Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lowell Gardens Together

By Stephanie Francis
Gordon College News Service
April 24, 2013
(This article appeared April 25, 2013, in the Boston Globe, Chelmsford Your Town Site.)

Lowell, MA – Suzanne Frechette, 51, volunteered with the Coalition for a Better Acre a year before she was offered a job with them as deputy director.

On behalf of volunteer week, Frechette will join dozens from the community and from the Coalition for a Better Acre for its first “Sowing the Seeds of Community Garden Build Out Day” on Saturday, April 27. The event will take place in four garden sites in Lowell, MA. The organization is teaming up with three others to turn four vacant lots into community gardens.

“Volunteers will have the opportunity to build something beautiful that originally isn’t so beautiful,” said Frechette.

The Coalition for a Better Acre is a non-profit organization that works to better neighborhoods in Lowell through community development. They build housing, provide economic development, and work to improve voter registration.

The non-profit was one of sixteen to be awarded a grant by the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA) to complete a project, according to Shana Lothrop, 27, the Massachusetts Volunteer Coordinator, one of MSA’s biggest initiatives is to create service opportunities.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Landmark School Screens Documentary Debunking Myths About Dyslexia

By Tala Strauss
Gordon College News Service
April 18, 2013
(This article appeared April 22, 2013, in the print and online editions of The Gloucester Times.)

Beverly, MA—Janet Thibeau, of West Newbury, MA, believes many people misunderstand disabilities like dyslexia. Thibeau, an educational advocate and parent of two children who attend the Landmark School campus in Beverly, MA, hopes to change that.

“It’s a myth that students who struggle to read aren’t smart,” Thibeau said. “Typically such students have above average cognitive skills. Their brains just work differently.” Research labs at places like Yale and MIT are also studying the dyslexic brain to help figure out which services are effective for students, Thibeau said.

As part of an effort to raise awareness in the community about dyslexia as well as help students and families with language-based learning disabilities navigate their child’s educational path, Thibeau will join others at Landmark School’s special screening of James Redford’s documentary, “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia,” Thursday, April 25, at 7pm, at Landmark’s (second campus) Elementary and Middle School, 167 Bridge Street in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Walking to Change Abuse in Salem

Judy Currier and her cousin, Kim, in 1998.

By Stephanie Francis
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared, April 11, 2013, in the Boston Globe, Your Town, Salem site, and May 1, 2013, in the print and online editions of The Gloucester Times.)

Salem, MA—Judy Currier, 66, still remembers when her 29-year old cousin Kim was beaten to death by her husband. Nine months after that horrific event, Currier and her family members formed a team to attend Healing Abuse Working for Change’s fundraising walk in memory of her cousin.

“We walk as a family,” said Currier. “We do it as a way to stay connected to Kim.”

On May 5, 2013, Healing Abuse Working for Change (HAWC) will host its 21st fundraising walk and community awareness event. The event starts at the Salem Commons and registration begins at 9 a.m. HAWC was started in 1978, by a group of women who applied for a grant to stop the abuse they witnessed. Thirty-five years later, HAWC provides legal advice, hospital advocacy, an emergency hotline and children’s services among other things for those suffering from abuse.

Paula Gomez Stordy, 42, HAWC’s director of community relations, began working with the organization in 1998 when they collaborated with North Shore Medical Center to create a domestic violence program to train their workers on how to deal with patients who are, or who they suspect to be, domestically abused.

“I saw it as a great opportunity for the hospital to educate the staff,” said Gomez Stordy. 

The partnership has lasted; North Shore Medical Center has even provided sponsorship for past walks.

According to, the Massachusetts coalition against sexual assault and domestic violence, nearly one in two women and one in four men in Massachusetts in 2010 had experienced sexual violence victimization. Between 2003 and December of 2012, the organization identified 231 victims of domestic violence related homicides. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Local Hazardous Waste Cleanup Gains Momentum

Beverly Committee Chair Charlie Perlo
with an exhibit.
Photo by Alanah Percy

By Alanah Percy
Gordon College News Service
April 3, 2013
(This story appeared April 11, 2013, in the Boston Globe, Your Town, Beverly site, and April 19, 2013, in the print and online editions of the Salem News.)

Beverly, MA—Sharon Kishida’s plastic bag recycling display never fails to draw the attention of visitors. As the regional recycling coordinator for the Essex County House Hazardous Waste Network, Kishida organizes recycling events to promote safe disposals of household hazardous waste. Her traveling exhibit—made from a cardboard display board and assorted bags—may appear simple at first glance but it is a helpful educational tool.

“I lend it to municipalities to educate people on how to correctly recycle unwanted plastic bags,” she said.

Kishida has teamed up with Beverly’s director of health William Burke and others to organize Beverly’s Annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day on April 20 from 8 a.m. -12 p.m. at Beverly High School. This event is opened to residents of Beverly and Salem.

