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Current Edition -09/30/22
Current Edition - 09/23/22

HEADLINES

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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 an upcoming Volunteer Information Session: 
 
Tuesday, October 18, 6:30-8pm
Thursday, October 27, 12-1:30pm

To RSVP to one of the above sessions, please contact Literacy Director, Sarah Miller at smiller@lowelllibrary.org, or Literacy Assistant, Mary Hartmann,  mhartmann@lowelllibrary.org, or call (978) 674-1541. 
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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.
 
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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.
 

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Should you Stick with Index-based Investments? 

September 21, 2022
 
You may have heard that you can simplify your investment strategy just by owning index-based or passive investments. But is this a good idea? You’ll want to consider the different aspects of this type of investment style. 
 
To begin with, an index-based investment is a vehicle such as a mutual fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that mimics the performance of a market benchmark, or index — the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and so on. (An ETF is similar to a mutual fund in that it holds a variety of investments but differs in that it is traded like a common stock.) You can also invest in index funds that track the bond market. 
 
Index investing does offer some benefits. Most notably, it’s a buy-and-hold strategy, which is typically more effective than a market-timing approach, in which individuals try to buy investments when their prices are down and sell them when the prices rise. Attempts to time the market this way are usually futile because nobody can really predict when high and low points will be reached. Plus, the very act of constantly buying and selling investments can generate commissions and fees, which can lower your overall rate of return. Thus, index investing generally involves lower fees and is considered more tax efficient than a more active investing style. Also, when the financial markets are soaring, which happened for several years until this year’s downturn, index-based investments can certainly look pretty good — after all, when the major indexes go up, index funds will do the same.
 
Conversely, during a correction, when the market drops at least 10% from recent highs, or during a bear market, when prices fall 20% or more, index-based investments will likely follow the same downward path. 
 
And there are also other issues to consider with index-based investments. For one thing, if you’re investing with the objective of matching an index, you may be overlooking the key factors that should be driving your investment decisions — your goals and your risk tolerance. An index is a completely impersonal benchmark measuring the performance of a specific set of investments — but it can’t be a measuring stick of your own progress.
 
Furthermore, a single index, by definition, can’t be as diversified as the type of portfolio you might need to achieve your objectives. For example, the S&P 500 may track a lot of companies, but they’re predominantly large ones. And to achieve your objectives, you may need a portfolio consisting of large- and small-company stocks, bonds, government securities and other investments. (Keep in mind, though, that while diversification can give you more opportunities for success and can reduce the effects of volatility on your portfolio, it can’t guarantee profits or prevent all losses.)

Ultimately, diversifying across different types of investments that align with your risk tolerance and goals — regardless of whether they track an index — is the most important consideration for your investment portfolio. Use this idea as your guiding principle as you journey through the investment world. 
 
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor: Marshall-Ben Tisdale,Westford, MA  - www.EdwardJones.com/Marshall-Ben-Tisdale, Edward Jones, Member SIPC
Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.
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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.

Businesses in Your Community

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Chelmsford Historical Society Hosts Star Party

CHELMSFORD: Do you love looking at the night sky? Do you wonder about the stars and constellations? Do you wish you could get a closer look at them?  If so, join the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston, Chelmsford Land Conservation Trust, and Chelmsford Historical Society for a star party on September 28 from 7-10pm. The event will take place at Sunny Meadow Farm, 168 Robin Hill Road. Admission is free, and equipment will be provided by Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston. The cloud/rain date is Thursday, September 29, 2022. For more information, visit www.clct.org/star-party-2022.
 
The Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston, Inc. (ATMoB) is an amateur astronomy club devoted to telescope making, observing, and studying the heavens. The ATMoB was founded in 1934. More information is available on their web site at https://www.atmob.org/.
 
The Chelmsford Land Conservation Trust’s primary mission is to preserve open space. They are an advocate for land conservation “in our back yard,” and work to encourage interest in Chelmsford’s natural history and heritage.
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Chelmsford’s Grande Dame of Garden Clubs Celebrates 100 Years!

CHELMSFORD: The Chelmsford Garden Club, one of the oldest continuous garden clubs in the region, will celebrate 100 years of civic involvement on October 1, with a Garden Party. Organized in 1922, the club has spent a century focused on town beautification and civic improvement. Within the first few years of starting, the club planted flowers in town center and trees at the library and the new high school.

Since then, the club has been involved in some major projects, including building the gazebo on the North Common, helping to establish the George B.B. Wright recreational area, and most recently the creation of the Chelmsford Public Garden in the Town Center. All of these were
award winning projects.

The Chelmsford Garden Club is actively involved in community outreach. For 70 years members created floral arrangements for the library. For twenty-five years the club provided garden
therapy and holiday projects at the Bedford Veterans Hospital. They also have offered garden therapy at Tewksbury Hospital, and more recently at local centers. For many years members actively supported Arbor Day events at the elementary schools, bringing in Audubon programs, sponsoring poster contests, and distributing over 4,000 seedlings to students. Additionally, the club gave over $10,000 in scholarships to Chelmsford high school students.

Other projects are too many to list, but the town has benefited from the planting of dozens of trees and shrubs, hundreds of flowering plants, and over 15,000 daffodil bulbs. As the club celebrates with a Garden Party at the Barrett-Byam House, whose gardens they helped to restore, they look forward to the next century with enthusiasm for keeping our town green.
People are invited to join the anniversary celebration on October 1, from 2-6pm. Party like it’s 1922 and dance to the Mill City Rags. For tickets and information, visit
www.chelmsfordgardenclub.org.

GLCF to Host Annual Celebrate Giving Event with Focus on the Power of Philanthropy

LOWELL: On October 26, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) will host its annual Celebrate Giving event in a hybrid format, with limited in-person tickets. The event will focus on the Power of Philanthropy.

This year’s event will feature a panel discussion moderated by GLCF president and CEO Jay Linnehan. Panelists will include 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. Highlighting their philanthropic support, panelists will engage in conversation about creating change in the community, the transformational effect of giving time, talent, and treasure, and the future of philanthropy.

The event will also include awarding three 2022 GLCF awards: Business Philanthropy Partner Award, Steven Joncas Community Connector Award, and the Inaugural GLCF Newell Flather Legacy Fund Grant Award.

“We believe that philanthropy is something everyone can and should engage in, as fundamentally, philanthropy is about civic engagement,” said Jay Linnehan, Greater Lowell Community Foundation President and CEO. “This year’s Celebrate Giving will provide an opportunity to showcase a broad range of philanthropists and hopefully inspire others in our community to get involved in this important work.”

Celebrate Giving reception will begin at 5pm and the program will begin at 6pm. Tickets are $100 for in-person; $25 for virtual and need to be reserved by October 25 online at www.glcfoundation.org. Sponsorships are available.
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Girls Inc. Alum to Lead Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell

Alum, Parent & Board Member Bopha Malone Steps Up to Lead 105-year-old Organization

LOWELL/BEDFORD: Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell (GIGL) is pleased to announce Bopha Malone has accepted the position of Interim Executive Director and has committed to that role for a full year while the Board of Directors conducts a thorough, nationwide search for a permanent leader.  Bopha resigned from her prominent VP position at Enterprise Bank to step up and guide Girls Inc. through a period of building upon strengths while developing new programming, hiring and training staff, and meeting the challenges of post-Covid learning loss head on.
 
