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

HEADLINES

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Click HERE to vote for February's featured!

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

GLCF Seeks Request for Proposals for 2023 Discretionary Grant Cycles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The team includes: David Butz, a self-educated living encyclopedia of nuclear energy, past, present and future; Carolyn McCreary, Ph.D, who served two terms on the Ayer Select Board and led the town to become a Green Community; Dale Levandier, Ph.D., a chemist with knowledge of nuclear physics; and other scientists and environmental activists.
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PCA Art Gallery Features an Exhibition of Local Artists

WESTFORD: PCA Art Gallery Features an exhibition of local artists with a Reception on February 5 from noon-2:30pm. Unique collection of paintings and photography by accomplished area artists.  The Artist of the Month Gallery is pleased to welcome six artists, members of the PCA Art Gallery Committee, working in a variety of media including oils, watercolors, acrylics, mixed media and fine art photography. The exhibition runs from January 30 until February 26, with the gallery open each Sunday from noon to 2pm. Call (978) 692-6333 for more information.

Ronald Hubbard is a local Artist from Westford. He has been making Art for over 40 years after receiving a BFA degree from Boston University School of Fine Arts. Ron is very excited to share his current work in which he seeks to examine and learn to see in a deeper way the possibilities and beauty in the everyday spaces and objects.

Rebecca Hurman enjoys developing mixed media and collage compositions using acrylics, paper, and items found in and around her home in Westford. She was recently awarded 2nd place in the 2022 Westford Regional Art Event for her piece “Summer Solstice”.

Jack McCrossan is a Groton photographer best known for his scenic New England images printed on archival silver halide paper. His training includes Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts and Maine Media Workshops & College.

Gretchen Warsen grew up near the coast of Maine. She studied art at Bates College and spent one semester in Rome with the Tyler School of Art. She left a graphic design job to be a mom for several years before becoming a professional artist and now works out of her home studio in Westford.

Alice Phalen--Alice Phalen works in a variety of media but mainly acrylic and watercolor. She  grew up in NYC wandering the various museums and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in fine art from Hunter College. She focuses her subject interests on the relationship of objects in space and the effects of light —in scenery, still life and portraits.

Thomas Briere is a fine art photographer whose subject interests include discovering artistic forms and simplicity found in landscapes, found objects and still life compositions.
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PCA Gallery Presents Brooke Lambert & Kurt Hanss

WESTFORD: Artists Brooke Lambert and Kurt Hanss have come together to present a new, high color duo exhibition at Parish Center for the Arts Gallery: Aqua Terra, February 28-March 28. This exhibition of new paintings and original collagraph prints is a vibrant exploration of land and sea through color and design using both representational and abstract imagery.  Aqua Terra is on view from February 28 - March 28. The Opening Reception will be held on March 3 from 6-9pm at the Parish Center for the Arts, 10 Lincoln Street. The Gallery will be open to guests on Sundays from 2-4pm.

Lambert’s work is largely influenced by the emotions and memories of natural environments and the ocean – the floating shadows you see submerged underneath a wave, the red tinge behind your eyelids while lifting your face to the sun, the pattern of a honeycomb or a fishing net, and all the beautiful shapes, forms, and color in nature. Her collagraph prints are made using discarded and recycled materials, such as string and plastic netting, the very materials that are choking the ocean. It is Brooke’s hope that the moments of unexpected beauty captured in her images inspire a deeper appreciation of the natural world and her use of sustainable practices encourage us all to protect our environment. Lambert is a professional printmaker and painter. She received her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and has shown her work widely in New England, New York, and beyond. She is currently represented by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition Gallery in New York and is sponsored by Akua Inks and Speedball Art Products. Brooke teaches adult art classes in MA, ME, & NH. Her work can be found in Western Avenue Studios in Studio 447 and online at www.brookelambertartist.com.

