Ayer/Groton/Harvard/Shirley/Devens

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Current Edition  - 1/27/23
Previous Edition - 01/20/22

HEADLINES

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Click HERE to vote for February's featured!

Congratulations to January's winner, The Cannon Theatre in Devens!

GLCF Seeks Request for Proposals for 2023 Discretionary Grant Cycles

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LOWELL: The Greater Lowell Community Foundation will open its 2023 Discretionary Grant Cycles on February 1 and is seeking requests for proposals from nonprofit organizations. The Foundation will award $200,000 through the Discretionary Grant Cycle. Nonprofit organizations serving the communities of Acton, Ashby, Ayer, Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Lowell, Pepperell, Shirley, Tewksbury, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Westford, and Wilmington are invited to apply.

Grant funding from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation’s 2023 Discretionary Grants Program includes the following strategic funding categories:
 
  • Racial Equity and Inclusion (details below) - The Foundation will award multiple grants of up to $15,000 that focus on racial equity and inclusion. The grant funding should focus on one or more of the following goals:
    • Increase understanding of our community’s challenges with racial equity and race relations
    • Provide access to stories and diverse perspectives on the lived experience of racial inequity in Greater Lowell
    • Strengthen relationships among Greater Lowell residents, particularly across racial and ethnic groups
    •  Increase awareness of resources and best practices related to advancing racial equity
  • Leclair Elder Services - The Foundation will award five grants at $7,000 each to organizations that support services to seniors (55 years+) in our service area.
  • Children’s Services - This year, thanks to the generosity of our donors, GLCF will award seven grants at $7,500 each to projects that support services for children. The Foundation welcomes proposals that improve the quality of life for children and young adults (birth to age 22.)
Grant applications must be submitted by noon on March 3, 2023. Grant recipients will be announced in May. More information is available online at  www.glcfoundation.org.

For more information about the grant process, contact Sharon, GLCF Grants Coordinator with any questions at sharon@glcfoundation.org.

PHOTO: Clarendon Early Education Services received a 2022 Discretionary Children’s Grant to support their Comfort Kits for Foster Kids.
 
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Find Out about Affordable, Reliable, Clean 21st Century Nuclear Energy

The climate crisis is no longer hypothetical. It has arrived. The fastest way to de-carbonize the planet and reduce use of fossil fuels is to incorporate more nuclear energy into the regional power grid. Energy educators are offering free public talks to groups of all kinds – schools, libraries, religious communities, as well as civic, service and environmental organizations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, southern New Hampshire and Maine and northeastern Connecticut. 

Learn about modern safety procedures, the science and enormous power of uranium and thorium as a 21st century solution to meet the escalating world demand for electricity. Examine the fears underlying discussions of nuclear operations, waste and safety. Find out how modern nuclear reactors feed regional power grids with clean energy 24/7, and how other countries are developing this dense low-carbon energy source. Explore Eco-Nuclear Solutions, a non-partisan, volunteer, grassroots group of scientists, educators and environmentalists at www.eco-nuclearsolutions.org. To reserve a date to explore the potential of nuclear power, contact econuclearsolutions@gmail.com

The one-hour presentation is an introduction to nuclear energy and how it benefits the planet and the world’s people. Access to reliable affordable electricity is a gateway out of poverty, which typically leads to lower birth rates. Nuclear power is experiencing a renaissance as one of the most reliable, affordable and zero-carbon sources of electricity that requires minimal land. It is the only electricity generating technology that sequesters  and/or safely disposes of all byproducts which, along with its demonstrated reliability, makes it a rockstar to provide energy, the lifeblood of the world. The Seabrook, NH and Millstone, CT, nuclear plants provide 20% of electricity to the New England grid. 
Scientists and activists will share data, stories, slides and videos about the world’s drive for reliable, affordable and clean energy.

The team includes: David Butz, a self-educated living encyclopedia of nuclear energy, past, present and future; Carolyn McCreary, Ph.D, who served two terms on the Ayer Select Board and led the town to become a Green Community; Dale Levandier, Ph.D., a chemist with knowledge of nuclear physics; and other scientists and environmental activists.
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Winter Fest 2023 in Harvard

HARVARD: The Harvard Lions and Fruitlands Museum present Winter Fest 2023 on February 25 from 11am-4pm at Fruitlands Museum. A fun filled family event with activities for everyone from a 5K Race, Human Sled Dog Pull, Skillet Toss, Apple Cannons, People's Choice (Chili & Mac & Cheese Contests), Scavenger Hunt, Sun Catchers Contest, Snowman's Glen, Art Galleries, Nature Trails, Human Foosball, Magic Field, Hot Chocolate Bar, Vendors, Lions Food Tent and Wassail the Orchard.

For more information, visit winterfestharvardlions.org, or tickets can be found online at www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/harvardma/page-10.php. Winter Fest is included in The Trustees Membership, or non-Member admission is $5.
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Pepperell Council on Aging Experiences Brain Healthy Cooking

PEPPERELL: Recently, Pepperell Council on Aging members heard a presentation on Brain Healthy Cooking from Nashoba Park Assisted Living. They had the opportunity to learn about the benefits of healthy, mindful food choices that boost cognitive and physical health.  Paul Fuller, Community Relations Specialist at Nashoba Park, presented “Boost Your Brain Health by Eating Well,” an educational program that introduces individuals to the Mediterranean diet, a way of cooking and eating that promotes holistic health for the brain and body.

Participants learned about some recent major scientific studies connecting adherence to the Mediterranean diet with several impressive health benefits including delayed or prevented cognitive decline, some key nutritional guidelines, as well as some tips for how to cook “brain healthy” at home. The audience left with both full minds and stomachs, as the Nashoba Park team served a homemade brain-healthy turkey and wild rice stew, which was packed with healthy herbs and spices, such as thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. The lunch was an incredible way for attendees to gain inspiration for future Brain Healthy Cooking endeavors!