“The GIGL Board is grateful to Bopha for stepping into this critical role and leading during a time of real transformation,” said Jennifer Aradhya, president of GIGL Board. “Her deep connection to Girls Inc. and the Greater Lowell community is unsurpassed and we look forward to working together.”
 
“Girls Inc. is an extraordinary organization that has nurtured, guided, and empowered girls for more than 100 years, preparing them for their futures and helping them to become the best versions of themselves,” said Jack Clancy, Enterprise Bank CEO. “Bopha has consistently embodied Enterprise Bank’s core value of ‘community’ during her time with us and I am delighted to see her bring her talents to this new role at Girls Inc., an organization she is truly passionate about with a mission she so deeply believes in. She will provide tremendous leadership, passion, and purpose to Girls Inc. and she will make a very positive and meaningful impact and difference.”

Bopha immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eight, and credits caring mentors for helping her get to where she is today. She joined Girls Inc. of Lynn at the age of 15 and worked as a Peer Leader, educating youth about racism, homophobia, and the dangers of tobacco use and gun violence, among other issues.  As a first-generation Cambodian American who benefited from the support and encouragement of others, her passion is to seek opportunities through her roles at the bank and in the community to give back and help others in the ways that she has been helped.
 
“Girls Inc. played a tremendous role in my life growing up and was instrumental in helping me become the woman I am today, “said Malone. “I am grateful to Enterprise Bank for supporting my involvement with nonprofits over the 16 years I’ve been with them and am honored by the opportunity to inspire the next generation of girls to be strong, smart, and bold as interim executive director for Girls Inc.”

"Girls Inc. provides a sisterhood of support and transformational programs to help girls tap into their inherent power and become the leaders they are intended to be," said Patricia Driscoll, Chief Operating Officer Girls Inc. National. "I have witnessed Bopha's evolution from a girl balancing traditional cultural norms with her new life to an impassioned professional supporting her community, running for Congress, and now leading Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell. She embodies 'strong, smart, and bold,' and her combined lived and Girls Inc. experiences will be a tremendous asset in the development of the new generation of girl leaders. I am honored to be working alongside her."

In addition to helping thousands of people create financial success for themselves, their families, and their businesses, Malone is actively involved with several nonprofit organizations.  She is a trustee of Middlesex Community College, Tufts Medicine (Lowell General Hospital), International Institute of New England, Women Working Wonders and is a member of the Bedford Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce. She lives in Bedford with her husband and two children and serves as a member of the Bedford Select Board.

Veteran’s Memorial Eagle Scout Project Complete

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CHELMSFORD: Giving back to the community is one of the core tenets of the Scouting organization, and the penultimate final project for the Scouts is the Eagle Project. Shaun McCluskey of Chelmsford Troop 81 chose for his project to improve the local veteran’s monument. Shaun, who attends Greater Lowell Technical High School hopes to become a plumber after he graduates and use the skills he learned through leadership and management in his future career. This project was the creation of a retaining wall for the lower platform to prevent the hilly background from sliding and causing damage during rainstorms. Further than this he used crushed stone as the backdrop to this wall, while also adding outlining stone bricks to the lower monument, rocks around the donation box, and finally adding a bench to the upper part of the monument.

An eagle project itself goes beyond just the physical work of a project, as it is up to the individual scout to plan, fundraise and lead the entire project themselves. While they do have assistance in this process, it generally falls to the scout to both lead and problem solve with their management skills to ensure that it goes smoothly. One of the most difficult parts to the creation of a project is fundraising. Shaun collected donations through community fundraising and held a fundraising event at Bertucci’s after which he attained the funds to create his project. After all these preliminary steps were completed and the Eagle Scout board approved his project, he was
allowed to start. He is currently on his third day of work and is hoping to finish his project in the coming weeks.

Shaun’s motivations for this project in particular are his belief that giving back to military veterans and making them feel that the community is there for them is important. Through his project he wanted to give thanks to those who served their country and honor their memory by
making the park a better place to visit and remember those who gave up their lives. His grandfather’s name is carved into the monument along countless others who served their community through military service. The restoration, beautification, and improvements to the memorial will enshrine the veterans and ensure their memory will live on.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Look Closely at Open Enrollment Choices

September 6, 2022

Once again, it’s the season for football games and back-to-school activities. And if you work for a medium-size or large employer, it will soon be open enrollment season – the time of year when you can review your employee benefits and make changes as needed. What areas should you focus on?

Actually, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to all your benefits. Some of the offerings may have changed from last year — and you might have experienced changes in your own life, too, which might lead you to look for something different from your existing benefits package.

You may want to start with your health insurance. If you’re satisfied with your coverage, and it’s essentially the same as it’s been, you may well want to stick with what you have. However, many employers are increasingly offering high-deductible health plans, which, as the name suggests, could entail more out-of-pocket costs for you. But high-deductible plans may also offer something of benefit: the ability to contribute to a health savings account (HSA). Your HSA contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, so they can reduce your taxable income for the year. Also, your earnings grow tax-free, and your withdrawals are tax-free, provided the money is used for qualified medical expenses. (Withdrawals taken before age 65 that aren’t used for qualified medical expenses are taxable and subject to a 20% penalty; once you reach 65, the penalty no longer applies, although withdrawals are still taxable as income if not used for a qualified expense.)

Your next benefit to consider: Life insurance. Your employer may offer a group life insurance plan, but you’ll want to evaluate whether it’s sufficient for your needs, especially if you’ve experienced changes in your personal situation over the past year, such as getting married or adding a new child. There’s no magic formula for how much life insurance you need — you’ll need to consider a variety of factors, such as your income, family size, mortgage and so on — but it may be necessary to supplement your employer’s coverage with a private policy.

Your employer may also offer disability insurance as a benefit. Some employers’ disability policies are fairly limited, covering only short periods of time, so you may want to consider a private policy. 

Beyond the various insurance policies your employer may offer, you’ll also want to closely look at your 401(k) or similar retirement plan. Typically, you can make changes to your 401(k) throughout the year, but it’s important to make sure your investment selections and contribution amounts are still aligned with your risk tolerance and goals. Also, are you contributing enough to earn your employer’s match, if one is offered? And if you’ve already receiving the match, can you still afford to put in more to your plan if such a move makes sense for you? 

Your employee benefits package can be a valuable part of your overall financial strategy. So, as open enrollment season proceeds, take a close look at what you already have, what’s being offered, and what changes you need to make. It will be time well spent.

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

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.

Delvena Theater Company: Lizzie Borden and the Forty Whacks at Chelmsford Library

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CHELMSFORD: Lizzie Borden took an axe…or did she? YOU DECIDE!
 
On a scorching hot day in Fall River, back in August of 1892, a heinous crime occurred. Spinster Lizzie Borden was accused, tried, and acquitted for the vicious ax murders of her father and stepmother. This true unsolved mystery has fascinated people for over 100 years. Two people died on that day in 1892, but Lizzie continues to live on in American folklore.

An edutainment production, written by Fran Baron and directed by Joseph Zamparelli the show will feature Lynne Moulton and Joseph Zamparelli. in multiple roles.  The performance includes a mock trial that invites the audience to participate by questioning Lizzie and deciding her guilt or innocence. Did she or didn’t she?

