NoteWorthy – 3/21/21
AROUND THE VALLEY
NECC Announces Commencement and Reopening Plans for 2021
The Northern Essex Community College (NECC) 2021 commencement ceremony will feature five small in-person, socially distanced graduation ceremonies organized by academic area.
Each ceremony will be held outside on the Haverhill Campus on Saturday, May 15, starting with the first ceremony at 9 a.m. A student speaker from each of the areas — STEM, professional studies, health, liberal arts, and business — will be selected by the academic centers to speak and President Lane Glenn will present the diplomas. All graduates will be seated 6-feet apart and policies regarding guests will be announced closer to the date, when the guidelines regarding outside events become more clear.
Because last year’s ceremony was virtual, 2020 graduates have been invited to participate.
HC Media will be livestreaming all of the ceremonies so family and friends can watch from anywhere. The college also plans to hand out yard signs. Visit the college’s commencement website for up-to-date information.
NECC also announced plans to expand its course options this fall, offering more opportunities for virtual and on-campus facetime between students and their professors.
UML to Return to Full On-Campus Operations
UMass Lowell (UML) plans to return to full on-campus operations for the fall 2021 semester, the university announced today.
“With vaccinations accelerating nationwide and multiple semesters of COVID-19 lessons learned and effectively implemented behind us, we believe we will be able to create a safe, social and interpersonal living and learning experience for all our students on campus,” Provost Joseph Hartman said. “This spring we’ve already increased our on-campus populations in classrooms and our residence halls. We’ve all learned through their absence just how important person-to-person interactions are.”
Current UML students can begin registering for fall classes on March 26 and new students can do so through the admissions process.
Trahan Leads Reintroduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Tackle Root Causes of Addiction Crisis
U.S. Rep Lori Trahan, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, led the reintroduction of the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act, bipartisan legislation to implement a standard for substance use disorder (SUD) training to require prescribers of highly addictive medications to have baseline knowledge in evidence-based addiction prevention and treatment.
“Every person in our community, in our Commonwealth, and in our country knows firsthand or through a loved one the devastating havoc the opioid epidemic continues to wreak. Congress has an obligation undertake a holistic approach to ending the addiction crisis that has taken far too many lives already,” said Trahan. “That can’t happen without understanding addiction’s root causes and the stigma associated with seeking out help. The MATE Act will ensure that medical professionals across the nation have standardized training that not only ensures a strong understanding of addiction, but also gives them the tools necessary to identify, treat, and manage patients with substance use disorders.”
Specifically, the bipartisan legislation would:
- Create a one-time, non-repetitive requirement for all DEA controlled substance prescribers to complete training on treating and managing patients with opioid and other substance use disorders, unless the prescriber is otherwise qualified.
- Allow accredited medical schools and residency programs, physician assistant schools, and schools of advanced practice nursing to fulfill the training requirement through comprehensive curriculum that meets the standards laid out in statute, without having to coordinate the development of their education with an outside medical society or state licensing body.
- Normalize addiction medicine education across certain professional schools and phase out the need for these future practitioners to take a separate, federally mandated addiction course.
- Authorize the federal government to appropriate grants to schools and medical programs to develop the curricula used to train prescribers on how to best identify and treat SUDs.
Expert Says COVID-19 is Complicating Tax Season
The COVID-19 pandemic is creating complications for tax filers this season, according to a UMass Lowell (UML) taxation expert.
This week, the IRS extended the deadline until Monday, May 17, to give people filing individual returns more time to navigate tax implications for 2020. The economic stimulus programs instituted over last year, the millions of people who received unemployment compensation and the fact millions of others worked from home have created a perfect storm for accountants and other tax preparers, according to Janie Casello Bouges, a UML expert on taxation and regulation.
“The federal government has changed and eased a number of tax rules because of COVID. The question is whether the rules will return to the previous status quo once the pandemic is under control. This may represent a huge shift in taxation for business and individuals,” she said.
GLCF awards more than $500K in additional COVID-19 Response Grants
After more than a year after the pandemic began, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) continues its work to support nonprofits providing relief to people affected by COVID-19. The GLCF deployed a new round of COVID-19 related grants, providing an additional $550,142 to 32 area nonprofits through the Commonwealth COVID Grant Program and GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.
GLCF awarded $414,992 in grant funding in the first round of the Commonwealth COVID Grant Program, made possible by the Baker-Polito Administration’s $10 million grant program for COVID-19 relief. The program is administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development through community foundations.