Brain Healthy Cooking is an award-winning nutrition program that brings meals inspired by the Mediterranean diet to Nashoba Park and their sister Senior Living Residences (SLR) communities. Residents enjoy fresh, taste-tested, and brain-healthy menu options every day that incorporate ingredients like dark leafy greens, whole grains, lean meats, fish, seafood, and flavorful herbs and spices.  For more information on the program or to view a collection of recipes, visit www.BrainHealthyCooking.com.
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Women’s Business Network (WBN) Hosts “Your Favorite Influencer”

HARVARD: The Women’s Business Network meets February 9 at 7:15pm at St. Theresa’s Church (Holy Trinity Parish), 15 Still River Road. The event begins with networking, followed by brief announcements and introductions where each attendee gets to introduce herself and her business. The program will be “Your Favorite Influencer” facilitated by Terri Courtemarche of Scouter Design. Attendees are encouraged to share information about a person who has influenced their business practice.

WBN is a local, volunteer run networking group of women in small businesses, professional practices, non-profits, and the arts who meet monthly for mutual support, education & networking. Referrals are shared, but usually out of the context of the meeting. Guests welcome. Contact Deb Oliva at dboliva@charter.net for more information. 

 
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Rotary Club of Groton/Pepperell Donation Allows for New Equipment & More

GROTON: Groton Fire Department would like to thank the Rotary Club of Groton/Pepperell for their generous donation. It is through donations like this that allow them to purchase new equipment and provide trainings that are not necessarily within the budget. If you would like to make a donation, you can make checks payable to Groton Fire Dept Gifts Account, 45 Farmers Row, Groton, MA 01450.
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LUK, Inc. Invites You to the 10th Annual Kids at Heart Mentoring Gala

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FITCHBURG: This year, LUK’s Kids at Heart Mentoring Gala will be back in-person on February 9 from 5:30-10pm at Great Wolf Lodge. Enjoy live and silent auctions, balloon pops, live music, entertainment, and dancing! 

LUK has offered mentoring for 20 years. “We are looking forward to the 10th Annual Kids at Heart Mentoring Gala. This will be the first chance in two years we are coming together in person to celebrate the positive effects of mentoring,” said Hilary Amedy, LUK’s Mentoring Program Coordinator. “The connections that mentors make with their mentees are more important now than ever. Join us in celebrating LUK’s mentors and mentees. Hear from former mentee/mentor matches about their experiences and their stories. Become part of the LUK Mentoring journey!”

LUK, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the safety, health, and well-being of youth, families, and adults in Central Massachusetts. As a community based organization, LUK’s mission is to challenge and inspire youth, adults, and families to realize their unique potential through community-based prevention, intervention, education, and support services. 

Tickets are $100 and include entertainment and a catered dinner of your choice. If you are unable to attend, but would like to support this cause, you can bid on silent auction items online or make a donation. Visit https://events.readysetauction.com/lukinc/gala23 to purchase tickets, view auction items, and begin bidding. For more information, visit https://mentoring.luk.org/mentoring-events/gala or email LUKGALA@LUK.org.
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Bike Camp for Children with Special Needs – Registration Open

CONCORD/GROTON: Emerson Health’s Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies is hosting its 6th annual camp for children and adults with special needs during April school vacation week - April 17-21, 2023. The camp is open to those who are at least eight years old, have a special need, and are able to walk without an assistive device. Trained counselors and spotters work individually with campers to teach them how to ride a conventional bike.

The iCan Bike camp will be held at the hockey rink at Lawrence Academy, 26 Powder House Road, Groton. Participants must be able to attend the same 75 minute daily session during each of the five days of camp. Parents and/or caregivers are required to stay during their camper's 75-minute session where they can observe in the spectator area. For more information and to register, please visit: https://icanshine.org/ican-bike-groton-ma/, or call (978) 589-6774, or email icanshinebike_rehab@emersonhosp.org.

The camp is run by iCan Shine, a national non-profit organization that teaches individuals with special needs to ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle through its iCan Bike program. Trained professionals, including pediatric physical therapists from Emerson Health, work closely with each camper using adapted bike equipment, to help them meet their goals of biking independently. With 75 minutes of daily instruction over five consecutive days, more than 80% of campers learn to bike independently by the end of camp, and nearly all campers make great progress towards biking on their own. 

“Riding a bike is one of the most exciting developmental milestones - it gives people a wonderful outlet for exercise and freedom and is an activity that families can enjoy together,” said Mary Evans, PT, pediatric therapist, Emerson Health. “We are excited to offer the bike camp to give people individualized instruction and the skills necessary to ride a bike on their own. We know the campers will make tremendous progress this year, as we have seen with hundreds of campers in prior years.”

Sponsors of this year’s bike camp are: The Auxiliary of Emerson Health, Lawrence Academy, Spring Hill Suites, Hilton Garden Inn Devens, Bay State Apparel, Cataldo Gift and Garden Shop, Goodale’s Bike store of Nashua, and The Bike Connector of Lowell.
 
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Ayer Rental Assistance Program Now Accepting Applications

AYER: Eligible household may receive monthly rental assistance of $500 per month for one year through this program.  A total of 5 grants are available.  Please call the Office of Community and Economic Development (978) 772-8220 x142 or email ahersey@ayer.ma.us for more information or follow this link to the application and program guidelines: www.ayer.ma.us/RentalAssist. Applications are due by February 15, 2023

Local Students Named to Dean's List at Fitchburg State

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FITCHBURG: Fitchburg State University President Richard S. Lapidus has announced the students who qualified for inclusion on the Dean’s List for the Fall 2022 semester. A student is placed on the Dean’s List for the semester if an average grade of 3.20 or better is attained, and the student is attending the university full time.  Congratulations to:

Acton / Boxborough / Maynard
Catherine Abrams
Yilver A. Aguilera

Zainabu A. Bosungmeh 
Joseph D. Ditavi
Abderrahmane Garchali 

Ryan B. Kidder 
Carl W. Lindberg
Kyle J. Lindfors

Jonah T. Sallese 
Zachary J. St John 
 
Ayer / Shirley / Groton / Harvard / Devens
Chassity P. Boo 
Kaitlyn M. Bremer 
Jonathan W. Bremer 
Hailey G. Burke 
Savannah D. Caldbeck
Matthew J. Carey 
Andrew T. Esielionis
Emily J. Hanson 
Kayla A. Holland 
Curtis J. Holmes
Kabriana T. Kien 
Ryleigh A. Levensailor 
Brady W. Madigan 
Deven J. Muldoon 
Eli Norton 
Mishayla S. Silver
Megan R. Strout
Mark K. Terhune 
Danielle M. Varner 
Jing Wang
Stephen T. Wells

Chelmsford / North Chelmsford
David E. Kelley 
McKenna G. Moore 
Sara Najm 
Karen A. O'Rourke
Seth E. Rigby

Concord / Carlisle / Bedford
David P. Eisenberg 
Shujiao Liu

Hudson / Stow
Brian K. Boland 
Emily Cristobal 
Molly J. Flanagan
Isaiah French

Emily G. Hallsworth 
Nicholas D. Solimine 
Cameron J. Sousa
Dale A. Sousa 
Courtney M. Walsh

Marlborough / Sudbury
Julia M. Barnes 
Ava E. Hannon 
Kaleigh A. Morales 
Nickolai Voskanian

Westford / Littleton 
Vincent A. Colavita 
Erick K. Gakuo 
Benjamin R. Golash 
Kyanah Long 
Nathan S. Martin 
Edith Masembe 
Adam E. Quinlan 
Alyssa K. Ramirez 
Asha L. Speller 
Benjamin G. Stormwind
Meaghan J. Walsh

Additionally, Fitchburg State University President Richard S. Lapidus has announced the names of students included on the President’s List for the Fall 2022 semester. The President’s List honors students for consistently high academic achievement. A student is named to the list after achieving a 3.75 average in each of three successive semesters.  Congratulations to:

Acton / Boxborough / Maynard
Owen C. Thayer
 
Chelmsford / North Chelmsford
Alyssa J. Fields
Emily F. Klein 
Sophia A. Piper

Learn more at fitchburgstate.edu.
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ParentChild+ Program now Available Locally

ACTON: ParentChild+ is a FREE home visiting program for families with young children to help parents prepare their child for preschool or kindergarten. First Connections recently received a grant to provide this program to families living in Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury and Westford. An Early Learning Specialist will visit your home twice per week with fun and engaging early learning experiences, including a high-quality book or toy that you can keep. Specialists model reading, conversations and play activities designed to promote language development, pre-literacy skills, and school readiness. Children can enter the program when they are 18-36 months old and participate for 46 weeks, excluding summer and holiday breaks. Families who lack transportation or the financial ability to attend playgroups or preschool will be prioritized to receive this service. Families whose children are watched by family members while they work are eligible, but children enrolled in preschool or child care outside of the home would not be eligible. This program has a 40-year track record of supporting early childhood success. Anyone interested in participating in this program can contact First Connections by emailing firstconnections@jri.org or calling/texting Debbie at (978) 505-4429.  
 
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Cannon Theatre Proudly Presents "Seussical, the Musical"

DEVENS: Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat and all of your favorite Dr. Seuss characters spring to life onstage; The Cannon Theatre is pleased to announce Seussical, the Musical! Directed by Tara Tremblett, with music direction by Diane Guenard, this dramatic homage to all things Dr. Seuss transports audiences from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus. The mischievous Cat in the Hat narrates the story of Horton the Elephant, who discovers a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos. Horton must protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and various perils, and he must also guard an abandoned egg that’s been left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird. Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, and a even a court trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him. The powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and ultimately emerge triumphant!

In the cast are: The Cat in the Hat: Kiki Bean (Littleton); Jojo: Audrey Viera (Westford); Horton the Elephant: Julia Peckham (Fitchburg); Gertrude McFuzz: Hannah Abbinanti (Littleton); Sour Kangaroo: Scarlett Desisto (Leominster); Mayzie La Bird: Caroline Nash (Littleton); General Schmitz: Sarah Littlewood (Templeton); Mr Mayor: Ben Sielian (Westford); Mrs. Mayor: Charlotte Nash (Littleton); Young Kangaroo: Maia Lasante (Ayer); Yertle the Turtle: Rosie Habashian (Groton); The Grinch: Ronin McAlevy (Leominster); Bird girls: Kaylee Isble (Lunenburg), Madison Price (Fitchburg), Megan Lopez-Barrera (Leominster), Callie Seager (Groton); Wickersham Brothers: Claire Nash (Littleton), Ronin McAlevey (Leominster), Myka Lewis (Marlborough); Whos/Cadets: Tessa Myers (Ayer), Millie Myers (Ayer), Lilah Faiella (Littleton), Asher Lewis (Marlborough) & ​Rosie Habeshian (Groton).

Show times are January 27, 28, February 3 and 4 at 7pm, with matinees on January 29, February 4 and 5 at 2pm. Tickets are available at www.thecannontheatre.org, and are $25 for adults, $20 for students/seniors, and $15 for children aged 10 and under. The actors will be performing on stage without masks. The Cannon Theatre appreciates the cooperation of their audience members in helping to keep these performers healthy. Please visit www.cannontheatre.org for up-to-date Covid Safety Protocols.

The Cannon Theatre’s youth programs are funded in part by a grant from the Community Foundation for North Central Massachusetts. Several cast members’ program tuition was covered by generous funding from the Local Cultural Councils of Acton-Boxborough, Ayer, Groton, Harvard, Littleton, Lunenburg, Townsend, and Shirley - local agencies which are supported by Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.
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Winter Warfare at Fort Devens Museum

DEVENS:  Former Army Officer Mark Deuger will give a presentation on Winter Warfare at 1pm on January 21 at the Fort Devens Museum. Deuger served in the Infantry and Special Forces in Alaska, Massachusetts (Fort Devens), and Colorado, among other assignments. He participated in a wide range of training in arctic and mountain environments including the Norwegian Winter Warfare School. This presentation will include information from his own training as well as practical winter survival skills.