Lynne Moulton has performed several roles for Delvena Theatre including her IRNE nominated Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Sissy in Piece of My Heart and also for numerous other theatre companies in the New England area.  She received her acting training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art under the direction of Sir Robert Palmer and at Trinity Rep Conservatory.  

Joseph Zamparelli is a professional actor, director and producer.  A graduate of Boston College (Psychology/Theater Arts) he went on to the professional training program at Circle in the Square Theater School in NYC.  In addition to commercial film and television work, he is Producing/ Artistic Director of BostonAlive.

The Delvena Theatre Company was founded in 1992 and has performed at various venues, most often at the Boston Center for the Arts.  The company was nominated for five Independent Reviewers of New England awards.  Its production of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' was on Theatre Mirror's Best List for acting, directing and production.  Presentations of 'Anna Weiss' and 'Beyond Therapy' were included on Theatre Mirror's best play list and 'Blue Heart' was placed on Aisle Say's best list.

The performance runs September 15 at 7pm. Register online at chelmsfordlibrary.libcal.com/event/8911346. Registration is required. There are 24 seats available.

This production is supported in part by a grant from the Chelmsford Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
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Chelmsford Mothers' Club Kids’ Tag Sale!

CHELMSFORD: Need some new winter gear for the kids? How about books or toys? The Fall Chelmsford Mothers’ Club Kids Tag Sale will be held September 17 from 9am to 1pm at Greater Visions Children's Center on 180 Old Westford Road. It will feature a wide variety of winter clothes and shoes, costumes, accessories, toys and a selection of books for children of all ages and interests. For over 15 years, the Chelmsford Mothers’ Club has held spring and fall tag sales that are among the largest in the area. The Kids' Tag sale is a consignment event and also fundraiser for the Chelmsford Mothers' Club. In addition, some items that are not sold are donated to such local agencies as the Central Food Ministries in Lowell.  Check out a great selection of kids’ clothes, books, toys and so much more! The Entry fee is $2 cash or 1 canned good per adult. With limited space, no strollers are allowed and please leave children at home. Shoppers are asked to bring their own shopping bags. Cash and Major credit cards accepted. Half-price sales begin at 11:30 a.m.  For more info, visit www.kidstagsale.com.
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Rally Day & Fall Schedule at Aldersgate UMC

CHELMSFORD: Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Chelmsford invites you to join us for Rally Day as they resume their regular worship schedule on September 11. Services are at 8:30am and 10:45am, and Church School classes for children and youth begin at 9:30am. (Adult classes will start September 18).

In addition to other special Rally Day activities, they will have a potluck lunch at noon, during which they will officially welcome new minister, Pastor Bob Jon, and his family to Aldersgate and to Chelmsford.
 
Aldersgate UMC is an intergenerational church family with diverse programs and opportunities. All are welcome.
 
The church is located at 242 Boston Road (Rt. 4). For more information, contact the office at (978)256-9400 or  aldersgatechelmsford@verizon.net, or visit www.aldersgateumc.us or www.facebook.com/aldersgateumc.chelms.

GLCF’s Women Working Wonders Fund Awards Six Grants Totaling $52,000

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LOWELL: The Women Working Wonders (WWW) Fund, a permanently endowed fund of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, has announced the recipients of $52,000 in grants. These grants will support local nonprofit programs that empower women and girls to effect positive change in the community.

“Women Working Wonders is proud to support these six organizations in their work to improve the lives of women and girls in Greater Lowell,” said Marci Barnes, Women Working Wonders Fund board president. “This competitive grant process allows us to address significant community needs through collective philanthropy.” 

Recipients of the 2022 WWW grants: 
 
  • Alternative House - Juntas Crecemos (Support for Spanish-speaking survivors of domestic violence) $10,000
  • Center for Hope & Healing - Self Love and Wellness Program for Women $10,000
  • Megan House Foundation – Metamorphosis (to provide financial support to residents throughout their journey of recovery and transformation) $10,000
  • Mission of Deeds - Furnishing Homes $10,000
  • UMass Foundation - UMass Lowell’s River Hawk Scholars Academy- Rising Women Leaders & Affinity Group $10,000
  • Women Accelerators - Women Accelerators Peer Circles $2,000

Women Working Wonders provides annual grants in three key areas: assist women in transition, provide leadership development, and/or contribute to the beautification of the environment.
Founded in 2004 by a small group of women coming together to form a collective giving organization that focused on women’s issues, the fund has made more than $300,000 in grants to organizations supporting women and girls in the Greater Lowell area. 

One of the 2022 grant recipients, Mission of Deeds, received funding for their Furnishing Homes Program to provide women and children in Greater Lowell with the household items they need.

“Mission of Deeds is honored to have received a grant from the Women Working Wonders Fund,” said Sharon Petersen, Director of Grants, Mission of Deeds. “One of the biggest challenges for people moving from a shelter to permanent housing is the lack of beds, furniture, and basic kitchen items. We give our clients, free of charge, everything needed for a functional, livable home, and we are so grateful for the support from the Women Working Wonders Fund.”

The Women Working Wonders Fund’s Power of the Purse 2022 event, which raises funds to support the annual grants, is scheduled for October 20. For information about WWW Fund and the upcoming event, visit: www.womenworkingwondersfund.com.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Prepare Yourself for a Long Retirement

August 29, 2022

We all want to live long lives. We all expect to live long lives. But are we financially prepared for this longevity?  Before we get to the issue of preparation, let’s look at a couple of interesting findings from a 2022 survey by Age Wave and Edward Jones:
 
  • The surveyed retirees said, on average, they expect to live to 89, and they said the ideal length of retirement is 29 years.
  • When asked if they want to live to 100, nearly 70% of the respondents said “yes.” The main reason for this desire for long life? To spend more years with their family and friends.

Of course, none of us can see into the future and know how long we’ll be around. But with advances in medical care and a greater awareness of healthy lifestyles, these aspirations have a real basis in reality.

However, if you’re going to enjoy a longer lifespan, and the extra years with your loved ones, you need to ensure your finances are also in good shape. How can you make this happen?  Here are some basic steps to follow:
 
  • Save and invest early and often. This may be the oldest piece of financial advice, but it’s still valid. The earlier you start saving and investing for your retirement, the greater your potential accumulation. Consider this: If you began saving just $5,000 per year at age 25, and earned a hypothetical 6.5% annual rate of return, and didn’t take any early withdrawals, you’d end up with $935,000 by the time you reached 65. But if you waited until 35 to start saving and investing, and you earned the same hypothetical 6.5% return – again with no early withdrawals – you’d only end up with $460,000. And if you didn’t start saving until 45, you’d end up with just over $200,000, again given the same 6.5% return. 
  • Be mindful of debt. You may not  want to be burdened with certain debts when you enter retirement. So, while you’re still working, try to reduce unwanted debts, particularly those that don’t offer the financial benefits of tax-deductible interest payments. The lower your debt load, the more you can save and invest for the future.
  • Keep reviewing your progress. It’s important to monitor the progress you need to make toward achieving your goal of a comfortable retirement. Over the short term, your investment balances may fluctuate, especially in volatile financial markets such as we’ve seen in the early part of this year. But you’ll get a clearer picture of your situation if you look at long-term results. For example, have your accounts grown over the past 10 years as much as you had planned? And going forward, do you think you’re in good shape, or will you need to make some changes to your investment strategy? Keep in mind that, if you’re 50 or older, you can make “catch-up” contributions to your IRA and 401(k) that allow you to exceed the regular limits. You may also want to adjust your investment mix as you near retirement to potentially lower your risk exposure.

