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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

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.

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

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
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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.

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.

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

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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.”

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.
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Chelmsford Quilters’ Guild Hosts Biennial Quilt Show

CHELMSFORD: Excitement is in the air for this upcoming Quilt Show! After four years without a Quilt Show, members of Chelmsford Quilters Guild are hosting their 2022 Quilt Show. Show hours are Friday 10am-5pm & Saturday 10am-4pm. This exceptional show will feature over 100 Traditional, Modern, and Art quilts made by members who live in Chelmsford, Lowell and surrounding towns, Members’ Boutique, Raffle of Themed Baskets, Quilting demonstrations, Charity Quilt Raffle, Silent Auction of Mini-quilts, Show Vendors Bits N' Pieces Quilt Shoppe of Pelham NH and mobile shop The Quilting Bee of NH, and More! $8 admission; children under 12 are free. Wheelchair accessible and plenty of free parking! For more information, visit www.chelmsfordquiltguild.com.
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Greater Lowell Community Foundation Annual Meeting Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Doris Kearns Goodwin 

LOWELL: On June 2, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) will host its 25th Annual Meeting from 5pm to 7pm at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. The event will feature a conversation with presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a world-renowned presidential historian, public speaker, and Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times #1 best-selling author. Her seventh book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, was published in September 2018 to critical acclaim and became an instant New York Times bestseller. A culmination of Goodwin’s five-decade career of studying the American presidents focusing on Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Baines Johnson, the book provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field and all of us in our everyday lives.

“As we celebrate GLCF’s 25th anniversary, we are honored to welcome world-renowned historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her work brings to life some of our most successful presidents and provides insight for today’s leaders,” said Jay Linnehan. “As we reflect on a quarter-century of improving the lives of the Greater Lowell community through philanthropy, we are thankful for our supporters, partners, and grantees who have helped to make our work possible.”

Event tickets are $25, and registration is required. 100% of the ticket price will be directed to 25th GLCF Grants addressing essential needs in the Greater Lowell community. Limited in-person tickets are available. Register by May 26. To learn more about this event or to register, visit: https://www.glcfoundation.org/event/2022-annual-meeting-celebrating-25-years.
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MCC Alum Featured in “World of Music” Concert Series

LOWELL: Middlesex Community College will welcome the Dylan Jack Quartet for a performance as part of the Spring 2022 “A World of Music” concert series. The quartet is led by MCC Music alum and noted drummer Dylan Jack.

“It means so much to come back to MCC in a different role,” Jack said. “I’m coming back to the institution where it all started for me and I’m beyond ecstatic to share my passion with everyone at the place that set me up for my lifelong journey.” The Dylan Jack Quartet will play music from their new album “Period Pieces.”

About the album, Eric Snyder for JAZZIZ Magazine wrote, “This Boston quartet has conjured up a triumph. Hofbauer’s slurry acoustic guitar, Jerry Sabatini’s intrepid trumpet work, Tony Leva’s acoustic bass and trippy electronics, and Jack’s wonderfully musical drumming meld into a flowing suite of improvised pieces that move through spacey free improv, smoldering funk, warped bop.”

A 2008 graduate, Jack came to Middlesex to learn as much as he could about music. Crediting his professors for their encouragement in pursuing music, he is thankful for their guidance in expanding his perspectives, approach and style of music. He went on to earn a bachelor’s from the McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul, Minn. and a master’s from Modern American Music from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. Jack now teaches the History of Jazz at Emerson College.

The performance will take place at 3pm on April 10 at MCC’s Richard and Nancy Donahue Academic Arts Center in the Recital Hall, 240 Central Street. Middlesex requires all audience members to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

For more information about MCC’s Spring 2022 concert series, visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/worldofmusic/ or contact Rodríguez-Peralta at peraltac@middlesex.mass.edu or 781-280-3923. With parking not available on site, the nearest public parking facility is the Early Garage on 135 Middlesex Street. Visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/transportation/ for more information.

Garden Plot Lottery at the Chelmsford Senior Center

CHELMSFORD: Names are being taken for the Garden Plot Lottery at the Chelmsford Senior Center starting Friday, April 1 through Thursday, April 21.  Register for a chance to use half of a raised garden bed plot at the Center! Chelmsford seniors 60+ and Senior Center volunteers only. Winners will be called at noon on April 22. Call 978-251-0533 or email ndussault@chelmsfordma.gov to add your name.

