NoteWorthy – 9/20/20
AROUND THE VALLEY
MRT Welcomes Free Soil Arts Collective As First Company in Residence
After a yearlong collaboration, Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) and Free Soil Arts Collective, Lowell’s only Black-owned theater company, will formalize their partnership this season as Free Soil becomes MRT’s first official Company in Residence.
Courtney Sale, the MTR’s artistic director, said, “I am beyond excited to have founder Christa Brown and Free Soil partner with us in this bold endeavor. We have so much to learn from their artistry and engagement. The winner in this ‘coming together’ is the people of the greater Lowell region. What folks will feel is a solidarity of arts leaders focused on strikingly original work, an everlasting focus on equity and generous care for our beloved community.”
Christa Brown, founder and executive director of the Free Soil Arts Collective, will join the MRT artistic staff and participate in season planning and casting, as well as equity and anti-racist work within the nonprofit organization.
Free Soil operates under the fiscal sponsorship of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. The company presented the original play “Hair Tales: Stories of Black Hair-i-Tage” at MRT last summer.
Kayaking Tour Aims to Change Perceptions of the Merrimack
By Tyler McMillan
On Sept. 17, the Merrimack River Watershed Council hosted “Learn About The River — On The River,” an event which gave ecologists, city council members, and the general public a chance to kayak along the Merrimack River and alongside Haverhill’s downtown.
President of the Haverhill Chamber and Merrimack River Watershed board member Dougan Sherwood organized the outing. “I believe the river is one of the greatest untapped resources in the city of Haverhill,” says Sherwood, “If we embrace initiatives that clean and aid the river, the entire city benefits with more opportunities for both businesses and general recreation.”
Plum Island Kayak, a business operated in Newburyport and Haverhill, provided kayaks for the participants. According to owner Ken Taylor, the demand for outdoor activities is high. “We had our best year in Newburyport,” he notes. “The business model shifted with fewer guided tours, but rentals were strong. We had an extremely quiet season in Haverhill through.”
The underutilization of the Merrimack River in Haverhill could be explained by problems that still plague the river as a whole. Prassede Vella, a scientist working for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Massachusetts National Estuary Partnership (MASSBAYS), pointed to combined sewage overflows and storm water as two sources that negatively impact the river. She notes, “Due to the high level of urbanization in the area, we see oil and other contaminants run into the river. Also, during periods of heavy rain, we see the wastewater tanks run over their 18-million-gallon limit which has negative repercussions for the river.” These issues could potentially spur negative perceptions that prevent residents from participating in recreational activities.
“We plan on hosting many more activities and events to promote the river,” Sherwood says. “Ultimately, one important piece is going to be changing the negative perceptions that are still lingering from the 1970s.” Back then, the river had a notorious reputation for its high levels of pollution. “That is not to say the river is pristine,” Sherwood continues, “There is a lot of work to be done.”
To learn more about the Merrimack River Watershed Council, visit their website here. If you would like to enjoy a kayak expedition of your own, head over to the Plum Island Kayak’s website for more information.
MCC Awarded Approval to Offer Online Programs Nationwide
Middlesex Community College has received approval from the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) to offer its online programs to students across the country.
NC-SARA is an agreement in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that establishes quality standards for college-level distance programs. Over 2,100 colleges and universities participate in the initiative nationwide.
MCC’s background in online education helped the college successfully transition spring 2020 coursework and student services to remote, virtual and limited contact systems. In fall of 2020, 95% of courses were moved online without compromising quality.
Lowell High School Class of 1969 Adds $10K to Scholarship to Honor 50th Anniversary
The Lowell High School Class of 1969 announced that it had raised $10,000 for its LHS Class of 1969 Scholarship Fund bringing their scholarship total to nearly $18,000. Administered by the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, this scholarship fundraiser was kicked off in 2019 to honor the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1969.
The LHS Class of 1969 Scholarship Fund, was opened in 2005 and now awards $750 annually to a student who demonstrates financial need, will attend UMass or a Middlesex Community College and have been involved in community service. Additional donations can be made online at GLCFoundation.org/Donate.