Hopefully, you will enjoy many years of a healthy, happy retirement. And you can help support this vision by carefully considering your financial moves and making the ones that are right for you. 

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor
Financial Advisor, Mandy Calouro, Chelmsford, MA
Edwardjones.com/Mandy-Calouro, Edward Jones, Member SIPC
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LIRA Invites Retirees to Fall Semester Classes

LOWELL: The Learning in Retirement Association (LIRA) invites all retirees to join their Fall semester classes (some live, Zoom or hybrid.) A sample of offered Fall classes;  1. Talk by Jonathan Lemire (Politico, MSNBC, AP) on his new book “THE BIG LIE”;  2. Lighthouses & the People Who Kept Them;  3. Unlocking the Hidden History of DNA;  4. Hands on Art Class;  5. The Election of 2022 – A shift in power?;  6. The Most Influential Characters of Literature;  7. Tour of the new Lowell Justice Center;  8. Articles of Confederation – Stronger than a Rope of Sand;  9. UMass Rist Center for Sustainability & Energy research overview; 10. New Refugees & Immigrants in Lowell; 11. America & the Global Economy; 12. Native Americans in Colonial New England; 13. Professor led Tour of the Oak Hill Conservation; 14. Critical Issues in K-12 Public Schools; 15. Great Decisions discussion group as well as Book and Film discussion groups.
 
Additional classes, detailed descriptions, schedules, and information to join LIRA www.UML.edu/LIRA/  Classes begin Sept 12. Yearly membership fee is only $125 or $200/couple. You can take as many classes as you wish. For questions email LIRA@uml.edu.
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River Clean-up Volunteers Needed!

ACTON: OARS needs volunteers to help spread out across the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord river watershed to clean up rivers, streams, ponds and trails! This year marks the 36th Annual River Clean-up which will be hybrid and take place September 16 thru 18. Every year OARS relies on the support of volunteers and local businesses to keep our rivers clean. Local business owners are also encouraged to reach out and find out how company teams can get involved in this year’s clean-up. Visit www.oars3rivers.org to find out how to join in!

OARS is a nonprofit, science-based organization whose mission is to protect, improve and preserve the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord River watersheds for all people and wildlife. The watershed includes: Acton, Ashland, Bedford, Berlin, Boxboro, Billerica, Carlisle, Concord, Framingham, Hopkinton, Hudson, Lincoln, Maynard, Marlboro, Northborough, Lowell, Saxonville, Stow, Southborough, Sudbury, Tewksbury, Wayland and Westborough.
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$10,000 Awarded to Boys and Girls Club of Greater Billerica

BILLERICA: Thanks to the communities’ support, James O’Connell Insurance has officially awarded a $10,000 donation to Boys and Girls Club of Greater Billerica, a local organization dedicated to enabling all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The $10,000 award will help ensure children are able to attend and enjoy activities that entertain, challenge, inspire and educate them. 
 
James O’Connell, CEO of James O’Connell Insurance, originally received a $5,000 donation for Boys and Girls Club of Greater Billerica thanks to a submission process with Liberty Mutual® and Safeco Insurance® through their 2022 Make More Happen Awards. A story of their local partnership was featured on the official Make More Happen microsite, www.agentgiving.com/James-Oconnell-Insurance, where James O’Connell Insurance had the opportunity to raise an additional $5,000 by conducting a local awareness campaign for the nonprofit. Together with the community, the goal was met increasing the total donation to $10,000 for Boys and Girls Club of Greater Billerica! 
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Age-friendly Chelmsford Job Fair August 18

CHELMSFORD: Age-Friendly Chelmsford has announced their first Age Strong Chelmsford job fair in partnership with MassHire of Lowell. This Town effort is led by Lisa Marrone, Chelmsford Business Development, is focusing on the employment domain for the Age-Friendly effort. The event is scheduled for Thursday, August 18th from 10am to 1pm. Employment vendors will be setting up at 9am at the Chelmsford Senior Center and we will be hosting 20 businesses exclusive to Chelmsford.

The first hour of the job fair will give priority to job seekers 50+. We will focus on full-time job opportunities as well as part-time and volunteer positions. We welcome full participation from supporting partners and have been reaching out to agencies such as AARP, MA Healthy Aging Collaborative, Operation ABLE and others. Please contact Lisa Marrone at lmarrone@chelmsfordma.gov with any additional help you can offer.
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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 an upcoming Volunteer Information Session: 
 
Tuesday, August 16, 6:30-8 pm 
Thursday, August 25, 12-1:30 pm 
Tuesday, August 30, 6:30-8 pm 
 
To RSVP to one of the above sessions, please contact Literacy Director, Sarah Miller at smiller@lowelllibrary.org, or Literacy Assistant, Mary Hartmann,  mhartmann@lowelllibrary.org, or call (978) 674-1541. 

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition's Annual State-wide Against the Tide Multisport Virtual & In-person Events

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Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is hosting its annual, statewide Against the Tide athletic fundraising events as both virtual and in-person events this summer.  
 
MBCC will hold its in-person Cape Cod Against the Tide event on August 13 at DCR’s Nickerson State Park in Brewster for the 23rd year. This event will feature a 1-mile recreational and competitive swim, a ½-mile recreational swim, 5K and 10K runs, a 3-mile walk, and a 1-mile USMS sanctioned swim.
 
Additionally, MBCC is offering participants the option to participate remotely in the Against the Tide August virtual event from August 6–13. The virtual event components include 1-mile recreational or competitive swims, a ½-mile recreational swim, 5K and 10K runs, and a 3-mile walk.
 
Registration for both the virtual and in-person options is $40 for an individual participant, and $100 for a family registration (up to 5 family members). Participants may register as an individual or as part of a team. Participants are encouraged to raise funds beyond the registration fees, as all proceeds support MBCC’s unique goal of breast cancer prevention. All participants will receive an event t-shirt. Prizes will be awarded for the top swim and run finishers of the in-person events. To learn more about all of the registration options or to make a pledge, please visit the MBCC website at www.mbcc.org/swim or call 508-246-3047.
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Alternative House Partners with Pepperell Police Department

LOWELL/PEPPERELL: Alternative House, through a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation’s Nashoba Health Care Grant cycle, formally announced its new partnership with the Pepperell Police Department. With this funding, Alternative House will continue to intensify and expand the tools necessary to assist survivors of domestic violence in the Pepperell community and surrounding areas. Through this partnership, Alternative House will be able to fund training for officers, town employees and community partners, as well as provide safe housing and other assistance to survivors. This funding will also allow Alternative House to provide financial assistance to survivors to fulfill their basic needs.

Alternative House has provided comprehensive domestic violence services in the Greater Lowell area for over 40 years. Founded in 1978, Alternative House has served thousands of survivors of domestic violence. The agency provides not only emergency shelter and 24-hour crisis hotline services, but access to temporary safe housing, transitional/ permanent housing, legal advocacy, supervised visitation services, community/ housing advocacy, support groups, youth and teen programming.

Alternative House also offers daily access to case management, safety planning, and support around goal setting, financial empowerment and job/educational placement.