"The Power of Angels" 2022 Kitty Angels Fundraiser

AMHERST, NH: Plans are in the works for another fabulous fundraiser for Kitty Angels, Inc. This year’s event will take place on April 30 and May 1 from 9am-5pm. The kitties and vendors have taken the necessary precautions and are excited to have you get out of the house and come visit with them  for some fabulous finds, great “free” entertainment and most important of all, to help Kitty Angels! The weekend festivities are being held at Treasures Antiques, 106 Ponemah Road (Rt. 122).

Look for all your favorite vendors, including artist Eric Nickola, dba WolfpacStudios, Artist Lori-Ellen Budenas of Respect the Wood, Monica Gesualdo of Trading Faces, Food Vendor  B’s Grumman Grub, Jewelry designers - Freedom Jewelry & Heart’s Design Jewelry. Forever Clean Soaps, Morel Woodworking, Baby Snuggz, SoGo Metal Art, Scroll-N-Tole, Happy Cat Creations, Vinyl Revival, Dusty Finds, The Spirit of Cacao, Puckerbrush Life, Anthony Acres, Color Street, Paws & Spas, Heavenly Goddess, Usborne Books, Fudge & Stuff, Lynda’s Felted Critters, Tupperware, Custom Care Designs, Amherst Animal Hospital and many more. Updates will be made when available. Interested in becoming a vendor at the event? Contact Sherry or Rick at (603) 672-2535.

The bands and soloists for the event, consist of keyboardist/band member Joey Peavey, Side Effects, Diamond Edge Band, North Sound Duo, Levi Maxwell with Jeff Damon, Sunset Rhythm and Wildwood.

Featured throughout the fundraising weekend and into the month of June, is an electrifying raffle of numerous and diverse prizes, all generously donated by local and national businesses, professional sports teams, private individuals and some of the awesome on-site vendors.

Kitty Angels, Inc. is the sole beneficiary of this event. They are a no-kill cat shelter and are made up of all unpaid volunteers, dedicated to rescuing stray and abandoned cats and kittens, furnishing them with treatment for injuries or other health issues and then placing them into new forever homes with compatible owners. They are a non-profit, 501(C) 3 charitable corporation where all donations are fully tax-deductible and every penny of every donation is used in the caring of cats.

End Hunger New England Announces Plan to Send up to 1 Million Meals to Ukraine & Refugee Centers

PEMBROKE: EndHungerNE announced that it has started a funding campaign to package and ship up to one-million meals to Ukraine and refugee centers in surrounding countries. The plan is to raise $350,00 in the next 2 months. All of the money tagged for the Ukraine will be used for food. 

Matthew Martin, the organization’s Development Coordinator stated, “We have been working on this for a while and just coordinated with a shipping and distribution partner to get our meals overseas. The situation in Ukraine is dire, our volunteers and supporters have been asking if we were going to get involved – and the answer to that is YES! We’ll start packaging this weekend.”

“The financial and volunteer support we have experienced over the past two years has been incredible. Over 1200 volunteers are regularly showing up at our Pembroke facility – brownie troops, high schoolers and sports teams, local civic and church groups, seniors – it's just been amazing! The more funding we can acquire, the more meals our volunteers can pack.” 

To make a donation or volunteer, please visit www.endhungerne.org. Checks can be made out to The Outreach Program (parent non-profit of EndHunger NE) and sent to 93 Whiffletree Lane, Marshfield, MA 02050. Please write Ukraine on the memo line and please check with your company to see if they offer a corporate match or are seeking to support the mission of EndHungerNE.

Compost Bins and Rain Barrels for Sale for Chelmsford Residents

CHELMSFORD: Are you interested in being more sustainable at you home? The Town of Chelmsford has partnered with EnviroWorld to offer its residents Backyard Compost Bins for $30 and Rain Barrels for $70. You can pre-order online at www.enviroworld.us/chelmsford with debit or credit cards by March 20. Orders will be available for pick up on March 26 from 9am-1pm, at the DPW, 9 Alpha Road..

GLCF awards more than $30K in Grants from Afghan Resettlement Fund

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LOWELL: The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) announced it had granted $30,300 to five 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. The fund assists 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.

