Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beverly Children Join Relay for Life at Endicott College

By Alyssa M. Baxter
Gordon College News Service
March 30, 2011
(This story appeared March 31 in The Boston Globe, Beverly and April 1 in The Salem News.)

The students of Saint Mary School are taking a break in their day to walk for a life-changing cause. This Friday, April 1st, they will walk in a mini-relay in the fight against cancer to support the American Cancer Society.

On the same day as Endicott’s Relay for Life about 180 students will walk around the streets of their school from 1-2 P.M. to raise money  and awareness. Family and friends sponsored students for each block they walk explained, Brenda Nygren, a mother to a fourth grader at Saint Mary School on 13 Chapman Street.

“The thing I love is it brings meaning to the kids,” said Nygren, who lost her own mother to cancer 11 years go and is the team leader for the Saint Mary School event. “It is an incredible cause.”

$3,000 has already been raised, which does not include the children’s sponsor donations and has not yet been contributed to the money raised through Relay for Life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Workshops in Beverly Help Seniors Plan for the Future

Kendra Seavey at the Beverly Council
on Aging.
By Alyssa M. Baxter
Gordon College News Service
March 29, 2011
(This story appeared March 31 in The Boston Globe, Beverly, and April 4 in The Salem News.)

Most people aren’t preparing well for their future. At least that’s what Kendra Seavey, of the Beverly Council on Aging, has found.

That’s why Seavey scheduled a six-week series of workshops that cover a range of topics from leisure to finances beginning in May. Seavey, the activities director at Beverly Council on Aging (BCOA), took Embrace Your Future, a government sponsored initiative, and brought it to life.

Embrace Your Future was first designed by The Executive Office of Elder Affairs, the Office of the Governor, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, and the Office of Long-Term Support Studies (OLTSS) at the Massachusetts Medical School to provide information to middle aged to older adults to assist them in planning for their future.

In January, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced the initiative, following up with a letter sent to about 400,000 Commonwealth homes whose head of the household was between the ages of 45 and 59. Whoever responded to the governor’s letter received a 44-page packet of information, which included a guide on topics such as lifestyle planning, legal matters, financial planning and ways to attain the best quality of life.

Seavey found the packet helpful but wanted to do more. So she helped organize a six week class at the BCOA called, “Charting Your Course: Planning Options for Your Future.” Topics such as lifestyle and leisure, planning for your care, legal matters, housing, public benefits and managing finances will be covered, Seavey said.

The Monday night classes will begin on May 2 through June 13 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. at the Beverly Council on Aging at 90 Colon Street. Registration is $30.00 and includes a handbook of information provided by the speakers as well as refreshments.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Drummer Keeps Up Beat While Waiting for a Kidney

By Jesse Poole
Gordon College News Service

(This story appeared March 28 in The Boston Globe, Malden.)

Arthur Litvak, 61, of Malden, MA, sleeps with his phone. As one of 82 people waiting for a call from Massachusetts General Hospital, Litvak knows news of an available kidney for a transplant could come at any minute. “It’s a mystery as to when that call might come,” said Litvak.

Litvak, who is a graduate of Berklee School of Music,’73, and a jazz drummer, lost his left leg six years ago due to diabetic complications. “After that, I stopped everything, stopped teaching, stopped drumming,” said Litvak. “And it took me three years to start drumming again.”

Litvak had also taught English as a Second Language for Boston Public Schools, Madison Park High School, and La Alianza Hispana, but retired after losing his leg and begining treatment on dialysis.

“Dialysis itself is a complete fulltime job,” said Vickie Dovner, 58, of Sharon, MA, who’s been Litvak’s friend for the past two years. “It’s been an unbelievable struggle (for him).”

But Litvak doesn’t necessarily see it that way. Instead, he says he counts his blessings. “Every morning I wake up and say ‘Wow, man, I’m still here,’” he said. “I didn’t have a 30 foot wave crash through my home like thousands of people just did in Japan.”

Beatlejuice Comes Together at Melrose Memorial to Fight Hunger

By Christian Brink
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared March 28 in The Boston Globe, Melrose.)

Melrose, MA – For Beatlejuice drummer and co-founder, John Muzzy, commonly known as Muzz, there is nothing better than looking out into an audience and seeing a ten year old jamming to “I Am the Walrus” alongside his grandmother. And this upcoming month at the annual Melrose Knights of Columbus (K of C) benefit concert, that’s just what he expects to see.

On April 15 at the Melrose Memorial Hall, Beatlejuice, a New England Beatles cover band, will be playing its sixth annual concert for the Melrose K of C Food For the Needy Fund. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7 p.m.