Kurt Hanss is a painter and maker currently working out of Lowell. His  current creative focus has been painting, and his work has recently included exciting new experiments with color theory and design. Kurt’s work invokes a sense of vibrant movement, combining kaleidoscopic colors in unexpected ways to breathe life into favorite objects and refreshing scenes. Some of his preferred subjects include vintage vehicles, machinery, and iconic New England landmarks. Raised in Rochester NY, Hanss began his studies in art at a young age. He went on to study painting and Art History at Alfred University, in Alfred NY. Kurt has a studio presence at Western Ave Studios in Lowell, MA. He teaches art at the Essex Art Center in Lawrence and throughout New England. His work can be found online at www.hanssart.com.
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The Late Risers Perform New Orleans-style Jazz at The Parish Center

WESTFORD: The Late Risers are bringing their New Orleans-style high energy jazz to The Parish Center for the Arts in Westford on January 28 at 7:30pm. The Late Risers perform music of the 1920s-40s and original compositions inspired by this American musical tradition. Whether playing at concert halls, swing dances or while strolling the streets of Boston, the Late Risers elicit smiling faces and dancing feet from their audiences. Tickets are available in advance at pcawestford.org  for $20 general; $17 for PCA members/ seniors; and also available at the door (cash/credit). Doors open at 7pm. There will be candlelit cafe-style seating and attendees are encouraged to BYO snacks/drinks. Free Street Parking available along Lincoln St., at the former fire station parking lot on the right, and across the street in JV Fletcher library parking lot (in rear of library). More info about The Late Risers online at www.thelaterisers.com.

Local Students Named to Dean's List at Fitchburg State

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

Acton / Boxborough / Maynard
Catherine Abrams
Yilver A. Aguilera

Zainabu A. Bosungmeh 
Joseph D. Ditavi
Abderrahmane Garchali 

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

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

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

Concord / Carlisle / Bedford
David P. Eisenberg 
Shujiao Liu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friends of the J.V. Fletcher Library Book Sale 2/10-12

WESTFORD: The Friends of the J.V. Fletcher Library Inc. will be holding a book sale on February 11 from 10am-5pm and February 12 from 2pm-4pm in the meeting room of the J.V. Fletcher Library at 50 Main Street. Sunday’s sale will be a $5 bag sale, purchase a bag at the door for entry. There will be a preview sale for Friends members only on February 10 from 6:30-9pm. Memberships will be available for purchase at the door. Please note that scanners may not be used on Friday but are welcome on Saturday and Sunday. The sale will include thousands of books plus CDs, audio books, blu-ray discs, and DVDs. We accept credit card payments in addition to checks and cash.

The Friends are looking for more books for this sale. Please consider donating your unwanted books, audio books, CDs, DVDs, or Blu-ray materials to the Friends for the direct benefit of the library and the community of Westford. These materials can be dropped off at the left-hand door just inside the library’s rear entrance. If the library is closed, just drop your donations in the collection box that is located near the back door of the library. Tax deduction forms are available at the library’s main desk. The Friends of the J.V. Fletcher Library appreciates your support. 100% of the proceeds from all book sales directly benefit our library. Approximately 95% of the books offered at these sales are donated by Westford residents.
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St. Mark’s Chocolate Festival TO GO! Returns

WESTFORD: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church will again sell delicious boxes of homemade chocolate desserts to raise money for local food pantries in a creative take on its long-running Chocolate Festival. Boxes homemade chocolate desserts can be purchased online (www.st-mark.org/chocolate) and then picked up at the church on February 11 from 1-4pm. Only 200 boxes will be available, last year selling out before the Festival, so patrons are encouraged to order early to avoid disappointment.

As usual, local businesses are stepping up to donate prizes for the Chocolate Festival raffle. This year there will be TWO raffles:
 
  • A premium raffle for $5 per ticket for a chance to win an overnight stay at the Groton Inn with breakfast and a $50 gift certificate to Gibbet Hill Grill in Groton; gift certificates to five local lunch places; and dinner and a movie for your sweetheart – two tickets to O’Neil Cinema in Littleton and a $50 gift card to Burton’s Grill and Bar;
  • A general raffle for $2 per ticket and win one of 25 prizes donated by other local businesses. For a full list (updated daily with new prizes), visit www.st-mark.org/pages/chocolate-festival-raffle-prizes.

Winning tickets will be pulled at 4:30pm on the day of the festival and broadcast on Facebook Live.

