Member Spotlight: South Shore Conservatory

Member Spotlight South Shore Conservatory-minEvery day, South Shore Conservatory proves that no matter your age or ability, art and music can change lives. Through a new collaboration with the South Shore YMCA, which began in September, South Shore Conservatory now offers its group classes, community events, programming and performances–many that are discounted or free–at Laura’s Center for the Arts, located at the Emilson YMCA campus in Hanover.

“We’re excited to partner with our neighbor, South Shore YMCA, to provide greater access and spread the joy of music to even more community members in the region,” said Kathy O. Czerny, president of South Shore Conservatory.

SSC Memory Café is one example of the programming available at Laura’s Center. A longtime volunteer at South Shore Conservatory, Marcia Vose knows firsthand the effects of Alzheimer’s. She was the caregiver to her mother, who passed away from the disease after 12 years, and in 2017, her husband Abbot was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s. Marcia’s discovering of South Shore Conservatory’s Memory Café, a program for both caregivers and their loved ones with memory afflictions, has given her and Abbot a newfound shared experience at a time when they need it most.

Marcia and Abbot enjoy the informal coffee and refreshments and time to interact with new friends followed by the more structured activities that range from playing instruments to singing to making creative crafts. SSC Memory Café stimulates everyone’s brains and builds confidence and community among participants. Perhaps most importantly, it provides an opportunity to engage with others who are going through similar challenging times.

“There is relief in forming a bond with others whose experience in the regular social world often leads to feelings of isolation and uselessness. We usually go out to lunch after the café, both of us in high spirits. That joy is priceless,” said Marcia. She and Abbot credit Eve Montague, director of Creative Arts Therapies, with invigorating their minds and spirits, and South Shore Conservatory for creating a safe and supportive environment for individuals to use music, dance and art to socialize and stay active.

“Music reminds us how we’re all the same–not different. Our Creative Arts Therapies department impacts all ages, from toddlers to the elderly, and we’re excited to bring these programs to Laura’s Center for the Arts to reach all people, regardless of ability,” said Eve, who has been a music therapist for over 33 years.

Programs and performances scheduled at Laura’s Center include Music Together®, Mainstage Musical, SSC Community Voices, Too!, Singing with Parkinson’s chorus, Coffee Break Concert Series, SSC Memory Café (sponsored by the Middleton Family), and dance classes. Other programs include a Music and the Brain symposium on March 28, 2020, which is part of a series of events to celebrate South Shore Conservatory’s 50th anniversary in 2020.

“We hope that art and music enthusiasts of all ages will take advantage of the diverse offerings that are now available at Laura’s Center in addition to our other locations,” said Kathy.

For more information and to stay updated with upcoming events and programming, visit https://sscmusic.org/ and https://sscmusic.org/lca/.

Member Spotlight: Essex County Community Foundation

Member Spotlight ECCF-minBefore Sept. 7, 2019, many may have thought of the Beverly-Salem Bridge as just an average fixed-span roadway connecting the cities of Beverly and Salem, which lay on opposite sides of the Danvers River. But after, as the sounds of live music and laughter hung in the air and the bridge was illuminated in a shimmering purple light, it became so much more.

For seven days, painting, poetry, music, dance, theater, games and storytelling took up residence there, and they brought the bridge to life during the week-long Crossing Water arts festival, one of 12 public art and creative placemaking projects funded by the Creative County Initiative (CCI) of Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF).

ECCF is a charitable foundation – a family of more than 225 charitable funds – with a mission of inspiring philanthropy that strengthens the 34 communities of Essex County. They do this by managing and investing charitable assets ($91 million), strengthening and supporting nonprofits and engaging in strategic community leadership.

The Creative County Initiative – one of several of ECCF’s current community leadership initiatives –  is a partnership between ECCF and the Barr Foundation to strengthen the creative ecosystem of Essex County. ECCF first partnered with Barr in late 2017, when Barr granted ECCF $500,000 to launch the pilot phase of Creative County. Together, with a commitment from ECCF to raise an additional $250,000, an innovative approach to elevating arts and culture in the 34 cities and towns of Essex County was born.