“As Afghan refugees and evacuees continue to arrive in our community, the GLCF Afghan Resettlement Fund is supporting area nonprofits providing the critical support needed to welcome and resettle this population,” said Jay Linnehan, GLCF’s President and CEO. “This work is ongoing, and we are so grateful to our generous donors who support these important resettlement efforts.”

Recipients of grants from the GLCF Afghan Resettlement Fund include:
  • Andover Islamic Center - $5,000 for Afghan refugee clothing, technology, assistance with resume writing, career placement, and transportation in Lowell
  • International Institute of New England (Lowell) - $10,000 for Afghan Resettlement
  • Mill City Grows - $5,000 for ROOT Kitchen to cook, prep and pack traditional Afghan meals.
  • Open Table, Inc. (Maynard) – $8,000 for Afghan Meal Program with IINE (Lowell)
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security - $2,300 for filing fees for humanitarian parole

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.

Award-Winning Poet to Speak on Writing to MCC Students

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LOWELL: Dedicated to guiding students to success, Middlesex Community Colleges provides opportunities inside and outside of the classroom that allow them to explore their potential careers, interests and fields of study. Middlesex will host poet Dr. Sandra Lim as part of the college’s Visiting Writers Series, in which the poet will speak with students on writing and share her work.

"There are many things to talk about with students these days, but I am happy to talk with them about what gifts poetry confers,” Lim said. “Mainly, I hope I can simply reflect on how certain poems come alive to me, and that the enthusiasm catches – the enthusiasm may then lead students into the deepest reaches of a work of art."

Lim’s event will take place in the Lowell Campus Federal Building Assembly Room at 12:30pm on March 2. The author of three books of poetry, she is a professor of English and teaches creative writing at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In addition to her three books – “Loveliest Grotesque” (Kore, 2006), “The Wilderness” (W.W. Norton, 2014), and “The Curious Thing” (W.W. Norton, 2021) – Lim’s poems have appeared in journals such as The New York Review of Books, Poetry, Literary Imagination, The Baffler, The New Republic, The Yale Review, and The New York Times Magazine, among others. Her poems and essays have also been included in the anthologies Among Margins: An Anthology on Aesthetics (Ricochet, 2016), The Echoing Green (The Modern Library, 2016), The Poem’s Country (Pleiades, 2018), and Counterclaims: Poets and Poetries (Dalkey Archive Press, 2020).

For her work, she received a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Awards in Literature, the Levis Reading Prize and Barnard Women Poets Prize for “The Wilderness,” a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio center, the Jentel Foundation, and the Getty Research Institute.

MCC Visiting Writers Series is co-sponsored by the Creative Writing Program and the Office of Student Engagement. Contact StudentEngagement@middlesex.mass.edu or call 978-656-3363 or visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/english/creative.aspx for more information.

Women Working Wonders Fund Award $10,000 in Mini-Grants to Local Nonprofits Impacting Women and Girls

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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 $10,000 in mini-grants. These grants will support local nonprofit programs that empower women and girls to effect positive change in the community.

“As we have worked hard to continue to grow our endowment, we have the privilege to increase grant support to our community beyond our annual grant cycle each summer,” said Carolyn Gregoire, Women Working Wonders Fund board president. “COVID-19 has increased the needs of the community, and WWWF is responding by providing $10,000 in mini-grants to help area nonprofits during this challenging time.”

Recipients of 2022 WWW mini-grants include:
  • Coalition for A Better Acre (Lowell) - $1,000 for the Acre Dance Group
  • Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell - $2,000 for Mental Health First Aid Training for Staff
  • Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust - $1,000 for Women in Stewardship
  • The Megan's House Foundation (Lowell) - $1,000 for Travel Subsidies
  • Whistler House Museum of Art (Lowell) - $2,000 for Building Repairs
  • The Wish Project (North Chelmsford) - $1,000 for new bras and underwear
  • Women Accelerators (Lowell Chapter)- $2,000 for Accelerating Women Leadership Program

“We are thrilled to receive a 2022 Women Working Wonders Fund Mini-grant. This timely grant will be used to support our Accelerating Women Leadership program, which will be starting in March,” said Susu Wong, co-founder of Women Accelerators. “This program is designed to equip female leaders with the specific strategies, mindsets, and behaviors they will need to confidently lead themselves and others as they advance within their organizations.”