The Fort Devens Museum is located at 94 Jackson Road on the third floor and is wheelchair accessible. The museum is open on January 21 from 10am-3pm.  This event is free and open to the public. More information is available at www.fortdevensmuseum.org.
 

FY23 3rd Quarter Real Estate / Personal Property Tax bills are due February 1, 2023 

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AYER: FY23 Third and Fourth Quarter Real Estate/Personal Property Tax bills have been mailed. Third quarter bills are due by February 1, 2023. Cash, check and credit/debit card payments accepted at the counter during Town Hall hours, (Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8am–4pm; Tuesday 8am–6pm; Friday 8am-2pm).
For your after-hours convenience, a secure Tax Collector drop box is located outside the Columbia Street entrance to Town Hall for checks only. Make checks payable to the “Town of Ayer.”

You can search for and pay your bill online using UNIPAY. Payments are accepted by e-check, debit card or credit card. You can find the Online Payments link on the Town website.  Select Online Payments, Collector.

Do you use the Bill Pay function with your Bank? The PO Box address for payments has changed. Remit Payments to: Town of Ayer, MA, Department 1100, PO Box 986535, Boston, MA 02298-6535. Make sure to update this address or it may result in delinquent payments.
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Some of what's happening at Groton Public Library (www.gpl.org)...
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Toe Jam Puppet Band Winter Show

HARVARD: On January 25 from 12:30-1:15pm at the Harvard Public Library, enjoy the Toe Jam Puppet Band, a fun family band for kids and their parents, too! Toe Jam Puppet Band’s unique musical performances are very interactive and theatrical. Audience members of all ages are encouraged to sing and dance along with Toe Jam as they entertain with a unique combination of original songs and interactive storytelling. Get ready for a Car Wash, watch out for the Flying Laundry and be prepared to laugh with glee, Toe Jam style! Have a great time laughing together with your family and friends! Registration is required! Attendance is limited to 100 total attendees. Register online at  www.eventkeeper.com/code/events.cfm?curOrg=HARVARD#7139657.
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Join a Book Club at the Lunenburg Library in 2023!

LUNENBURG: If your New Year’s resolution includes reading more books, meeting new people, and expanding your literary horizons, consider joining one of our Library run book clubs to fulfill them all! Starting in 2023, the Lunenburg Library will host several monthly book clubs and discussion groups for various ages and reading interests.
 
Adults interested in a weekday morning book club are welcome to join our new "100 Books Bucket List" Book Club meeting on January 3 at 11am. The inspiration for this book club is a "100 Books Bucket List" scratch-off poster hanging in our Library entryway. The poster will be used to choose our next title every month by drawing a number and scratching off that space to reveal our read. Titles range from epic classics, to short stories, and modern masterpieces both fiction and nonfiction. For January: Square #17: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. No registration is required, and participation can vary month-to-month. Can’t make this one? This Club meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 11am in the Library conference room.
 
Avid readers of young adult materials are encouraged to join our “(Not So) Young Adult Book Club” which launches on January 8 at 11am! The “(Not So) Young Adult Book Club” is for those adults who love reading YA books (you know who you are) but teens are totally welcome to join us too! At this meeting, we'll be discussing The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, copies are available at the library. If you're interested in YA books and participating in this book club, please come to this first meeting even if you haven't read the book! Registration is suggested so we can plan, but not required. You are more than welcome to come to book club even if you did not sign up in advance.
 
And finally, our new tween book club – “First Bites Book Club” for kids in grades 5-7 (ages 10-13) will kick off on January 18 at 4pm. First Bites is a book club where you don't have to read a book ahead of time to participate! Snacks will be provided, so please register ahead of time to ensure we have enough supplies. Join Miss Debbie and Teen Librarian Susan as they read the first chapter of a middle grade book out loud. Then everyone can discuss their first impressions of the book and what they think the book is about. If anyone is interested in reading more, the library will have plenty of copies on hand for you to take home. Each month will be a different book and different snacks.
 
Keep up-to-date with the latest book club meetings, and other exciting Library programs available for all ages, online at https://lunenburglibrary.assabetinteractive.com/calendar/
 
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Action Holiday BINGO! Wrapping Up Soon

Have you been playing The Action's Winter BINGO! this season?  The game will be wrapping up soon, so be sure to dab your numbers, cross your fingers, and when you find yourself with a row completed horizontally, vertically or diagonally, copy or scan your cards and send them to "contest@actionunlimited.com" or 100-1 Domino Drive, Concord, MA 01742.  One winner will be drawn from all verified submissions.

December Holiday Vacation Week Activities at Lunenburg Public Library

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LUNENBURG: Here are a few things to consider to help pass vacation time during the holiday break at Lunenburg Public Library!

December 27, LEGO Challenge, 6-7pm
Calling all Lego builders! Visit the Story Craft Room to spend an hour building with Legos! There will be a Lego challenge for you to do with a variety of random Legos, or you can just build! At the end of the hour, your creation will be put on display in the library for everyone to see and admire! This month, LPL is going to apply STEM principles to a  holiday activity for kids - LEGO Santa Sleigh! All ages welcome. Registration is required: https://lunenburglibrary.assabetinteractive.com/calendar/legos-at-the-library-night-2/ 

December 28, “ All About Bears” Program with Mass Audubon, 11am
This is a special Storytime event for kids Ages 4-10. The program includes a story, natural history presentation, craft and a game. Registration is required: https://lunenburglibrary.assabetinteractive.com/calendar/all-about-bears-with-mass-audubon/ 

December 29, Family Crafternoon - TWO Sessions: 1:30 & 2:30pm
Make a new family craft activity for all ages building a no-sew rice filled sock snowman! Bring your creativity to assemble your own unique snow buddy... and this one will never melt once winter ends! There'll be lots of colors, embellishments, and styles to pick from in this family craft activity. All materials will be provided. You just have the fun!  Recommended for ages 5+ with adult assistance. Registration is required:
1:30 registration - https://lunenburglibrary.assabetinteractive.com/calendar/family-craft-lab-december-break/
2:30 registration - https://lunenburglibrary.assabetinteractive.com/calendar/family-craft-lab-december-break-3/