In the last two years, not only has ECCF funded 12 incredible public art projects across the county that have each united artists, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and municipalities, but the Foundation has also worked collaboratively with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission on local and regional cultural plans; launched EssexCountyCreates.org, a regional platform for local arts and culture; and hosted two Essex County Arts & Culture Summits, which together have gathered more than 700 people invested in strengthening arts and culture in Essex County.

ECCF recently announced a second round of funding from Barr – in the amount of $1 million – to continue this critical work. With a $300,000 second-round commitment from ECCF, over the next three years, the Foundation will invest an additional $1.3 million to equip the Essex County arts and culture community with knowledge, tools and systems to build an arts ecosystem that is sustainable, equitable and accessible for all.

“Arts and culture are so important for strong, connected communities,” said ECCF President and CEO Beth Francis. “And we are so grateful to Barr for their support and so fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with so many people in Essex County who are committed to this work.”

CCI is a profound example of how the Community Foundation’s brand of systems philanthropy is making a big impact. Systems philanthropy is ECCF’s innovative approach to long-term social change, not just in the arts, but across all of the Foundation’s community leadership initiatives. It begins with community engagement, identifies root causes, inspires collaboration, invests larger resources over a longer period of time and engages funders as strategic partners.

“This systems approach enables ECCF to work alongside all those with a vested interest in creating population-level impact,” said Stratton Lloyd, ECCF’s COO and Vice President for Community Leadership. “It’s a strategic, holistic form of philanthropy based on strong cross-sector partnerships, a common vision for our communities and trust.”

Trust is a value common throughout all of ECCF’s work.

“Trust is critical to all facets of our mission – from helping our fundholders navigate their philanthropic goals and building capacity in nonprofits to convening community leaders tackling Essex County’s biggest social challenges,” said Francis. “Trust brings with it the ability to make progress, and at ECCF it’s something we value highly.”

For more information on ECCF, visit www.eccf.org.

Member Spotlight: The Phoenix

Member Spotlight The Phoenix website-minSeptember was National Recovery Month and nonprofit organizations throughout the Commonwealth hosted events and worked to build awareness of available recovery resources. One organization, The Phoenix, used the month to bring a message of hope, to erase the stigma around addiction, and to help make Massachusetts known as one of the best places to be in recovery.

The Phoenix is a nonprofit organization that fosters a free sober active community for individuals recovering from a substance use disorder and those who choose to live sober. Since launching programs in Colorado in 2006, more than 32,000 people have walked through their doors nationally. By leveraging the intrinsic power of physical activity and social connection, participants build confidence and find the support they need to live fulfilling lives in recovery.

Phoenix programming is free to anyone with at minimum 48 hours of continuous sobriety and instructors are in recovery themselves. With this peer-to-peer model and a culture that is welcoming, safe and supportive, The Phoenix helps individuals rise from the ashes of addiction and pursue lives full of hope.

On Thursday, September 19, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stopped by the Boston facility at 54 Newmarket Square to see the gym in action, meet program participants, and discuss mutual efforts to fight the ongoing opioid crisis and substance use disorder across the state.

A highlight of the visit was a moment when everyone yelled “Phoenix” loud and proud during a group photo. Governor Baker listened as a group of about 20 Team Members in recovery spoke about why they attend programming at The Phoenix.

“People come here for the classes and what they find is a new community and new friends. It’s a powerful transformation when we believe in someone until they can believe in themselves,” said Founder and Executive Director Scott Strode. “Governor Baker’s visit further reduces the stigma around addiction, and we applaud him for being a leader in the state and across the nation surrounding the opioid epidemic. It was an honor to have him here to see our work in action and to talk about how we can work together in the future.”

“Enjoyed the opportunity to visit The Phoenix, an active sober community focused on helping people through recovery with fitness and wellness programming,” said Governor Baker on social media. “Thank you for the work you do and for being of part Massachusetts’ recovery community.”

The Phoenix currently has Massachusetts programming in Boston, Lowell and Bourne. For more information, including class schedules or how to donate, visit www.thephoenix.org.