All proceeds benefit the Westford Food Pantry, Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at Devens, St. Paul’s Soup Kitchen in Lowell, and St Mark’s building fund, which supports low-cost community use of its facilities. For more information, visit www.st-mark.org/chocolate.St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is located at 75 Cold Spring Road.
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Historical Lecture on World Famous Beryl Mountain

WESTFORD: Jim Pecora, “the Rock Guy” will present a historical lecture on the world-famous Beryl Mountain (South Acworth, NH) on January 15 at 1:30pm at Westford Museum, 2 Boston Road. Suggested program donation $10 per person. For more information, visit https://museum.westford.org/events/visit-with-the-jim-pecora-the-rock-guy

Pecora’s Mica Mine Schoolhouse Museums exhibit on hard rock mining at the Westford Museum ends this month. Learn how and why one mining locality in Southwestern New Hampshire began the “Nuclear Age,” made the first three atomic bombs possible, and decades later initiated the ending of the “Cold War”. It’s an exhibit on the four commercially mined minerals of Southwestern New Hampshire, and the historical items made from these minerals. Tools of the trade donated by “The Thomas Companies,” formerly of Spofford (NH). Carl Thomas was the owner of this mine for decades. His daughter, Lynn Thomas donated her father's mineral collection and tools of the trade to mine hard rocks. Dynamite and blasting tools are on display, historical to modern day.


Jim Pecora, known as "The NH Rock Guy" is Founder of the New England Mineral Museum – a portal to the History, Geology, Gemology, & Lapidary Arts of New England. He is a Mining Historian, Lapidarist and Jeweler. Pecora is the Executive Director of the New England Mineral Museum (NEMM), a New Hampshire Non-Profit. Google “Pecoras Mica Mine Schoolhouse,” the YouTube and traveling road show arm of the Museum that offers a multitude of educational programs to youth and adults alike.

New Phone? New Phone Case?  Recycle Your Old Ones at the TerraCycle Bin

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ACTON/LITTLETON: Did you get a new phone for the holidays, and the old phone case no longer fits?  You can recycle it if you bring it to a TerraCycle collection bin in Littleton or Acton.  There are four: at the Acton and Littleton Donelan’s supermarkets; at the Littleton Reuben Hoar Library, and at the Littleton transfer station.
 
You may recycle (reasonably empty and dry):
 
  • Cell phone cases of any brand
  • Personal care and cosmetic containers
  • Oral care product containers & manual toothbrushes (no electric toothbrush heads)
  • Plastic Deodorant containers (no aerosols)
  • Air freshener and cleaning pumps, trigger sprays, cartridges (no aerosols)
  • Old pens, markers, and mechanical pencils
  • Empty ink-jet and toner cartridges
  • And much more – see https://tinyurl.com/littletonmarecycles to find out what other surprising items you can recycle.
 
Terracycle gives points for each item which translate into cash for non-profits such as 4-H, and the Littleton schools, and library.  Still have questions?  Email littletonma.recycles@gmail.com
 
4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills.  For more information about the Action C.R.A.F.T. 4-H Club, please contact Elaine Shirron, 4-H Leader, at (978) 635-0122. 
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Westford Lunar New Year Celebration

WESTFORD:  After a short hiatus, Westford Academy is bringing back its annual Lunar New Year Celebration, to be held on January 28, 2023. This event includes a dinner catered from Sichuan Palace, and a traditional Asian show that includes a dragon dance by professional dancers. Tickets:
 
  • Combo (dinner, show, activities); adults: $25; youth (K-8): $15; WA students: $20; Seniors (65+): $15; children < 6 free.
  • Show and activities only: adults: $15; youth (K-8): $10; WA students: $10; Seniors (65+): $10; children < 6 free.
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Action Holiday BINGO! Wrapping Up Soon

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

WESTFORD: The town is amending its December and January collection schedule for trash and recycling. The weeks of 12/26 to 12/30 and 1/2 to 1/6 will be collected on our regular Monday-Friday collection schedule. There will be no one-day delay either of these weeks for trash and recycling pickups.  Your patience and understanding is appreciated.

