Thursday, February 23, 2012

Food Banks Find Innovative Ways to Fill Pantries

Volunteers Lisa Brown (l) and Bethany
Petrusky(r) at Beverly Bootstraps Food Pantry
work to fill more bags with les
s food.

Photo By Katie Thompson

By Katie Thompson
Gordon College News Service
February 20, 2012
(This story appeared February 24, 2012, online in the Boston Globe, Beverly site.)          

BEVERLY—Kathy Kirlis knows about the economics behind supply and demand. As food pantry supervisor at Beverly Bootstraps Community Services Inc., she has learned that supply should ideally exceed demand, but too often lately the organization has found itself on the wrong side of that equation.

In 2010, for instance, Beverly Bootstraps distributed 20,529 bags of food at its pantry on Cabot Street. That amounted to approximately 140,000 pounds of food.  But in 2011, they distributed 23,253 bags of food weighing 120,000 pounds. That’s 2,724 more bags distributed with 20,000 fewer pounds of food available.

“The community’s biggest time for donations is in November and December and there is no walking room [in the pantry],” said Kirlis, 52, of Hamilton. “In the summer, shelves are bare and we’re shopping day to day.”

Bootstraps receives about 30 percent of its food donations from the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAB), a program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources that helps over 800 food pantries in the state. Kirlis said Bootstraps also applies for grants through Project Bread, a Boston organization that sponsors various anti-hunger programs, but for the most part, the pantry relies on neighbors and friends.

The problem, Kirlis said, is that private donations from the community have decreased in large part because families who once donated are now trying to keep themselves afloat.

But Kirlis said that where private donations have gone down, corporate giving has gone up. She believes food that corporations would otherwise throw out is the answer to a lot of the problems food pantries face.

“Now local companies like Stop and Shop and CVS are giving us salvaged food that’s still good,” she said. “There’s a lot more awareness on the corporate level.”

Non-Profit Leaders Get Boost at Upcoming Training Institute

Trustees at last year's Institute. (Courtesy photo)

By Kate Goodale
Gordon College News Service
February 22, 2012
(This story appeared March 1, 2012, in the Boston Globe, Danvers site, and March 6, 2012, on page one of the print version of The Gloucester Times and online.)

DANVERS—Over 2,500 non-profit organizations employ almost 45,000 people on the North Shore, providing a valuable part of the economy and much needed resources for residents going through tough times. But leading a non-profit is not always easy.

Trustees need time to focus on their dedication to their organization and renew energy to do their jobs better, according to Julie Bishop, vice president of grants and services for the Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF), a Danvers-based organization that works to educate and develop local non-profits.

“If the board is strengthened, everything an organization does will be stronger,” said Bishop.

Karen Keating Ansara of Essex, a mother of four adopted children, knows this firsthand. After witnessing poverty in South America through the adoption process, Ansara and her husband, Jim, became committed to ending poverty overseas through local platforms.

Now co-founder and board member of three non-profit organizations, The Ansara Family Fund, New England International Donors, and The Haiti Fund, Ansara wants to become a better leader herself. One of her tasks as a board member for The Haiti fund determines where grants can have the most impact, and is responsible for the construction of the only national teaching hospital there while also providing aid for additional relief and reconstruction efforts.

As a new board member, I need to learn about my legal and fiduciary responsibilities,” said Ansara. “As chair of steering committee I need to understand how to most effectively partner with staff and manage that relationship.”

To address such issues, the ECCF will hold its third annual Essex County Institute for Trustees training conference on Saturday, March 24. Designed for trustees like Ansara, the meeting helps leaders become better board members for their organizations. Ansara will be the keynote speaker.

“I’m going to talk about passion and what motivates people to service,” said Ansara. “I’m also attending the event. As a new board member myself, I really need to learn.”

A day-long forum of workshops and discussions, the Institute will be held at the Pingree School in South Hamilton. Members must register online at; the cost is $65 dollars per person, which includes resource materials and meals.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Women Filmmakers Make History at Salem Film Festival

Chicago Based Film maker, Xan Aranda

By Kate Goodale
Gordon College News Service
February 9, 2012
(This story appeared February 27, 2012, in the Boston Globe, Salem site.)

SALEM, MA—This year’s fifth annual Salem Film Festival will launch with the screening of All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert produced by Vivian Ducat. Ducat is one of 18 women producers and/or directors whose films are featured in this year’s festival. And of the 32 films selected for the 2012 Festival, women filmmakers comprise the highest percentage in its history.

Beginning Thursday, March 1 through Thursday, March 8, the Salem Film Festival’s week long event includes documentary films from around the world. Screenings are open to the public and will take place at Cinema Salem, 2 E. India Square Mall, or at the Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street, Salem. A complete listing of films and show times can be found at the Festival’s web site:

A graduate of Harvard, Ducat, 56, now lives in New York City, but began her career at National Public Radio (NPR) in Boston before turning to visual media. Her documentary depicts the struggles of Winfred Rembert, an African American man who grew up in the segregated South and learned to transform painful memories into paintings. Ducat will be in Salem for a question and answer session after the film kicks-off the Festival.

Ducat’s experience as a woman filmmaker hasn’t always been easy. “When I first began in TV, it was a hierarchy of entirely men, and I never had a mentor,” said Ducat. “But I’ve learned that it [filmmaking] is very much an interpersonal game. It’s all about how you interact with people and gain trust.”

Paul Van Ness, 60, of Beverly and co-owner of Cinema Salem, has been involved with the Festival since he helped organize it in November 2007. He said that the purpose has always been to bring “the world to Salem, 90 minutes of the world,” and that this year’s number of women filmmakers was a happy accident.

