Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster offers teens summer employment opportunities

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Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster offers teens summer employment opportunities


LEOMINSTER — More than two dozen teens are participating in the annual Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Career Launch program that gives them the opportunity to be employed for the summer at various places in Fitchburg, Leominster and beyond.

sen l bgcsummeremployment 0119-year-old Fitchburg State University biology major Abrianna Fusco is working as a Program Instructor at the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster this summer as part of the organization’s Career Launch program. Fusco, pictured here with five to seven year old Sprouts, is an alumni of the club.

This year BGCFL invited community partners to assist in interview prep training and interviews that took place the week of June 21 at the club. Anthony Wilson from MassHire YouthWorks conducted a pre-interview workshop with 25 youth, and five Digital Federal Credit Union employees volunteered to participate in the actual interview process.

“It was nice to bring our partners in for a different focus and have them offer their wisdom and experience,” said club Executive Director Donata Martin.

Martin said the teens, who range in age from 15 to 19, have been placed in paying jobs at the club as well as at Fitchburg Art Museum, Jabil Healthcare, formerly Nypro, in Clinton, and more locations.

“We have had some success this summer with placing outside the club,” she said. “It is a great way for the young kids all the way up to the college to get experience in what they are studying.”

A 16-year-old Career Launch participant was recently placed in the Fitchburg Mayor’s Office and started on Tuesday.

“He is going to learn all kinds of things including customer service, dealing with constituents, and learning about it all,” Martin said, adding that when she spoke to him Wednesday “he said he had a great time” answering phone calls and such.

“The piece for me is learning the civics, what a great way to learn,” she said.


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Anthony Wilson from MassHire YouthWorks conducted a pre-interview workshop in June with 25 youth are participating in the annual Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster (BGCFL) Career Launch program that gives them the opportunity to be employed for the summer.

Over two dozen teens attended a pre-interview workshop in June as part of the annual Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster (BGCFL) Career Launch program, which gives area youth the opportunity to be employed for the summer.sen l bgcsummeremployment 04

A 17-year-old club member got a job teaching art in Fitchburg Public Schools as part of a Fitchburg Art Museum enrichment program alongside museum staff.

“She is one of our artists here, this is great for her,” Martin said.

Others are working as junior staff members at South Street Elementary School in Fitchburg, where BGCFL provides programs.

“They are enjoying getting that experience,” Martin said.

College students from Fitchburg State University, Quinsigamond Community College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, some who are former club members and are now math and biology majors, are teaching younger students at the club this summer.

“It is great to see some of them come back during the summer as staff, they grew up in the club,” Martin said. “It is great to see the influence we had on them. That means our STEM programs are really engaging the kids and getting them interested in STEM.”

Several junior staff members are assisting the college students with facilitating programs and activities at the club in areas such as science, biology, reading, robotics, sports, hiking, photography, fine arts and more.

“The college students are great role models for the junior staff,” Martin said. “The benefits of this interaction spans career and college exploration, financial literacy and social emotional development.”

She said that besides current and former club members, they do have “other community members referred to us” for the summer employment program.

sen l bgcsummeremployment 02A Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Career Launch program junior staff member helps photography students during a class taught by Sentinel correspondent John Love.

“We hope after this that they come back in the fall and will be part of our team,” Martin said. “It is a good recruitment tool for the club.”

In addition to the Career Launch program, BGCFL offers other ongoing, year-round after-school programs including Money Matters, a financial literacy program, and an entrepreneurial program, BGC-Prints, where students learn how to custom design and print T-shirts.

Martin said that besides interview training the youth took part in safety training with local police, and STEM and curriculum training, “so they can provide assistance to the staff and do some of the programming themselves.”

She said the paid positions, which will go until Aug. 6, also provide the teenagers with valuable tools and skills they can utilize as they head into adulthood including financial literacy, saving money and setting up direct deposit.

“We are having them do all that,” Martin said. “It is a total workforce readiness program.”

Girls & Boys Club of Fitchburg and Leominster announces new board members

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LEOMINSTER — The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster, with clubhouses in Leominster and Gardner, has welcomed its newest members to the Board of Directors — Barbara A. Mahoney, president and CEO of Leominster Credit Union, and Dr. Alberto J. F. Cardelle, provost and vice president of Fitchburg State University, according to an announcement from the club.

Mahoney joined the Leominster Credit Union in 2003 as vice president of human resources. In 2010, as senior vice president of human resources, she oversaw Human Resources, Training and Facilities. Since her promotion to SVP/chief operating officer in January 2019, she has provided leadership, direction and vision for the Operations, Information Technology/Risk, Human Resources and Facilities functions.

“Ms. Mahoney brings a wealth of professional experience and community affiliations to our board. As the organization has grown and continues to grow, we can see where we will benefit from her board membership,” Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Executive Director Donata Martin said.