WWWF provides annual grants in three key areas: assist women in transition, provide leadership development as well as contribute to the beautification of the environment. Established in 2004, the fund has granted nearly $300,000 to nonprofits supporting women and girls in the Greater Lowell area.

PHOTO: The Wish Project received a 2022 Women Working Wonders Mini-grant to support the purchase of new bras and underwear for clients. Pictured, Wish Project staff member Brandy Dailey sorting underwear.

Middlesex CC’s Theatre Department Returns to Live Performances

LOWELL: Curtain times for Middlesex Community College’s production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are 7pm on Friday, February 11 and Saturday, February 12, and 2pm on Sunday, February 13. “Shakespeare is back,” said Karen Oster, MCC’s Chair of Performing Arts. “We are excited to be presenting this production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to you. It is so important that every theatre student have the opportunity to take part in a Shakespearean play. Therefore, every other fall theatre program at Middlesex has been presenting one of Shakespeare’s works.”  Shakespeare’s play features five connecting stories centered around the wedding of the Duke of Athens Theseus and the Amazon Queen Hippolyta. One of Shakespeare’s comedies, the play is based in the woodlands of the fictional Fairyland and set under the moonlight.

Oster – who is the director of the play – emphasizes that the college will be following strict health and safety guidelines for performers and audience members based on state mandated COVID-19 protocols. Because of the pandemic, she has chosen projects that allow performers to remain safely distanced while on stage. Throughout the first part of the pandemic, Middlesex was able to successfully put on livestreamed and socially distanced productions. The show’s cast and crew – including MCC Studio Arts and Technical Theatre student Jade Gordon who is designing the lights and costumes for the show – is excited to return to performances in front of a live audience.

“After over a year performing with livestreamed audiences in a silent, empty theatre, I can’t express how excited I am to know the cast and crew’s hard work on ‘Midsummer’ will be presented to an in-person audience,” Gordon said. “Karen has done a wonderful job keeping our
community tight-knit and forward gazing throughout the pandemic, but there’s nothing quite like the promise of hearing real, live laughter to inspire us to all bring our best work to the stage.”

The performances will take place at MCC’s Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center. Tickets are limited. Visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/performingarts/ for more information or contact  mmcarthy21@mail.middlesex.edu to reserve tickets. The Arts Center is located at 240 Central Street. With parking not available on site, the nearest public parking facility is the Early Garage on 135 Middlesex Street. Visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/transportation/ for more information.
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Pre-order Period for At-home Covid-19 Tests Has Begun

The Biden Administration is offering free rapid tests to all residents in the United States. The pre-order period for the at-home COVID-19 tests via www.covidtests.gov has begun. Every household in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free and will usually ship in 7-12 days. Please visit www.covidtests.gov to submit an order and learn more.

Greater Lowell Community Foundation Seeks Request for Proposals for 2022 Discretionary Grant Cycles & Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund

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LOWELL: The Greater Lowell Community Foundation will open its 2022 Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund and Discretionary Grant Cycles on February 2 and is seeking requests for proposals from nonprofit organizations. The Foundation will award $160,000 through the Discretionary Grant Cycle. Funding areas for 2022 include children’s services, elder services and racial equity/inclusion.

Non-profit 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.

Additionally, GLCF will open its 2022 Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund Cycle on February 2. The foundation seeks requests for proposals from non-profit organizations supporting the advancement of community health of residents in the following GLCF communities: Ashby, Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, and Westford. The Foundation will award $80,000 through this grant program.

Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund Cycle grant awards will range from $5,000 up to $20,000; however, larger scale collaborative projects that are more than $20,000 will be considered if the funding request is justified by the impact of the project. Of particular interest are proposals that address systemic issues like (but not limited to) addiction/ substance abuse, domestic violence, food insecurity, mental health, suicide screening and prevention, obesity, racial equity and inclusion and other specific issues as indicated by community needs.

Grant applications for both grant opportunities must be submitted by noon on March 4, 2022. Grant recipients will be announced in May. More information is available on the foundation’s website: www.glcfoundation.org.

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

Established in 1997, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) is a philanthropic organization comprised of more than 390 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.

PHOTO: Catie’s Closet, Inc. received a past Discretionary Children’s Grant to support their Lowell program. Pictured, Catie’s Closet volunteers with special request bags packed with urgently needed items for children.
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The MCC Foundation Invites the Community to “Take a Seat!”