Reminder: the Town of Westford was notified by the Town of Groton recently that Westford residents are no longer permitted to use the Groton Transfer station.  This nearby option for recycling was especially appreciated by Westford residents who missed a recycling pickup or who live in a complex that does not offer recycling services. The reason is that Groton determined some Westford residents have been using the Groton Transfer Station inappropriately, bringing trash and construction debris increasing the disposal costs to the Town of Groton.  Policing Westford residents to ensure we bring only recycling would also be additional cost burden Groton (as it would require additional staffing); therefore, the decision was made by the town of Groton to revoke Westford residents' access to their Transfer Station.
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Peer mentor and principal

Parker School Opens 2023-24 Enrollment Season

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

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

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

WESTFORD: Parish Center for the Arts' January Artist of the Month is Sudakshna Bhattacharya, whose art exhibit of acrylic paintings will run from January 1-29 with an artist’s reception on January 8 from noon-2:30pm. Be sure to visit the PCA gallery for the reception or any Sunday during January from noon until 2pm to visit with her.

Beginning as an engineer and scientist, Sudakshina turned her passion into a profession and is now the artist behind her fine art business called “SuWaniArts”. She loves to paint wild life, still life, land/mountain/sea-scapes, human and pet portraits using different paint mediums like acrylic, watercolor, soft pastel, oil and colored pencils. The hidden challenges in a subject are the key thing that motivates her as an artist in her creative process. "Shine with a suspense", "Looking at you", "Where dreams become true", "That stare" are among her most appreciated paintings. Bhattacharya has achieved multiple awards for her fine art acrylic paintings to include the 2018 and 2019 Eva Kashket Prize for excellence in oil or acrylic. She is active in chairing shows in art galleries and is the organizer of Westford's Holiday Art Market. Visit www.SuWaniArts.com to see more of her paintings.
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The Neighborhood Supper – Donations Requested

LITTLETON: Each Tuesday evening from 5:30–6:30pm anywhere from 60 to over 70 people gather for a free nutritious hot meal at the Congregational Church of Littleton. Any and all from Littleton and surrounding communities are welcome. These meals are provided through volunteer assistance from the five Littleton churches who take turns each Tuesday to host these suppers. Participating churches include the Congregational Church of Littleton, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Blessed Trinity Parish, the First Church Unitarian, and the First Baptist Church. The volunteers coordinate services to complete a variety of necessary tasks such as meal planning, food preparation, set up and clean-up.

In addition, the Neighborhood Supper is governed by a Board of Directors made up of members from each of the churches in town. The board's responsibilities include setting policies, bill paying, license renewal, and additional issues that may come up.

The Neighborhood Supper has been in existence since 1991and is paid for by monetary donations made out to the Neighborhood Supper. It is currently in need of donations. Please think about contributing to the Neighborhood Supper. Checks may be made out to the Neighborhood Supper and sent to P.O. Box 112, Littleton, MA 01460. Note that the Neighborhood Supper is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, so donations are tax deductible.
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PCA Publishes Annual Letter to Members; Launches Membership Drive

WESTFORD: The Parish Center for the Arts announced several major developments at the volunteer-driven arts center in an annual open letter to members. Among the highlights include new music programming by the Hearing Room, formerly of Lowell, structural repairs to the historic bell tower, a new and improved website and ticketing system, and the appointment of several new board members. The private, non-profit arts center also launched their annual membership drive, a major source of operational funding. The PCA gets no town or government funding, and relies primarily on member contributions and rental income to fund all operations. For membership details, the full letter to members, or details on upcoming events, visit the new PCA website at https://pcawestford.org.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: What to Know about Sustainable Investing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Protect Financial Accounts From “Cyberthieves”

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

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

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor Preston Carbone, Westford, MA  - EdwardJones.com/Preston-Carbone, Edward Jones, Member SIPC
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A Gift of Your Time is the Greenest Gift

WESTFORD: The holiday giving season is here.  And though we’ve moved on from the brunt of the pandemic, goods are still in short supply.  There are fewer choices, things take longer to get here – we have to “order early!”
 
What if you could give a gift that doesn’t have to be ordered online?  Or picked off a warehouse shelf somewhere? Or one that might just be a little kinder to our Mother Earth? How about giving of your time, or as some have put it, giving “experiences”?  There are so many benefits!  You’d be spending time with those you care about.  And you may be helping someone check a task off their to-do list that’s been festering there forever.
 