Member Spotlight: Community Access to the Arts

Member Spotlight Community Access to the Arts-minRuthie wheels up to the canvas with a big smile. She just celebrated her 102nd birthday, and she’s about to start a new painting.

Thanks to workshops provided by Berkshire-based nonprofit and MNN member Community Access to the Arts (CATA), Ruthie began making art two years ago using an adaptive technique designed for people with significant physical disabilities. Since then, she’s finished twelve gorgeous paintings— and sold three at CATA art exhibits!

With the help of a laser pointer and the aid of a trained “tracker”— a person who acts as the artist’s hands— Ruthie and dozens of other CATA artists are able to create stunning works of art using “Artistic Realization Technologies” (A.R.T.). Developed by artist Tim Lefens, this innovative technique gives full creative control to people who aren’t able to hold or manipulate a paintbrush.

“A.R.T. offers a way for artists like Ruthie to communicate something that would otherwise go unsaid or unknown,” says Stefanie Weber, a CATA Faculty Artist who serves as Ruthie’s tracker.

After working with Stefanie for the past year, Ruthie has found a unique style that’s all her own.

“Do you want a big brush or a little brush?” asks Stefanie. She holds out a handful of brushes and Ruthie takes her time feeling each one. After she chooses, Ruthie uses a color wheel to show Stefanie exactly which shade she wants to use.

“How’s this?” Stefanie asks, mixing the paint together. Ruthie smiles, “Yeah!”

With a laser pointer around her wrist, Ruthie shows Stefanie where to put the brush on the canvas. She moves the laser up and over, then into the corner, revealing a bright stroke of blue paint.

Ruthie is one of 800 CATA artists who take part in CATA workshops each year in dozens of art forms, including theater, dance, yoga, juggling, creative writing, painting, and more. Through CATA’s dynamic workshops and public events, artists with disabilities tap into their potential, explore new talents, and share their creative perspectives with the wider community. CATA collaborates with day programs, residences, school, and nursing homes across the Berkshires and upstate New York to bring arts opportunities to as many people with disabilities as possible.

Before workshops started up again this year, Ruthie “couldn’t wait to get back to work.” Thanks to our community of supporters, she’s celebrating her 102nd birthday with a fresh canvas and a big creative spark!

Member Spotlight: Boston Partners in Education

Member Spotlight Boston Partners in Education (1)-minShowing appreciation for the volunteers and community that support a nonprofit’s mission is extremely meaningful and can result in better retention, improved recruitment, and the creation of brand ambassadors.

Boston Partners in Education’s mission is to enhance the academic achievement and nurture the personal growth of Boston’s public school students by providing them with focused, individualized, in-school volunteer support. On June 11, the education nonprofit applauded the end of the school year with their own celebration: their annual AMP! Awards.

The AMP Awards are designed to recognize and honor the volunteer academic mentors, teachers, and corporate partners who serve Boston’s public school students. Presented in seven categories including the Educator of the Year, School Partner of the Year, and Rookie of the year; the awards recognize individuals and partners who have demonstrated an exemplary dedication to improving the lives and education of BPS students through their relationship with Boston Partners.

It takes a special commitment to become an academic mentor, and over 80 partners joined the festivity to celebrate their peers. The ceremony was kicked off by Boston Partners Chairman Mike McKenna and Executive Director Erin McGrath reiterating the immeasurable impact that volunteer academic mentors make in the classroom each year.

“These individuals work on the front lines of our mission. Whether they are volunteering, teaching, or partnering with our organization, everyone deserves recognition for their commitment,” said Erin McGrath. “These awards are a small way to show them how grateful Boston Partners is for their dedicated work in our community.”

One of the awards, the John C. Rennie Mentor of the Year Award is presented to a volunteer who “embodies what it means to be a Boston Partners in Education academic mentor.” This award recognizes an individual who becomes an integral part of the classroom as both an academic mentor, friend, and role model. This year’s award was presented to Kathy Weld (pictured above), who has been a fixture in Mr. Russell’s classroom at the McKinley South End Academy since 2015.