Among the 24 Commonwealth COVID Grants funded through GLCF, the International Institute of New England in Lowell received a grant to support food supplies and rental assistance.
The 24 nonprofits receiving $414,992 in grant funding in the first round of the Commonwealth COVID Grant Program are:
- Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell: Educational Support
- Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association: CMAA Emergency Response Project
- Catie’s Closet Inc.: Meeting the COVID-19 Needs of the Lowell Community
- Coalition for a Better Acre: Pandemic Response 2021
- Community Teamwork Inc. . COVID Relief Projects
- Dwelling House of Hope: Food Pantry
- Girls, Inc. of Greater Lowell: Remote Learning
- Greater Lowell Family YMCA: Remote Learning
- House of Hope, Inc.: COVID Prevention Baskets
- International Institute of New England: Food Supplies and Rental Assistance
- Life Connection Center Inc.: COVID 19 Basic Needs Emergency Project
- Lowell House Inc.: Housing Stabilization
- Merrimack Valley Food Bank Inc.: Food Assistance in Lowell
- Mill City Grows: Increasing Food Security in Lowell
- NFI MA Inc.: COVID 19 Essential Supplies Support for Lowell
- Northeast Legal Aid Inc.: – Supporting Lowell Tenants Facing Eviction
- Project Home Again: New Items Program
- Sankofa Support Services: Diaper Distribution Program
- The Center for Hope and Healing Inc.: Hopeful Futures, Supporting BIPOC and LGBQ/T Youth
- The Megan House Foundation: COVID-19 Relief Support
- Troubled Waters Inc.: Bi-lingual Recovery Coach Program
- VNA Care Network Inc.: Equipping VNA Care Network’s Frontline Nurses
- Wayside Youth & Family Support Network: Wayside | Lowell – PPE and Addressing Food Insecurities
- YWCA of Lowell: Acre Youth Center Educational Enrichment Support Resources
Additionally, GLCF distributed a round of support from the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Of the six recent grants from the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Billerica received a grant to support COVID-19 Remote Learning and STEAM Enrichment.
The eight nonprofits receiving $135,150 in grants in the latest round of the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund are:
- Aaron’s Presents: Keeping Our Teens Engaged and Creative during the Pandemic
- Boys and Girls Club of Greater Billerica: COVID-19 Remote Learning and STEAM Enrichment
- Greater Lowell Health Alliance – Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Community Education Roll-out
- Lowell Community Health Center: Strengthening Health Equity – LCHC Patient Access Services
- Minute Man Arc for Human Services Inc. – Safeguarding children with disabilities during COVID-19 pandemic
- Nashua River Watershed Association: Wednesday Walks with NRWA Naturalists
- UTEC Inc.: Madd Love Meals for Dracut + Tyngsboro Elders
- VNA Care Network Inc.: COVID-19 Patient Isolation Kits
Western Avenue Resumes First Saturday Outdoor Art Market
Western Avenue artists are excited to welcome enthusiastic art lovers again. Their first Saturday in-person Outdoor Art Market of 2021 will be on Saturday, April 3, from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. Attendance inside the market will be limited to state guidelines and masks will be required to be worn at all times.
Henry Marte, Western Avenue’s marketing manager, is working hard to accommodate the 40 plus artists that want to participate in the outdoor event. Western Avenue will be using their social media feed to highlight the participating artists so the public can get to know participating artists before arriving on site.
This event will mark the first time the new Tiny Arms Coffee cafe (whose owners were recently featured on The 495 podcast) will be open to the public. Tiny Arms is located in the Studios building and will be serving up coffee and tea, as well as selling their beans roasted on site. The Loading Dock Gallery will be hosting their April show, “Invocation of Place,” featuring the work of Priscilla Levesque and Noel Soucy. Levesque is a Western Avenue artist who paint in the pointillist style, building her landscape images from small dots.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Pentucket Bank Welcomes Community Leaders to Board of Trustees
Michelle Lavigne, a corporator of Pentucket Bank since 2019, is the owner of several Servpro franchises, including Haverhill where their headquarters are located. Lavigne officially joined the Servpro team, her family’s business, in 2006 where she worked for her father and fellow Pentucket Bank Corporator, Dave Hart, as marketing and office manager before purchasing the business with her husband Patrick in 2013. Lavigne is a member of the Exchange Club of Haverhill and currently serves on the board as Treasurer. Lavigne is also an active supporter of numerous local organizations including the Liz Murphy Open Hand Food Pantry, Sacred Hearts School, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill and many youth sports programs. Lavigne lives in Haverhill with Patrick and their two children.
