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Current Edition -1/27/23
Current 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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16 Adults Complete Carpentry, Welding, Robotics Evening Courses at Minuteman Technical Institute

Programs Are Tuition-Free for Many Students Thanks to Funding from Massachusetts Workforce Skills Cabinet Grants
 
LEXINGTON: Sixteen adults of a variety of ages and backgrounds were recently celebrated for completing programs in carpentry, welding, and robotics at Minuteman Technical Institute. The 15-week programs were tuition-free for most students thanks to Career Technical Initiative grant funding from the Massachusetts Workforce Skills Cabinet and the Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium.
 
The Minuteman Regional Technical School District has received more than $3 million since 2020 in grants from the Workforce Skills Cabinet, which support high school and adult career technical education programming. The funds are used to help students, including those from under-represented backgrounds, work in career trades where there is a high demand for skilled workers.
 
The adult students and their families attended a “Signing Day” ceremony to celebrate their completion of the fall 2022 evening programs in carpentry (pre-apprentice), welding, and robotic technician. Many students brought their families as they signed ceremonial letters of commitment to build careers in their fields of study.
 
“Our incredible adult students are seeking rewarding careers in high-demand trades to build their futures for decades to come,” said Dr. Kathleen A. Dawson, Superintendent of the Minuteman Regional Technical School District. “From single moms pursuing carpentry to military veterans learning high-tech robotic skills, we welcome students from all backgrounds to help them reach their dreams. In the process, we are educating highly skilled professionals for our regional economy in trades where there are critical shortages of skilled workers.”

“Our adult students are truly committed and dedicated.” said Dr. Nancy Houle, Executive Director of Minuteman Technical Institute. “They often work full time jobs and take their courses in the evenings. We congratulate and celebrate these students for their accomplishments and for contributing to the growth of our regional economy.”

Carpentry (Pre-Apprentice) Program

The following students completed the Carpentry Pre-Apprentice program, which was hosted in collaboration with the North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund. They each earned the following industry-recognized credentials: OSHA-10 Safety, Hot Work, Fall Protection, Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP), Scaffold Use Certification.
 
  • Alexa Cipkas of Norfolk
  • Nicole Crane of Saugus
  • Stephen Foley of Norwood
  • Kateri Gerald-Burns of Boston
  • Seikha Kim of Lowell
  • Lina Lopez of Revere
  • Nathan Oun of Dracut

The following students completed the Robotic Technician program. They each earned the following industry-recognized credentials: OSHA-10 Safety and Hot Work.
 
  • Raul Gonzalez of Lowell
  • Benjamin Judge of Malden
  • John Ko of Chelmsford
  • Michael Keating of Burlington
  • David Pardey of Millis

The following students completed the Welding program. They each earned the following industry-recognized credentials: American Welding Society (AWS) D1.1-Sheilded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)-S.S, AWS-D1.1-Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW)-5.18, AWS D1.1-SMAW-Structural, Hot Work, and OSHA-30 Construction Safety.
 
  • Paul Damon of Chelmsford
  • Jacob Malkasian of Northbridge
  • Jacob Stuczynski of Northbridge
  • Luke Nichols of Woburn


PHOTO: Front row L-R: Instructors Garrett Rice and Tom Akers of the North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund;

Middle row: Students Lina Lopez of Revere, Nicole Crane of Saugus, Alexa Cipkas of Norfolk, Nathan Oun of Dracut, and Kateri Gerald-Burns of Boston;

Back row: Dennis Lassige, Regional Manager for North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters; Stephen Foley of Norwood; Seikha Kim of Lowell; Chris Clifford, career counselor for MassHire South/West; Kevin Kelly, regional manager for Local Union 339; and Eric Martinez, recruitment officer for North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund.
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Chelmsford Cultural Council Awards 22 Grants

CHELMSFORD: The Chelmsford Cultural Council has announced its grant awards for fiscal year 2023. Twenty-two grants were approved, totaling $19,942 in funding. The Chelmsford chapter is part of a network of 329 local cultural councils serving all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. Consisting of municipally appointed volunteers serving two three-year terms, cultural councils support community-based projects in the arts, sciences and humanities every year with funds allocated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
 
Members of the Chelmsford Cultural Council who were in attendance to vote on the 32 applications included co-chair Doug Sparks, co-chair Barbara Reilly, treasurer Elaine D’Alessandro, clerk Cindy Cantrell, Subroto Mukherjee and TJ Beary.
 
“This is one of the most important committees in Chelmsford, as it provides grant money from the state to our artistic neighbors,” Reilly said. “This money helps to keep the arts alive in our area.”
 
The grant recipients for 2023 are as follows:

· Cara Bean: $500 for “Draw Your Story”
· Carlisle Community Chorus: $700 for Carlisle Community Chorus concerts
· Chelmsford Art Society: $2,250 for “Chelmsford Art Society Trifecta Art Shows”
· Chelmsford Center for the Arts: $3,250 for “Re-Mix: Teen Mixed Media Art & Storytelling”
· Chelmsford Community Band: $2,160 for summer concert series
· Chinese Family Network: $1,000 to use Lego bricks to teach math, science and arts
· Clear Path for Veterans New England: $617 for “Arts from the Hearts”
· Kimberley Connors: $350 for local Native American archaeology
· Discovery Museum: $300 for “Open Door Connections”
· Rhonda M. Frazio: $600 for “Dyeing to Wear It”
· Jeyanthi R. Ghatraju: $1,000 for “Navarasa (Nine Emotions) in Shakespearean Work”
· Francis Hart: $350 for “A Cultural and Historical Reflection of the 1960s Through the Music of The Beatles”
· Michael Lopez: $900 for VitalSaenz 2023 fall production
· Massachusetts Educational Theater: $750 for the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival
· Marilyn Morales: $850 for “Always Remember”
· MUSIC Dance.edu: $600 for “Hip Hop Chair Dance for Seniors”
· MUSIC Dance.edu: $580 for “I Am Autistic, I Am Fantastic”
· The Delvena Theatre Company: $635 for “Meet Julia Child!”
· The Vision for Innovation Academy: $800 for “Celebrate Cambodian Heritage Through Dance”
· Westford Chamber Players: $200 for “Learning Diversity Through Music”
· Westford Chorus: $1,000 for “Winter Concert: All About Love”
· Matt York: $550 for “The Highwaymen Songs & Stories”
 
For more information, visit www.townofchelmsford.us/278/Cultural-Council.
 
PHOTO: CCC members (L to R): Subroto Mukherjee, treasurer Elaine D’Alessandro, clerk Cindy Cantrell, TJ Beary, Roberta Witts, co-chair Barbara Reilly & co-chair Doug Sparks.
 