LOWELL: “The work that the Middlesex Community College Foundation does makes such a difference in the lives of Middlesex students, and that is all thanks to our wonderful and generous donors,” said Judy Burke, MCC’s Executive Director of Institutional Advancement.

The MCC Foundation is inviting the community to “take a seat!” and donate to the college’s Aspire fundraising campaign in support of students, arts programming at Middlesex, and MCC’s Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center, which opened in 2018. Raising funds, connecting to the community, and supporting students is at the heart of both the missions of the MCC Foundation and Middlesex Community College, according to Burke.

“The Foundation raises money for student scholarships, provides opportunities for engagement inside and outside of the classroom, and creates and maintains spaces for our students to learn and thrive,” Burke said. “Often, this means the difference in a student’s ability to  complete their education, transfer to their next school, or enter the workforce equipped with the skills they need to be successful.”

Gifts donated as part of the “Take a Seat!” campaign can be made in honor of a family member, business or friend whose name will be engraved on a specially crafted metal plate and placed on a seat in the Academic Arts Center Theatre or Recital Hall.

“The Take-a-Seat effort offers our faculty, staff, students, alumni, College for Kids alumni and their parents an opportunity to share in the history of the Academic Arts Center, as well as the vision of the future,” said Sherri McCormack, MCC’s  Dean of Advancement. “By purchasing a
named seat, remembering a loved one, or honoring someone special, donors ensure that the state-of-the-art facility will remain so for many years to come.”

MCC’s Academic Arts Center holds classroom and performance spaces for the college’s theatre, music and dance programs, as well as space for multi-purpose activities. The center provides
space for educational activities serving Middlesex students, including College for Kids summer programming, the Lowell community and public-school system, the National Park Service, and other public and private agencies and organizations who partner with the college.

The Academic Arts Center Theatre holds 190 seats, while the Recital Hall has 103 seats. Donors can choose which space they would like their seat, based on availability. Each seat is a $750 donation. For more information, contact Judy Burke at burkej@middlesex.mass.edu.

While the tax-deductible contribution does not reserve a seat at any performance, the donation highlights the donor’s generosity in supporting local arts and cultural programming.
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Free classes for Retirees!

LOWELL: The Learning in Retirement Association’s Zoom Intersession classes are free for all retirees. It’s always fun to learn new things and some of these will likely interest you.

1. Mount Washington Observatory: Home of the World's Worst Weather, presented by the observatory’s staff.  2. The Wyeths: An American Artistic Dynasty.  3. Volcanos, join Assistant Professor Richard Gasching and learn about the most volcanically active place on earth.  4. Banding Northern Saw-whet Owls at Lookout Rock.  5. Green Fertilizer, three UMass, Lowell graduate students developed fertilizer from air, water, and solar energy.  6. Railroads in the Western USA, from the transcontinental railroad to today’s essential transport system.  7. Cool Science is about climate change and extreme weather, presented by Associate Professor Jill Lohmeier.  8.  Japanese Dolls and the Friendship Exchange and “All About Ginny.”  9.  Turner’s Modern World - the British artist JMW Turner's career spanned tumultuous changes in Europe.  10. The Behavior of Cephalopods (Octopus, Squid, and Cuttlefish) by Professor Jane Boal.  11. Book discussions on Sapiens by Yuval Noah, and Hamnet by Maggi O’Farrell.

For more detailed class descriptions with dates and times for these free Zoom classes: www.uml.edu/LIRA then click on Course Schedules.

Guests, to receive the links for the free Zoom classes, email your full name with code AU1 to LIRA@uml.edu.
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MCC and Living the Dream Partners to Host Virtual MLK Jr. Event

LOWELL: “Social progress is never attained by passive waiting. It comes only through the tireless efforts and passionate concern of dedicated individuals,” said Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his address delivered at the National Biennial Convention of the American Jewish Congress on May 14, 1958 in Miami Beach, Florida.  For over 20 years, the Living the Dream Event has celebrated the teachings and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., first started by Lura Smith and family, and the Middlesex Community College Foundation. 

A time for reflection and inspiration, at the 2022 virtual event, the Living the Dream Partners and Middlesex Community College invite the community to “take action” and do something meaningful inspired by Dr. King’s “Living the Dream.”

“From the teachings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we have learned that even small actions lead to big changes,” said the Living the Dream Partners. “As we focus on creating a more equitable community, standing up for civil rights, and fighting against institutional racism, it is important that we not only ‘take action,’ but motivate others to do so as well.”