While Boston Partners mentors aim to help students who could benefit from more individualized attention in the classroom during the school day, mentoring at the McKinley South End Academy is different than the typical Boston Partners volunteer experience. The school focuses on the emotional, behavioral, and learning needs of its students using a highly-structured behavior management system. For students who receive a lot of messages about the ways that they’re not doing well and might not succeed, it’s significant to have someone from their community come into their classroom each week and tell them that they believe in them. Mr. Russell joined the AMP Awards to present the award to Kathy, and described her as “in a category of her own.”

“She doesn’t just put in time,” Mr. Russell said. “She’s exemplary in her willingness to do anything, and for her flexibility, her insight, her compassion, and good humor.”

Kathy’s special connection to the school isn’t simply the result of personalities meshing. Kathy spends more time working with students than Boston Partners volunteers typically do — much more, in fact. For over three years, Kathy has been mentoring two or more days a week for three or more hours each day. According to Mr. Russell, more important than the quantity of her work, in the countless hours that Kathy has spent in his classroom, is the quality.

Acknowledging and showing gratitude for the individuals that support and drive your organization’s mission is an important part of becoming a successful nonprofit. Like the AMP Awards, a celebration to acknowledge the dedication it takes to support a nonprofit organization is a great way to reinforce the importance of the work they do and extend a Thank You to your community.

To learn more about how to get involved as an academic mentor, visit www.bostonpartners.org.

Member Spotlight: Parenting Journey

Member Spotlight Parenting Journey-minCollaboration between nonprofits can be a powerful force for change in a community, and can address needs that could not have been solved as effectively by any one organization.

MNN member Parenting Journey (PJ) uses collaboration in working towards the day when every family has what they need to thrive and succeed. Rooted in the belief that all parents know what is best for their children, PJ recognizes that some parents cannot reach their full potential because of systemic injustices that disproportionately impact communities of color, low-income families, and immigrants. In response to intergenerational trauma caused by racism and poverty, PJ uses an interdisciplinary approach to effect change in family systems, institutional systems, and governmental systems to uplift families.

PJ recognizes that collaboration and collective impact are essential to disrupting intergenerational poverty and trauma through a continuum of wrap-around services that meet the needs of individuals and families. PJ launched a two-generation service delivery model in partnership with nonprofits in the Greater Boston area who work with families at different life stages and in different capacities.

One of PJ’s partnerships provides a glimpse into the power of nonprofit collaboration. PJ partners with the Epiphany School to provide its Parenting Journey I program to parents at the Epiphany School Early Learning Center (ELC) in Dorchester, MA. So far, a total of 28 young, low-income parents who have children enrolled at the Early Learning Center have participated in the 12-session curriculum. The weekly two-hour sessions are co-facilitated by Delores Reyes of Parenting Journey and Emily Bautista, the director of student support at Epiphany School.

During the sessions, parents explore their relationships with their own parents and past experiences that impact how they parent. The sessions provide parents with the opportunity for self-reflection and realization. Parents reported multiple positive changes as a result of their participation, including decreased stress and increased parenting strengths.

“Since Parenting Journey, I have a different perspective in life. I take time to listen to my children before making a decision,” said a participant of Parenting Journey 1 at Epiphany. These types of changes have previously been shown to improve parent-child engagement and the ability of parents to buffer their children from stress, promoting optimal child social-emotional development.

In addition to providing the parent program, PJ trained 13 Epiphany staff in PJ Community. The 1.5-day training program brings staff together to develop strong working relationships, examine their work through a strengths-based lens, and improve engagement internally and within their community.

Epiphany offers many different types of support to children and families, including school, daycare, and home visits. Incorporating PJ into these wraparound services boosts the strengthening effects of those other supports, giving parents a dedicated space for building empathy and resilience.

Collaboration is powerful. By enhancing programs, practices, and policies across sectors, partnerships like the ones established by PJ and its nonprofit partners can address the complexity of families’ lives and can create a collective environment that acknowledges parents’ inherent strengths, power, and expertise.

Member Spotlight: Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit whose mission is to activate the next wave of ocean leaders through the arts, science, and advocacy. Bow Seat provides a space for teens to connect, create, and communicate for our blue planet through innovative programming that works at the intersection of science and arts education, with a focus on amplifying youth voices to advance dialogue and participation in ocean conservation.