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Become an Adult ESOL or Basic Literacy Tutor!

LOWELL: Have you been looking for a great volunteer opportunity? If you would like to make a difference in the life of an adult with limited English or basic literacy skills, Literacy Volunteers of Massachusetts at Lowell's Pollard Memorial Library offers free, confidential, one-on-one or small group tutoring on a flexible schedule to adults in the greater Lowell area. You do not need prior teaching experience or knowledge of another language. All you need is an open mind, a desire to help an adult improve their skills, and the ability to meet with your student for 2 hours per week! In-person, remote, and hybrid tutoring options are available. Before being matched with a student you also will be required to successfully complete an 18-hour tutor training.  
 
To learn more, join online via Zoom at the upcoming Volunteer Information Session on February 7, 6:30-8 pm. To RSVP or find out more about the program, contact Literacy Director, Sarah Miller at smiller@lowelllibrary.org, or Literacy Assistant Mary Hartmann at mhartmann@lowelllibrary.org, or call (978) 674-1541. 
 

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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Local Partners Address Youth Food Insecurity with In-School Food Pantries 

LOWELL: Recognizing the growing issue of food insecurity among local children and youth, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) has partnered with Catie’s Closet and the Merrimack Valley Food Bank (MVFB) to establish five school-based food pantries, known as Mill Markets, in Lowell Public Schools.

GLCF’s Youth Food Insecurity Initiative was launched in 2021 and expanded on a pilot food pantry set up at Lowell High School in 2017 by a group of LHS students. These new, GLCF-supported Mill Markets are well-organized and stocked with culturally appropriate foods that appeal to students. They are located at Lowell High School (B House), Bartlett Community Partnership School, Freshman Academy at LHS, Frederic T. Greenhalge Elementary School, and Joseph G. Pyne Arts Magnet School. “After conducting a regional survey about youth food insecurity, and examining the barriers that can prevent kids and teens from accessing nutritious food, the Foundation learned that a lot of need could be alleviated by establishing and maintaining in-school food pantries,” explained Jay Linnehan, GLCF President and CEO.  “So, we turned to two of our trusted local nonprofit partners -- Catie’s Closet and Merrimack Valley Food Bank -- to help implement our vision of bringing healthy, shelf-stable food directly to youth in their schools.”

Enlisting the assistance of MVFB and Catie’s Closet made sense, as both nonprofits are already addressing the needs of low-income students in the Lowell schools. Through Operation Nourish, Merrimack Valley Food Bank supplies food for 1,200 students a month in Greater Lowell and Lawrence. And Catie’s Closet provides clothing and toiletries to students through its in-school Closets, which are set up like retail stores, where students can “shop” for items, free of charge. “When GLCF first approached me about establishing Mill Markets, I said, ‘Whatever you do, it needs to be in the schools,’ ” explained Mickey Cockrell, CEO and co-founder of the highly successful Catie’s Closets. “These kids have no means of transportation to visit a regular food pantry and then get the food home. We have based our Closets in school settings, and are located in all Lowell schools,” she added.  “We want kids to run toward the school to solve these problems.”

Another suggestion Cockrell made was to make sure older students can select which food items they want to eat. “I think giving teens the agency to choose is essential,” said Cockrell, who has an extensive background in retail sales. “That has been key to the success of Catie’s Closet: The kids get to select -- and try on -- the clothes they want to wear. And I imagined it would be key for youth food pantries, too.”

Armed with these suggestions, GLCF elected to add Mill Markets to already-established Catie’s Closets in the five schools, explained Jennifer Aradhya, GLCF’s Vice President of Marketing, Programs & Strategy. “Mickey and Catie’s Closet supplied the food-storage cabinets, signage and staffing for the new Mill Markets,” said Aradhya. “And, based on the Catie’s Closet model, students can access the food pantries confidentially.”

GLCF turned to Merrimack Valley Food Bank (MVFB) to provide nonperishable food for its Mill Markets. The Foundation has also provided funding to support a part-time MVFB employee assigned to keep the pantries well stocked, according to Aradhya. The collaboration has proved so successful that more in-school food pantries are being established, added Aradhya. In early 2023, a new Mill Market will open at Henry J. Robinson Middle School, thanks to a recently announced $25,000 GLCF grant in honor of the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary. GLCF has also contributed funding to support food pantries at Lincoln Elementary School and Leblanc Therapeutic Day School.

“Mill Markets are basically mini-food pantries,” explained Roberta Emerson, Program Director of MVFB’s Operation Nourish. “They sit right next to, or are located inside, a Catie’s Closet, so students can make one stop and get everything they need. For example, if a student needs a sweatshirt or deodorant, they can visit the Catie’s Closet in their school. Then a staff member might say, ‘Check out our new Mill Market over here. You might see some food you’d like to prepare for your family tonight.’ ”

“We do our best to provide familiar foods to the Mill Markets,” said Debbie Callery, MVFB’s Executive Director. “Each school gives us a list of what their students prefer. Staples like macaroni & cheese, and pasta are popular, as well as tuna, peanut butter, and shelf-stable milk – plus different varieties of dried beans and rice. “Kids can go to Mill Markets whenever they want – and as many times as they want,” stressed Callery. “There’s no registration or application. They could be grabbing something for dinner that night or just picking up a snack. After-school snacks are especially popular with student athletes headed to practice.”

GLCF’s partnership approach aligns with the Lowell Public Schools’ Community Schools Strategy, according to Lauren Campion, Director of LPS’ Student Resource Center. “Basically, this strategy means we are intentionally integrating community partnerships into our schools to meet the wrap-around needs of our students and their families,” she said.  “These strategic partnerships support learning and the academic success of our students.”

All 28 Lowell public schools, at all grade levels, serve free breakfast and lunch, explained Campion. “Mill Market food pantries very much complement the food service we already provide through district funding,” she added. School administrators with Mill Markets in their facilities, agree. “Having the food pantry here at school is amazing,” said Monica Melo Ernest, Community School Manager at Greenhalge Elementary School, which serves students from pre-K through 4th grade. “According to my data, we've already had about 134 families access the Mill Market at some point this year. We have 62 families that consistently use it -- and we’re adding families.”

Solangel Polanco, Community School Manager at Bartlett Community Partnership School (pre-K-8) is equally enthusiastic. “The location of the Mill Market here at Bartlett is within the same space as our Catie’s Closet, which works well, because students might need to visit both places. “We are definitely seeing an increase in students receiving food. Last year, we were providing weekly bags of food to 25 elementary students (who are too young to shop for themselves). This year, we are up to 46. And the kids seem to like the food -- especially the microwave-ready soups and snacks.”