Mahoney’s affiliations include The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Strategy Committee, Masshire North Central Workforce Board as the executive committee chair, Employers Association of the Northeast Past Executive Committee Chair, HR Network Cooperative Credit Union Association, New England Human Resources Association, and Society of Human Resources Management. She also serves on the Foundation Board for St. Bernard’s High School.

 sen l Alberto Cardelle

Alberto J. F. Cardelle

Cardelle’s experience at FSU will be a benefit to the club, Martin said.

“The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has focused on STEM/STEAM programming since 2009. Cardelle’s background and experience will benefit the clubhouses in taking our programs to the next level,” Martin said.

Cardelle has over 20 years of experience in higher education as a professor, department chair, dean and vice president.

Prior to starting his career in higher education, Cardelle worked for over a decade in international public health, holding positions with the North-South Center and the Fogarty International Research Center, both at the University of Miami, at the World Health Organization, the American Medical Student Association Foundation and UNICEF.

Cardelle earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and Latin American Studies from Tulane University, a master’s degree in Public Health from Boston University, and his Doctorate from the University of Miami in International Studies, with a focus on comparative health policy, according to the announcement.


The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster has served the youth of Fitchburg and Leominster for 19 years and Gardner for six years. The clubhouse programs are STEAM focused (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), and also provide programs in character and leadership development, educational enhancement, career preparation, health and life skills, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, the arts and sports, fitness and recreation after school for ages 8 to 18 , during the summer for ages 5 to 13 and supervised remote learning for ages 6 to 17.

T-Mobile provides hotspots for Boys & Girls Club remote learners

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LEOMINSTER – T-Mobile recently donated six wireless hotspots to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster (BGCFL) as part of the company’s Project 10Million initiative.

“Millions of school-age kids in America do not have access to reliable internet and cannot complete critical after-school assignments,” said John Stevens, Vice President of Small Town Rural at T-Mobile. “Perhaps now more than ever as students in Massachusetts and across the country navigate through remote learning, this type of homework gap can impact their test scores and grades and limit their opportunities after graduation. It’s T-Mobile’s mission to help provide these students with access to reliable internet connectivity as well access to future opportunity.”

The 200 students who attend the three supervised BGCFL remote learning and enrichment program sites located at BGCFL, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School in Fitchburg, and Gardner Middle School are benefiting from the internet connectivity the hotspots provide.

The hotspots help a 10-year-old student participate in a live NASA Q & A session featuring two female astronauts on the International Space Station who answered questions from students on subjects including food, exercise, and research.


“We wanted to make sure that if we were involved with remote learning, connectivity would not be problematic and that the youth would not experience sluggish connection,” said BGCFL Executive Director Donata Martin. “We wanted to provide uninterrupted virtual participation with their teachers. We knew our building would have issues and depending on the number of children and staff using the Wi-Fi, and we did.”

Martin said that BGCFL participated in a grant funded program in 2016 through Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) with T-Mobile and Cisco that provided them with hot spots.

“Our equipment from 2016 helped but we knew as more children attended, we would need more and stronger equipment,” she said.

Martin said that when she approached T-Mobile, a BGCA partner, about their need, the company was happy to step up and help.

“The team understood the needs of our three supervised remote learning sites,” Martin said. “They understood that each site and after-school program is unique and worked with us on a solution to help all of our students stay connected and engaged. I was elated when they granted my request by donating six hot spots as a part of Project 10Million.”

Martin said the hots spots are being used inside at the remote learning and enrichment sites and also during BGCFL’s after-school program.

Students participate in remote learning at the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster site.


“We will use them outside for environmental and art programming as well,” she said. “We have noticed a difference. Our Leominster site was operating with 60 children, and we just added a teen supervised remote program in our teen center in the same building. We noticed right away that we needed to use a hot spot for the additional equipment being used.”

According to a BGCFL press release about the donation, even before the pandemic more than nine million of America’s 56 million school-age children did not have access to reliable internet and could not complete after-school assignments.

“This critical homework gap has tremendous short- and long-term impacts: lower test scores, lower grades and limited opportunities after graduation,” stated the press release. “Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented 50 million students across the country are learning remotely. As our schools continue distance learning and after school programs provide remote activities, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster with clubhouses in Leominster and Gardner, and T-Mobile, are responding to the unique learning challenges students are experiencing.

“What was once a homework gap — when students faced challenges completing assignments when they left campus at the end of the day — has turned into an even more massive schoolwork gap — when students without Internet access are potentially unable to participate in the virtual classroom.”

A teenage student focuses on remote learning at the Gardner Middle School site.


According to T-Mobile, in 2020 the company provided hundreds of thousands of households with free data and free hotspots for five years through Project 10Million. In total, since the start of the pandemic, T-Mobile has helped to connect more than 2.5 million students across the country including Project 10Million participants.

“Our team is proud to work hand-in-hand with groups like BGCFL to make sure that the solutions T-Mobile provides are directly applicable to the problems they’re trying to solve,” Dr. Kiesha Taylor, T-Mobile’s National Education Administrator stated in the press release. “Just as every single student is unique and may face individual challenges, so are the teachers and programs that help these kids stay connected, learn and grow.”