“It’s an event that every year we look forward to doing,” said Muzzy, 55, of Woburn, MA. “It’s packed and it’s multigenerational, which is just perfect for the music.”

Mike DiPirro, Deputy Grand Knight for the Melrose K of C, the man who originally organized Beatlejuice to start playing the concert, said that the show usually nets between $10,000 and $12,000. The proceeds are then donated the following Christmas to families who are struggling financially.

“The best thing about our charity is that every penny we raise goes to people in need,” said DiPirro.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Woodman’s restaurant remains “rough” but with a hint of green, thanks to the next generation

Vanessa Woodman
By Christian Brink
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared March 14 in The Gloucester Times.)

Essex, MA – As Woodman’s gears up for another busy summer as Essex’s iconic seafood restaurant, the Woodman family tries to balance how to become more environmentally friendly while maintaining the “eat in the rough” feeling it’s known for on the North Shore.

Started in 1914 by Chubby Woodman, the restaurant has been a family-run business for 97 years. But with all families, each generation brings change. Woodman’s is no different. Vanessa Woodman, 27, is part of the fourth generation to work in the business, and currently one of 38 family members who work full or part time there. She’s also one of the advocates for making it a greener place.

“There’s been a lot of progress,” said Vanessa, who does social media marketing for Woodman’s. “Originally, we weren’t recycling anything and we were using styrofoam plates, chowder containers, and even coffee cups. Those were two of the biggest problems.”

The use of styrofoam at Woodman’s was discontinued around four years ago. They now use plates made from recycled paper that are also biodegradable. In addition, recycling efforts have increased. They recycle cans, glass, and left over cardboard that’s escaped grease stains from the fried food. But it hasn’t always been this way.

“Years ago we did nothing,” said Steve Woodman, co-owner of the restaurant with his brother Doug Woodman. “Everything went in the trash.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Topsfield Gift Company Helps Businesses Thank Customers

Heidi Bond stands by her gifts.
(photo by Alyssa M. Baxter)
By Alyssa M. Baxter
Gordon College News Service

TOPSFIELD, MA-Times are hard, but that does not mean businesses can’t honor their customers and The Dazzling Dot, a gourmet and specialty gift company in Topsfield, is helping them do so. 

“Something that has really taken off since the recession hit is customer appreciation gifts,” said Heidi Bond, 45, one of four co-owners of the small company. “It’s a corporate theme that has become more important because people want to thank their customers.”

But appreciation gifts, even if they’re small, are also being used to attract new customers because Bond says they add, “that extra little sentiment.”

The specialty gift company—which is located in a small office building and does most of its business online—first launched in September 2005 under the name Cravings Gifts before rebranding itself to The Dazzling Dot. Along with Bond who focuses mostly on finances and accounting for the company, the other owners include sales manager Stephen Moses, web/marketing  designer Meghan Malone-Moses, and gift creator Kristin Reynolds. Popular gifts, Bond said, include New England themed baskets, a chocolate lover’s gift tower and spa gifts.

“They are fantastic,” said
Jason Maxwell,

Local Danvers Retiree Documents North Shore in Community Films

By Jesse Poole
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared March 11 in the Boston Globe, Danvers, and March 14 in The Salem News.)

DANVERS, MA – For some, retirement means travel or staying put. For others it means the beach in Florida, but for Dan Tremblay, 64, of Danvers it means making local documentaries. Over the past 35 years Tremblay has produced over a dozen films about local history, events and even ghosts. 

“My documentaries are all about life in this area,” said Tremblay. “I’m a stickler for detail. The subject matter of my documentaries ranges from maritime stories to colonial history to human interest topics.”

Tremblay rents a single theater at Hollywood Hits in Danvers every Tuesday and Thursday from Noon to 1:30p.m. to show his films, some of which took up to four years for him to film, edit, and produce. 

“We are an independently owned theatre, and films and events such as Dan’s are what can distinguish us from larger chains,” said Scott Przyeycien, manager of Hollywood Hits.  “We feel that it is important to highlight the work of local filmmakers.”

But Tremblay also shows his films in area libraries and on March 13that the Beverly Library, he’ll screen “Day at a Country Fair” about the Topsfield Fair as well as  “Schoonermen,” his film that focuses on crew and fishing in Gloucester. On March 27th, his films, “Revere Beach: A Look Back” and “Old Automobiles made in Essex County” will be shown at Danvers Peabody Institute Library.

He shows four documentaries a week at the various locations and

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Same Service, New Wheels: Beverly’s New Bookmobile Hits the Streets

Librarian Linda Caravaggio outside
the 'old' bookmobile.
photo by Christian Brink
By Christian Brink
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared March 7 in The Boston Globe, Beverly site, and March 14 in The Salem News.)