For more information, visit
www.lunenburglibrary.org.
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Ayer Cultural Council Announces 2023 Grant Recipients

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AYER: The Ayer Cultural Council (ACC) is pleased to announce the recipients of their 2023 Grant funds. The largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program enriches the cultural life of all cities and towns in the state. Led by municipally appointed volunteers, LCCs award over $4 million every year, supporting 6,000 cultural programs that include everything from field trips to lectures, festivals, and dance performances. Through State authorized funding, as well as locally raised funds, the Ayer Cultural Council this year was able to offer over $10,000 in funds to local artists, performers, schools and other organizations.  Included in the 2023 recipients are:

- Ayer Library (Summer Reading 2023);
- ASRHS Drama Club;
- Davis Bates III (Thanksgiving Harvest );
- Marcos Valles (Rockabye Beats);
- Harvard Town Band Holiday Concert;
- Devens Historical Museum (Project Summertime);
- Clear Path for Veterans New England (Ukulele & Guitar Lessons);
- Discovery Museum (Open Door Connections);
- Virginia Thurston Healing Garden (Visual Arts Therapy);
- Sandra Regan ("WOW" Handmade Greeting Cards);
- Cannon Theatre (Youth Tuition Support);
- Yin Peet (2023 CAI Stone Carving Symposium);
- Ann-Marie LaBollita (Printmaking with Plants & Stencils);
- Lisa Kempskie (American Originals);
- IridESSENCE Community Health Collaborative (Ageless Grace);
- Johnny Appleseed Trail Association (Cultural Component Enhancements);
- Groton Hill Music (Bach's Lunch Concert Series);
- Nashoba Valley Chorale (Wake Up, My Spirit);
- Fitchburg Art Museum (87th Regional Exhibition of Art & Craft);
- Acton Community Chorus (Snow Angel Concert);
- Robert Zammarchi (Rainbow Dance Party!);
- Sizer Foundation (Studs Turkel's "Working");
- Francis Hart (The "Me" Decade Review); and
- Maitreyee Chakraborty (Melodic Times).

The Ayer Cultural Council (ACC) is a group of town-appointed volunteers who seek to expand the cultural experiences for the residents of Ayer. It is their belief that these programs support a growing and vibrant town, fostering a strong sense of community among residents while making the town appealing to newcomers. Cultural Council Grants are reviewed and issued each Fall.  For information about the Council, you can visit them online via the Town website, on Facebook (ayermalcc), or at https://massculturalcouncil.org/local-council/ayer.  You can also email CulturalCouncil@ayer.ma.us.
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Fitchburg State University Holds 126th Commencement Exercises, Winter Ceremony

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FITCHBURG: Fitchburg State University held the winter ceremony of its 126th commencement exercises on December 16. President Richard S. Lapidus gave the commencement address at the ceremony, where undergraduate and graduate degrees were conferred. The graduating class included students from 30 states and four countries. Lapidus highlighted stories of perseverance from the graduating class and encouraged the graduates to continue to show resilience and courage as they chart their future paths.
 
Student speakers also addressed the graduates and guests. Graduate Student Leadership Award recipient Spencer Fuller, a member of the Northborough Police Department, completed his Master of Science degree in criminal justice. He also completed his Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice at Fitchburg State as part of the university’s five-year police program, whose graduates receive certification to work in municipal police departments in Massachusetts and other New England states. Fuller was nominated for the award by university faculty, who described his leadership skills as a mentor and role model to younger students.
 
“You can truly find success in your life when you start to see the people around you succeeding and you start finding happiness in their success,” said Fuller, who cited Fitchburg State Police Academy Director Lisa Lane MCarty as a key mentor. “She displays all the qualities that make someone a great leader: selfless acts for the benefit of others. She puts other people above herself, in order to help these people succeed.”
 
The undergraduate valedictorian was Helen “Hallie” Dyer of Westwood, who completed her Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice, also through the university’s police program. Dyer, who had a perfect 4.0 grade point average, described the challenges of the undergraduates who navigated the disruptions of the COVID pandemic during their studies.
 
“In the months of being isolated from that community to which I had become connected, I realized just how much all my new relationships meant to me,” Dyer said. “I realized while getting through some of the most challenging transitions in my education that I am not in a vacuum; the support of my friends and family is what allowed me to be as resilient as I was. When we returned to campus, that same sense of community remained, and I made a decision that I didn’t want to forget how important it was. I realized that growth is not just academic achievement; it’s community, it’s grace under pressure, it’s overcoming adversity when challenges arise.” 
 
View the ceremony, filmed by Fitchburg Access Television, on the university’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/FitchburgState.
 
FSU Graduation List - Summer 2022

Acton
- Nicole  Florio, BS - Nursing, RN to BS
- Pramila  Rao, BS - Nursing, RN to BS

Bolton
- Mark  J. Rodriquenz, MED Curriculum & Teaching

Chelmsford
- James H. Briere, BS Communications Media
- Christopher  T. Ersing, MBA Business Administration
- Nicholas  D. Rand, MED Curriculum & Teaching

Hudson
- Kevin  Yarkosky, MED Curriculum & Teaching

Maynard
- Samantha  L. Cutler, MED Curriculum & Teaching

Pepperell
- Lisa  Nogueira-Fei, BS Nursing, RN to BS

Shirley
- Yeoun  S. Kim, BS Nursing, RN to BS
- Meghan  R. O’Neil, BS Biology
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Parker School Opens 2023-24 Enrollment Season

DEVENS: Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School announced the enrollment season for the 2023-2024 academic year is now open. Parker is a free public charter school open by lottery to students entering grades 7, 8 and 9. Applications can be submitted online at www.parker.school/apply until February 1, 2023. The lottery will be held on February 7, 2023 at 4pm. All application, lottery, and enrollment regulations, as outlined in the enrollment policy will be followed.