To learn more about GLCF, visit: www.glcfoundation.org.
 
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“Making Films on a Micro Budget” with Chelmsford Art Society

CHELMSFORD: The Chelmsford Art Society is delighted to present a unique program “Making Films on a Micro Budget”, on January 21 at 2pm at the Chelmsford Public Library. While this exciting program is open to the public, it is also aimed at indie filmmakers, on a tight budget, who are exploring films with an alternative vision of the world. For more information about this program, visit chelmsfordartsociety.com and www.flyingorb.com.

The main speaker is Jim Higgins, who has published several photography books, and short/medium length films with his company, The Flying Orb Productions. This film company was founded in 2005 in Lowell with James and two principal dancers from the Angkor Dance Troupe. One major focus of this indie film company deals with the legacy of America’s war in Southeast Asia, especially on Cambodians, and other refugees.
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LIRA Winter Intersession Classes Free for All Retirees; In-Person or via Zoom

LOWELL: The Learning in Retirement Association’s winter Intersession classes are free for all retirees. Attend a class on Zoom, or in-person. A sample of classes;  1. Online Gambling: The facts behind the fiction.  2. Construction & Development of the Fusion Tokamak in Devens, MA.  3. Book Appraisals by Kim & Bev Rudeen – collectors/dealer/book lovers for 40 years.  4. Professor Nelson Eby talks about Geoscience & Critical Minerals for green technology.  5. Stories from Antietam, one of the most consequential battles of the Civil War.  6. Her Majesty’s A Pretty Nice Girl – a talk by Professor Emeritus John Wooding on the British monarchy.  7. Sancho & Clarchies: Black Men of Letters & Music in the 18th & 19th centuries.  8. Island Lore-Shipwrecks – a view from New England history, art & photography.  9. Richard Hollman, a Ph.D. Physicist talks about his turn to writing science fiction including a sci-fi trilogy. There are more LIRA classes including book and film discussion groups.

Classes start on Jan 4, 2023. For the complete list of classes, descriptions with dates and times: www.uml.edu/LIRA then click on "Course Schedules."

Guests, to receive the links for the Zoom classes, email your full name and email address to LIRA@uml.edu. (LIRA members will receive the links by email).
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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.
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How to Recycle String Lights

CHELMSFORD: Any type of string lights such as Christmas tree lights are considered electronics and can not be placed in curbside recycling nor should they be placed in the trash as they contain small amounts of lead. The Chelmsford Recycling Committee has several solutions for disposing of your string lights. First, they have set-up three stations around town where you can recycle them: inside front entrances of Adams Library, DPW, and the Senior Center. Just place them in the designated boxes at these locations. They will collect the string lights until mid-January then send them to Scrap It, a metal recycling center in Lowell. In addition, Lowe’s in Lowell has a bin for recycling string lights inside their main entrance.
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Christmas Eve Services at Aldersgate UMC

CHELMSFORD: Aldersgate United Methodist Church invites you to worship with us at the following Christmas Eve services:
 
  • 4pm - Children’s Service – A shorter service for families with younger children.
  • 7pm - All-Ages Service – A traditional service of scriptures and carols.
  • 10pm - Candlelight and Communion Service – A meditative service of scriptures, carols, and Holy Communion.
 
Aldersgate UMC is located at 242 Boston Road (Rt. 4). For more information, contact (978) 256-9400, aldersgatechelmsford@verizon.net, or visit www.aldersgatechelmsford.com or www.facebook.com/aldersgateumc.chelms.
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Bidding Continues for Local Online Auction

CHELMSFORD: Congregation Shalom in Chelmsford is continuing its 15th annual online auction fundraiser. The second session of four began on November 15 and goes until 11:59pm on November 28. The third and fourth sessions go from November 29 through December 12 and from December 13 through December 26. All are welcome to participate. The congregation’s easy-to-use auction program with anonymous bidding is found at www.shalom-auction.org.

“It is always loads of fun with lots of great bargains,” says Laura of the Fundraising Committee. Items have been generously donated by area businesses and by congregation members and friends.

Bidding generally starts between 25% and 50% of the face value, allowing for some great bargains. “The current two-week session has some great items,” continues Laura, “including an autographed football; jewelry; theater tickets; gift certificates to popular restaurants and stores; artwork; and more. Take a look and have fun!”

While shoppers have fun finding bargains, the funds help Congregation Shalom continue its extracurricular music and art programming for children and other engaging programs. Visit www.shalom-auction.org to use an email address and password to log in or register and bid. For auction information or help, regarding an old password or anything else, email Ava at auction@congregationshalom.org. Winners can pay securely online, adding the actual cost for shipping, or making arrangements to pick items up at Congregation Shalom. For pick-up arrangements, call the temple office at (978) 251-8091or email Laura at fundraising@congregationshalom.org. Hours are Friday, 1-8pm, and Saturday, 10am-2pm. Bidding for the silent auction ends at noon on Saturday.
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The Friends of the Chelmsford Senior Center Host January 2023 Calendar Raffle

NORTH CHELMSFORD: The Friends of the Chelmsford Senior Center will be holding a calendar raffle this coming January. The purpose of the raffle will be to raise funds to enhance the lives of Chelmsford area
seniors. A ticket will be drawn each day for the entire 31 days of January. Amounts for each day’s drawing will be either $50, $100 or $500 depending on the day. A ticket costs $10 and each ticket is good for the whole month. If lucky you can win several times with the same ticket. To buy a ticket(s), please send a check to The Friends of the Chelmsford Senior Center, Inc., 75 Groton Road, North Chelmsford, MA 01863. Please include an address for mailing the tickets. Or if you wish, visit the Senior Center in North Chelmsford and buy tickets in the Thrift Shop.
 
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GLCF Awards $150K in Additional Grants to Address Mental Health Needs

LOWELL: The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) announced it deployed a new round of COVID-19 related grants, providing an additional $150,000 to seven nonprofits in Greater Lowell addressing mental health needs. These grants were part of the latest round of distributions from the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.
 
Grants were determined through a competitive process with community members serving on the selection committee. GLCF solicited applications from nonprofits and local programs addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in Greater Lowell.
 
“GLCF received more than $700K in grant requests for this cycle – the needs are enormous as the community deals with the mental health implications of COVID-19,” said GLCF president & CEO Jay Linnehan. “We are grateful to our volunteer selection committee that used their collective expertise to review many worthy applications to make some hard decisions relating to grant funding.”
 