Here are some ideas:
 
  • A chilly New England fall weather makes a trip to a museum a good option.  Your local library may have discount passes.  At the J.V. Fletcher Library, the most popular passes are to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Discovery Museum in Acton.  For those, book ahead!  Or choose to visit historic houses with the History New England Pass.  Or go to the zoo with the Zoo New England Pass.  Give an outing to a museum or zoo this holiday season to someone you love.
  • We’re all procrastinators.  And we have angst over our to-do lists with closets that need to be cleaned out, or rooms that need re-painting.  Give someone a hand!  How great would your “giftee” feel if you offered to help them with a project, so they could finally get it done?  An afternoon spent organizing and a trip to Goodwill with boxes of items for others to enjoy.  Or a day painting a room – one rolling, one trim-painting – it goes so much faster with two.  It’s a win-win!
  • There are lots of other places to treat someone - a movie, a concert, a play.  And it’s all enhanced by the gift of your time.

This holiday season, avoid the supply chain and shipping issues.  Give a gift of yourself and your time instead.
 
Green gifting ideas composed by Kris Erickson of the Westford Recycling Commission.
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Parish Center for the Arts Hosts Holiday Concerts

WESTFORD: The Parish Center for the Arts at 10 Lincoln Street on Westford Common is hosting a holiday season full of concerts.
 
  • December 9: Mixtape A Cappella takes their audiences on a musical journey that spans multiple artists, genres, and decades. With songs by the Beatles, Billy Joel, Amy Winehouse, Shakira, and more.
  • December 10: Winter Solstice Mini-Fest featuring Grammy-nominated bluegrass mandolinist Matt Flinner and Low Lily. This collaboration celebrates the Winter Solstice with energetic bluegrass instrumentals alongside impeccably arranged songs. Between them, the musicians play mandolins, guitars, fiddle, banjo, double bass, and sing in three and four part vocal harmonies. Flinner's style and compositional ability have established him as one of the most accomplished and musically diverse mandolinists in the world. Chosen as Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s “Most Wanted Band” of 2016, Low Lily plays acoustic music that is deeply rooted in tradition yet sounds refreshingly contemporary. They have garnered two #1 songs on international folk radio and two Independent Music Award wins.
  • December 17: Music from A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Aidan Scrimgeour jazz trio. A family set at 4:30 is followed by an extended evening set at 7:30. This joyful PCA holiday tradition has delighted audiences of all ages for the past three years. Originally from Salem and trained at New England Conservatory, the versatile Aidan Scrimgeour performs regularly with a variety of groups in New York. His projects include Pumpkin Bread, a Boston-based acoustic band, which has been featured on "A Celtic Sojourn" on WGBH, and Lissy & the Jacks, a Brooklyn-based honky-tonk group currently working on their first album of old country classics and original songs.

Advance tickets and details available online at pcawestford.org.

Businesses in Your Community

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Blue Christmas Service at the United Methodist Church

WESTFORD: Does the Christmas season bring feelings of sadness and loneliness to you? In the midst of bright Christmas lights, holiday decorations, glittery gifts, and joyful caroling, you might not feel the happiness that others feel. You might be experiencing loss of a loved one, divorce, unemployment, homelessness, miscarriage, estrangement, loneliness, addiction, illness, or depression. Perhaps you hurt because of the pain and violence in the world around you.
 
If this Christmas brings feelings of hurt, sadness, or loneliness, attend the Blue Christmas Service presented by UMCW’s Stephen Ministers. This meaningful service will include live music from our Bell Choir and Adult Choir. It will be held at the United Methodist Church of Westford, 10 Church Street on December 11, at 7pm. Please consider bringing a friend going through a difficult time. This service will offer solace to those struggling or grieving this Christmas season. All are welcome!
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Don’t Miss the Tree Lighting on Littleton Common

LITTLETON: Everyone is invited to Littleton’s Tree Lighting on the Common coming up on December 4 at 4:15pm. The Tree Lighting on the Common is co-sponsored by the Littleton Rotary Club and the Littleton Electric Light and Water Departments. Members of the Littleton High School Band will warm up the crowd with holiday songs and then Members of the Nashoba Valley Chorale will lead young and old in a sing along. The Littleton Rotary Club will provide complementary hot cider and donuts to all attendees along with stuffed toys for kids who can answer holiday trivia questions. This annual holiday tradition is attended by hundreds of Littleton residents, young and old.