The celebration seeks to highlight the ways in which community members’ daily actions make a positive change in the lives of others. This year’s event will take place at 1pm on Monday, January 17, 2022, streaming on YouTube. 

Darcy Orellana, MCC’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, emphasizes the importance of 'intentionally participating in ongoing racial healing learning and practice.' “This program has a history of bringing us together for the day,” Orellana said. “This year, we are called to action beyond just the day to envision what the community might look, feel and be like when racism is ended. Through relationship building, truth-telling and healing, we have the foundations for racial equity and transformative change together.”

"It is an honor and a privilege to serve as a partner and sponsor of the Living the Dream celebration to honor the life and legacy of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Susan West Levine, CEO, Lowell Community Health Center. “It is an opportunity for us all to collectively renew our commitment to anti-racism and to continue to take bold steps, both large and small, in support of a just and equitable community."  

This year’s event will recognize four Living the Dream Together Award recipients for their service to the community and will feature musical and dance performances as well as pledges and reflections from across the community.  Visit https://livingthedreampartners.org/ for more information about the Living the Dream Partners, volunteer opportunities in the community, and sponsorship opportunities to go toward supporting student success.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Winter Advisory Regarding Face Coverings

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This Advisory has been updated as of December 21,  2021.

COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine boosters are highly effective at protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death and every individual who is eligible and works, studies or resides in Massachusetts is strongly urged to get vaccinated and boosted. The Department of Public Health urges all eligible residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because vaccination provides the most effective protection from severe illness associated with COVID-19.

In response to the spread of the Delta variant and the emerging Omicron variant, the Department of Public Health now advises that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in your own home). The DPH particularly urges this recommendation if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.

Your primary care physician can advise you whether you are at increased risk.  Information from the Centers for Disease Control regarding the conditions that may put you at increased risk can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html.

All people in Massachusetts (regardless of vaccination status) are required to continue wearing face coverings in certain settings, including transportation and health care facilities.  Please see www.mass.gov/maskrules for a complete list of venues where face coverings have remained mandatory since May 29, 2021.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s current mask requirement and Policy on Vaccination Rate Threshold issued on September 27th, 2021 is not impacted by this advisory.  As a result of the most comprehensive and robust school testing program in the country, with 99% of public, collaborative and charter districts enrolled, Massachusetts elementary and secondary schools remain open and safe for children and youth to engage in learning, with over 325,000 school days saved. Only schools who can demonstrate they have high vaccination rates of over 80% of all individuals vaccinated are able to remove masks for vaccinated individuals upon a written attestation.
For individuals who are not fully vaccinated, it is especially important that you wear a face covering or mask any time you are indoors and not in your own home to reduce the chance that you may spread COVID-19 to other people. People who show no symptoms of illness may still be able to spread COVID-19.

An individual is fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. However, if a fully vaccinated individual becomes symptomatic, they should be tested and wear a mask until receiving test results.
When you wear a face covering or cloth mask, it should:
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops,
  • Include multiple layers of fabric,
  • Allow for breathing without restriction, and
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

For more information, please refer to the CDC at: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html

Advent Invitation from Central Congregational Church

CHELMSFORD: Everyone has had their own experience through these past Covid months. For some it has been a time of great upheaval, loss, grief, disconnection. As we slowly tiptoe towards our new normal, many are finding themselves a bit adrift, uncertain, isolated, discontented, sad. Even beyond the impact of Covid, December has long been a difficult month. Our bodies mourn the lack of sunlight as the winter darkness creeps in; for many, the Christmas season brings strong memories of pain, loss or frustration.  This time of year coincides with the Church’s liturgical season of Advent.

Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for Christmas. It is a season of hope in the darkness. This year, Central Congregational Church is inviting anyone who is isolated, in mourning, feeling untethered; or who simply wants to hear the Christmas hymns again that they remember from their childhood to on the four Sundays of Advent. You do not need to believe, or donate money, or feel an expectation to attend regularly. As a mission to the community, the Church would like to offer up a safe, sacred space for any who would benefit from being in a community, listening to beautiful music and having a space to simply be. All are welcome. 