The seven nonprofits receiving grants to address mental health needs are:
 
  • Adolescent Consultation Services (Cambridge) for Direct Mental Health Services for Court-Involved Children in Greater Lowell - $25,000
  • Alternative House (Lowell) for Support for Child Survivors - $15,000
  • Boys & Girls Club of Greater Billerica for Club Social Worker - $50,000
  • International Institute of New England (Lowell) for Lowell Refugee Youth Mental Health Initiative - $30,000
  • ThinkGive (Concord) for SEL program expansion to five Greater Lowell sites serving under-resourced youth in 2022–2023 - $5,000
  • UTEC (Lowell) for Improving mental health for proven-risk adolescents - $20,000
  • Westford Health Department for applying under the shared grant service NorthWest Coalition (Lowell, Westford, Acton, and Dracut) Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings - $15,084
 
Among the grants funded, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Billerica received a grant to support a club social worker. “Mental Health is often overlooked, young people, today, more than ever, are facing pressures, stress and other mental health issues, post pandemic,” said Michelle Vichot, CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Billerica for Club Social Worker. “We are so grateful to GLCF for their impactful generosity as we work on this critical issue together.”
 
Additionally, International Institute of New England received a recent $30,000 grant for their program: Lowell Refugee Youth Mental Health Initiative. “IINE has special programming for refugee youth and this grant support of our Lowell Refugee Youth Mental Health Initiative will allow us to add new strategies and resources to better support their healing from experiences of forced migration and other early traumas,” said Alexandra Weber, LICSW, Senior Vice President, International Institute of New England. “GLCF's support will allow us to better educate staff, youth, and parents on risk and protective factors to promote youth emotional well-being.”
 
Since March of 2019, through grants from the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund and the Massachusetts COVID Relief Fund, the foundation has supported more than 140 local nonprofit organizations with grants totaling over $7 million. 
 
Established in 1997, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) is a philanthropic organization comprised of more than 400 funds dedicated to improving the quality of life in 21 neighboring cities and towns. With financial assets of more than $55 million, GLCF annually awards grants and scholarships to hundreds of worthy nonprofits and students. It is powered by the winning combination of donor-directed giving, personal attention from Foundation staff, and an in-depth understanding of local needs. The generosity of our donors has enabled the Community Foundation to award more than $35 million to the Greater Lowell community.
 
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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.

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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Holiday Events at The Brush Art Gallery & Studios

LOWELL: The Brush Art Gallery & Studios is located in a former silk manufacturing building in the Lowell National Historical Park and was the first to have open working artist studios.  It was originally founded by the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission of the US Department of the Interior in 1982, and just celebrated its 40th anniversary in August. There are museum quality exhibitions, educational programs, and collaborations with many other non-profit groups.  There are currently eleven artists who produce paintings, illustrations, photography, jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, quilts, and handwoven items.
 
The Annual Members' Exhibition includes artist members of The Brush Art Gallery & Studios and the New England Sculptors Association.  This year, small works were encouraged because they make great gifts.  The free exhibition runs through December 23, with a reception on December 10, from 2-4pm.  Refreshments will be served.
 
On December 9, from 11am-2pm, the annual Soup & Shop will be held.  Enjoy a hot cup of a variety of home-made soups while you walk around and view the open studios and meet the artists.
 
On December 17 and 18 from 12-4pm, the annual Sugar & Spice Holiday Marketplace will be held.  Enjoy cookies and pick up any last minute gifts you may have on your list.
 
The Brush Art Gallery & Studios is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and is supported by the Lowell National Historical Park.  They are located behind the National Park Visitor Center in Downtown Lowell at 256 Market Street.  The gallery is handicap accessible and validated parking is available at the HCID Parking Garage, located off Dutton Steet.  For more information, please call (978) 459-7819 or visit www.thebrush.org.
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Theater Lovers - Join MRT Ushering Team!

LOWELL: If you enjoy live plays with professional actors, consider becoming a volunteer usher at the Merrimack Repertory Theater. It's an opportunity to meet great people, see great shows for free and receive complimentary ticket vouchers to share with friends. Volunteers are also invited to seasonal parties and special events. Ushering volunteers must be 16 and older, willing to wear black and white and to usher at least two performances of their choice of the many day and evening times. Free parking provided and no need to drive to Boston for top quality entertainment. You are invited to usher once to try it out! Learn more by visiting www.mrt.org or contact House Manager John Dyson at johndyson@mrt.org for more information.
 
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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.
Concert band

Annual Holiday Concert at Chelmsford Senior Center

NORTH CHELMSFORD: Ring in the season with the Chelmsford Community Concert Band as they present a program guaranteed to fire up your holiday spirit.  Led by director Eric Linsner, they will close out their 50th year of performing for Chelmsford’s community members with a festive concert at 2pm on December 11, at the Chelmsford Senior Center at 75 Groton Road.  
 
This year’s concert will feature a solo vocal performance by Emily Caissie, a junior from Tyngsboro High School, and select songs performed jointly with the Carlisle Community Chorus.  The Carlisle Community Chorus is directed by Amanda Kern and is in its 12th year.

The band members will also share holiday sweets, baked goods, and drinks throughout the show.  This is a fantastic opportunity for families to enjoy live music together in a relaxed atmosphere.  Admission is always free, but donations are gratefully accepted to help support expenses like the band’s rehearsal space and sheet music purchases.  Suggested donations at the door are $10 for children and seniors and $20 for others.

The Chelmsford Community Band has a 60-piece Concert Band and a 20-piece Jazz Ensemble made of dedicated volunteer musicians and they have been bringing live musical performances to this community for 50 years.  Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and find them online at www.chelmsfordcommunityband.com.

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
Thanksgiving
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Annual Holiday Faire and Festival at Aldersgate

CHELMSFORD: The Aldersgate United Methodist Church CHelmsford Faire and Festival on December 2 and 3 offers a celebration of holiday cheer with delicious homemade food, beautiful wreaths and other greenery, crafts, jewelry, a silent auction, and much more. A children’s area will provide a fun and safe place for kids to make their own crafts and decorate cookies while the grown-ups shop. Aldersgate is located at 242 Boston Road (Route 4). For more information, contact the church office at (978) 256-9400 or aldersgatechelmsford@verizon.net or visit www.aldersgatechelmsford.com or www.facebook.com/aldersgateumc.chelms. Hours are Friday, 1-8pm, and Saturday, 10am-2pm. Bidding for the silent auction ends at noon on Saturday.
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Houses for Hunger Needs Gingerbread Builders!

CHELMSFORD: Houses for Hunger needs gingerbread builders of all skill levels for the 100 Houses for Hugner Gingerbread Village & Marketplace 2022: Fairytale Magic at All Saints’ Episcopal Church.  In support of St. Paul’s soup kitchen in Lowell, you can help create a display of 100 gingerbread houses or designs to combat hunger in the city. The more houses created – the more magical the village!