“This funding will allow us to expand our law enforcement partnership services which include ongoing training and education, moving and relocation planning, financial assistance, lethality assessment work, and community outreach. It is a critically important program to the survivors of domestic violence that we serve,” said Alternative House Executive Director Maria Crooker-Capone. “We know that fleeing an abusive situation is extremely traumatic and overwhelming for families and individuals, and through this program, we can provide them the step-by-step support they may need.”

“We look forward to working with Alternative House,” Chief Scott said. “This partnership helps to fill a void for domestic violence services in our area and connect survivors with the resources they need. Thank you to the Alternative House and the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.”

The mission of Alternative House is to facilitate the creation of a society in which violence and oppression will no longer exist. As a means to this end, we offer access to shelter, support, children’s programming, legal, housing, and community advocacy for all victims of domestic violence (and their children) who seek our help.

We are committed to the empowerment of all victims toward self-sufficiency. We do not discriminate against any race, class, culture, age group or sexual orientation. In addition, we provide community education and support to reform societal attitudes that permit violence and oppression against anyone.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Market decline offers buying opportunities

July 27, 2022

The financial markets have gotten off to a rocky start this year. What’s caused this volatility? And does it present opportunities for patient investors?

First of all, several factors are behind the market volatility, including the war in Ukraine, higher inflation, rising interest rates and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while these factors may be specific to the recent market decline, volatility itself is a common feature of the investment environment. In fact, history shows that corrections of 10% or more happen about every year, and declines of 15% or more have happened every other year, on average. Furthermore, while 2022 has thus far been challenging for investors, it was preceded by a long period of strong markets, with the S&P 500 averaging more than a 20% return over the past three years. 

Knowing the typical frequency of market volatility and reviewing the results of the past few years may make the current situation seem less shocking. But you don’t have to simply “ride out” the downturn – because a down market may give you the opportunity to buy more investment shares at good prices. Specifically, you can expand your holdings in companies that have good growth prospects due to strong management and products or services that provide sustainable competitive advantages. And this type of opportunity is important, because one of the keys to building wealth is to increase the number of shares you own in your various investments and hold them for the long term. While the market will always fluctuate, the long-term trend has been positive, particularly for well-diversified portfolios built with quality investments.       

Of course, while it is a good idea to boost your share ownership at favorable prices, you still want to be strategic about it, rather than just buying whatever seems to be the biggest bargain. In reviewing your existing portfolio, can you identify any gaps that could be filled with new investments? Are there opportunities to further diversify your holdings? By owning different types of stocks, bonds, government securities and other investments, you can help reduce the impact of volatility on your portfolio. (Keep in mind, though, that diversification can’t guarantee profits or prevent losses in declining markets.) Or, if your portfolio has become “unbalanced” in some way, you could also use this time to rebalance it back to its original long-term targets. You might also consider setting up a systematic investing program in which you invest the same amounts in the same investments on a regular basis, such as monthly. When prices go down, you’ll automatically buy more shares, and when prices rise, you’ll buy fewer shares. (However, systematic investing does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss and you’ll need to be willing to keep investing when share prices are declining.)
Before this year, average annual returns have been solid for about a decade, which makes it somewhat easy to forget about normal market volatility and may have led to overly optimistic performance expectations. So, it would not be surprising if your initial reaction to the current downturn is one of concern. But by viewing the current investment environment as a chance to add quality investments at attractive prices, you can help yourself develop a behavior that can serve you well throughout your life as an investor.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC

Greater Lowell Community Foundation Awards Multi-year Water Resources Grants

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LOWELL: The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) awarded $45,000 in grants to three local nonprofits for three-year $5,000/year

GLCF Water Resources Initiative Grants. The GLCF Water Resources Initiative Grants for nonprofits that support water-resources projects, with a preference for organizations whose primary mission is to protect, improve and preserve the Sudbury-Assabet-Concord (SuAsCo) River, Merrimack River, or Nashua River watersheds.


“These multi-year grants fund incredible nonprofit organizations that protect our valuable area water resources. Water-related projects supported include biological conservation, habitat restoration, and clean-ups,” said GLCF President & CEO Jay Linnehan. “These grants are made possible from a 1998 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust to GLCF. The Foundation was able to create an endowed fund to protect the water resources in Greater Lowell.”

Among the grantees was the Merrimack River Watershed Council, who received a grant to support their Clean Water for Greater Lowell Program. “Through a multi-year commitment from GLCF, the Merrimack River Watershed Council will continue to grow our capacity to fill gaps in water quality data, analysis, and solutions in Greater Lowell,” said Matthew Thorne, executive director of Merrimack River Watershed Council. “Although the Merrimack River, which provides public drinking water for the City of Lowell, is much cleaner than when we began our work in the 1970s, we have significant challenges with contamination issues that are as critical as ever to address.”

The following nonprofit organizations received three-year $5,000/year funding:
 
For more information on the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, visit www.glcfoundation.org

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Strengthen Your ‘Three-legged Stool’ for Retirement

July 18, 2022

For many years, Americans provided for their retirement needs through three sources: employer-sponsored pension plans, Social Security income, and savings and investments accumulated through employer plans or individual accounts – the so-called “three-legged stool.” But today, that stool is shakier than it used to be. What can you do to strengthen it?

To begin with, all three legs of the stool are facing challenges. Let’s consider them:

• Employer pensions – A generation ago, workers employed in many companies could count on a set monthly pension income to help them through their retirement years. Today, pensions – also known as defined benefit plans – are mostly found in public sector employment, as most private-sector employers have replaced their pensions with 401(k) and similar plans. These plans can be quite effective at helping build resources for retirement, but they do place most of the responsibility for saving on the employee.

• Social Security – Social Security has come under financial pressure because the workers-to-retirees ratio has declined significantly, according to the Social Security Administration’s 2021 Board of Trustees Report. A number of proposals have been brought forward on how to improve the long-term financial security of the Social Security system.

• Personal savings and investments – In terms of building savings and investments for retirement, the picture is somewhat mixed. The national savings rate has increased in recent years, but more than half of American workers still say their retirement savings are not where they should be, according to a 2021 survey from Bankrate, a personal finance website. And the same survey found that just over half of investors with a 401(k) or IRA have taken early withdrawals – that is, they withdrew money before they retired. Furthermore, we may be waiting too long even to begin saving/investing for retirement. A survey from Age Wave and Edward Jones found that respondents began saving for retirement at an average age of 38, but the majority said they should have started saving a decade earlier.

You have options for improving some parts of your own three-legged stool. For example, no matter what happens to Social Security, you can still decide when to start taking payments. You can begin collecting benefits as early as 62, but your monthly checks will be larger if you wait until your “full” retirement age, which will likely be between 66 and 67. You can even delay taking benefits until they “max out” at age 70.

As for a pension, you can’t control what’s available to you through your employer, but you can create your own retirement income stream by contributing as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan and by increasing your contributions whenever your salary goes up. And you can also contribute to an IRA or other investment vehicle to further boost your retirement funds. Try to leave these accounts intact until you need them for retirement. This will be easier if you’ve built an emergency fund, with the money kept in a liquid, low-risk account, to pay for unexpected costs, such as those resulting from a major car or home repair.

The three-legged stool may not be as universal as it once was – but you can still construct a sturdy structure to support your retirement needs in the future.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC
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Chelmsford Military & Veterans Appreciation Cookout!