Recognizing that walking into a new Church can be exceptionally difficult, while you are welcome to visit the Church every Sunday, you may also wish to call Pastor Rich Knight to arrange to have someone meet you at the door and - if you wish - sit with you and help guide you through the service. You may also simply slip into the back pew or the balcony. Regardless of how you choose to visit, please wear a mask for the safety of all. 

If you are feeling adrift and disconnected, think about participating in these four weeks of expectant hope. Hope is something that we all need right now. Four Sundays of Peace, Hope and beautiful music – November 28, December 5, 12 and 19.

Four Sundays of Peace, Hope and beautiful music – November 28, December 5, 12 and 19 - 10:00AM at Central Congregational Church, UCC, 1 Worthen Street. To speak to Pastor Rich Knight or for more information, call (978) 256 5931.
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GLCF Scholarships Enable Donors to Give Back

LOWELL: A local business looking to hire engineers set up a scholarship program to help bring more woman into the field. A 24-year-old started a modest scholarship, funded in part by walking the Appalachian Trail, to help students at her high school pursue college degrees. Anonymous donors endowed a two-year scholarship for community college students after being inspired by the generosity of a complete stranger.

These are just a few of the unique scholarships the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) has helped benevolent individuals, groups and businesses set up over the years – all with the goal of giving back to their communities. “The Foundation manages about 400 scholarships per year,” said Jay Linnehan, GLCF President & CEO. “Education is a big part of our mission. It is, and always will be, a gateway to success.”

Scholarships can be as varied as the students they benefit, added Howard Amidon, GLCF’s Vice President of Philanthropy. And it’s his job to make donors’ wishes come true. “I work with individuals and businesses to support their philanthropic goals,” Amidon explained. That can mean helping donors who reach out to the Foundation with very specific plans for a scholarship. Or working closely with altruistic individuals who don’t always have all the details figured out. “Sometimes donors come in and say, ‘I want to do something good, but I don’t have anything specific in mind.’ In that case, we ask them, ‘What are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish?’ ”

Amidon is particularly excited about GLCF’s new Verda Annan Scholarship. It was established in honor of Verda Tetteh (pictured, now Verda Annan), then a 17-year-old Harvard-bound student who graduated from Fitchburg High School last June. At her graduation ceremony, Annan spontaneously declined the $40,000 FHS General Excellence Award she had just won. Instead, she asked the administration to pass on the award to a student – or students -- headed to community college who needed it more than she did.

After reading about Annan’s story, Amidon explained, a couple contacted GLCF with a unique request. “They wanted to emulate Verda’s generosity by establishing a two-year scholarship to help support graduating Lowell High School students go on to community college.” And, he added, the donors wanted to name the scholarship in honor of Annan, while they remained anonymous. Beginning this spring, the Verda Annan Scholarship will award $2,500 a year for two years to a qualified LHS student planning to attend any community college.

“These very generous people were inspired by someone they didn’t know, and saw that as a way to give back,” said GLCF President Linnehan. “They have succeeded because of their educations, and community colleges are very important to them. And, over time, as their endowment grows, this scholarship will grow, too.”

Annan, who changed her last name when she turned 18 to match her mother’s, was totally surprised when she learned about the prospect of an endowed scholarship established in her name. “My jaw dropped,” she said. “I’m so honored. When I initially gave up the FHS scholarship, I never imagined my actions would have a ripple effect. These donors went out of their way to be so generous and to help more students.”

Annan is also pleased the scholarship supports community college students. “When I was applying to colleges, there was a huge emphasis on being the ‘perfect’ student. We were advised that we needed to have a 4.0 GPA, be active in student government, in clubs, and play a sport. “But I understand that a good student who can be successful in college may not always check all those boxes,” she said. “And they may not have the resources to be engaged in those kinds of activities.”

With the help of a GLCF scholarship, local students can keep moving forward, said Linnehan. “It’s a privilege for the Foundation to help donors create scholarships to provide the resources these talented students need to continue their education.” To learn more about GLCF scholarships, visit: glcfoundation.org.
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Chelmsford Community Bad Returns to Live Indoor Concerts

CHELMSFORD: The Chelmsford Community Band will return to live indoor concerts on Sunday, December 12.  Join them for a musical holiday excursion: bundle up in your sleigh, listen to the bells, enjoy the lights, and feel the warmth of shared joy in beloved traditions and new favorites.  The music starts at 2pm at the McCarthy Middle School on North Road.  Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted to help support the band’s rehearsal space and sheet music purchases.  Suggested donations at the door are $5 for children and seniors and $10 for others. There will be seasonal raffle prizes available as well.  Masking will be required in the school.