Step 1: Register your building at www.allsaintschelmsford.org/gingerbreadbuilders;
Step 2: Build & decorate a house design of your choice;
Step 3: Drop off at All Saints’ by December 2.

You can choose to keep your house or raffle it off at the event on December 3 froom  1-5pm, and December 4 from 3-7pm.

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

Holiday Open House and Kitty Angels Fundraising Weekend November 5 & 6

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AMHERST, NH: Mark your calendars! Treasures Antiques, Collectables & MORE!, located at 106 Ponemah Road will be hosting their 32nd Annual Holiday Open House and Kitty Angels Fundraising weekend on November 5 and 6. Festivities for the weekend will run both days from 10am-4pm and include Holiday inspired shopping, raffles and entertainment. This annual event has been a mainstay in the community since 1991 and features Kitty Angels, Inc. along with several live musical entertainers, including: Wildwood, Jeff Damon, North Sound Duo, Jensing and Sunset Rhythm!

This Holiday and Fundraiser event is pet and kid friendly and will offer special sales for all, inside and out. B’s Grumman Grub offers a unique array of hot and cold food, as well as several beverages. A petting zoo with horse and pony rides will be provided by Mapledell Farms of Townsend. and Trading Faces, LLC, a face painting, body art and airbrushing professional with their remarkable “Transformation Station.” The weekend will also showcase some artists and artisans, crafters, professionals and specialty food vendors. Look for artist Lori-Ellen Budenas of Respect the Wood!, a creator of abstract paintings, coasters, trivets and more, Baboosic Lake Gourds, Heart’s Design Jewelry, Happy Cat Creations, Vinyl Revival, Dusty Finds, SoGo Metal Art, Anthony Acres, Damsel in Defense, Color Street, Baby Snuggz, Heavenly Goddess, Fudge & Stuff, Fiber Art by Eve Huston, Custom Care Designs, Gubbies Boutique and many more.

Treasures will also be offering a number of fun and exciting raffles, with prizes donated by local and national businesses. These prizes will include a Hotel get-a-way weekend at Homewood Suites by Hilton/Nashua, a “Chain-sawed” green frog carving, created by Sara of NorthStar Sculptures/Chainsaw Chix, an ARUBACAT cat tree and other cat and dog related items, jewelry, specialty food packages, and an assortment of other fun and exciting prizes.

Kitty Angels, Inc., a no-kill cat shelter is made up of all unpaid volunteers and is dedicated to rescuing stray and abandoned cats and furnishing them with treatment for injuries or other health issues. These cats are then placed into life-long, loving “forever homes” with compatible owners. All necessary steps are taken to ensure the wellbeing of the cats, including spaying and neutering and providing rabies, distemper and other necessary vaccinations. They are a non-profit, charitable corporation and all donations are fully tax-deductible with every penny of each donation going directly to the care of these cats.

Please join Treasures and Kitty Angels, in friendship and the spirit of giving and sharing the Holidays. For more information, visit www.TreasuresNH.com and www.KittyAngels.org.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: COLA is Sweet for Social Security Recipients

October 24, 2022
 
If you receive Social Security, you’ve probably already heard that your checks in 2023 will be bigger – considerably bigger, in fact. How can you make the best use of this extra money? Here’s what’s happening:

For 2023, there’s an 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits – the largest increase in 40 years. Also, the monthly Medicare Part B premiums are declining next year, to $164.90/month from $170.10/month, which will also modestly boost Social Security checks for those enrolled in Part B, as these premiums are automatically deducted.


Of course, the sizable COLA is due to the high inflation of 2022, as the Social Security Administration uses a formula based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). So, it’s certainly possible that you will need some, or perhaps all, of your larger checks to pay for the increased cost of goods and services. But if your cash flow is already relatively strong, you might want to consider these suggestions for using your bigger checks:

Reduce withdrawals from your investment portfolio. When you’re retired, you will likely need to withdraw a certain amount from your portfolio each year to meet your expenses. A boost in your Social Security may enable you to withdraw less, at least for a year. This can be particularly advantageous when the markets are down, as you’d like to avoid, as much as possible, selling investments and withdrawing the money when investment prices are low. And the fewer investments you need to sell, the longer your portfolio may last during your retirement years.

Help build your cash reserves. When you’re retired, it’s a good idea to maintain about a year’s worth of the amount you’ll spend from your portfolio in cash, while also keeping three months’ of your spending needs in an emergency fund, with the money kept in a liquid, low-risk account. Your higher Social Security checks could help you build these cash reserves. (Also, it’s helpful to keep another three to five years’ worth of spending from your portfolio in short-term, fixed-income investments, which now, due to higher interest rates, offer better income opportunities.)

Contribute to a 529 plan. You could use some of your extra Social Security money to contribute to a tax-advantaged 529 education savings plan for your grandchildren or other family members. 

Contribute to charitable organizations. You might want to use some of your Social Security money to expand your charitable giving. Your generosity will help worthy groups and possibly bring you some tax benefits, too.

While it’s nice to have these possible options in 2023, you can’t count on future COLA increases being as large. The jump in inflation in 2022 was due to several unusual factors, including pandemic-related government spending, supply shortages and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s quite possible, perhaps even likely, that inflation will subside in 2023, which, in turn, would mean a smaller COLA bump in 2024.

Nonetheless, while you might not want to include large annual COLA increases as part of your long-term financial strategy, you may well choose to take advantage, in some of the ways described above, of the bigger Social Security checks you’ll receive in 2023. When opportunity knocks, you may want to open the door. 

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor Gerald Breen, Acton, MA - EdwardJones.com/Gerald-Breen
Edward Jones. Member SIPC.
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GLCF Annual Celebrate Giving Event Highlights the Power of Philanthropy with Awards and Panel

LOWELL: Recently, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation hosted its annual Celebrate Giving event at UTEC. The event featured panelists: Nancy Huntington Stager, President & Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Bank Foundation; Sophy Theam, Trustee of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation and DEI and Leadership Program Specialist at Enterprise Bank; John Flanagan, Senior Director, Westford Corporate Citizenship for Red Hat; and Siddhi Shah Cheong, Head of Strategy Development, MilliporeSigma and representing the Shruti N. Shah Memorial Scholarship Fund. The panel moderated by GLCF’s president and CEO Jay Linnehan, discussed creating change in the community, the transformational effect of giving time, talent, and treasure, and the future of philanthropy.

