Monday, October 31, 2011

Boys and Girls Club Creates Giant, Guatemalan Kite for Community Service

By Rachel Bell
Gordon College News Service
October 31, 2011

(This story appeared November, 1, 2011, in the Boston Globe, Salem site.)

SALEM, Mass. – Last year the Torch Club, a group of 10-12 year-olds at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, learnted about Haitian art, Guatemalan textiles and Japanese Manga in an art culture course. This fall their most recent project has been to make a large, Guatemalan-style kite to benefit ArtCorps, a nonprofit group based in Ipswich, Mass, which uses art for community development in Central America.   

“We took two weeks off to make this kite,” said Taylor Nelson, 24, director of art and education at the Boys and Girls Club. Nelson began and oversees the art culture course with the Torch Club and has been helping them build the seven-by-seven foot kite.  “My kids have cut hundreds of kite tails,” she said.

The kite and its tails will be used on Thursday, November 4, as part of the ArtCorps’ annual benefit, “Raising Spirits: An Evening of Art and Stories.” The event begins at 6 p.m. and will be hosted by Cell Signalling Technology of Danvers in their Jungle Atrium, a large green house filled with plants.  

Inspired by a Guatemalan ceremony, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at which people remember those who have touched their lives, the unique benefit invites guests to tell the story of such a person in their life and attach that person’s name to the kite tail. The event includes a silent auction, live Latin Jazz music, and wine and beer provided by Ipswich Ale. ArtCorps will also be presenting the 2011 Creative Activist Award, an award given to two artists, one local and one who has worked in Central America.

“This award is to show that there are people using art for social change right here and around the world,” said Marta Oslin, 34, program director at ArtCorps.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Catmobile Offers Help to North Shore Cat Owners

By Angela Rodriguez
Gordon College News Service
October 28, 2011
(This story appeared November 1, 2011, in the Peabody site of The Boston Globe, a
nd November 3, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Salem News.)

PEABODY, MA –– When Cheryl Walsh’s cat “Salem” began scratching and playing a little too rough with her daughter, she knew it was time to neuter her cat. Walsh and her daughter Breanna, 21, live in Sommerville, and found the Catmobile parked at the Peabody Petco. The Catmobile is owned and operated by the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society (MRFRS), and had expanded their visits to Peabody, which was good timing for Walsh.

“He’s getting aggressive, and I was afraid he would scratch my daughter and infect her,” said Walsh, whose daughter has a spinal cord injury and is susceptible to blood diseases due to Addison’s disease. “Since Breanna is in bed all the time, Salem (who Breanna named because he is all black) has been a good companion,” Walsh said.

The Catmobile—which was designed and retro fitted specifically for cats—began operation in October of 2008, according to Stacy Lebaron, president of the MRFRS. “We’ve seen about 16,000 cats and kittens since opening, which is about 5,600 cats a year that we help through this program,” Lebaron said.

The Catmobile parks in the Petco parking lot of Peabody every other Thursday. Their next stop there will be Thursday, November 3rd, after visits in Lowell, Methuen, southern New Hampshire, and other areas across the North Shore.

The MRFRS started the Catmobile after hearing about the idea from another program in Connecticut, and received a grant from PetSmart Charities to start the program. “Dr. Deborah Bradey (the shelter’s vet) was very interested in it, so she took things from there and made the program our own,” said Lebaron.

Cats can be dropped off in the mornings and picked up at the end of the day. Services include brief exams, spay/neuter, rabies vaccination, flea treatments, and nail trims. Dissolvable stitches are used in female cats and gone within four weeks, whereas male cats that are neutered do not have any stitches after the operation. The Catmobile uses all state of the art new equipment while operating on the cats, and the cost is $100 for spay and $75 for neuter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Former Wenham Man Completes Appalachian Trail Hike

By Rachael Bailey
Gordon College News Service

October 24, 2011
(This story appeared in November 2, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Salem News.)