“We are doing a public service,” said Burke. “Without programs like this, municipal workers are left with the bag.”

Burke says the most common hazardous waste items to be dropped off are paint, aerosol cans, household cleaners, gasoline and paint thinner. Following the event, materials will be separated by item and retrieved by Clean Harbors, a municipal waste disposal company. The company then separates materials by their hazard class and brings them to incinerators, landfills and other disposal locations. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Locals Celebrate Immigrants’ Day at the State House

Iman Shati, executive director of Iraqi and Arab Community
 Association, (l), and administrative assistant Sarah Ouadghiri (r).

By Tala Strauss
Gordon College News Service
April 5, 2013
(This story appeared April 8, 2013, in the print and online editions of the Salem News.)

Pat Baker of Gloucester, MA, is not an immigrant. But as the mother of a Chinese immigrant and the daughter of an Irish immigrant, she is passionate about the issues surrounding immigration policy in America. For the 17th Annual Immigrants’ Day at the Massachusetts State House hosted by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), Baker will join almost one thousand immigrants and advocates today (April 8) to celebrate the contributions of immigrants throughout the Commonwealth and to advocate for reform.

“Immigrants need to share their stories so legislators will know why immigration law reform is important,” said Baker, who is a senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “I’m going to Immigrants’ Day (on Monday) because I feel very strongly about how important the fabric of immigration is to American society. It would be hard to find a family in America without a history of immigration.”

The event, which will take place in the Gardner Auditorium from 9:30am until 12:30pm, will feature Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote about his life as an undocumented immigrant for the New York Times Magazine in 2011. After Vargas’s talk and other presentations, groups of immigrants and advocates will speak to legislators about immigration policy and law reform.

“About a thousand people are deported daily, which means families are being ripped apart every day,” said Dr. Alexandra Piñeros-Shields of Salem, MA, who came from Spain to America when she was four years old and has been appointed MIRA’s director of organizing, starting today (Monday). “The biggest myth about immigration is that being undocumented is a crime. It’s not, yet the consequences of being undocumented are drastic.”

Piñeros-Shields clarified that being undocumented means to enter without inspection or stay in the U.S. with an expired visa. In fact, she said, being without status is not in the criminal code. It is an administrative violation and immigration lawyers do not go to federal courthouses but to immigration courts, which are under the executive branch, not the judicial branch, of government. Nevertheless, being undocumented can have serious and often extreme consequences under the current immigration system, said Piñeros-Shields.

“Because of their status, undocumented immigrants placed in detention centers before being deported or released have no right to a lawyer or a jury and are kept in prison for an average of nine months in Massachusetts,” said Piñeros-Shields. “This is a really unfair system and the most pressing problem to fix.”

One group from Lynn, MA, will be attending Immigrants’ Day to get the word out about the Iraqi and Arab Community Association, a nonprofit started by Iman Shati. The Association celebrated its first anniversary last month, and Shati said it is the only one representing Arab and Iraqi immigrants and refugees on the North Shore and in Boston, providing services to 200 immigrants from diverse immigrant communities. Shati pays ESL teachers and funds the association out of her own pocket.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Local Businesses Help Employees Stay Fit

The Beverly Athletic Club provides
convenient workouts.
By Alanah Percy
Gordon College News Service
April 3, 2013

As Kathleen McEvoy, 47, reviewed her fitness progress profile at the computer station of EBSCO’s employee gym in Ipswich, she was thrilled by her progress and encouraged to continue her healthy lifestyle.

After battling cancer, McEvoy, who has served as the company’s director of public relations for eight years, says the company’s wellness services made her treatments easier to tolerate. “You have to be mindful of how your health can affect your life including your work,” she said.

Experts agree that corporate wellness initiatives are critical to the livelihood of North Shore residents and businesses, especially considering the leading cause of death in, for instance, a town like Beverly is heart disease, cancer and drug overdose, according to Beverly’s 2012 health department report.

That’s why some local businesses like EBSCO Publishing of Ipswich are investing in wellness services to employees, including MiddleOak Insurance Company of Salem, Beverly Athletic Club and the North Shore Wellness Center of Salem, which is a branch of North Shore Medical Center.

The North Shore Wellness Center offers 20 percent discounts to employees for classes such as yoga, nutrition and gym access. Their newest fitness program—which is also open to the public—is called “Get Fit for a 5K” and began in early March. It prepares participants to run the distance through intensive strength and endurance training. The next session begins on May 16, 6:30-7:30 p.m. and will meet every Thursday for 10 weeks.

According to Lisa King, the wellness coordinator of the Center, fitness programming is well utilized and about 80 percent of participants are employees.

Dr. Don Ganim, an anesthesiologist at Beverly Hospital, said physicians receive a discounted membership to the Beverly Athletic Club. “It’s great, very convenient,” he said.