WinnCompanies. a proven housing partner in the greater Lowell community, received the 2022 GLCF Business Philanthropy Partner Award for their exemplary work collaborating with people during the pandemic to help keep them in their homes, treating them with respect and dignity. Lawrence H. Curtis, the President and Managing Partner of WinnDevelopment and member of the Board of Directors of WinnCompanies accepted the award.

The 2022 Steven Joncas Community Connector Award recipient was Bopha Malone, of Bedford, Interim Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell. The award recognizes an individual or organization in our community that has advanced the power of philanthropy in Greater Lowell. Malone’s dedication to serving local nonprofits was highlighted with this award.

This year, the inaugural GLCF Newell Flather Legacy Fund Grant was awarded to Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA) for Health Access Programming in Lowell. The  Newell Flather Legacy Fund was established by the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation in 2022 at GLCF to support nonprofit projects focused on the arts, immigrant, and refugee communities, and/or advancing equity and inclusion in the city of Lowell. CBA received a grant of $12,500 for their program.

To learn more about the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, visit  www.glcfoundation.org.

PHOTO: Lawrence H. Curtis, the president and managing partner of WinnDevelopment, with GLCF’s Jay Linnehan, received the 2022 GLCF Business Philanthropy Partner Award at GLCF’s Celebrate Giving event.
 

Businesses in Your Community

FINANCIAL FOCUS: When Should You Adjust Your Investment Mix?

November 15, 2022
 
There are no shortcuts to investment success – you need to establish a long-term strategy and stick with it. This means that you’ll want to create an investment mix based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon – and then regularly review this mix to ensure it’s still meeting your needs. In fact, investing for the long term doesn’t necessarily mean you should lock your investments in forever. Throughout your life, you'll likely need to make some changes.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different and there’s no prescribed formula of when and how you should adjust your investments. But some possibilities may be worth considering. For example, a few years before you retire, you may want to re-evaluate your risk exposure and consider moving part of your portfolio into a more risk-averse position. When you were decades away from retiring, you may have felt more comfortable with a more aggressive positioning because you had time to “bounce back” from any market downturns. But as you near retirement, it may make sense to lower your risk level. And as part of a move toward a reduced-risk approach, you also may want to evaluate the “cash” positions in your portfolio. When the market has gone through a decline, as has been the case in 2022, you may not want to tap into your portfolio to meet short-term and emergency needs, so having sufficient cash on hand is important. Keep in mind, though, that having too much cash on the “sidelines” may affect your ability to reach your long-term goals.

Even if you decide to adopt a more risk-averse investment position before you retire, though, you may still benefit from some growth-oriented investments in your portfolio to help you keep ahead of – or at least keep pace with – inflation. As you know, inflation has surged in 2022, but even when it’s been relatively mild, it can still erode your purchasing power significantly over time.

Changes in your own goals or circumstances may also lead you to modify your investment mix. You might decide to retire earlier or  later than you originally planned. You might even change your plans for the type of retirement you want, choosing to work part-time for a few years. Your family situation may change – perhaps you have another child for whom you’d like to save and invest for college. Any of these events could lead you to review your portfolio to find new opportunities or to adjust your risk level – or both.

You might wonder if you should also consider changing your investment mix in response to external forces, such as higher interest rates or the rise in inflation this year. It’s certainly true that these types of events can affect parts of your portfolio, but it may not be advisable to react by shuffling your investment mix. In the first place, nobody can really predict how long these forces will keep their momentum – it’s quite possible, for instance, that inflation will have subsided noticeably within a year. But more importantly, you should make investment moves based on the factors we’ve already discussed: your goals, risk tolerance, time horizon and individual circumstances.

By reviewing your portfolio regularly, possibly with the assistance of a financial professional, you can help ensure that your investment mix will always be appropriate for your needs and goals.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor Alan Bell, Littleton, MA - EdwardJones.com/Alan-Bell. Edward Jones, Member SIPC.

Mosaic Lowell – Creative Economy Plan Release & Barr Foundation Announcement

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LOWELL: Members of Lowell’s arts and cultural community, gathered recently to celebrate the launch of the much-anticipated creative economy plan, Mosaic Lowell. The event, held in the Hall of Flags at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, marked the completion of a two-year planning process that focused on extensive community engagement and public outreach. The event also announced a $1M commitment from the Barr Foundation to support the plan’s implementation. 
 
The Barr Foundation was the premiere sponsor of the planning initiative, and their additional support helps ensure that the implementation phase is off to a running start. 
 
San San Wong, Director of Arts and Culture for the Barr Foundation, said: “At Barr, we believe that arts and creativity are essential for vibrant, vital, and engaged communities. I particularly love the Mosaic principle of DREAM BIG! Lowell has a plethora of dreamers. And, importantly, Lowell has many leaders committed to making those dreams a reality. So, to support this next phase in your journey, we’re pleased to announce a grant of $1 million to support the initial three years of Mosaic Lowell.”
 
Jay Linnehan, President and CEO of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, which serves as the fiscal sponsor of Mosaic Lowell, added, “This plan can transform Lowell’s cultural economy and help elevate the City as a vibrant destination for many, both near and far.”

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Avoid Becoming a ‘Burden’ on Grown Children

October 24, 2022
 
Here’s an interesting statistic: Some 72% of retirees say one of their biggest fears is becoming a burden on their families, according to a 2021 survey by Age Wave and Edward Jones. Both before and during retirement, what steps can you take to avoid burdening your loved ones in the future? Here are a few suggestions:
 
  • Build your retirement savings. The greater your financial resources, the less likely it becomes that you’d ever have to count on your grown children for financial support. You may have access to a 401(k) or similar retirement plan at work, so take advantage of it. Even with an employer-sponsored plan, you also may be eligible to contribute to an IRA. In addition to offering a variety of investment options, a 401(k) and IRA provide potential tax advantages. And once you do retire, be careful about how much you withdraw each year from your retirement plans and other investments.
  • Plan for health care costs. Once you are retired, health care costs will be a significant expense. You may have Medicare, but you'll also want to consider your need for supplemental health insurance to cover traditional medical costs. And you’ll want to consider another potential health-related expense: long-term care. You may never need the services of a home health aide or a stay in a nursing home, but no one can predict the future.
Medicare does not cover most costs for long-term care, which can be quite high. In 2021, the annual national median cost for a private room in a nursing home was over $108,000, while the median cost for a full-time home health aide was nearly $62,000, according to a survey by Genworth, an insurance company. You may want to consult with a financial professional on strategies for protecting yourself from these costs.
 