The Rotary Club will also provide ornaments that can be personalized and hung on the beautiful spruce tree in the center of the common. Santa will arrive on Littleton Fire Department’s Ladder One at 5:15pm, and will throw the giant switch to illuminate the thousands of lights on the many trees on the common. He’ll then meet with all of the children before returning to the North Pole to get ready for his Christmas Eve travels.

The Littleton Rotary Club and Littleton Electric Light and Water Departments provide the Tree Lighting on the Common as a gift to the town along with the help of the Littleton Highway Department, Police Department, Fire Department, Nashoba Valley Chorale, Littleton High School Band, Santa’s helpers, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Franzek and many Littleton Rotarians. The Littleton Rotary Club meets every Wednesday at 7:15am in the cafeteria at 1 Monarch Drive. If you would like to be a guest and learn more about Rotary, please contact Club President Roger Hartley at rhartley48@gmail.com or call (978) 490-4273.

PHOTO: Santa will once again arrive via the Littleton Fire Department and meet with the all the children.
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Community Christmas Chorus Presents Concert

WESTFORD: Community Christmas Chorus will present its annual concert to benefit the Westford Food Pantry on December 4 at 7pm, at First Parish Church United, 48 Main Street. Founded in 2006, the chorus includes singers from several towns in the area. The chorus director, René A. Minalga-Rheault, is also the director of the Paul Madore Chorale and the all-women’s
ensemble, Calliope, both in Salem, as well as the music director of Trinity Lutheran Church, Chelmsford.

The program will include “Christmas Day,” by English composer Gustav Holst, “Ecce Novum,” by Norwegian composer Ola Gjielo, and songs from several American composers: “Song for Snow,” by Florence Price, “Before the Marvel of this Night,” by Carl Schalk, and “Glow,” by Eric Whitacre. An audience carol-sing-a-long will also be included in the program.

The suggested donation for admission is $5 per person; $15 maximum per family,
plus 2 non-perishable items for the food pantry. A list of items especially needed by the pantry can be found on its website. All money donated at the door goes to the food pantry. For further information, please call Jeanne Masterman at (978) 692-8416.
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Everyone’s Going to the Littleton Holiday Bazaar!

LITTLETON: The Littleton Holiday Bazaar, hosted by Littleton Rotary Club, will be filling the Littleton Middle School gym at 55 Russell Street on December 4 from 9am-3pm! This is a fun and exciting way to kick off the holiday season, find some great stocking stuffers, meet old friends, enter some raffles and get into the holiday spirit!

The Littleton High School band will entertain with songs of the season. SANTA and MRS. CLAUS arrive at 10am and will sit for photos with all good girls and boys. Numerous civic and charitable groups in and around Littleton will be on hand: SANTA, Littleton Rotary Club, Sleep In Heavenly Peace, Littleton Conservation Trust, COA Knitters, Littleton Classes of 2022, 2023, 2025, Friends of the Library, Littleton Park & Rec, Girl Scout Troop 66292, Littleton Community Farm, Good Shepherd Sheep Club, Health Care Committee, Historical Society, SEAPAC, GSA, DEI, National Honor Society, Littleton Education Fund, Humanitarian Club, Environmental Club, French Club, FABL/Music Boosters, Parent Teacher Association, Littleton Scholarship Trust, Robotics, Baptist Church, Congregational Church, St. Anne's Church, Boy Scout Troops #19, #20, #21, American Legion, VFW, VFW Friends, Garden Club, See A New Sun, Littleton Athletic Booster Association, Littleton High School Band and Snack Bar.

Arrive early, enjoy lunch with friends or family and stick around for the raffles!