“We didn’t set out to bring women filmmakers, but it’s a reflection of the evolution in the film community that leads to a more balanced view of the world,” Van Ness said.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

For North Shore Seniors, Love is Still in the Air

Bob Mizzy and Nancy Johnson
of Beverly. Photo by Katie Thompson

By Katie Thompson
Gordon College News Service
February 9, 2012
(This story appeared February 14, 2012, in The Boston Globe, Beverly, and on page one of the print and online editions of The Gloucester Times.)

For two couples on the North Shore, Valentine’s Day means nothing. Not because they don’t like chocolate or roses, but because for them, every day is Valentine’s Day.

Bob Mizzy, 89, met his fiancé, Nancy Johnson, 90, both of Beverly, seven years ago at the Beverly Council on Aging and Senior Community Center. They sat across from each other at a bingo table.

“I looked over and said, ‘That’s a nice looking young lady,’” Mizzy said.

Mizzy asked Johnson out to dinner, and after an “I’ll let you know,” Johnson eventually said yes. Two years later, on Nov. 9, 2009, Mizzy proposed to her with a ring that was placed in the center of a box of chocolates. Though both had been married before, neither was expecting to find love again.

“I was a 12-year widow,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t looking for any man at all.”

The couple now lives together in Beverly and enjoys reading and socializing at the Community Center. This Valentine’s Day, they will attend the Center’s party.

Twelve miles north on Route 128, John Richard Larkin, 85, and Leah Havener-Larkin, 90, are known as the ‘love birds’ at the Golden Living Center nursing home in Gloucester.

“I loved him the first day I saw him,” Havener-Larkin said.

Both lifelong residents of Gloucester, the Larkins met nine years ago in their apartment building. John lived on the third floor and said he intentionally made many trips to the second floor where Leah lived. After dating for several months, Larkin proposed and the couple was married in Gloucester on Oct. 3, 2004. Leah’s son walked her down the aisle, and the couple’s children from previous marriages made up the rest of the wedding party.

“He just saw me coming down the aisle and was all smiles,” Havener-Larkin said, a widow of 21 years before meeting John. “I waited for the right one.”

Havener-Larkin is not a resident at Golden Living Center, but said she comes to spend every weekday with John. For Valentine’s Day, the couple may attend the Center’s party, but said they are content just to be together.

Linda Koby, of Beverly, is the activities director at Golden Living Center. She said that Valentine’s Day is important for couples like the Larkins and even for seniors who have lost their spouses to still celebrate. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Studio Space Builds on Beverly’s Reputation as Artist Destination

By Kate Goodale
Gordon College News Service
February 2, 2012
(This story appeared February 3, 2012, in the Boston Globe, Beverly site.)

BEVERLY, MA- Jesse Chamberlain, 30, is a Salem jeweler who specializes in creating wedding bands and engagement rings. Though he previously worked in Lynn, he saw an opening on Craigslist for a new studio space in Beverly, and this week moved his tools to a newly remodeled studio at Porter Mill.

“In Lynn the business is there, but there is no development of the presence of the arts,” said Chamberlain. “This [Porter Mill] gives artists a better opportunity to connect with people and other artists.”

Located on 95 Rantoul Street, Beverly, the Studios at Porter Mill opened in June 2011 for 30 artists and included a gallery space, accommodating a variety of artists including ceramists, photographers, painters, mixed media and pastel artists. But recent renovations of the second floor opened up 12 new studios for artists like Chamberlain, who began moving in Tuesday, Jan. 31 when Porter Mill received its occupancy permit earlier than expected. Now every studio is filled, adding 14 new artists to the Porter Mill community. The second floor includes painters, photographers, a jewelry-maker, a trumpet player, and more.

The new move also came in time for a new gallery exhibition: Bound and Written, which opened Thursday, Feb. 2 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 26. The exhibition is in collaboration with Monseratt College of Art and the college’s Book Arts and Printmaking Program. Porter Mill displays a new exhibition the first Thursday of each month.

Bea Modisett, 26, Beverly artist and manager of Porter Mill, said there was a waiting list of 15 artists when the second floor renovation began.

“It was encouraging knowing the demand was there and the word had spread,” said Modisett. “Artists actually recruited their friends and that was helpful.” Modisett said the total of 45 artists now has lead to a solid amount of activity.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

God in the Game? Former Patriots Player/Current Chaplain Coordinator Plans Message for Super Bowl

Don Davis (courtesy photo)

By Katie Thompson
Gordon College News Service
January 31, 2012
(This story appeared January 31, 2012, online at The Salem News.)

Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow’s openly religious behavior in the National Football League this season captured the attention of the nation. But this week Patriots’ chapel coordinator Don Davis is interested in getting the attention of his players the night before they face the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5.

Davis, 39, is responsible for organizing non-denominational chapel services and setting up speakers for home and away games. Though he currently lives in Leesburg, VA., he often speaks himself, as he will this weekend in Indianapolis. He also serves as the Director of NFL Programs for Pro Athlete Outreach and is the Regional Director of the National Football League Players Association.

The optional chapel services, which are held for players the night before every home and away game and every Sunday morning for players’ families, typically last for 20 to 30 minutes. Davis said chapel topics vary on a needs basis, but that it’s common for speakers to select topics such as why players should strive to be the best they can be on—and off—the field, motivated by serving their team and God.

“It’s typical for a speaker to try to tie the message into football,” Davis said. “I’m going to take a different approach [in the message the night before the Super Bowl].”

Not a newcomer to the NFL, Davis spent eleven years a defensive player in the league, including four seasons with the Patriots that earned him two Super Bowl rings. Davis led regular Bible study discussions for his teammates while with the Patriots from 2003-2006. After retiring in 2007, he was hired as the Patriots’ assistant strength training coach and team chaplain for the next season. He was the official chaplain of the team from 2007-2009, a position that no longer exists within the organization.