Bow Seat, in partnership with Conservation Law Foundation, launched the 2019 Healthy Whale, Healthy Ocean Challenge to engage local youth in using their creative voices to highlight the plight of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales and the need for conservation of marine ecosystems and resources. The Challenge invited K-12 students from the New England region to create visual art, poetry, and short films that celebrate this iconic species and drive action for its protection.

Bow Seat received more than 130 imaginative and inspiring submissions, including entries from Massachusetts students from Boston to Deerfield and Andover to Pocasset. The Challenge winners and participants were recognized on Sunday, May 5, at an awards ceremony during the Right Whale Festival at the New England Aquarium. This community event featured a student art exhibit, film screenings, presentations by youth conservation leaders, and a panel discussion moderated by National Geographic photojournalist Brian Skerry, who served as a judge for the Challenge. The participants’ pieces will be an important part of an ongoing campaign to inspire awareness, care, and action for right whales and the ocean, which will include future events and art exhibitions.

“I created what I did to inspire people to be mindful of their impact on the ocean. By making this piece, I learned more than I was expecting to; I learned that the whales need our help, that they are beautiful, and that we need to act soon,” said Eliza Goodwin, a Challenge participant.

The Healthy Whale, Healthy Ocean Challenge was presented with the Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs at a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House on May 6, 2019. This award recognizes outstanding efforts to improve energy and environmental literacy in the Commonwealth.

Member Spotlight: The Brain Aneurysm Foundation

Member Spotlight Brain Aneurysm FoundationAs the head of the Mass. highway department, Tom Tinlin, 53, was no stranger to stress. When persistent headaches sent him to the doctor, his physician encouraged him to relax and get rest, sending him home with a prescription. Six days later, while emceeing a charity auction, Tom realized something was seriously wrong. He walked off stage and told his wife they needed to get to the hospital. A scan uncovered that Tom was experiencing a ruptured brain aneurysm. Luckily, emergency surgery saved his life and he survived the ordeal without severe permanent damage. Knowing how fortunate he was to survive with minor deficits, Tom turned to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF), the globally recognized leader in brain aneurysm awareness, education, support, advocacy and research funding.

One in 50 people in the United States have a brain aneurysm, one rupturing every 18 minutes. Of the 30,000 people each year that suffer a rupture, 40 percent will die, and of those who survive, 66 percent will endure permanent neurological deficits that limit their ability to resume a normal life. A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis like Tom’s occurs in up to 25 percent of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), the most common type of brain aneurysm.

“It frustrates me that my experience was avoidable, had my primary care doctor been more aware of the symptoms of a brain aneurysm. My hope is that we can educate more healthcare professionals and the public about brain aneurysms so that fewer people have to suffer or die,” Tom said. BAF is helping him do exactly that. They are teaming up for the First Annual Tinlin Family 18 for 18, a golf tournament this September, named in recognition of the fact that someone suffers a rupture every 18 minutes. One-hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit BAF’s tireless work to support the brain aneurysm community.

“We are consistently amazed by the unwavering dedication of survivors and families affected by the disease. Our goal is to be the ultimate resource for them so that no one has to feel alone in this struggle,” BAF Executive Director Christine Buckley said.

To date, the foundation has distributed more than $2.6 million in research grants, benefiting 108 different research projects that focus on the prevention and detection of brain aneurysms. In addition to funding pertinent research, BAF collaborates with healthcare professionals to provide support networks and informed care to patients and families. BAF offers over 75 support groups in the U.S. and Canada, as well as an online support community. BAF also recently launched its first online accredited educational lecture on the early detection of brain aneurysms for primary care providers.

2019 marks BAF’s 25th anniversary as an organization, which they are celebrating with a robust roster of events that will increase awareness and amplify their mission. Most of these events, like the Tinlin Family 18 for 18, are the product of partnering with brain aneurysm survivors or loved ones from around the country.

For more information about BAF and their upcoming events, please visit bafound.org.