On March 24th, former Wenham resident, Max Beauregard, 24, set out for a six-month long adventure, covering 2,181 miles from Georgia to Maine—on foot—and alone.

Now after only 18 showers, 240 liters of water, four bears and 20 snake encounters, and a sickness that nearly cut the trip short, Beauregard returned to his childhood home in Maine on October 1st having traversed one of the world’s five longest hiking trails, the Appalachian Trail.

Though Beauregard started out alone in Georgia, he finished in Maine with people he now practically considers family.

“There was definitely a community,” said Beauregard. “I would walk into a town and go to MacDonald’s and there would be other hikers who I didn’t really know, but you always knew they were hikers. So I’d just go and hang out with them.” By the end of the trip, Beauregard had only spent one night on his own during the time he was on the trail.

The trail runs through 14 states, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and consists mostly of wilderness, but runs into some towns, roads, and rivers as well.

Last spring, Beauregard, who was working at a small biotech lab in the Cummings Center in Beverly, said he needed a change. “It was something I have always wanted to do,” he said. “I was at a point where I was working a job that I didn’t want to work anymore. It was a good time so I decided I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail.”

Once Beauregard hit North Carolina and the Smoky Mountains, he met Veronica Long, 24, and Austin Palmer, 24, a dating couple from Houston, TX. “On the trail, people meet up, continue hiking together, then start to build relationships,” said Long. “You start seeing people more and more frequently. In our case, we all became really close.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Salem Magician Evan Northrup Comes Home For “Tricks and Treats”

By Rachael Bailey
Gordon College News Service
October 17, 2011

(This story appeared October 20, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Salem News.)

Salem, Massachusetts—Evan Northrup’s plan as he stepped on campus at Brown University was not necessarily to become a magician. In fact, the Salem native says he didn’t have a plan at all.

Now a professional magician, the 22-year old graduate with a degree in Hispanic Studies is taking a break from touring during October to bring his magic show home to Salem. As part of its 2011 Haunted Happenings, the Salem Theatre Company will host Northrup in 18 shows of “Tricks and Treats, ” October 22-29 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  Performances are 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. All tickets are $10.

As a kid, Northrup was active in clubs, boy scouts, dance lessons, and music. But when he was eight years old, his father showed him a card trick that fascinated—and confounded—him. So he studied the trick, and then studied more, determined to master it.

“It’s an addiction,” he said. “It’s bad. And it’s been like that ever since.”

At college, though, Northrup didn’t do much magic—at least not for long. He majored in Spanish but also learned to speak Greek, Italian and a bit of French.  Eventually, he found a way to couple his love for language with magic during a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain.

When the semester ended and with nothing but his bag of tricks and a handful of change, Northrup performed for a month on the streets of Europe simply to see if he could get by.  He went from city to city performing in different languages, then took his day’s pay to sleep in a hostel.

“I said, ‘I’m going to learn how to street perform well’ and there is no better learning curve than saying ‘you will sleep on the street tonight,’” said Northrup. Many nights, Northrup did settle under bridges or on the streets.

Tierney Visits Students at Local School for the Deaf

                                                                            (Photo by Angela Rodriguez)
L-R CCC President Mark Carlson, Congressman John Tierney,
and interpreter Desiree Weems reading to preschoolers.
By Angela Rodriguez
Gordon College News Service
October 19, 2011

(This story appeared October 19, 2011, in The Boston Globe, Beverly.) 

BEVERLY, MA –The children’s book
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed might not be a typical text for a congressman’s speech. But on Tuesday, October 18, that’s exactly what Congressman John Tierney chose as he read from an iPad to a class of preschoolers at the Children’s Center for Communication (CCC) also known as Beverly School for the Deaf (BSD). Tierney toured the local school and read to the children as an outreach to see what is happening in the districts he represents, and the improvements that have been made to the school.