CHELMSFORD: The Chelmsford Military Community Covenant Task Force is sponsoring a free cookout in appreciation of active, reserve, National Guard, veterans and their families on Tuesday, August 9. The event will take place from 5pm to 7pm at the Chelmsford Elks Lodge at 300 Littleton Road. Cheeseburgers, hotdogs, watermelon, chips and soft drinks will be served. A cash bar will be available. The general public is welcome to attend to meet and support our local military members.

The Chelmsford Military Community Covenant was established by the Chelmsford Board of Selectmen in
2009 in partnership with Hanscom Air Force Base as a formal effort to support military families living in Chelmsford. The primary purpose of the program is to make Chelmsford feel more welcoming for military families and veterans by drawing upon a support network of volunteers and contributions from the local business community. For more information or to volunteer with the Task Force, please visit
www.chelmsfordma.gov/MilitaryCommunityCovenant.
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Shirley Wang Wins Prestigious P.E.O. Scholar Award
Wang is one of only 100 scholars within the U.S. and Canada to receive award

CHELMSFORD: Shirley Wang, a Ph.D. student in clinical psychology with a secondary field in computational science and engineering at Harvard University, is one of 100 doctoral students within the U.S. and Canada selected to receive a prestigious $20,000 P.E.O. Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood.  Of these 100, Wang is one of only 17 to receive the distinction of being chosen as an Endowed or Named Scholar.  Wang was selected as the Wilma Leonard Turner-Marie Turner Endowed Scholar for 2022-23. She was nominated by P.E.O. Chapter AI of Chelmsford.

The P.E.O. Scholar Awards program, established in 1991, provides substantial merit-based awards for women of the U.S. and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral-level degree at an accredited college or university.  Wang is a 2017 summa cum laude graduate of The College of New Jersey. She was a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the National Institutes of Health F31/NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship, the Outstanding Student Researcher Award from the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology, and the Early Graduate Student Researcher Award from the American Psychological Association, among many other honors.
Wang has published over 40 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and given over 30 talks at national and international conferences. At Harvard, Shirley has served as a teaching fellow for an introductory statistics course, for which she received the Certificate of Distinction & Excellence in Teaching. She has also mentored numerous senior thesis students and undergrad research assistants, for which she received the Spotlight Mentor Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (as the first graduate student ever to be nominated for and receive this award). Her Ph.D. research examines why people engage in actions that are harmful to themselves, including eating disorder behaviors, non-suicidal self-injury, and suicide. Her unique approach is to apply mathematics and computational modeling to better understand these issues and help predict who needs intervention immediately. From inequality of opportunity to mental health issues, her research and interventions have the potential to save lives and change the futures of countless individuals, their families, and communities.
Chapter AI has been a part of the Boston Area P.E.O. community since it was organized in 1980.

P.E.O., a Philanthropic Educational Organization, has been celebrating women helping women for more than 150 years. Since its inception in 1869, the nonprofit organization has helped more than 119,000* women pursue educational goals by providing over $398 million* in grants, scholarships, awards and loans. Through membership, the P.E.O. Sisterhood has brought together more than half a million women in the United States and Canada who are passionate about helping women advance through education while supporting and motivating them. In addition to the educational philanthropies, the P.E.O. Sisterhood provides a framework of support and community for all members.

What started with a bond of friendship among seven women in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, is now one of the oldest women’s organizations in North America with close to 5,800 chapters.  To learn more about P.E.O., its powerful educational philanthropies and see stories of women who have benefited from the programs, visit peointernational.org.
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NETSCOUT Awards $15K in Community Grants with Greater Lowell Community Foundation

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LOWELL: The Greater Lowell Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization comprised of over 390 funds, currently totaling over $59 million, dedicated to improving the quality of life in 21 neighboring cities and towns, announced that NETSCOUT SYSTEMS, INC., (NASDAQ: NTCT), a leading provider of cybersecurity, service assurance, and business analytics solutions, has awarded its Heart of Giving community program’s $15,000 grant through the Greater Lowell Community Foundation to Hidden Battles, Challenge Unlimited and The Edinburg Center.

Hidden Battles, of Lowell, who received the $10,000 grant works to preserve the healthy minds of veterans, firefighters, police officers and first responders who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, job-related stress, traumatic brain injuries and the struggles of entering back into civilian life after discharge from the military. The organization offers treatment and counseling through confidential meetings among clients and interactive workshops.

The annual grant program builds relationships with nonprofit organizations and engages employees in learning about service opportunities in the communities of Greater Lowell. This year an additional $5,000 in grant funding was distributed to Challenge Unlimited in Andover and The Edinburg Center in Bedford.

“Connecting philanthropic businesses and individuals to the needs of their communities is at the heart of GLCF’s work. We are proud to be in the 8th year of the NETSCOUT Heart of Giving Community Grant at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation,” said Jay Linnehan, president and CEO, Greater Lowell Community Foundation. “We are grateful for NETSCOUT’s continued commitment to supporting local nonprofits and addressing needs in our community.”

“Through this unique program with GLCF, we can provide financial support to local organizations while empowering our employees to participate in the philanthropic process and build strong relationships in the community through volunteer service,” said Michael Szabados, chief operating officer at NETSCOUT. “With the prolonged impact of COVID-19 taking a huge toll on mental health, especially for caregivers and care providers, we are pleased to support the important work of all three organizations through these grants.”

“Hidden Battles Foundation would like to thank NETSCOUT for awarding us this grant that will facilitate quality, activity driven, mental health programs to veterans, first responders, nurses, and their families. We would also like to recognize GLCF for their hard work and assistance during the grant process,” said Scott Hyder Hidden Battles President and Founder. “The program funded will be focused on post-COVID PTSD and family reconnection activities based on a three-tier mental health model: individual, couple and family.”

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 $25 million to the Greater Lowell community.
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4th of July Arts Festival Show Reinstated

CHELMSFORD: The annual 4th of July Arts Festival Show has been reinstated at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts. All regional artists, adults and students, are welcome to register their artwork for this event by contacting the CAS at https://chelmsfordartsociety.com. for more detailed information.

This show is open to Members, Non-Members and Students, and there is a fee for submitting their art. The deadline for Online Entry is Sunday, June 26 at 11pm, and the actual drop off at the CCA will take place on Thursday, June 30 from 10-noon and 5pm-7pm. No walk-ins will be accepted this year. The public is welcome to view this artwork and raffle baskets on July 2-4 as part of the town-wide 4th of July celebration. Viewing hours are 5-8pm July 2, 3-9pm on July 3, and 8:30am-noon on July 4th. While this will be a non-judged show, there will be awards for the People’s Choice Artwork in both the Adult and Children category. Members of the Chelmsford Art Society will also then be displaying their art at the Chelmsford Library through July.

This art festival is generously funded by a grant from the Chelmsford Cultural Council, and the MA Cultural Council.
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CCB Celebrates its 50th

CHELMSFORD: In 1972, a small community band was founded with the aim of bringing the happiness of live musical performances to the Chelmsford area.  The organization is a nonprofit; its members are volunteers, people who picked up an instrument to join a school band and who realized that music is a lifelong pursuit that can extend long, long after leaving school.  Many members have been performing with the group for more than a decade - some more than two decades, or three - but new people join every year to continue their connection or to renew their connection to music.  The Chelmsford Community Band now comprises two ensembles - a 60-piece concert band and a 15-piece jazz ensemble - and it performs year-round in Chelmsford and the surrounding towns, as it has for the past fifty years.