MRT Celebrates New Playwright Commissions, New Reading Series
MRT will celebrate the commissioning of two of the country’s most adventuresome playwrights, Trista Baldwin and Vichet Chum, with the launch of a new reading series, MRT’s First Look. The series will kick off Sept. 24 with a new adaptation of the classic thriller “Gaslight” by Steven Dietz.
The initial three readings will be free and presented over Zoom. The readings will also be available on the MRT website for three additional days after the live Zoom reading. An RSVP is required via the show’s webpage at MRT.org/FirstLook. Those who RSVP will be emailed the access information for Zoom the day before the reading.
One of the great film noirs, “Gaslight” tells the story of a cruel, cold-hearted husband who employs all sorts of sinister tricks to manipulate his wife into believing she is going insane. The play gave rise to the term “gaslighting,” which means to psychologically abuse victims with the intent of making them doubt their own memories and perceptions.
Granite United Way Kicks Off Smart Start Cereal Campaign
Food insecurity is a critical need for children across the country, with many families utilizing school-based breakfast and lunch programs to ensure that their children have access to at least two meals each day. This challenge is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, with waves of uncertainty around school reopening and many more families struggling to put food on their tables on a daily basis.
In place of Granite United Way’s traditional Day of Caring, they have launched the Smart Start Cereal Campaign which empowers our communities to support children and families by donating cereal and other non-perishable breakfast items. In partnership with local food shelves, this safety-conscious engagement opportunity will help students start each day with the fuel they need to learn and grow.
The Smart Start Cereal Campaign will run from Sept. 16 through Oct.16. Companies can host a cereal drive at their location or text GUWFEEDS to 41444 to donate via the Smart Start Text-to-Give Campaign for a safe, no-touch option. Click here for more information.
Researchers to Study Extreme Weather in the Northeast
As wildfires continue to ravage the West Coast, UMass Lowell researchers analyzing the reasons behind hot and dry conditions hope their work will offer greater understanding of extreme weather events across the country.
UMass Lowell Professor Mathew Barlow and Assistant Professor Christopher Skinner are examining why heat waves and droughts occur in the U.S. Northeast, along with the relationship between the two weather phenomena. The faculty members teach in the university’s Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and conduct research in its Climate System Dynamics Group, which studies how disturbances in the environment influence climate and weather events.
Funded by a $478,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the researchers’ project is the first of its type to be conducted in the Northeast.
National Retailer Arhaus Bringing Handcrafted Furnishings to 15,000-Square Foot Space at Tuscan Village
Tuscan Village recently announced the addition of Arhaus, an industry-leading retailer specializing in handcrafted home furnishing, to its growing list of partners. Arhaus will open a 15,000-square-foot home furnishings collection — its first in New Hampshire — at Tuscan Village in spring 2021.
Founded in 1986, Arhaus operates over 70 locations across the country. The Ohio-based company is known for its one-of-a-kind artisan crafted home furnishings and commitment to using sustainably sourced, recycled and reclaimed materials whenever possible. Arhaus will be moving into a prime location at the front door of Tuscan Village, bringing its newest, architecturally-unique prototype to Salem, N.H.
For more information on Tuscan Village, including a video tour of the full development and renderings of the project, visit TuscanVillageSalem.com.
Entrepreneurs to Pitch New Health-Care Innovations in Virtual Event
The 2020 M2D2 $200K Challenge will feature 15 finalists pitching new ideas including GPS-guided system to locate and excise tumors, medication to regenerate damaged heart muscle, technology for synthetic cartilage implants for damaged joints and more.
More than 250 entrepreneurs from around the world entered the competition last spring. Inventors, venture capitalists and global leaders in business, industry and government will participate in the event, held virtually for the first time. Jennifer Griffin, vice president of industry strategy and investments for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, will be the program’s keynote speaker.
The competition will take place on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 5 p.m., and winners will be announced on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 5 p.m. Both events will be held online. Free registration and information is available here.