In addition, Parker has limited openings in grades 7 and 9 for mid-year entry during the current (2022-23) school year. There are no openings in grade 8 for the 2022-23 school year at this time. Applications for the current school year can be submitted online and will be accepted until January 4, 2023. If more applications are received than there are available spaces, a lottery will be drawn on January 12, 2023 at 4pm. Enrollment offers will be made with an intended start date of the first day of second semester (January 24, 2023).

Parker Charter School educates 400 students in grades 7-12 from more than 40 towns in Massachusetts. Founded in 1995, Parker is committed to the principles of progressive education—inclusive community, low student-teacher ratio, project-based learning, and promotion based on mastery of core intellectual skills. Learn more at www.theparkerschool.org. Sign up for an information session at www.parker.school/infosession.
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Transfer Station Holiday Schedule

AYER: The following is the Ayer Transfer Station's holiday hours schedule:

Christmas
  • Saturday, December 24th, 7-11am
  • Sunday, December 25th, CLOSED
New Years
  • Saturday, December 31st, 7-11am
  • Sunday, January 1st, CLOSED

Please dispose of your wrapping paper in Town of Ayer trash bags. Christmas trees can be disposed of at the Transfer Station on regular days of operation (Ayer residents with valid vehicle stickers only.)
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Polar Express Storytime at LPL

LUNENBURG: On December 20 at 6pm, Lunenburg Public Library's Children’s Librarian Debbie Laffond is inviting one of Santa’s favorite elves to share the holiday classic "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg with children of all ages and their families. Everyone is invited to don their pj’s, bring along a favorite stuffed animal friend or blanket and get comfortable in the Children’s Area as the story is read. Registration required at www.lunenburglibrary.org

Seasonal Wreaths at Nashoba Park

AYER: Residents of Nashoba Park got in the holiday spirit with some beautiful personalized wreaths for their apartment doors! Residents pictured engaging in this activity are Kathy Aborn, Richard Parker, Mary Bishop, and Dorothy Murphy.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: What to Know about Sustainable Investing

December 6, 2022
 
You may have heard about “sustainable investing.”  But if you're not familiar with it, you may have some questions: What does it involve? Is it right for me? Can I follow a sustainable investing strategy and still get the portfolio performance I need to reach my goals?

Sustainable investing can be defined in different ways, with different terminologies. However, one way to look at a sustainable approach is by thinking of it as investing in a socially conscious way which may involve two broad categories: environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and values-based investing.

As its name suggests, ESG investing incorporates a broad range of environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities, along with traditional financial measures, when making investment decisions. This approach may have a neutral impact on performance because it maintains a focus on managing risk, traditional fundamental analysis and diversification. Here's a quick look at the ESG elements:

    • Environmental – Companies  may work to reduce carbon emissions, invest in renewable energy, decrease pollution and conserve water resources.
    • Social – A business  may promote gender and pay equality within its workforce, and maintain positive labor relations and safe working conditions for employees.
    • Governance – Companies distinguished by good governance may institute strong ethics policies, provide transparent financial reporting and set policies to ensure it has an independent, objective board of directors.

You can pursue an ESG investing approach through individual stocks, mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which hold a variety of investments similar to mutual funds, but are generally passively managed – that is, they do little or no trading. As an ESG investor, you don't necessarily have to sacrifice performance because ESG investments generally fare about as well as the wider investment universe. Some investments may even gain from the ESG approach. For example, a company that invests in renewable energy may benefit from the move away from fossil fuel sources.

Now, let's move on to values-based investing. When you follow a values-based approach, you can focus on specific themes where you may choose to include or exclude certain types of investments that align with your personal values.

So, you could refrain from investing in segments of the market, such as tobacco or firearms, or in companies that engage in certain business practices, such as animal testing. On the other hand, you could actively seek out investments that align with your values. For instance, if you’re interested in climate change, you could invest in a mutual fund or ETF that contains companies in the solar or clean energy industries.

One potential limitation of values-based investing is that it may decrease the diversification of your portfolio and lead to materially lower returns due to narrowly focused investments, prioritization of non-financial goals and too many exclusions.

Ultimately, if you choose to include a sustainable investing approach, you will want – as you do in any investing scenario – to choose those investments that are suitable for your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.

If sustainable investing interests you, give it some thought – you may find it rewarding to match your money with your beliefs.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor Mandy Calouro, Chelmsford, MA.
EdwardJones.com/Mandy-Colouro - Edward Jones, Member SIPC
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‘Blue Christmas’ Vigil of Hope and Healing

GROTON: Union Congregational Church of Groton is hosting a community-wide ‘Blue Christmas’ service for all who find the holidays emotionally difficult. This special worship service will take place on December 18 at 6pm in the church’s sanctuary. This community event is open to all, whether you belong to this church, a different church, or no church at all.  
 
“The past few years have been difficult for so many people,” says Rev. Corey Sanderson. “The people of this church wanted to do something for the wider community to help ease some of the burdens that people are carrying. This night is our gift to the people of Groton and the surrounding towns.”

The evening will be quiet and contemplative in tone, with times of prayer, silence, poetry, and music. There will be readings from scripture, hymns to sing, music from our Handbell Choir, and the opportunity to come forward to light a candle in honor or memory of a loved one or situation.   

“What makes Blue Christmas so meaningful,” says Rev. Sanderson, “is that it helps us name the loss and grief, but it won’t let us stay there. It lifts us up and points us ahead to the hope and healing that are central in the Christmas story.”
 
People often feel pressured to ‘put on a happy face’ for the holidays. These social pressures devalue the real hurts we are experiencing. ‘Blue Christmas’ creates a safe space to honor our losses and grief, even as we are reminded that brighter days are now upon us.  The final weeks of December have the longest nights of the year, but from this point on the nights will be getting shorter and the days will be getting brighter. Light, hope, community, prayer, and healing belong to us all. 
 
“No matter who you are, what you believe, or even if you don’t believe at all, you are welcome here,” says Rev. Sanderson. “Make this a night of self-care. In the endless stress and busyness of the holiday, just come and receive and find a measure of peace.”    

