By Rachael Bailey
Gordon College News Service
September 14, 2011
(This story appeared September 16, 2011 in the Boston Globe, Salem.)
Salem, MA—On Sunday, September 18 at 4:30 in Salem, MA, The House of the Seven Gables will celebrate its 101st year and a reinstituted mission that dates back to its foundation.
The annual fundraiser titled, “Gables 101: The Second Hundred Years,” will be a black and white themed event on the lawn overlooking Salem Harbor and The Gables Colonial Revival Gardens in Salem, MA. There will be live music from jazz band, Soul Force V, a live auction, and a series of awards presented.
Former Secretary General of the UN and strong supporter of human rights and humanitarian aid, Kofi Annan donated $5,000 to help make the event possible. Tickets are $101 and all proceeds will support the Gables’ five partnerships that are currently working with the underserved population of Salem.
“In focusing on the new direction that our mission has taken, we are reviewing and reinstituting what Caroline Emmerton had set up in the very beginning,” said Alan Collachicco, deputy director and curator of The House of the Seven Gables.
The House of the Seven Gables, was founded by philanthropist, Caroline Emmerton of Salem in 1910, and named after the short story by one of Salem’s most famous residents, Nathaniel Hawthorne. The house now displays many of Hawthorne’s personal belongings, but Emmerton centered the museum’s Settlement work around transitioning Polish and Eastern European immigrants into American culture and did so by funding classes in English, woodworking, sewing, and childcare.
Mary Burke, 94 of Beverly, MA, worked as secretary to the executive director for 48 years at The House of the Seven Gables from 1937 to 1985.
“I never noticed a change in the missions there,” said Burke. “Mrs. Emmerton was still alive while I was there for five years. She came everyday in a big black limousine for lunch and always had a lobster roll and she always kept an eye on things. She kept an eye on things very well.”
Just recently, the Settlement board voted to establish strategic partnerships with community organizations that uphold similar missions for the well being of the underserved youth.
“The focus is on the educational side of it,” said Collachicco of the refocused mission. “We are better-preparing these young folk for college, for taking an active part in the community, and for jobs.”
After almost a year of preparations for the fundraiser while instituting a modified mission, Collachicco describes the process as simply “getting ready for a big party.”
Once the date was set, invitations were made, sent out and flowers ordered. Photos of students and their families were taken and placed on canvas panels to be displayed on the lawn at the site. These photos will be used as the base element in their decorative scheme.
With Annan’s donation, the Gables was able to do more than they have in the past for the fundraiser. Collachicco and manager of settlement community programs, Ana Nuncio, are confident that the work of the Gables will always continue regardless of the help they are given.
“New Americans keep coming,” said Nuncio. “And this is the key to renewal.”
While the Gables will implement a broadened worldview in the second hundred years, they do not see changes happening in the end result of their work with youth.
“We have the resources,” said Collachicco. “And the support of such a renown gentleman [Annan] will hopefully be an incentive for others to look upon us as a group that has taken a stand boldly and will maintain that stand in working with these underserved young people and new citizens. They are the future.”
In terms of the future, Nuncio sees the second hundred years as being much like how Emmerton first established the Settlement House: by working directly in the community.
“We’re becoming much more mobile and direct,” said Nuncio. “If they [underserved youth] are not able to come to us, we will find ways to go to them.”
For more information on Sunday’s fundraiser, visit www.7gables.org. To register for the event or to make a donation call 978-744-0991.