Care Dimensions HomeMD Expands Service Area
The Care Dimensions HomeMD program, which provides personalized, in-home primary care service for patients 65 years and older who have trouble leaving their homes, has doubled its service area to cover 45 communities north of Boston. New patients are being accepted to the practice and seen at home by a physician or nurse practitioner for all primary care needs. HomeMD is part of Care Dimensions’ continuum of home care services, but patients do not have to be on its palliative care or hospice services.
Care Dimensions HomeMD is particularly appropriate for patients who may be physically fragile, have trouble leaving their homes due to physical issues or memory loss, or for those who are managing complex chronic conditions such as diabetes, COPD, stroke or heart failure. Clinicians follow all COVID-19 safety precautions and use appropriate personal protective equipment. Led by physician Mark Messenger and nurse practitioners Kristin Chouinard and Patricia McCarthy, the team has extensive experience caring for the health care needs of a rapidly growing elder population.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Enterprise Bank Appoints Two New Directors
Enterprise Bank recently announced the appointment of Anita Worden and Nickolas Stavropoulos to their board of directors. Both individuals were also appointed to the board of directors of Enterprise Bank’s holding company, Enterprise Bancorp, Inc.
Anita Worden previously served as the co-founder, chief executive officer and director of Yaskawa Solectria Solar. Worden is a highly skilled senior executive, having founded multiple startups in high technology companies, with a specific focus on renewable energy and electric vehicle technology companies. She has also served the Greater Lawrence community concentrating on STEM education, ESL and food security.
Nickolas Stavropoulos previously served as president and chief operating officer of San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Before that, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer for National Grid USA, a multinational electricity and gas utility. Prior to that role, Stavropoulos was president of KeySpan Energy Delivery, where he led that company’s gas distribution group, field operations and sales and marketing teams.
Home Health Foundation Honors David Nesbitt of Andover
Like many volunteers at Home Health Foundation, David Nesbitt of Andover began donating his time and talent in an effort to give back. He joined its board in 2005, grateful for the compassionate care provided to his wife, Jane, by Merrimack Valley Hospice — one of the organization’s member agencies — as well as the support he and his family received after she succumbed to her battle with cancer in 2004.
Since he announced his retirement effective September 9, 2020, Home Health Foundation President and CEO Karen Gomes said the entire leadership team has paid tribute to Nesbitt for his numerous professional accomplishments while serving the board in a variety of capacities.
“Throughout his tenure, Dave has been highly regarded and admired for his leadership, honesty and willingness to teach, share and learn,” Gomes said. “Countless patients and families, as well as the nonprofit agencies of Home Health Foundation, have immensely benefited from his expertise and tireless dedication. While we wish him the very best on his well-deserved retirement, his invaluable advice and contributions will be sorely missed.”
Governor Baker Appoints Methuen Business Leader Chair of NECC Board of Trustees
Jennifer Borislow, founding principal of Borislow Insurance of Methuen, was recently named chairwoman to the Northern Essex Community College Board of Trustees by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
Borislow, a lifelong resident of Methuen, is a nationally recognized expert, author, speaker and thought leader on employee benefits, insurance and related business strategies. She is the chief executive officer and strategic coach of the organization. For more than 38 years, she has helped business owners, executives, and professionals develop a clear, strategic vision for their organizations that leverages employee benefits, risk management and more. Her specialty is working with educational organizations.
As chair, Borislow’s priorities will include strategic planning for 2021-2024, a review of the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) accreditation process, board self-assessment and meeting with each trustee and cabinet member to learn more about their role and commitment to the college.
Home Health Foundation Awards Scholarship to Hospice Nurse Melanie Correia
Home Health Foundation, a Lawrence-based nonprofit organization providing essential home health and hospice care in all the places patients call home, has selected Melanie Correia as the 2020 Mary Ellen Tramondozzi Scholarship recipient. Tramondozzi served as a role model and mentor to many fellow nurses, embodying the values and essence of nursing until her untimely death in April 2002.
A resident of Haverhill, Correia was inspired to pursue a second career in nursing after admiring the compassionate care received by her father following his diagnosis with brain cancer. John Willis spent nearly three weeks at High Pointe House in Haverhill, a home-like alternative to hospitalization with specialized end-of-life care where Correia has worked for the past two years.