  • Create necessary legal documents. If something were to happen to you, and you didn’t have the appropriate legal documents in place, your loved ones could be placed in a bind, both financially and emotionally. That’s why it’s a good idea to create documents such as a durable financial power of attorney, which lets you name someone to manage your finances if you became incapacitated, and a durable power of attorney for health care, which allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you can’t make them yourself. You’ll want to work with a legal professional to develop the documents appropriate for your needs.
  • Evaluate your housing needs. As you enter retirement, you may want to evaluate your living situation. Could you downsize to a smaller home, or perhaps a condominium or apartment? Not only might you save money with such a move, but you could also end up relieving your grown children of the responsibilities and hassles involved in clearing out and selling your home should you become unable to do so yourself during the later years of your retirement.

By taking these measures, along with others, you can go a long way toward maintaining your independence and putting yourself in a place where you won’t burden your grown children.  And that’s a good  place to be.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor Alan Bell, AAMS ® - (978) 486-1059. Edward Jones, Member SIPC
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LWV Hosts Candidates Forum

The League of Women Voters Acton-Area, Concord-Carlisle and Chelmsford will host a Candidates Forum for the 14th Middlesex District State Representative. The 14th Middlesex District Representative represents residents in portions of Acton, Concord, Chelmsford and all of Carlisle.
 
The forum will be held at the Harvey Wheeler Community Center, 1276 Main Street in West Concord on October 11 at 7pm. It will be recorded and available on public access channels in the 14th Middlesex District as well as League YouTube channels: lwv-acton-area.org and lwvcc.org.
 
The League of Women Voters is eager to help voters learn more about the candidates running in the November 2022 Election and provide a non-partisan forum for all candidates to be heard. The event is part of our mission to encourage the active and informed participation of all citizens in government and the electoral process. The forum is free and open to the public.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Here’s Your ‘Recession Survival’ Checklist

October 17, 2022

It’s unfortunate, but recessions are a fairly normal part of the economic landscape. When a recession occurs, how might you be affected? The answer depends on your individual situation, but regardless of your circumstances, you might want to consider the items in this recession survival checklist:
 
  • Assess your income stability. If your employment remains steady, you may not have to do anything different during a recession. But if you think your income could be threatened or disrupted, you might want to consider joining the “gig economy” or looking for freelance or consulting opportunities.
  • Review your spending. Look for ways to trim your spending, such as canceling subscription services you don’t use, eating out less often, and so on.
  • Pay down your debts. Try to reduce your debts, especially those with high interest rates. 
  • Plan your emergency fund. If you haven’t already built one, try to create an emergency fund containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. 
  • Review your protection plan. If your health or life insurance is tied to your work, a change in your employment status could jeopardize this coverage. Review all your options for replacing these types of protection. Also, look for ways to lower premiums on home or auto insurance, without significantly sacrificing coverage, to free up money that could be used for health/life insurance. 
  • Keep your long-term goals in mind. Even if you adjust your portfolio during times of volatility, don’t lose sight of your long-term goals. Trying to “outsmart” the market with short-term strategies can often lead to missteps and missed opportunities.  
  • Don’t stop investing. If you can afford it, try to continue investing. Coming out of a recession, stock prices tend to bottom out and then rebound, so if you had headed to the investment “sidelines,” you would have missed the opportunity to benefit from a market rally.  
  • Revisit your performance expectations. During a bear market, you will constantly be reminded of the decline of a particular market index, such as the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But instead of focusing on these short-term numbers, look instead at the long-term performance of your portfolio to determine if you’re still on track toward meeting your goals. 
  • Assess your risk tolerance. If you find yourself worrying excessively about declines in your investment statements, you may want to reevaluate your tolerance for risk. One’s risk tolerance can change over time — and it’s important you feel comfortable with the amount of risk you take when investing. 
  • Keep diversifying. Diversification is always important for investors — by having a mix of stocks, mutual funds and bonds, you can reduce the impact of market volatility on your portfolio. To cite one example: Higher-quality bonds, such as Treasuries, often move in the opposite direction of stocks, so the presence of these bonds in your portfolio, if appropriate for your goals, can be valuable when market conditions are worsening. (Keep in mind, though, that diversification cannot guarantee profits or protect against all losses in a declining market.) 

A recession accompanied by a bear market is not pleasant. But by taking the appropriate steps, you can boost your chances of getting through a difficult period and staying on track toward your important financial goals. 

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor Mandy Calouro, Chelmsford, MA  - EdwardJones.com/Mandy-Calouro, Edward Jones, Member SIPC
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Chelmsford Art Society Showcases Patricia Nolan-Brown

CHELMSFORD: The Chelmsford Art Society is pleased to showcase Patricia Nolan-Brown as the first featured artist headlining at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts on October 12 at 7pm. Her creativity includes juried oil paintings, book publishing, podcasts, and is the creative genius behind several inventions, notably the rear facing carseat mirror for kids. She is a prolific international collected painter who received her BA in Art from FSU, and now works out of her Western Avenue studio in Lowell. Patricia will be demonstrating her distinctive art styles for artists, art lovers, inventors, and welcomes the general public for a Q & A in person at the CCA demo that night. For more information, visit www.chelmsfordarts.org.
Glcf afghan resettlement aic

Resettlement Fund Provides Critical Support to Afghan Refugees 

LOWELL: Melissa Marrama’s initial efforts to assist Afghan refugees started modestly. Last summer and fall, the Andover financial planner rallied members of area mosques to collect household items for Afghani families newly housed in Lowell-area hotels. Now, thanks to grants from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation’s Afghan Resettlement Fund, Marrama has developed a network of individuals, businesses and religious organizations throughout the Merrimack Valley focused on helping more than 400 local Afghan refugees adjust to life in the United States.

Working through the Andover Islamic Center, Marrama assists refugee families and individuals living in Greater Lowell locate permanent housing, enroll in schools, line up transportation, learn English, and find jobs.

“Our generous donors who gave to the GLCF Afghan Resettlement Fund provided area nonprofits with the critical support needed to help welcome and resettle our new Afghan neighbors,” said Jay Linnehan, GLCF’s President and CEO. “This grant funding complemented the work of local nonprofits and expanded our community’s capacity to meet the needs of Afghans who fled their homeland to come to the U.S. seeking safety.”

“I’m not a resettlement agency,” stressed Marrama. “I’m trying to build support systems for these Afghan families. My thing is, when I help them, I help them as a group.”

For 25 years, Marrama had done charity work by writing checks. “But during the COVID-19 pandemic, I started volunteering and encouraged others to volunteer,” she said.

In August 2021, Marrama got a call from Patricia Coffey, Director of Community Relations at UMass Lowell, asking if she could help collect household items for newly arriving Afghan refugees. “So, I put out calls for help to my own mosque and other mosques,” she explained. “I thought we’d just do it quietly.”