Union Congregational Church is located at 218 Main Street. They can be found on the web at www.uccgroton.org and on Facebook.

The Cannon Theatre Proudly Presents "It's a Wonderul Life: A Radio Play"

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DEVENS: The Cannon Theatre is pleased to announce their holiday show, a 1940's radio show interpretation of It’s a Wonderful Life, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of this timeless classic. Directed by Shawn Cannon, this live radio play is based on the beloved holiday movie, with a clever twist thrown in: the story is staged as a radio broadcast, with you as the live studio audience! Actors portray numerous characters, a live quartet sings holiday tunes, and fun sound effects are created onstage by three creative Foley artists.

It’s a Wonderful Life is about the life of George Bailey, a generous and well-meaning man who has become too downcast and tired to continue living. It will take help from a lovable angel, Clarence, to show George what life would be like if he wasn’t born for George to have a change of heart and understand the true spirit of the holidays.

In the spirit of the holiday season, The Cannon Theatre will be collecting donations for Stone Soup Kitchen, a local charity based in Ayer that feeds anyone who needs a hot meal, pantry supplies, or some loving community support. Cash donations are most appreciated, but nonperishable, not-expired food items will also be accepted at the theater.

Show times are December 9 and 10 at 7:30pm, with matinees on December 10and 11 at 2pm. Tickets are available at www.thecannontheatre.org, and are $25 for adults, and $20 for students/seniors.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Protect Financial Accounts From “Cyberthieves”

November 29, 2022
 
Cybercrime is booming. In 2021, the FBI reported that cybercriminals scammed nearly $7 billion from Americans — a figure slightly higher than the gross domestic product (GDP) of Switzerland for that year, according to research organization World Economics. How can you protect yourself from cyberthieves? Here are some suggestions that can help:
 
  • Watch out for “phishing” attempts. You may receive emails that appear to be from a legitimate firm, requesting information your financial institution would never request online — confirmation of an account number, password, Social Security number, credit card number and so on. These notes can look official, often incorporating a firm’s logo, so pay close attention to what’s being asked of you.
  • Think twice before clicking or downloading. If you are suspicious about a communication, don’t click on a link or download an attachment — instead, go to your financial firm’s website or use their app to verify they sent the information or request.
  • Become adept with passwords. Use a different password for each of your accounts and change your passwords regularly. Of course, maintaining multiple passwords can be confusing, so you might want to consider using password management software, which generates passwords, stores them in an encrypted database and locks them behind a master password — which is the only one you’ll need to remember.
  • Use your own devices. Try to avoid using public computers or devices that aren’t yours to access your financial accounts. If you do use another computer, clear your browsing history after you log out of your account.
  • Be cautious about using Wi-Fi when traveling. When you’re on the road, you may want to use public hotspots, such as wireless networks in airports and hotels. But many people don’t realize that these hotspots reduce their security settings to make access easier, which, in turn, makes it easier for cyberthieves to intercept your information. In fact, some hackers even build their own public hotspots to draw in internet-seekers in an effort to commit theft. So, if at all possible, wait until you can access a trusted, encrypted network before engaging in any communications or activity involving your financial accounts.
  • Don’t give up control of your computer. Under no circumstances should you provide remote access to your computer to a stranger who contacts you, possibly with an offer to help “disinfect” your computer. If you do think your device has an issue with malicious software, contact a legitimate technician for assistance.
  • Know whom you’re calling for help. If you need assistance from, say, a customer service area of a financial institution, make sure you know the phone number is accurate and legitimate — possibly one from a billing or confirmation statement. Some people have been scammed by Googling “support” numbers that belonged to fraudsters who asked for sensitive information.
  • Review all correspondence with your financial services provider. Keep a close eye on your account activity and statements. If you see mistakes or unauthorized activity in your account, contact your financial institution immediately.

Advanced technology has brought many benefits, but also many more opportunities for financial crimes. By taking the above steps, and others that may be needed, you can go a long way toward defending yourself against persistent and clever cyberthieves.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor Preston Carbone, Westford, MA  - EdwardJones.com/Preston-Carbone, Edward Jones, Member SIPC
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Supporting Someone with a Mental Health Condition?

The Family to Family course from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) could prove helpful to you. This is a free, evidence-based, weekly, eight-session virtual course for family members and friends of individuals living with mental health conditions. Topics include understanding the symptoms of mental health conditions, learning about treatments and therapies, practicing communication and problem-solving skills, creating a positive team approach, and self-care. Importantly, the course offers family members the invaluable opportunity of open conversation and mutual support in a stigma-free environment. The class is taught by NAMI trained family members from the local NAMI Central Middlesex affiliate. The course will meet Mondays via Zoom, starting January 16, 6-8:30pm.  Registration is required. Go to namicentralmiddlesex.org/educational-courses for additional information, the registration link, and more course offerings. To converse with one of the teachers, contact Patti at pjsardella56@gmail.com; (978) 621-1065 or Lindsay at linzbfar@gmail.com; (781) 864-7003.
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Information about Ayer Water

AYER: The Town of Ayer is required to monitor your drinking water for specific man-made and naturally occurring contaminants on a regular basis. Results of regular monitoring are an indicator of whether or not drinking water meets health standards. In 2021, they did not monitor and report the parameters of pH, alkalinity, and orthophosphate at locations and frequencies required by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). These parameters are used to evaluate the effectiveness of our corrosion control program to minimize the lead and copper concentrations at user’s taps. They have already collected, analyzed samples, and submitted results to the DEP.  For more information and to view the latest Water Quality Report, visit www.ayer.ma.us/water.