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. 
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Middlesex CC’s Theatre Department Returns to Live Performances 

LOWELL: “Shakespeare is back,” said Karen Oster, Middlesex Community College’s Chair of Performing Arts. “We are excited to be presenting this production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to you. It is so important that every theatre student have the opportunity to take part in a Shakespearean play. Therefore, every other fall theatre program at Middlesex has been presenting one of Shakespeare’s works.”

William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” features five connecting stories centered around the wedding of the Duke of Athens Theseus and the Amazon Queen Hippolyta. One of Shakespeare’s comedies, the play is based in the woodlands of the fictional Fairyland and set under the moonlight. Oster – who is the director of the play – emphasizes that the college will be following strict health and safety guidelines for performers and audience members based on state mandated COVID-19 protocols. Because of the pandemic, she has chosen projects that allow performers to remain safely distanced while on stage. 

Throughout the first part of the pandemic, Middlesex was able to successfully put on livestreamed and socially distanced productions. The show’s cast and crew – including MCC Studio Arts and Technical Theatre student Jade Gordon who is designing the lights and costumes for the show – is excited to return to performances in front of a live audience. 
“After over a year performing with livestreamed audiences in a silent, empty theatre, I can’t express how excited I am to know the cast and crew’s hard work on ‘Midsummer’ will be presented to an in-person audience,” Gordon said. “Karen has done a wonderful job keeping our community tight-knit and forward gazing throughout the pandemic, but there’s nothing quite like the promise of hearing real, live laughter to inspire us to all bring our best work to the stage.”

Curtain times for MCC’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are 7pm on December 9, 10 and 11, as well as 2pm on December 12. The performances will take place at MCC’s Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center, 240 Central Street. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for MCC faculty and staff, and free for all Middlesex students. Visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/performingarts/ for more information or contact mmcarthy21@mail.middlesex.edu to buy tickets.

With parking not available on site, the nearest public parking facility is the Early Garage on 135 Middlesex Street. Visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/transportation/ for more information.

Hybrid Holiday Faire at Aldersgate UMC

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CHELMSFORD: Aldersgate UMC in Chelmsford, 242 Boston Road, is hosting its annual Holiday Faire both online and in person this year. From November 29 through December 4, use the link http://bidpal.net/aumcfaire2021 to:
  • Purchase wreaths & swags online
  • Bid on knitting & other craft items online 
  • Bid on items offered through the silent auction (bidding ends at 2pm on Saturday)

You can also contact the church office to place an order by phone at 978.256.9400 or email at aldersgatechelmsford@verizon.net. Payments may be made online with a credit card or by check or cash when items are picked up.
On December 4 from 10am to 2pm, visit the faire in person for a limited selection of wreaths, swags, centerpieces, crafts, and “grab and go” baked goods.All items can be picked up at the church on Sunday, December 5, between 11am and 3pm.

Note: Masks must be worn at all times while in the church building.  For more information, visit www.aldersgateumc.us.

Domestic Violence Roundtable Invites You to Support Holiday Drives for Families Affected by Abuse

Each year the Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable sponsors a family for the holidays, and each year we invite our local communities to become involved in making the holidays brighter for families affected by domestic violence. Families in shelter for the holidays face a sad and difficult time as they are separated from family and friends and are hiding from their abusers.

The Covid 19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but it has been especially difficult for families affected by abuse. With the help of our local communities, these families can have happy holidays. There are a number of ways that you can help. Sponsoring a family can be a wonderful way for you and your family to do something together to help others. You can also involve extended family, neighbors, and friends. Or perhaps your colleagues at work, your book club, scout troop, civic organization, or club would like to organize a collection. Your participation in a holiday drive can help relieve the stress and depression that overcome shelter families at this time of year. The support that comes from the community at this time of year reinforces their decisions to seek safety and end violence in their lives. Each gift, each donation, each good holiday wish has a positive effect on their self-esteem and boosts their spirits.

Three local agencies offer services and programs for families affected by domestic violence. All of these programs conduct a Holiday Drive. For further information about how you might help, please contact:

Holiday drives start early so that agencies have time to process donations. In some cases, gift cards are being collected so families can shop and wrap their presents. Call now to see how you can help.