In recognition of its 50th anniversary, the CCB commissioned a new logo and a brand new musical composition to capture the spirit of the volunteer group.  “Town Band,” by Erika Svanoe, is an illustration of a group that takes music seriously - but itself, perhaps, not as much.  This piece will have its world premiere as the concert band kicks off the celebrations and the summer season with the town Independence Day festival on Sunday, July 3rd, on the Chelmsford Town Common.  The music starts at 7pm.  After that, one of the two ensembles will perform on Tuesday nights at 7pm - the Jazz Ensemble on July 12, July 26, and August 16, and the Concert Band on July 19, August 2, and August 9.  If it rains, the concert will move inside the Chelmsford Center for the Arts.

Follow CCB on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and find them online at www.chelmsfordcommunityband.com.
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Baystate Marathon and Half Marathon Registration Opens for October Race

LOWELL: The Greater Lowell Road Runners are happy to announce that registration is now open for the 34th Annual Baystate Marathon, Half Marathon and Half Marathon Relay. This race will be held on Sunday, October 16, 2022 in Lowell.  You can register for the Baystate Marathon and Half Marathon at https://register.chronotrack.com/r/65193.

The Baystate Marathon is one of the most prestigious, flat, fast-paced races in the country. They attract a balanced combination of recreational, amateur, and competitive elite runners.  They pride ourselves on being a race that is “For Runners - By Runners”.

The Greater Lowell Road Runners use the funds that are raised from the race to fulfill their mission of promoting and encouraging the sport of running through road races, fun runs, group training activities, lectures, and social events.
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CAS Presents Live Demonstration with Jimmy Lee

CHELMSFORD: The Chelmsford Art Society invites art lovers/artists and the public on Wednesday, May 25, to see an exciting live demonstrator, Jimmy Lee, as he combines his love of crafting unique wood designs with digital illustrations. After drawing his images digitally with a few layers, and separating them into pieces, he inks and handcuts the plywood images using a coping saw to create a dimensional illustration framed in a shadowbox. This demonstration starting at 7pm at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts, will be in person and also Live Streamed. His studio #404 can be found at Western Avenue Studios, where he works as both a Graphic Designer and WordPress Developer. Visit https://chelmsfordartsociety.com for more information.
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Chelmsford Recycling Committee Begins Plastic Collection Campaign with Trex

CHELMSFORD: The Chelmsford Recycling Committee will be collecting clean plastic bags, plastic wraps, and plastic film at three separate donation sites around town: Town Hall (Lower Level), Senior Center, and Adams Library. Their goal is to collect 500 lbs. of plastics now until October 2022.  Visit www.chelmsfordrecycles.com for a complete list of plastics that are accepted. Questions?  Contact chelmsfordrecyclingcommittee@gmail.com
 
Trex Outdoor Furniture makes composite decking material and outdoor furniture out of reclaimed wood and plastic film. The Trex Company will turn our collected plastics into a new bench that will be placed in town (location TBD) while keeping these plastics out of our trash and landfill.
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Chelmsford Community Band Celebrates Spring

CHELMSFORD: The Chelmsford Community Band invites you to join them for a live celebration of the spring season as they gather for a concert on Sunday, May 22 at 2pm, in the auditorium of the McCarthy Middle School. This concert will be the first of the band’s golden anniversary year as it celebrates 50 years of bringing live music to Chelmsford.  There will be a takeaway bake sale and the traditional spring fundraising raffle, with themed baskets donated by local businesses and sections of the band.  Stay tuned to social media for sneak previews of the prizes to come.

The CCB never requires anyone to pay for tickets, but donations are accepted at the door with gratitude so they can continue to pay for their rehearsal space, music, and directors.  The suggested donation is $20 for adults and $10 for children or seniors.  Masks are requested for the continued safety and peace of mind of all attendees.

The Chelmsford Community Band was founded in 1972 and is a volunteer group of adult musicians who greatly enjoy bringing live music to the greater Chelmsford area.  The concert band and jazz ensemble both perform several concerts throughout the year and on Chelmsford Common every summer. Look for them online at www.chelmsfordcommunityband.com, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

GLCF Awards Additional Grants from Afghan Resettlement Fund

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LOWELL: The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) announced it had granted an additional $12,000 to three nonprofits in Greater Lowell that are working to address the immediate needs of new refugees from Afghanistan resettling in the community.

These grants were disbursed from the GLCF Afghan Resettlement Fund, which was created last fall, to assist nonprofits who support refugees arriving from Afghanistan to Greater Lowell and ensures that those in need are welcomed and connected with housing, employment, transportation, food, acculturation, and other related support. No administrative fee was charged by GLCF, so that all donations to the fund supported local nonprofits who were optimally positioned to provide immediate assistance and support.

“Our generous donors who gave to the GLCF Afghan Resettlement Fund provided area nonprofits with the critical support needed to 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.”

Recipients of recent grants from the GLCF Afghan Resettlement Fund include:  
 
  • Aaron’s Presents (Andover) - $2,500 to fund projects for Afghan refugee families in Greater Lowell
  • Andover Islamic Center - $6,000 for bridging the gap for new Afghan arrivals to Greater Lowell for clothing, technology, assistance with resume writing, career placement, and transportation 
  • Open Table (Maynard) - $3,500 for Afghan Groceries Program in Greater Lowell
 
Among the organizations funded was Aaron’s Presents, a nonprofit that provides hands-on, individualized mentoring, materials/services, and logistical help to any child in 8th grade or below who want to carry out an idea that benefits at least one other person, animal, and/or the environment. Since the winter, Aaron’s Presents have been providing visits and socialization opportunities for Afghan children. “These visits, initiated by Lowell youth who are part of Aaron’s Presents, have given our mentors and kids more than we have given to the  Afghan families. We have been moved by their gracious and unhesitating welcome of these strangers into their homes, their generosity of spirit, and the ability of play, kindness, respect, and genuine goodwill to transcend language and cultural barriers,” Leah Okimoto, Executive Director, Aaron's Presents. “This funding by GLCF will make more of these personal interactions having fun with other kids possible.”

Overall, state officials say 1,887 Afghans have relocated to Massachusetts. International Institute of New England (IINE), who received a previous round of grant funding, reports that they have settled 228 Afghans in Greater Lowell. To date, the GLCF Afghan Resettlement Fund has distributed $42,300 in grants. 

Donations to the GLCF Afghan Resettlement Fund can be made online at www.glcfoundation.org or by mail to the GLCF Afghan Resettlement Fund, c/o GLCF, 100 Merrimack Street, Suite 202, Lowell, MA 01852.

Businesses in Your Community

Lisa lipomi   daylily table

Open Gate Garden Club of Chelmsford Plant Sale

CHELMSFORD: Open Gate Garden Club of Chelmsford will hold its Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 21  in the Chapel at the First Parish Unitarian Church in Chelmsford Center beside the Common. The sale goes from 9am-1pm. Checks, cash and credit cards are accepted.