But a story about their efforts ran in a local newspaper and Marrama’s phone started ringing. “We got calls from Jewish temples, Christian churches, local businesses, and community organizations – they all wanted to help. I would post on Facebook that we needed 50 microwaves or 50 sets of sheets, and the items would just come in.”

At first, Marrama brought everything she collected to resettlement agencies for distribution. But once the refugees arrived in Lowell, she began making home visits and asking them directly what they needed. “I got very close to these families,” she said. “Now, I’m in close contact with 90 percent of them.”

The local refugees fall roughly into two distinct group, she explained. The first group consists of single men who worked with the U.S. military. The second group is made up of large families -- married men who came over with wives and often six to eight children.

“Some of these men were military pilots, trained by U.S troops,” said Marrama. Others were military maintenance workers, journalists, or medical workers, she added. They come from all over Afghanistan, from many different walks of life. And the vast majority don’t speak English.

With the GLCF grant funds, Marrama helps the refugees work toward achieving three key milestones: learning English, earning a driver’s license, and finding a job.

“The biggest challenge is learning English. To get a driver’s license, you must be able to read road signs” she said. “I have airplane pilots who have never driven a car before!”

Marrama has helped many Afghans enroll in driving schools. Once they earn their licenses, they can better travel to and from work – and drive other refugees on the weekends. “I tell all the drivers we have assisted, ‘I will help you, but you need to help others by joining our network.’”
              
Through her local connections, Marrama has also generated a variety of other goods and services. “We work with companies like Timberland, which just gave us 86 pairs of boots for our men working in factories,” she said. The Bike Connector, a Lowell nonprofit, has donated free bikes -- often the first means of transportation for these refugees, Marrama explained.

“And a number of local businesses have reached out to us with job offers,” she said. “Recently Vicor Corp. hired 25 Afghans to make chips for electric vehicles. Plus, we were able to provide technology to help Afghani pilots training to be pilots here in the U.S.,” Marrama said. And Staples and Leap Year Publishing have donated school supplies for the kids.

However, Marrama realized the youngest refugees needed special attention. “These kids have no sense of normalcy,” she said. “They have been uprooted from their country, lived for months in refugee camps around the U.S., then moved here. They’ve lost their sense of play and how to have fun.”

So, she connected with Leah Okimoto, founder of the Lowell-based nonprofit Aaron’s Presents, who helped arrange playdates with the refugee children.

“Aaron’s Presents works with local students in grades 4-8 to give them the opportunity to do whatever they want to do -- as long as it benefits somebody else,” explained Okimoto. Last winter and spring, middle-school volunteers from Lowell Community Charter Public School elected to arrange fun activities with the Afghan children, to make them feel welcome, she said.

“We were simply trying to bring an afternoon of joy and fun to these kids,” Okimoto said. “We did about 20 projects this past school year, mostly playdates with our middle-schoolers and the Afghan kids. And we’ll continue arranging them this fall.
“Because of the language barrier, we couldn’t have done it without Melissa,” added Okimoto. “She knows many of these families and made the initial introductions.” And both groups of children benefited.

“It has been so amazing to see how just playing transcends language,” she said. “At the beginning of these playdates, the kids might gather in a circle and pass a ball around in a park. Within minutes, they just start playing together.

“It’s really impactful for our middle-schoolers,” said Okimoto. “They are learning that ‘Yes, these children are from a different country, but they’re just like us. All they want to do is play and be happy and make friends.’ Kids just instantly get that through in-person experiences like this.”

To learn more about GLCF’s Afghan Resettlement Fund, visit: glcfoundation.org.
 

FINANCIAL FOCUS : How Should You Pay for Short-term Financial Goals?

October 3, 2022

As you go through life, you will likely have long- and short-term financial goals. But how will your strategies for meeting your long-term goals differ from those needed for your short-term ones?

If you’re like most people, your biggest long-term goal is achieving a comfortable retirement. And for this goal, a common strategy is putting away money in tax-advantaged retirement vehicles, such as your 401(k) and IRA.

So, how should you go about preparing for shorter-term goals, such as a family vacation, home renovation, wedding or major purchase?

For starters, determine what your goal is, how much you can spend on it and when you’ll need the money. Even if you can’t pinpoint a precise amount, you can develop a good estimate. Of course, the sooner you start this process, the better off you’ll be, because you’ll have more time to save.

Your next decision involves the manner in which you save for your short-term goal. Specifically, what savings or investment vehicles should you use? The answer will be different for everyone, but you need to make sure that your investments align with your risk tolerance and time horizon. And you’ll want to ensure, as much as possible, that a certain amount of money is available for you at the specific time you’ll need it.

If you aren’t able to save enough to reach a short-term goal, you have other options — you can borrow what you need, or you can potentially sell investments to cover the cost. How can you decide which choice is best?

To help make up your mind, you’ll first want to consider some of the most common borrowing options: credit cards, home equity loans, personal loans and margin loans. (A margin loan lets you borrow against the value of investments you already own). How might each of these loans fit into your overall financial strategy? Will the repayment schedule work with your cash flow and budget?

You’ll then want to compare the costs and benefits of borrowing, in whatever form, against selling investments. For example, if you can borrow at a lower interest rate compared to the return you think you can get from your investments, borrowing might be a reasonable choice. You’ll also need to consider other factors, such as your credit score, taxes, fees associated with selling investments and time needed to repay debts. If, for instance, selling investments will trigger a large amount of taxes, borrowing might be preferable. You’ll also want to consider whether there’s a penalty or high costs associated with selling investments. In addition, if you have a long time horizon for a loan, you may want to sell investments to avoid paying interest for a longer period of time, and thus driving up the overall cost of borrowing.          Finally, keep in mind that you may have built an investment mix designed to align with your goals and risk tolerance. If you were to sell any of these investments to meet short-term needs, you would want to consider the need to rebalance your portfolio to maintain your desired asset allocation.
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to paying for short-term goals. But by carefully evaluating your options, you can make the choices that are right for your needs.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor Alan Bell, Edward Jones, Member SIPC.
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CHELMPEX 2022 September 24

CHELMSFORD: Chelmsford Stamp Club will be holding their annual stamp show, CHELMPEX 2022, on September 24 from 9am-3pm at Trinity Lutheran Church, 170 Old Westford Road. There will be multiple dealers, Fish Bowl, door prizes & more. For collectors of U.S. & Worldwide postage stamps, Postal History, Postal Stationery & First Day Covers, supplies & ephemera. Free admission & free parking. For additional information, contact Linda Gilmore 978-256-2256 or linda.gilmore47@gmail.com.