Staples donates school supply haul

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Staples donates school supply haul to Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster

The company’s annual community outreach effort is needed more than ever


By Danielle Ray


LEOMINSTER — Staples in Water Tower Plaza donated 800 bags of school supplies to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Friday.

Staples Sales Manager Nate Greenwood personally delivered dozens of bright red bins full of supplies, which were purchased and donated by customers, to club Executive Director Donata Martin.

“We know that it’s been a rough year for teachers and students,” Greenwood said. “This was an easy thing for us to do, and this year it had a lot of driving force behind it. Customers were happy to help, and teachers have been ecstatic to get back to school supplies.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster got a very large donation of school and office supplies from from Staples on Friday afternoon. Members of the club and staff with a representive from Staples posed for a picture with the donations. The donations consisted of hand sanitizer, colored pencils, folders, crayons, erasers, rulers, pencils, note pads, sticky notes, staple removers, staplers and staples. Courtesy photo

Greenwood said the annual community outreach program typically runs at the beginning of the school year, but was extended through the holiday season this time due to remote learning and a greater need.

The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster runs three remote learning centers that over 100 children attend each school day, as well as an after-school program on site. Martin said the partnership with Staples has been very helpful to them, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hopefully some other businesses and organizations will step up and also donate,” she said.

Greenwood said one Staples cashier in particular gathered upwards of 30 bags a day from customers for the cause. The company donated an additional 700 bags to local teachers.

“It is important to help each other out,” Greenwood said. “We are all in this together.”

Comcast donates laptops to Boys & Girls Club of Leominster and Fitchburg

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Comcast donates laptops to Boys & Girls Club of Leominster and Fitchburg


By Danielle Ray


LEOMINSTER — Comcast donated 75 new Dell laptops to the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Monday as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to build awareness of its Internet Essentials program.

“This is great, we will be able to make sure everyone has a level playing field when it comes to technology,” said club Executive Director Donata Martin.

Over a dozen children and their caretakers gathered at the club to take a laptop home with them, including Sofia Namatovu and her two daughters from Leominster.

“This is so exciting,” said 10-year-old Anaiah Kasenge. “We don’t have our own computer, just one that belongs to the school.”

Her 12-year-old sister Arianah Kasenge said she is looking forward to “editing things and playing with my friends” on her computer.


Amani Webbe, 9 on right, of Fitchburg looks over his new Dell Inspiron laptop at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Monday afternoon. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE


“I am so happy, this doesn’t happen every day,” she said.

The girls will also use the laptops for Arabic lessons via Skype. Up until now they had been using their mother’s phone for their lessons.

“We feel so lucky,” Namatovu said.

Before the pandemic, 275 children ages eight to 18 attended the club daily, which has state of the art Wi-Fi for internet connection. These days, however, the building is fairly quiet.


“The youth with less or no access to technology (at home) can attend remote instruction, complete research for projects, and attend programing that we recommend and attend with them,” Martin said.

Programming includes virtual field trips for STEAM programs, workforce development, guest speakers, and communicating with Boys & Girls club staff and more.

Internet Essentials offers eligible households low-cost, broadband Internet service for $9.95 per month, with the option to purchase a heavily subsidized computer, and multiple options for digital literacy training. It is open to individuals who receive a federal benefit such as Medicare or SSI or reside in HUD-assisted housing or have a child in the National School Lunch Program, among other eligible benefits.


Jadiel Sanchez, 10, of Leominster with his new Dell Inspiron laptop at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Monday afternoon. One hundred laptops were donated by Comcast, 75 went to the club in Leominster and 25 went to the club in Gardner. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE


“The Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster is a longtime, trusted community partner,” said Rebecca Fracassa, Director of Community Impact across Comcast’s Greater Boston region. “We have been honored to support the work that Donata Martin and her team have done over the years to provide a club experience with significant STEM programming that prepares members for 21st century jobs. We also understand how hard this club is working with the communities it serves in this time of crisis to support safe remote learning.”

In nearly 10 years, Internet Essentials has become the nation’s largest and most successful low-income internet adoption program and has connected millions of people to the internet.

“We’ve seen firsthand that low-cost internet access, coupled with equipment access and support, is an important part of improving digital equity and creating positive opportunities for low-income students and families,” Fracassa said. “In the pandemic environment we know that access to broadband and equipment is simply essential for remote learning and we are doing our best to support our community partners, like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fitchburg and Leominster, that are working to provide educational continuity for their community’s young people.”

Comcast donated an additional 25 laptops to the Gardner campus of the Boys & Girls Club.

Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Executive Director Donata Martin, on right, stands with employees of Comcast that dropped off new Dell Inspiron laptop at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster on Monday afternoon. From left is Marsey Pendexter, Rebecca Fracassa, Greg Franks and Catherine Maloney. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE




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