The Littleton Rotary Club meets every Wednesday at 7:15am in the dining room at 1 Monarch Drive, off Taylor Street. If you would like to be a guest and learn more about Rotary, please contact Club President Lehel Reeves at lehel.reeves@mac.com or call (978) 430-3305.
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Winter Solstice at the PCA featuring Matt Flinner and Low Lily

WESTFORD: On December 10, award-winning American roots band Low Lily with Grammy nominated bluegrass mandolinist Matt Flinner come to the PCA at Westford Common! This collaboration celebrates the Winter Solstice with energetic bluegrass instrumentals alongside impeccably arranged songs. Between them, the musicians play mandolins, guitars, fiddle, banjo, double bass, and sing in three and four part vocal harmonies. For details and tickets, visit www.pcawestford.org.
 
Grammy-nominated mandolinist Matt Flinner has made a career out of playing acoustic music in new ways. Whether it's with his own Matt Flinner Trio or with Phillips, Grier and Flinner, the Frank Vignola Quartet, Darrell Scott, Steve Martin, Robbie Fulks, the Ying Quartet, Leftover Salmon or the Modern Mandolin Quartet, Flinner's style and compositional ability have established him as one of the most accomplished and musically diverse mandolinists in the world.
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FINANCIAL FOCUS: Time for New Year’s Financial Resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor James Normington, AAMS, Westford, MA - EdwardJones.com/James-Normington. Edward Jones, Member SIPC
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Be Thankful for Our Planet: Recycle Event the Small Things Where You Can!

ACTON/LITTLETON: Thanksgiving may soon be over, but it’s never too late to be grateful for this planet, and for us to reduce our impact on it.  Whether that means driving less, weather-proofing our homes, or using less plastic, all of us want to have a clean planet and fresh air to breathe. There are small things that you probably toss in the trash – lip balm tubes, pens and  markers that don’t work any more, an old manual toothbrush –these items are actually recyclable through TerraCycle!  Please check the website https://tinyurl.com/littletonmarecycles to find out what other surprising items you can recycle right here in the Acton/ Littleton area, and then bring them to the wooden TerraCycle bin at the Acton or Littleton Donelan’s grocery store.  If you have a Littleton transfer sticker, there’s a yellow bin there, too, and a green one in the lower floor of the Reuben Hoar Library.

And THANK YOU for your help in keeping our blue-dot planet just a little more clean!

Terracycle gives points for each item which translate into cash for non-profits such as 4-H, schools, and libraries.  This recycling stream helps fund the Acton C.R.A.F.T. 4-H club’s community service activities. Still have questions?  Email littletonma.recycles@gmail.com
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Give Us Peace: Sounds of Stow Fall Concert

STOW/LITTLETON: Join the Sounds of Stow Chorus & Orchestra for the opening concert of their 44th season: “Dona Nobis Pacem: Four Visions,” on November 20 at 2pm. The concert, with full orchestra and outstanding soloists, will be held at a convenient and state-of-the-art venue, the Littleton High School at 56 King Street.

“Dona Nobis Pacem: Four Visions“ reprises Sounds of Stow’s 2003 response to 9/11 and is equally timely today. This most heartfelt of texts – a plea for peace – concludes the traditional mass setting, and the program compares and contrasts those final settings in four great works,
composed in different artistic eras and representing very different philosophical approaches to the text. Included are excerpts from Bach’s B-minor Mass, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse, Schubert’s Grand Mass In E-flat, and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. Soloists Logan Trotter, soprano; Deborah Rentz-Moore, mezzo; Jason Wang, tenor; and Mark Cleveland, baritone, are well-known in the Boston area and beyond.

Pianist Sonya Ovrutsky Fensome and the orchestra enhance the choral selections with César Franck’s “Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra,” a seldom performed but beautiful and exciting work composed in 1885. Baritone Mark Cleveland, well-known for his renditions of
Bach, will be joined by Jeff Stewart (horn) in the Quoniam from Bach’s B-minor Mass. In the spirit of peace, and to honor the deep personal connection of the piano soloist, Sonya Ovrutsky Fensome, to Ukraine, Sounds of Stow has chosen to accept donations for World Central Kitchens, a nonprofit that is delivering meals to families in need all over Ukraine.
Generous members of the chorus have pledged to match half of their $3,000 goal, and they encourage our equally generous patrons, chorus, and orchestra members to contribute to this timely fundraising effort.

