NoteWorthy – 4/11/21
AROUND THE VALLEY
Reps. Trahan and Castor, Sens. Markey and Blumenthal Press Facebook on Plans to Develop Instagram for Children
U.S Reps. Lori Trahan and Kathy Castor, both of whom pressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his company’s targeting of kids during a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, partnered with Sens. Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal to demand answers regarding Facebook’s recent announcement that the company is exploring plans to develop a version of Instagram for children. In their letter, the lawmakers express concerns about Facebook’s past failures to protect children on Facebook’s messenger kids app and highlight evidence that young people’s use of social media platforms like Instagram may be detrimental to those users’ well-being and mental health.
“Children are a uniquely vulnerable population online, and images of kids are highly sensitive data,” write the lawmakers in their letter. “Facebook has an obligation to ensure that any new platforms or projects targeting children put those users’ welfare first, and we are skeptical that Facebook is prepared to fulfil this obligation.”
In their letter, the lawmakers ask Mr. Zuckerberg a series a questions and request detailed commitments about how any future version of Instagram for children would operate.
The lawmakers’ letter concludes, “Should Facebook fail to provide adequate responses to the questions above or otherwise fail to demonstrate that a future version of Instagram for children would meet the highest standards of user protection, we would advise you to abandon your plans to launch this new platform.”
A copy of the letter may be found here.
UML Prof. Creates Mentoring Network for Asian American Teachers
UMass Lowell (UML) Associate Professor Phitsamay Uy was the first refugee from Laos to receive tenure as a professor of education in the United States. And for years, she was the only one.
Determined to change that, Uy has started a mentoring network for Asian American and Pacific Islander teachers and education students.
“One of my goals is to try to bring as many Asian American educators up through the K-12 and higher-education ranks as I can,” said Uy, who joined UML’s college of education in 2011.
Working with educators in Canton, Charlestown and Medford, Uy launched the Asian American Educator Mentor Program in 2019 with a $35,000 award from a National Education Association grant program that provides support for diverse teachers. The grant was just renewed.
Teachers of color are greatly underrepresented in the nation’s schools, even as the school-age population is becoming more diverse, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Nationwide, 79 percent of teachers are white, but nearly half of K-12 public school students are Black, Hispanic, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American or multiracial, according to the U.S. Census.
The need to support Asian American and Pacific Islander educators is particularly acute, according to Uy. Although educators are highly respected in most Asian countries, many Asian American families discourage their children from pursuing teaching careers in the United States in favor of higher paying jobs in other fields, Uy said.
Only 2 percent of U.S. public school teachers are Asian American, and less than 1 percent are Pacific Islanders, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The mentoring program has 40 participants and has expanded this year to include several veteran teachers in California and Minnesota. Connecting via Zoom meetings, the full group convenes regularly for educational presentations and discussions with scholars and leaders of community organizations. Smaller mentoring groups that include one education student, one or two early-career teachers and one veteran teacher also meet on a rotating basis.
MassDevelopment Bond Helps CREST Finance New Location in Andover
MassDevelopment has issued a $17 million tax-exempt bond on behalf of Collaborative for Regional Educational Services and Training (CREST), a nonprofit that provides educational, vocational, and therapeutic programs for children with developmental disabilities. CREST used bond proceeds to buy an approximately 127,470-square-foot newly renovated school building in Andover, where the organization will consolidate programs offered at its three existing locations in Methuen under one roof.
The new facility, which was recently converted from its previous use as an office building, consists of 62 classrooms, 10 conference rooms, 55 private offices, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, several workshops, including art, music, computer, and woodshops, an auto repair facility, group restrooms, and a kitchen area. TD Bank, N.A., purchased the bond, which MassDevelopment enhanced with a guarantee.
CREST is comprised of 16 member school districts including Andover, Dracut, Greater Lawrence Technical School, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, Newburyport and North Andover. The organization offers educational programs and services for students with developmental disabilities to supplement and strengthen existing school programs and services that otherwise would be neither affordable nor accessible to each local school district on its own.