The Town first discovered the presence of PFAS, sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals,” in the drinking water in 2016. and took immediate action to minimize risk to customers and install treatment for these contaminants. They are happy to report that both water treatment facilities are now up and running. Treatment for PFAS at Grove Pond Wellfield has been in operation since November 2020 and now at Spectacle Pond Wellfield since July 2022. Since that time, water entering the system has repeatedly tested as non-detectable for these regulated contaminants and you can have confidence in the quality of your drinking water. For a history and continued updates, visit www.ayer.ma.us/waterdepartment/pages/pfas-drinking-water.
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Groton Woman’s Club Offers Holiday Wreaths at 16th Annual Greens Sale

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GROTON: Historic Williams Barn is filled with the wonderful scent of pine, as Groton Woman’s Club members decorated wreaths, and created centerpieces, swags, and kissing balls with the generous donation of a variety of pine and other greens from Kelly Wheatley from Shade Tree Landscaping in Ayer. The Club’s 16th Annual Greens Sale will be held at the Williams Barn, 160 Chicopee Row on December 3 from 9am-1pm. (Snow Date December 4). There will also be a Quilt Raffle along with ornaments and the favorite Holiday Cookies for sale. Proceeds from this sale go toward scholarships for students at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, Nashoba Valley Technical High School and Francis W. Parker Charter School and other charitable organizations

PHOTO: (l to r) Greens Sale Co-Chairman Tracey Molaskey, Jude Sawyer, Greens Sale Co-Chairman Nancy Olson, Kelly Wheatley, and Pat Bennett.
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Pirone Park Perimeter Path Holiday Decorations

AYER: Would you like to help the Ayer Parks Department decorate the perimeter path at Pirone Park this holiday season?  They would like to set up a collection of Christmas trees and snowmen along the walkway, and thought it might be a fun activity for families and individuals of Ayer jump in.  Here’s how it works:
 
  • The Parks Department will be making plywood cutouts of Christmas trees and snowmen, about 4’ tall and 2’ wide, for people to decorate. 
  • Participants can decorate their cutout any way they like, with the proviso that they use materials and techniques that will allow them to stand out in harsh conditions for a month or more.
  • Those wishing to participate can contact the Parks Department via email at parks@ayer.ma.us to reserve a cutout and set up a time to pick it up (only one cutout per family please).  The cost to participate will be $20 and you choose between a tree or snowman and be asked to give the $20 when you pick up your cutout.  You will also need to fill out a brief form with contact info. Those who participated last year and still have their trees/snowmen can use them again.
  • There is a limited supply, so once they run out, they will need to discontinue distributing them. Reserve your cutout ASAP to guarantee you will get one. Participants must return their decorated cutouts by December 1st.  The Parks Department will set up the decorated trees and snowmen once they are returned.
  • The decorations will remain up through the school holiday break, then be taken down some time after that.  Those wishing to reuse their cutouts for next year can pick them up after January 8.

Join the fun!  If you have any questions, feel free to call Jeff Thomas at the Parks Department office at (978) 796-5915.
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EMCATOS / WurlitzerPops Invites You to a Holiday Party

GROTON: The Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (EMCATOS) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1956, ATOS Charter Number One. You are cordially invited to take one or more limited seats at the EMCATOS Holiday Party to be held on December 11 at 2:30 PM at the Shanklin Music Hall. This is a buffet dinner with full concert featuring Tedde Gibson. The cost is $40 per person, all inclusive. If you wish to attend, please contact Linda or Jim Duncan via email at Lindakduncan@msn.com or Jamesfduncan@msn.com no later than 5pm on December 2. Linda or Jim will contact you for confirmation.
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Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts Hosts 3rd Annual Author Event

BOLTON: Join Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts for their third annual author event on December 4 from 6-8pm at the First Parish of Bolton, 673 Main Street. Local author and minister Liz Magill will lead a discussion of relational ministries and transforming service projects based on her book "Five Loaves, Two Fish, Twelve Volunteers: Growing a Relational Food Ministry." The event is free. Contact diana@ncmhabitat.org to reserve your spot.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Time for New Year’s Financial Resolutions

November 22, 2022
 
It’s that time of year when many of us promise ourselves we’ll go to the gym more, or learn a new language, or take up a musical instrument, or any number of other worthy goals. But this year, when making New Year’s resolutions, why not also consider some financial ones? Here are a few to consider:

Don’t let inflation derail your investment strategy. As you know, inflation was the big financial story of 2022, hitting a 40-year high. And while it may moderate somewhat this year, it will likely still be higher than what we experienced the past decade or so. Even so, it’s a good idea to try not to let today’s inflation harm your investment strategy for the future. That happened last year: More than half of American workers either reduced their contributions to their 401(k)s and other retirement plans or stopped contributing completely during the third quarter of 2022, according to a survey by Allianz Life Insurance of North America. Of course, focusing on your cash flow needs today is certainly understandable, but are there other ways you can free up some money, such as possibly lowering your spending, so you can continue contributing to your retirement accounts? It’s worth the effort because you could spend two or three decades as a retiree.

Control your debts. Inflation can also be a factor in debt management. For example, your credit card debt could rise due to rising prices and variable credit card interest rate increases. By paying your bill each month, you can avoid the effects of rising interest rates. If you do carry a balance, you might be able to transfer it to a lower-rate card, depending on your credit score. And if you’re carrying multiple credit cards, you might benefit by getting a fixed-rate debt consolidation loan. In any case, the lower your debt payments, the more you can invest for your long-term goals.

Review your investment portfolio. At least once a year, you should review your investment portfolio to determine if it’s still appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. But be careful not to make changes just because you feel your recent performance is not what it should have been. When the financial markets are down, as was the case for most of 2022, even quality investments, such as stocks of companies with solid business fundamentals and strong prospects, can see declines in value. But if these investments are still suitable for your portfolio, you may want to keep them. 

 • Prepare for the unexpected. If you encountered a large unexpected expense, such as the need for a major home repair, how would you pay for it? If you didn’t have the money readily available, you might be forced to dip into your long-term investments or retirement accounts. To prevent this, you should build an emergency fund containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses — or a year’s worth, if you’re retired — with the money kept in a low-risk, liquid account. 

These  resolutions can be useful — so try to put them to work in 2023.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor James Normington, AAMS, Westford, MA - EdwardJones.com/James-Normington. Edward Jones, Member SIPC