For further information, Covid protocol, tickets, and to make donations, please visit www.soundsofstow.org or email info@soundsofstow.org. Sounds of Stow is a non-profit 501c3 organization, supported in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as administered by the local cultural councils of Stow, Acton-Boxborough, Bolton, and Hudson.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: When Should You Adjust Your Investment Mix?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please join Treasures and Kitty Angels, in friendship and the spirit of giving and sharing the Holidays. For more information, visit www.TreasuresNH.com and www.KittyAngels.org.
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Westford League of Women Voters Hosts Civic Social with Superintendant Christopher Chew

WESTFORD: Have questions for WPS Superintendent Dr. Chris Chew? Now’s your chance on November 16 at 7:30 pm via Zoom.. The League of Women Voters of Westford is hosting its next Civic Social via Zoom. The event is an opportunity to have a conversation with Dr. Chew and hear his plans for Westford schools. This is Dr. Chew’s ninth year in the Westford Public School system, and his second as superintendent. He was originally hired as principal for the Stony Brook Middle School, where he worked for seven years. Civic Socials are the League’s informal monthly get-togethers, open to all, where people can learn what’s happening in and around town and about what the League is doing. Email info@lwv.westford.org to get a link to the Zoom meeting.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: COLA is Sweet for Social Security Recipients

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor Gerald Breen, Acton, MA - EdwardJones.com/Gerald-Breen
Edward Jones. Member SIPC.
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Westford Museum & Historical Society present Westford 100 Years Ago

WESTFORD: The Westford Museum and Historical Society presents Westford 100 years ago: A Close up look at the Glass Plate Negative in the Hildreth Collection. On November 9 from 7-8:30pm at Westford Museum (2 Boston Road), take a moment to look back at some of the events and sights from around Westford 100 years ago! Program donation is $10. For information, visit www.musuem.westford.org.

In the early decades of the 20th century Charles L. Hildreth photographed the people and places of Westford and beyond, primarily on 4×5″ glass plates.  Over 900 of these glass plates have been recently digitally restored, by Dan Lacroix, an amateur photographer. Dan created a specialized lightbox to photograph the glass negatives, allowing us to fully observe and appreciate the remarkable detail that large format photography is able to capture today.
 
Charles Lewis Hildreth (1879-1968) a local lawyer and served as Town Clerk from 1915 to 1966. Thanks to the meticulous documentation of Charles L. Hildreth, who served as Westford’s town clerk for 52 years, most of the images had been labeled and dated. “The paper envelopes [the slides were in] were frayed but information was still written there,” Day said.  The Charles L. Hildreth collection of glass plate negatives, is on permanent loan to the Westford Historical Society by the Paul MacMillan family.

Dan Lacroix and Marilyn Day will highlight the finer, generally unseen details within a selection of Westford images, shedding light on life in our town over a century ago. Lacroix has been a member of the Westford Historical Society’s Board of Directors since 2000.  He has a great interest in all things 18th century, but also in photography, which led to his desire to digitally archive this priceless collection of Westford photographs. Day is a Westford Author and Historian. She is a former director of the Westford Museum and is currently a member of the Westford Historical Society’s Board of Directors.
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Magic Wand Workshop with Stephanie Beach at Roudenbush

WESTFORD: Parents, are you ready to give your child the secrets to magic? Magician Stephanie Beach will be conducting a magic workshop for grades 3-5 beginning November 9 and running for six weeks at Roudenbush Community Center. This complete Orange Wand Workshop (1 of 4 workshops) will entertain and teach your child the gift of magic, working with other children and sharing their new art. Your child will receive:
 
  • 8 Well Crafted, Kid-Sized, Magic Tricks;
  • 8 Magic Folders;
  • A keycard giving them on-line access to all 24 tricks and 8 videos;
  • A special light weight bag to hold all their goodies; and
  • A Certificate and Wand at end of workshop, 

Your child will be taught by professional magician Stephanie Beach (stephaniebeachmagic.com).  As your child’s Magic Instructor, Beach will demonstrate and teach the 8 traits of a great magician like: Respect, Prepared, Creative and Giving.  At the end of the workshops, YOUR child will know how to be perform as a Magician!