Pentucket Bank & Cote Family Establish Memorial Scholarship at Haverhill High School
Pentucket Bank and the family of former bank president and CEO Edmund Cote Jr. have established a scholarship for graduating Haverhill High School Seniors in the name of the late Mr. Cote, beginning in 2021.
Cote served as the president and CEO of Pentucket Bank for more than 15 years from 1983 to 1998 and remained a part of the Pentucket Bank family as a director and corporator until his passing in June 2020. Cote was instrumental in several strategic growth initiatives at Pentucket Bank, most notably spearheading the purchase of what is now the bank’s main office branch and office building at One Merrimack Street in downtown Haverhill.
As a tribute to Cote, his family raised $20,000 to establish a memorial scholarship in his name at Haverhill High School. In honor of the bank’s former leader, Pentucket Bank matched the funds in full, providing the city of Haverhill with a $40,000 investment to The Edmund J. Cote Jr. | Pentucket Bank Scholarship Fund.
The scholarship will be awarding two $1,000 scholarships annually to two Haverhill High School graduating seniors beginning in 2021.
On the Move Inc. Announces “Reading with Rowdy” Literacy Program
On the Move Inc. (OTMINC), in partnership with Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union and UMass Lowell, launches “Reading with Rowdy,” a program that encourages reading and literacy. Local Division I head coaches, politicians, celebrities, business leaders, and other members of the community have come together to share some of their favorite books in a series of videos with mascot Rowdy the Riverhawk for the children of Lowell.
The goal of this collaboration is to help students achieve reading proficiency by the time they complete the third grade. To help foster children’s love of reading and to help build home libraries, OTMINC has purchased over 3,000 books to go along with the stories. The students of the Abraham Lincoln and the S. Christa McAuliffe schools, as well as the Cardinal O’Connell Early Learning Center in Lowell, will each receive an age and reading level appropriate copy of one of the featured books, so that they may read along while watching the videos on YouTube.
“Literacy is such an important factor in a child’s life. Not only did we want to do something to help the kids in our community, we wanted to make it fun,” said Mark Cochran, president and CEO of Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union.
Area Child In Need of Life-Saving Transplant
With the cost of a life-saving transplant often exceeding $800,000, most transplant families are unable to shoulder that financial burden. The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) is a national 501(c)3 charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-related expenses. In Newburyport, volunteers are raising funds for COTA in honor of transplant patients like local child, Heeth Atanasoff.
Heeth is the son of Molly and Todd Atanasoff. Born in 2012, Heeth was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. The transplant team at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Mass., recommends a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Newburyport volunteers are raising $100,000 for COTA to assist with transplant-related expenses.
Volunteers are needed for this COTA community campaign. Individuals and groups interested in more information should contact Community Coordinator Kerry Marshall at (978) 609-0866 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heeth’s family has asked for assistance from the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. One hundred percent of all funds raised for COTA in honor of patients assist with transplant-related expenses.
Contributions may be sent to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, 2501 West COTA Drive, Bloomington, Indiana, 47403. Checks should be made payable to COTA, with “In Honor of Heeths Hope” written on the memo line. Secure credit card gifts are accepted online at COTAforHeethsHope.com.
NECC Health Students are Administering Vaccines in Lawrence
When the city of Lawrence was in need of staff for its vaccine clinics, Northern Essex Community College answered the call.
Since March 11, 35 health care students have been volunteering at the site located at the Arlington Middle School. Nursing and medical assistant students are administering the vaccines and medical office administration students are registering those getting the vaccines.
It all started with a phone call from Elicia Miller ’13, community coordinator of the Mayor’s Health Task Force in Lawrence, to Kathy Hudson, her former professor.
“They wanted to open another vaccine site and they needed help,” says Hudson.
At the time, Hudson was struggling to find externships for her medical assisting students because many of the sites were no longer available due to COVID restrictions.
The end result was a win-win. The city had staffing help for the vaccine sites and students were gaining valuable experience administering vaccines and working with patients and their health records.
Medical assistant student Catherine Ripalda of Methuen was volunteering for the first time last week and she says it’s “a really good experience.” With each vaccine, she became “a little more comfortable” and she said she is proud to tell her son “I’m doing something for the community.”