“I’ve known John Tierney for years, and I wanted to see if we could get him to come visit,” said Jane McNally, director of development at CCC/BSD. “We just wanted to show him the new building, the new technology piece in particular.”

CCC/BSD opened their new wing last spring, expanding their building to 45,000 square feet. Senator Scott Brown visited last month to see the new improvements. “We now have a library, now have a lunch room, now have an art and music room,” said Mark Carlson, president and executive director for CCC/BSD.

“This is a nice opportunity to show him (Tierney) what we’ve done and how it’s improved in the last 135 years,” Carlson said. “He’s always been a good friend, and he’s always made a connection to the place and not forgotten the educational institutions of the North Shore.”

Tierney toured the new building with its many new rooms, and learned about how the school has enhanced their programs to reach not only the deaf, but also children with other disabilities. CCC/BSD is now offering programs for children with autism or bipolar disorder, and have offered help to children in local schools on the North Shore through their programs. With 60 children on campus with the year-round program, they serve another 160 kids at programs throughout the area.

Heart-defect Support Group Raises Funds at Danvers Grill

By Rachel Bell     
Gordon College News Service
October 18, 2011

(This story appeared October 18, 2011, in the Boston Globe, Danvers site, and October 20, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Salem News.)

DANVERS, MA—When Anna-mary Geist, 35, was pregnant with her second baby, she visited a funeral home. Doctors had said that her unborn son would have only a few hours to live, and she thought she better prepare.

But Sam, who was born on September 1, 2010, with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD), is today healthy and strong despite the initial diagnosis. After two surgeries Geist is thankful and hopeful for his future.

“We paid our price at the beginning, with one foot in the grave,” she said. Now Geist supports others who are still struggling with CHD through an organization known as It’s My Heart, a non-profit group that supports and advocates for those dealing with Congenital Health Defects.

Last year, she became president of the group’s Boston chapter, and this Saturday, October 22, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. she’ll help in their second annual Craft Fair and Bake Sale at the Onion Town Grill in Danvers to raise money and awareness for CHD patients. Admission to the event is free and there will be face-painting and craft activities for children throughout the day.

“We’re going to have someone to greet people with an awareness brochure,” said Isabelle Ouimette, 41, the chapter director of It’s My Heart.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nature Walkers Discover Tolkien’s Forest in State Park

Chris Bertoni, guide
By Angela Rodriguez
Gordon College News Service
October 4, 2011

(This story appeared in the October 14, 2011, print and online editions of The Salem News, and October 20, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Gloucester Times.)

NORTH SHORE, MASS. ––Swords, maps and weathered copies of
Lord of the Rings books are all welcome at the annual J.R.R. Tolkien Walk in the Woods at Ravenswood Park in Gloucester on Sunday, October 23, from 1-3 p.m.

“We’re trying to reach out and get a broader audience to enjoy the outdoors, so why not a literature walk?” said Ramona Latham, program director for the Cape Ann properties of the Trustees of Reservation in Massachusetts. “We wanted to try it out for the first time last year, and because of the success, we did better publicity for this year’s walk.”

The Trustees started this walk to try to bring visitors and locals alike to the outdoors. For the past few years, the organization has worked to create new programs that bring people with similar interests, such as Tolkien fans, together in unique settings. They also recently offered yoga on the beach for yoga fans, and have scheduled October events that include bird watching and canoe trips.

“One of the things I always do is pay attention when I’m walking in the woods, and it always ties me back to Tolkien and his work of fiction,” said Chris Bertoni, 58, of Beverly Farms, who is the guide of
the J.R.R. Tolkien Walk in the Woods. When Bertoni is not walking and guiding people through the woods of J.R.R. Tolkien, she works at the registration center of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. “Tolkien was quite the walker in his home in Britain, and he must have been seeing some of the things I am as I walk.”

Last year’s group of about a dozen participants experienced a two-hour walk with Bertoni through the Ravenswood Park, stopping occasionally and reading excerpts aloud of Tolkien’s work as it applied to the forest.