Daniel Norris, became a Bank Corporator in 2011. He practices corporate law and is a director in the McLane Middleton Law firm in Manchester, N.H., and Woburn, Mass. Norris received his J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and his B.A with distinction from Purdue University. Norris’ areas of focus at the firm include mergers and acquisition and corporate business law, as well as other corporate specialties. In the community, Norris is a member of the Central Catholic board of directors, a member of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and has served on the Salem Boys & Girls Club board of directors, as well as many other local and statewide affiliations. Norris lives in Salem, N.H. with his wife, Lori, and their three children.
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union announced the addition of two new team members.
Tracy Dodier-Brochu to AVP, Operational Risk Management
Dodier-Brochu has more than 30 years of experience at Newburyport Bank, holding multiple officer titles with the most recent being assistant vice president, security and information technology business analyst. Dodier-Brochu has an extensive background in information technology, information security, risk management, and quality assurance, as well as experience in various areas of operations, bank policies, programs, procedures, and Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council guidelines. She attended Northern Essex Community College and holds the following certification titles, Certified Banking Security Manager and Certified Banking Vendor Manager.
Yan Ventura to AT Business Services Advisor
Ventura joins Jeanne D’Arc’s Business Services Team with six years of banking experience. He was previously a small business specialist at Santander Bank where he was recognized as the number one small business specialist in the district and a top performer in the northeastern district. Ventura received his BA in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. He holds his NMLS certification and is a certified Salesforce.com administrator.
Parker River NWR Free Online Film Screenings
Officials at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge are offering a free online screening of The Merrimack: River at Risk on Thursday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m. Following the screening, audience members will have a chance to pose questions to the filmmakers. To register, send an email to email@example.com and write “merrimack river” on the subject line. Include your full name in the email. The registration deadline for “The Merrimack: River at Risk” is Tuesday, March 23.
Brush Gallery and Studios and Lowell National Historical Park Host Spring 2021 Invitational Art Exhibition
Brush Art Gallery & Studios and Lowell National Historical Park are calling for entries for a juried exhibition on the theme “What does community look like to you?” Those interested in exhibiting are invited to submit up to three images for consideration. Six hundred dollars in prizes will be awarded. Entries must be submitted online and received no later than 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2021. Click here to apply.
The exhibition will be on view May 1 to June 12, 2021, with the virtual opening reception on May 8, at 2:00 p.m.
Mill City Grows 2021 Seed Swap
Join Mill City Grows in Lowell for the Annual Community Seed Swap and bring home free seeds for your garden. The Seed Swap will be held outdoors in the large parking lot with physical distancing protocol and masking in place. There will be multiple tables set up with seed packets and attendees will be invited one person at a time to peruse the seeds and ask questions to MCG staff and community gardeners. The Seed Swap takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 27. Click here for more information.
Merrimack Valley Hospice Free Virtual Support Group for Children
Merrimack Valley Hospice has expanded its offerings of free grief support groups to include a session for children. Groups are offered biweekly via Zoom video conference, with sessions led by a facilitator from the Merrimack Valley Hospice licensed, credentialed bereavement staff. The new children’s grief support group meets every other Monday, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., from March 29 through June 7. All groups are free of charge and open to the public. To register, call (978) 552-4510 or visit here to learn more.
Lawrence Boys & Girls Club Virtual Auction
Support the daily operation of the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club during the “Let’s Fiesta” 10-day VIRTUAL Annual Auction that will take place from Thursday, April 1, to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 10. This year, support is more important than ever. COVID-19 has turned members’ lives upside down. While implementing careful safety guidelines, the club continues to serve kids both in person and virtually as a reliable, familiar, and safe place to receive remote learning help, eat a nutritious supper, and discover talents in sports, STEM programs, the arts, leadership groups, and so much more. Click here to donate.
Fania Davis Leads the Annual Day Without Violence & More
Civil rights leader Fania Davis, UMass Lowell’s (UML) 2021 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies, will lead the annual Day Without Violence with the keynote address “Restorative Justice, Racial Justice and Peace Building,” online on Tuesday, April 6 at 12:30 p.m. Davis will also lead “The Spiritual Roots of Restorative Justice: Resources for Cultivating Peace in Our Communities,” a virtual event presented by UML and the Greater Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance on Thursday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. Click here to attend these free virtual programs.