This has been the club’s only fundraiser since it was begun in 1973 and was usually held the Saturday before Mother’s Day until Covid hit and things changed. Last year it was held outside at a member’s home, but we are happy to be back at the Unitarian Church for this years’ sale.
Funds from the sale go to community projects such as the garden at Perham Corner and the urn in front of the library as well as The June Cook Memorial program during April vacation at the library for children on nature subjects, projects at The Paul Center and donations to the Chelmsford Conservation Land Trust to mention a few.

At the sale there will be perennials dug from members gardens, a pollinator table with special plants to encourage bees, butterflies and other pollinators, some shrubs, annuals, vegetables, a herb table with a large assortment of herbs, a daylily table from a Daylily Society and club member’s daylily display garden and a specialty table with houseplants and other interesting plants for inside and outside. There will also be a Master Gardener present to answer any gardening questions that you may have about the plants.
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Students Present Research at MCC’s 11th Annual Honors Conference

CHELMSFORD: Middlesex Community College hosted its eleventh annual Commonwealth Honors Program (CHP) Research Conference on Wednesday, April 20. The virtual event allowed Middlesex honors students to present their research on a topic of their choice.

“MCC’s honors program is another example of how the college fosters student success, providing learners with knowledge and experiences that will benefit them at their four-year institutions and in their careers,” said Binnur Ercem, MCC’s Professor of Sociology & Cultural Anthropology and Director of the CHP. “In addition to developing valuable research and presentation skills, the CHP’s annual research conference is an opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate our students' determination, perseverance, hard work and desire for learning.

An MCC Math Transfer student from Chelmsford, Thomas Kerkhove (pictured) presented his research on Native American filmmakers in the late 20th century. He created his poster for his final project in MCC’s U.S. History through Film course, discussing “how Native Americans are slowly beginning to move past their cinematic misrepresentation in Hollywood on their own terms.”

“One of the key aspects of the conference that I struggled with initially is how to condense all of my hard work into a short description for the judges,” Kerkhove said. “I have had to spend some time really figuring out how to convey the key ideas of my project – a skill that I know will be
important for the future.”

For their presentation, honors students created digital posters and then spoke over Zoom, talking about their work and answering questions. Due to the nature of the virtual conference, students can share their work for a longer period of time, including having a chat function that allows visitors to ask questions and students to respond.

Kerkhove joined the CHP in order to hone his presentation skills and participate in seminar-style courses. He believes the best parts about MCC’s honors program have been being able to work with more challenging subject material, engaging in conversations with classmates, and feeling as though he is in a cohort of honors students.

Interactions with classmates and his professors – including Stephanie Pesce, Jennifer Bauer, Deborah Botker and Ercem – have also been a benefit of MCC’s CHP for Kerkhove. The experience has worked to “broaden my horizons with courses I might not have taken otherwise if
they weren’t part of the Honors selection. He plans to transfer to the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Fall.

“I find these experiences valuable because they provided an opportunity for me to practice my presentation skills in a low-stakes environment,” he said, “building confidence for my future college experience, as well as the presentations in my future STEM career.”
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Kids and Teens Can Have a Productive and Fun Summer at MCC

LOWELL: Kids and teens can have a productive and fun summer in Middlesex Community College’s College for Kids and College for Teens programs. This summer, the programs will return to in-person offerings, as well as online options for some of the College for Teens courses.

“We want students to have fun this summer while they’re learning something new or strengthening valuable skills,” said Lauren Ellis, MCC’s Program Manager for Community Education and Training. “It is never too early to explore career paths or areas of interest and at Middlesex, students of all ages benefit from discovering what it is they like to do. Our programs allow children and teens to dive into topics that are often not taught in school, setting them up for long term success for their future college careers.”

College for Kids and Teens offers a unique opportunity to explore careers, learn new skills, meet new friends and boost self-confidence. Middlesex designs interactive and engaging summer programs that are taught by MCC professors, public school teachers, and experts in their field.

For Summer 2022, MCC’s College for Kids will run in-person for six weeks, starting on July 11 and going until August 18, Mondays through Thursdays. Full- and half-day offerings include courses focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), cooking, arts and crafts, photography, fashion design, online gaming, graphic and web design, creative writing and filmmaking. Programs are offered on the Bedford and Lowell campuses.

A theatre program at MCC’s Academic Arts Center in Lowell will put on a production of “Matilda, Jr.” Taught by MCC’s  Performing Arts Chair Karen Oster, the theatre program will offer two performances on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14.

In the College for Teens program, high school-aged students 14+ can take courses from a number of MCC’s Pathways, including Arts & Humanities, STEM and Business. In addition to honing
students’ skills in these subjects, these programs offer hands-on opportunities to learn more about different fields and potential career paths for the future – before students start even college.

Please note that Middlesex requires all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to come to campus, as of January 2022, including students enrolled in noncredit courses, such as
College for Kids and College for Teens. Students who are unvaccinated can still choose to take online classes and access online resources and student support services.
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MCC’s Theatre Department to Present “The Rocky Horror Show”

LOWELL: The Middlesex Community College Theatre Department will present “The Rocky Horror Show” in five performances at MCC’s Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center.
Curtain times are 7pm on April 28, April 29 and April, 30; and 2pm on May 1. There will also be a midnight show on April 30 where audience members are encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters.

“When the film ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ came on the scene, it became iconic in that it paved the way for so many to feel as if they could be accepted for who there were,” said Karen Oster, MCC’s Performing Arts Chair. “It celebrated individuality, freedom of expression, non-conformity and it was a blast. We offer this production of the stage version as a celebration of all of these things in a time when we are all in need of a little distraction and a big party.”

Peter Carranza of Tyngsboro (pictured) – who will play the character Frank-N-Furter – has wanted to perform in the musical since he first watched the film adaptation. The MCC Theatre major came to Middlesex after talking to Oster at a production at his high school, and will graduate in May 2022. He was drawn to MCC because of all of the opportunities to perform that the college and Oster provide to students.

“Performance opportunities allow for an environment where like-minded people can safely express themselves and work toward something they love,” Carranza said. I’ve made so many friends from performing at Middlesex and they’re all such wonderful people that I feel accept me for who I am.”

Carranza describes the musical as “a parody of Frankenstein with the addition of rock and roll, gothic subculture, science fiction and most importantly, love, sexuality and identity.” Throughout
the show, there are references and familiar tropes from B-movies from earlier decades. Music, lyrics and book of “The Rocky Horror Show” are written by Richard O’Brien.

Tickets are $10 for MCC students, faculty and staff, and senior citizens, and $20 for general admission.

“Everyone on our team is in love with this show and has been waiting to do it for so long,” Carranza said. “We’re all so passionate about the project and it’s a total dream come true.”
Earthday

2022 Earth Week Town-wide Clean Up

CHELMSFORD: Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd this year, but why not celebrate all week?! Join Chelmsford’s Annual Town-wide Clean Up by helping to pick up litter along its roads, neighborhoods, parks, and recreation areas. Sign-up at DPW, 9 Alpha Road and pick up yellow bags between April 11-15 from 7:30am – 4pm. Plan your clean-up for the week of April 18.  Whenever possible, bring your bags to your home curbside and they will be picked up with your regular trash until Friday, 4/29.  Broadcast what awesome work you’ve done by sending before
and after photos to sustainability@chelmsfordma.gov or tag yourselves "#ChelmsfordCleanUp2022" on social media.  Questions: Sustainability Manager at above email or 978-250-5203.