Seasonal Help Means Holidays in Full Swing at Salem’s Harbor Sweets

By Rachael Bailey
Gordon College News Service
Oct. 3, 2011 

(This story appeared October 6, 2011, in the Boston Globe, Salem site, October 10, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Gloucester Times, and October 12, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Salem News.) 

SALEM, Mass.—Chocolate, October, and Salem, Massachusetts, might bring to mind Halloween for most. But for Harbor Sweets Handmade Chocolates of Salem, this time of year doesn’t mean trick or treats but planning for winter holidays.

That’s good news when jobs can be tough to find. During the shop’s peak production from October through December, nearly 100 employees will fill the red brick building on Leavitt Street in Salem as they prepare thousands of decadent chocolates for the holiday season. During the rest of the year, the company employs around 20 workers.

“Harbor Sweets is not the first chocolate one thinks about at Halloween,” said Billie Phillips, vice president of marketing. “It’s a gift item, so it’s a little different.”

The company began in 1973 when Marblehead, Massachusetts, resident Ben Strohecker produced the candy in his basement. Harbor Sweets now inhabits 25,000 square feet in the same location Strohecker moved to from his basement. Long-time employee, Phyllis LeBlanc bought the company after 23 years of working there. She has since been CEO and owner of Harbor Sweets.

Harbor Sweets is one of many businesses in Salem that rely heavily on seasonal help.

“All of the attractions and October-related businesses need extra help during the busy season,” said Ben Bouchard, assistant director at the Salem Chamber of Commerce. “It’s not just the Halloween-themed businesses. Retailers need extra cashiers, so it’s really across the board.”

For Halloween or not, the month of October is the busiest time for retailers, hotels and restaurants on Boston’s North Shore. “For us we look at it as Salem has an extra season—spring, summer, winter, fall, and October,” said Bouchard.

Businesses like Harbor Sweets have their own reason for success even in difficult economic times. “We do a really good job of monitoring what’s happening,” said Phillips about the recession.  Which is why she also says October is a great time for tourists to come and see the handmade chocolates in production.

African drums beat new rhythms for Endicott dancers

Courtesy photo: Greg Coles performs at Harborfest
with his students of Girls Inc. in Lynn, MA.
By Rachel Bell
Gordon College News Service
October 3, 2011

(This story appeared October 4, 2011, in the Boston Globe, Beverly, and October 7 in the print and online edition of The Salem News.)

BEVERLY, Mass – Even as a student at Harvard Business School and a business consultant after graduation, Greg Coles’ first love has always been singing, drumming and dancing. “I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t dancing,” he said.

On Saturday, Oct 8th the 50-year-old dance instructor will be teaching an African Dance workshop at Endicott College and is bringing his drums. The workshop is part of a test run for introducing an African dance course at Endicott in the near future. “It’s still in the works,” said Nicole Sao Pedro, 28, Coordinator of Dance and Head coach of the Dance Team at Endicott. “But this workshop is for students to be introduced to African dance, to more cultural dance.

While attendance of these workshops is required for Endicott’s dance students, Saturday’s event is open to the public for a $5 fee and dancers of all levels and abilities are welcome.

“The nice thing about African dance,” said Coles, “is the group tends not to be very homogenous.”

Last month the Performing Arts Center at Endicott offered a workshop in Bollywood dance with teachers from the Navarasa Dance Theater in Somerville, and in the past has hosted ballet workshops with instructors from the Boston Ballet School. “Every semester we do workshops in genres we don’t offer here,” said Sao Pedro.

Coles has been teaching dance, drum and singing since 1997 to students of all ages and backgrounds at schools, athletic clubs, restaurants and churches. He currently teaches part time at both Tufts University and Salem State and also offers adult Latin dance classes at Beverly Athletic Club. His weekly schedule includes Latin and Salsa dancing at Rockafellas Restaurant in Salem.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gloucester Finds More Ways to ‘Get Fit’

By Rachael Bailey
Gordon College News Service
September 26, 2011

(This story appeared Oct. 1, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Gloucester Times.)