Ripalda is bilingual as are most of the students in the college’s medical assistant program, which is a plus when giving vaccines in Lawrence, a city which is over 80% Hispanic.
Before giving the vaccines, students are fielding questions about side effects, existing health conditions, and COVID-19, according to Hudson, all under the supervision of NECC faculty.
Outdoor Dining is Open at Tuscan Kitchen Burlington, Salem & Tuscan Sea Grill in Newburyport
Tuscan Brands has announced that their Burlington and Salem locations are open this weekend for dining, as is the new Tuscan Sea Grill in Newburyport.
Additionally, they have announced that the Salem Tuscan Market is moving to Tuscan Village, with a grand opening scheduled for May 2021. To learn more or to make reservations, click here.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Physics Professor Wins $1M in Funding for Quantum Information Processing Research
UMass Lowell (UML) researcher Archana Kamal has won two early career development awards totaling more than $1 million from the U.S. Air Force and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her research in the emerging field of quantum information processing (QIP) with open quantum systems.
QIP is based on the principles of quantum mechanics, which mathematically describe the behavior and interaction of matter and light on the atomic and subatomic scale.
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 cheese and chocolate pairing via tasting boxes that will be available for purchase. The weeklong online event will conclude with the tasting that will occur on April 14 at 6:30 p.m. Click here for details.
Courageous Conversations with UTEC
UTEC will join the Memorial Hall Library in Andover to discuss their nationally recognized model which begins with intensive street outreach, correctional facility in-reach, and gang peacemaking, engaging the most disconnected young adults by meeting them “where they’re at.” The team will also share some of the ways they are innovating with the state and the department of corrections to make real, meaningful changes at a systemic level and how you can support. This virtual event will happen via Zoom on Wednesday, April 14, at 7 p.m. Click here to register.
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 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.
UML iHub Community Coworking Day
Entrepreneurs, startups and small business owners are invited to iHub’s Community Coworking Day, monthly open days to access the iHub, connect with other members, and join a free virtual lunch. During Community Coworking Days, the iHub will host a virtual networking lunch and learn with a guest speaker that will be open to all. Click here to register for Thursday, May 13.
“Fuel Her Fire” Virtual Auction
Girls Inc. of New Hampshire will host its annual Fuel Her Fire auction virtually on Friday, April 16. The event will stream live to Facebook and YouTube at 7 p.m. with a pandemic-friendly live auction and entertainment. All proceeds will go toward program scholarships and to fund Girls Inc. of New Hampshire centers in Nashua and Manchester. The virtual auction is free, but guests are encouraged to register in advance to receive event updates, preview live auction items, bid on online items, and purchase raffle tickets to a deluxe escape for two from the Bedford Village Inn. Click here to register.
MVCC & United Way Methuen Food Drive
On April 17, the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Methuen will hold a food drive at Tenney Grammar School in Methuen from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you would like to make a donation, please visit the United Way Mass Bay website here.
What Makes Community? Using Cultural Mapping to Understand our World
“What Makes Community” is an online program that will be presented at 7:00 p.m. on Wed., April 21. The event is free and open to the all but registration is required. To sign up, visit the events page on the Amesbury Carriage Museum website: AmesburyCarriageMuseum.org/events.
Hike for Hope 2021
Join the Lazarus House Ministries’ Hike for Hope 2021 Challenge and be part of the solution to food insecurity in our community. This community-focused and fun challenge will raise critical funds to support the soup kitchen and food pantry, relieving the stress and uncertainty for families who struggle to put food on the table. This year, there will be two live 5K walk or run events on Saturday, May 22, and Sunday, May 23, at 10 a.m. 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., 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.
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 handmade crafts. The fair benefits the club’s scholarship fund and its many contributions that benefit area residents. Click here for more information.
LGH 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.
Greater Lawrence Summer Fund
Consider providing opportunities for thousands of children this summer by donating to the Greater Lawrence Summer Fund. The fund gives children from low-income families a chance to experience life-changing summer activities that not only keep them safe but provides them with opportunities that open doors for a promising future. Click here to consider helping this community organization.
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.