Sip, Sample & Support
Sip, Sample & Support: A Virtual Affair to benefit Emmaus is a week-long silent auction culminating in an interactive wine/beer, cheese and chocolate tasting this April. The event will feature an online and live auction, musical entertainment, and an interactive wine/beer and cheese and chocolate pairing via tasting boxes that will be available for purchase. The week-long online event will begin on April 7, and the concluding wine, beer and cheese tasting will occur on April 14 at 6:30 p.m. Click here for details.
Merrimack Valley Conference for Women
This year’s Merrimack Valley Conference for Women will take place virtually on Thursday, April 8, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The conference will include five panels with three Merrimack Valley women on each of those panels, and the featured keynote speakers are Liz O’Donnell and Carol Hay. View the full schedule for the 2021 conference and click here to register for the event.
10th Annual Chris Sullivan 5k
UMass Lowell (UML) will honor one of its graduates through the 10th anniversary Chris Sullivan 5K run in May. Any participant interested can take part between May 1 and 9, and those who register by March 26 will receive a commemorative medal while supporting student veterans pursuing their education at UML. For more on Sullivan, visit here, and click this link to register for the event
YWCA 38th Annual Tribute to Women
Each May, YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts honors a select group of remarkable women who contribute to the communities within its service areas. This year the women will be honored virtually at the 38th Annual Tribute to Women on Thursday, May 13. Visit here for more information, or to help sponsor this event.
Megan House Foundation 7th Annual Golf Tournament
The Megan House Foundation Inc., who are committed to supporting the treatment and recovery of young women struggling with substance use disorder, will be hosting their 7th annual “Fore” Hope and Recovery golf tournament on Monday, June 14. The tournament will be held at Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut, and tee time starts at 7:30 a.m. Click here for more information.
WSCW Spring Craft Fair 2021
The Woman’s Service Club of Windham will hold its 9th Annual Spring Craft Fair on Saturday, June 26, from 9 a,m. to 3 p.m. outside at Windham High School. The fair features more than 85 artisans from Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont who exhibit a wide variety of hand-made crafts. The fair benefits the club’s scholarship fund and its many contributions that benefit area residents. Click here for more information.
Lowell General Hospital’s TeamWalk for CancerCare
Last year, Lowell General Hospital transitioned their annual TeamWalk for CancerCare to TeamWalk on your terms, and the will be continuing this tradition this year. TeamWalk on Your Terms allows you to hold TeamWalk on your turf and on your time. When it is safe and you feel comfortable, simply choose when and where you want to walk. Get your team together for a three or six mile walk on the date and time of your choosing. You can walk anywhere between May 23 and September 1. For details, click here.
Emmaus Annual Cycle for Shelter
Registration is now open for the 2021 Cycle for Shelter. Join the ride to help raise money to defeat homelessness. This year riders have the option of riding virtually or joining in-person on Sunday, September 19, if COVID restrictions allow. If the in-person ride is limited in numbers due to state restrictions, the event will operate under a “first-come, first-served” model and those who registered first will have the opportunity to participate. Click here to register.
Free Webinars for Essex County Artists
Assets for Artists has redesigned its business and financial education programming to provide artists with recovery-focused, distance-learning opportunities that retain the intimate cohort-focused style of in-person workshops. The workshops will discuss current challenges, relief efforts and opportunities for artists’ financial futures. They are only open to artists who currently reside in Essex County, Massachusetts. All workshops are free and held via Zoom, with pre-registration required to keep the webinar cohorts at a size that maximizes participation and peer support. Click here to register.
MCC’s College for Kids Online Summer Classes
This year, Middlesex Community College (MCC) has transitioned College for Kids to online formats for this summer’s programming. These summer programs aim to provide children and teens with unique opportunities to explore careers, learn new skills, meet new friends and boost self-confidence while keeping them safe and having fun. The program will feature seven weeks of half day programs taking place from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., or 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for children and teens ages 8 to 17. The program will run from July 6 through August 19. Click here to register.
Bring Live Theater Back to Lowell
Lend a hand in the effort to bring live theater back to Lowell by making a donation to the Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT). Your support will bring back vital, remarkable storytelling to the stage and help revive the careers of 40 gifted artists, technicians, and staff members who have all been out of work since March. Visit here to support the MRT.
Project LEARN is an organization that works hand-in-hand with Lowell public schools to fund innovative programs and services to inspire today’s students and equip them with the skills, knowledge and mindset they need for college, career and life. Your support will ensure that Project LEARN can expand in 2021 to impact more of Lowell’s young people through game-changing programs. Visit here to donate and learn more about this program.