Beverly, MA—Downloading a book may be quicker, but it’s not as stylish—or personal—as having one delivered from the Beverly Public Library’s brand new bookmobile.

On March 19 at 7 p.m., the Beverly Public Library will celebrate the arrival of its newly constructed bookmobile at the American Legion Spear Post in Beverly for a night with the Orville Giddings Band. The event is free for all bookmobile-lovers and friends of the Beverly library, and will include music and dancing as the community recognizes the bookmobile’s continuing service that started 59 years ago.

“The bookmobile service fulfills the need of getting books to areas of the city that aren’t close to the library, especially schools and parks for the kids or for seniors who don’t have good transportation,” said Patricia Cirone, 57, director of the Beverly Public Library.

The current bookmobile made its first run in 1987 and has been delivering books ever since. Its predicted span of operation was only about 10 to 12 years, but now having nearly doubled that expectation, the bookmobile is finally ready for retirement. With no working heat in the winter and parts that are literally falling off, Linda Caravaggio, 57, the bookmobile librarian, couldn’t be more excited for her new ride.

“I’m looking forward to having heat,” said Caravaggio. “And not being all wrapped up in three or four layers of clothes.”

Having lived in Beverly since 1988, Caravaggio has been the bookmobile librarian for 23 years. She works Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on a two-week rotation of scheduled stops.

“Linda is wonderful. I don’t know how she does it,” said Martha Parmenter, a bookmobile patron of Turtle Creek Retirement Homes. “She drives the bus and remembers people’s names, which I admire, but she also remembers what books I’ve read and what I’d like to read.”

Danvers High Gymnast Skips Senior Prom for National Competition

Sarah Berry is all smiles for her national meet.
(photo by Alyssa M. Baxter)
By Alyssa M. Baxter
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared March 4 in The Boston Globe, Danvers site.)

Danvers, MA—While Danvers High School students will be dancing at their senior prom on May 20 at Boston’s Seaport Hotel, senior Sarah Barry, 17, will be flipping across a four-inch balance beam, competing in the gymnastics meet of her life.

Barry has no regrets. In fact, since she found out that she, along with 22 other gymnasts, had been chosen to represent the state of Massachusetts at the National High School Gymnastics Association Senior Showcase Invitational in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, May 20-21, 2011, she’s already begun training.

A selection committee, made up of Massachusetts’ high school gymnastics coaches, nominates gymnasts to watch throughout the season for their anticipated success. Members of the committee let the gymnast know they are being observed for the national opportunity and offer suggestions for improvement, according to Heather Boepple, 28, Danvers High head gymnastics coach.

Barry, who took committee members’ advice and worked hard to improve her routines, was chosen based on her “coach-ability” as well as her gymnastics talent, said Boepple.

“She is not only a friend to everyone on the team, but she is a solid competitor,” said Boepple. “She is easy to work with and a hard worker.” Freshman teammate, Emily Knickle, 14, added, “She is helpful and encouraging too.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1930s Fashion Comes Back to Wenham

photo by Jesse Poole
By Jesse Poole
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared March 3 in The Gloucester Times, and March 4 in The Salem News.)

Wenham, MA – If you’re interested in time travel and Hollywood, a trip to the local Wenham Museum should suffice. The fashionable dresses of the 1930s—those years of sophistication and style when Hollywood movies, actors and actresses rose in popularity—are currently on display at the Wenham Museum until March 13.

The exhibit features ten graceful dresses and is appropriately titled “Sophisticated Ladies: Dressing up in the 1930s.”  On Sunday, March 13, from 1- 2 p.m., the Museum will also host “Victorian Lady” with professional performing artist Kandie Carle. Carle will showcase the sophisticated and simple style of the 1930s by dressing in genuine, authentic vintage clothing and accessories, and sharing humor, history and stories from the era. Cost is $10 to $16 for admission and refreshments.

“1930s clothing always seems to be a hit,” said Linzee Jerrett, costume curator of the Wenham Museum. “And the clothes of the 1930s were very elegant.”

Though the dresses in the exhibit are of different colors and designs, each reflects the familiar look of the slender and simple style of the time.

“Instead of depending on surface decoration and lots of ‘gewgaws’ for their effect, they make their statement with cut – famously the bias cut,” said Jerrett.

For those who might be unfamiliar with the bias cut, Jerrett explained that the cut runs diagonal to the grain of the fabric. It lends a fluid, body-hugging quality to the cloth. Although modern dress may not have the elegance it once did, Jerrett believes it may come back around, as style often does.