Year” from the Office Furniture Dealers Alliance eight times since 2008.

Some of the Manufacturing Month Activities

Baker visited AIS on Oct. 9, touring the manufacturing floor, meeting employees and presenting a proclamation declaring October to be Manufacturing Month in Massachusetts.

AIS honored its employees with an appreciation day on Oct. 11 that included a picnic under a huge tent at headquarters catered by local food-truck companies. At the event, Platzman awarded the Barney Platzman Award to Francesca Jimenez Vega.

AIS hosted members of the Girls & Boys Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for a tour of the factory and the showroom. Submitted Photo

The award, given annually, is named for the CEO’s father and given to an AIS factory team member selected for his or her hard work and dedication. This is the first year that a woman has won the Barney Platzman Award.

“AIS thanks Francesca for her dedication, and we are so thankful for all the hardworking employees we have. We would not be where we are without them,” Platzman said.

AIS also hosted the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster for factory and showroom tours. The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation partnered with AIS to provide the experience for the club members.

On Oct. 25, State Sen. Dean Tran visited AIS and presented the company with a special citation honoring AIS’s 30 years in the state of Massachusetts. In 2018, Tran had nominated AIS “Manufacturer of the Year” for Central Massachusetts.

“AIS is a true partner in the region,” said Tran (Fitchburg).  “Not only are the company’s quality products unmatched in the industry, their involvement and volunteer work in the region are second to none. AIS’s commitment to the community is greatly appreciated.”

“AIS is committed to being a MassMade company that prides itself on its role in the local community, in the state and in our country,” Platzman said. “It’s been an incredible 30 years and there is so much more ahead of us!”

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