Gloucester, MA—Two years ago, the City of Gloucester was one of 10 communities selected to receive a grant from Mass in Motion, an organization that encourages healthy living and fitness in the state of Massachusetts. From new sidewalks and bike racks to fitness fairs and farmers markets, the city has worked to transform the area into a “Fit-Friendly Gloucester” with still more to come.

In 2009 Gloucester officials dubbed this movement
Get Fit Gloucester! and has since conducted a community-wide health evaluation. With the results, the city implemented a plan to make it safe and convenient to walk, bicycle and enjoy healthy foods.

“We looked at how the community supports physical activity in terms of walking and biking,” said Steve Winslow, senior project manager of
Get Fit Gloucester! “And we talked to medical providers about their perspective.” With the help of local health care providers, the city was better able to identify health problems for residents.

Other evaluations consisted of synchronizing the individual concerns of civic leaders, city and school staffs, community organizations, medical providers and businesses to identify the collective community needs necessary for a “Fit-Friendly Gloucester.”

Since then, the $120,000 grant ($60,000 each year) from Mass in Motion has helped jumpstart a slew of projects in the area.
Get Fit Gloucester! not only expends the funds on tangible projects, but also encourages its partnering local businesses, farmers markets, grocery stores, schools, and civic leaders to make their services more available to the people of Gloucester.

Salem State to Host Immigration Film and its Creator for Hispanic Heritage Month

By Rachel Bell
Gordon College News Service
September 26, 2011

(This story appeared Sept. 29, 2011, in the print and online editions of the Salem News.)

Salem, MA – Born in Santander, Spain, Jesus Nebot came to America in 1996 to expand his acting career. Fifteen years later, the 47-year-old has acted, written and directed on a variety of projects, and now is using his success in the entertainment industry to raise awareness about issues such as immigration. “I am committed to films that have something to say, to socially relevant films,” he said.

On Thursday, September 29th, Nebot will visit Salem State University (SSU) to present his 2001 film, “No Turning Back.” Inspired by actual events, the film’s story follows a Honduran man who enters the U.S. illegally and goes on the run. The film—which Nebot wrote, directed and stars in—will begin at 6 p.m. in Veterans Hall at the SSU Ellison Campus Center and will be followed by a short lecture and a question and answer session with the audience.

Last year the Hispanic American Society at Salem State organized an immigration lecture during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15th to October 15th. This year the group decided to do something different and contacted Nebot.

“I thought this would be a more interesting way to introduce dialogue about immigration,” said Rebecca Jimenez, 34, the associate director of the Campus Center at Salem State.

Seniors Find Better Balance with Yoga

By Angela Rodriguez
Gordon College News Service
September 28, 2011

(This story appeared Sept. 29, 2011, in the print and online editions of the Salem News.)

DANVERS, MA – After both having open-heart surgery, Winona Aschey, 81, and Sheila McCarthy, 73, of Danvers, started going to the gym together, five times a week. That was ten years ago. Today the two also participate in yoga classes at the Danvers Senior Center (DSC), and are quick to point out how much it’s improved their quality of life.

Aschey and McCarthy see the need to stay healthy and exercise regularly, and yoga is another form of exercise for them. “I began feeling a difference after only my second week,” McCarthy said.

Barbara Younger, 71, of Danvers, began taking yoga classes because of a back condition. She got her certificate and training to improve her own practice.

“We’re working to be able to balance our bodies and to strengthen and be flexible,” said Younger who is now an instructor at DSC. “We’re looking to help our bodies.”

The center has offered two yoga classes— chair and gentle mat yoga—for the past 14 years for seniors. “Seniors have spoken about their balance being better, and that their backs feels better,” said Paula Corcoran, coordinating director of the DSC. “They have told me they’re not afraid of falling anymore because they have their balance.”