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Nonprofit members can click here to submit a Member Spotlight and share a story that best illustrates the positive impact their organization has in their community.

Member Spotlight: The Wish Project

Member Spotlight The Wish ProjectSometimes the best way to describe the true impact of a nonprofit is through telling the stories of the people it serves. This is the case for Chelmsford-based nonprofit and MNN member The Wish Project.

The Wish Project’s mission is to help families in need establish long-term residency by providing furniture, household goods, clothing, and shoes; to provide critical immediate assistance to homeless families and victims of fire or disaster; and to support the community.

Jill Maker, once a client of The Wish Project and now its Chief Operating Officer, shared her inspirational story with MNN:

“I first found out about The Wish Project in 2006 when I helped a friend pick up a couch she had received through the organization. I didn’t know it then, but that meeting was truly a blessing: shortly after that visit, I would become a Wish Project client.

After the first meeting, my house was flooded and all my baby clothing and supplies were ruined. I was 7 months pregnant and had nothing for my new baby. I didn’t know where to turn. Then, a good Samaritan brought me a bag of new items for my baby. That woman was Donna Hunnewell, the founder of The Wish Project. She helped me turn my whole world around. I was so touched I started to volunteer at The Wish Project.

I had medical complications with the baby and lost my job and ultimately my home because I was out of work for so long.  Jobless and now pregnant with my third child, I ended up in shelter housing. The caseworker that I had worked with at The Wish Project became my own caseworker and started getting items for my children from Wish.  

Even while looking for a new job, I still spent my spare time volunteering at Wish. I hoped that the volunteering on my resume would help me secure a new job. As it turns out, it did a lot more than that. Donna later hired me as the Project Manager for the Wish Project, then promoted me to Assistant Director. Now, 12 years later, I am its Chief Operating Officer.

I always say that one thing can happen in your life that can change it forever. Every person and story that I have heard at The Wish Project is different, but one thing is the same: when their lives change for the worse, they all need to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

I understand that because I’ve been there.”

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Nonprofit members can click here to submit a Member Spotlight and share a story that best illustrates the positive impact their organization has in their community.

Member Spotlight: Martha’s Vineyard Film Society

Member Spotlight MVFSThe Martha’s Vineyard Film Society began in a way that many nonprofits do, as a dream of a dedicated group of volunteers to share their passion with the larger community. The group’s dream was to bring enriching, culturally significant films to Martha’s Vineyard.

The Film Society began with what Founder and Executive Director Richard Paradise calls “a nomadic existence.” For twelve weeks in the summer, the Society would host nightly screenings of classic films on a 16mm projector at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. Word spread about the Film Society, and it quickly built an enthusiastic following across the Island. It began hosting year-round screenings in cultural centers, including the Katharine Cornell Theatre, the historic Tabernacle, and Union Chapel.

However, the early successes of the Film Society exacerbated its two challenges: technical and artistic limitations imposed by the less-than-perfect screening venues, and the lack of a dedicated home in which they could offer film-goers a first-class experience and expand their programming.

The Film Society opened its permanent home, the Film Center, in September 2012. The Film Society now showcases 150 feature films and 1,200 live performances year-round to  more than 60,000 attendees. The Film Society also hosts The Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, which recently completed its thirteenth year and drew over 2,700 attendees, the highest attendance in the Festival’s history.

The Film Society is actively involved in the community through the revitalization and preservation of the Island’s cultural and historic treasures. In 2015, the Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation approached the Film Society with an opportunity to operate the Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven (opened in 1913) and the Strand Theater in Oak Bluffs (opened in 1915), both of which had fallen into disrepair and could only be used sparingly.

The Capawock re-opened on May 29, 2015, and The Strand Theater on June 20. Carly Simon and her family performed live music to a packed house at the Capawock Opening Ceremony, and a large crowd welcomed the Strand back to working order during a screening of JAWS!, the 1975 classic directed by Steven Spielberg that was filmed on the Vineyard.

In twenty years, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society has grown from a seasonal, volunteer-led organization into a vibrant, year-round cultural organization that has become an Island institution. The Society looks back fondly on its foundational “nomadic” years and is excited by the prospects of the next twenty.