Their Turn To Give: Assabet Valley Technical High School Donates Unused Supplies To Healthcare Professionals

A table of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at Assabet Valley is ready to be donated to local healthcare facilities.

MARLBOROUGH- With schools officially closed until at the earilest April 7th, Assabet Valley Technical High School Principal Mark Hollick found something while he was walking the empty halls of his school: an abundance of unused, brand new personal protective resources in a time where his community-like many others- is in need. “Everybody is calling for gloves, face shields, N-95 masks, so we just did a basic inventory of what we have. We’re out of school for at least three weeks, and have a number of programs including Health Technology and a Licensed Practical Nursing programs. In that, obviously, they have lessons and do all kinds of practical applications and scenarios where they have to wear this protective equipment. So we knew that we had some equipment in the building, and even in other areas that I didn’t even think about but made sense: Auto Collision, Auto Technology, and in Culinary Arts for rubber gloves.”   

​​Jumping into action, Hollick sent a message to his staff to see how they could help get their resources out to the local community. “I put out a message to all our staff members-we’ve had staff working from home and as our maintenance team has been cleaning the building room by room- so under their direction, I’ve been going in with a cart and collecting all of the supplies we can donate.” Thanks to their help, Hollick was able to locate enough resources to make sizable donations to both Coleman House in Northborough and Marlborough Hospital. “At the end of this, we anticipate that we will have donated 12,000 protective gloves, 95 of the N-95 masks, 120 pairs of eye protection, 200 medical gowns, and 200 other face masks,” says Hollick. “We know these facilities have been asking for them so it’s really just getting to the needs of all the different local partnerships we have in our local community.” 

Boxes of supplies en route from Assabet Valley Tech to Coleman House in Northborough.


Assabet Valley’s 20-year relationship with The Coleman House, an elder care facility in Northborough where students have been doing clinical hours, was the first to receive a major donation. “When Kathy Reagan (of Assabet Valley) made that donation, what she described to me was Patrick (of Coleman House) was almost in tears because of the generosity,” says Hollick. “They’ve done so much for us, and this is a time where we can give back a little bit.”

On Wednesday morning, the high school plans to donate a second round of supplies to Marlborough Hospital. “It’s the overall Assabet spirit to rise to the occasion when the community calls out for something. We always try to the best of our ability to  be a good neighbor, and a good partner in the community.”

Caring Amidst The Chaos: Daddy Jones’ Bar Delivers Meals To Those In Need

SOMERVILLE-On Friday afternoon as concerns of the Coronavirus outbreak plunged the nation into a global pandemic, Dimitra Tsourianis of Daddy Jones’ Bar in Somerville knew she had to make an incredibly difficult decision. “I looked at my staff and I said, ‘Guys, I don’t see how we should be open when we’re supposed to be practicing social distancing.’ I just don’t feel right asking anybody to work,” Dimitra explained. While the formal closing of all bars and restaurants had yet to happen, she truly knew it was the right thing to do-and began encouraging her staff to seek unemployment as she was able to keep on only two workers on to help run a takeout window.

Dimitra Tsourianis

As Dimitra encouraged her employees to stay home and closed her own restaurant to protect others, the mother to two young children and daughter to elderly parents noticed not only an immediate need in her local community. “If someone loses their job for three weeks-or even longer-there will be a trickle down effect and we don’t know how long that will last,” she explained, taking notice as cafeterias closed to students and concerns rose for the elderly in leaving their homes to get to the grocery store. That’s when she knew it was time to put her remaining staff to work in a different way. “People are going to need food, and we can provide food. Let’s connect the two and bring food to those otherwise wouldn’t have it.”

Meals prepared at Daddy Jones Bar. Photo courtesy Dimitra Tsourianis

Dimitra immediately started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to purchase cover the labor, food and containers for dinners to be donated to families in need via a unique delivery system that operates without any immediate contact. “The hard part was, how can I help others but not be near them? It’s a new way of thinking,” she explains, which is a struggle all too real to many. The best way she found was through an app many of us use every day: Instagram. “If someone sends us a message on our Instagram DM’s, we add them to a list. We prepare all the meals for the household, the driver will drop the bag off with an alcohol wipe outside their door and we message them back on Instagram when it’s outside,” she explains of the system that has helped make over 45 meals for others. From graduate students to parents of young children, donations of just over $10,000 have poured in to help Dimitra and her staff. On top of that, many other healthy people have stepped up to offering to help deliver food should they receive more orders than they can both make and deliver with such a short staff.

Photo courtesy Dimitra Tsourianis

While it’s certainly a new era that Dimitra believes has changed many in the restaurant industry for life, she is committed to doing everything she can to help others during this time of crisis, offering 50% off all takeout orders for anyone in the restaurant industry or free delivered meals if they are quarantined. “As a parent, I think, what do people need? How can we be stronger through this? It all comes back to needing a sense of community,” she says. “I’ve been open for 8 years in November, and I’ve had that love for all of these years. All I can do now is give it back.”

If you or someone you love is in need of food, they can sign up for the meal list by reaching out to @daddyjonesbar on Instagram:

If you are able to help, please consider donating to Dimitra’s cause on GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/feed-students-through-somerville-restaurants

Making A Splash: Special Olympics MA Hosts Polar Plunge Challenge At Exhibit A Brewery

FRAMINGHAM- “Ladies first,” my oh-so-gentlemanly husband said with a smile as we stepped up to the edge of the pool at Exhibit A Brewery in Framingham. A frigid 46 degrees outside, there are very few reasons why I might be about to jump into a pool filled with cold water. Yet watching so many others go before me and knowing the reason why we were all there, I had put on my (pink) big girl leggings prepared to make a splash…literally!

Raising one hand and holding my nose, I jumped in knowing the funds that each team raised at the day’s Polar Plunge Challenge were going to benefit the Special Olympics of Massachusetts. It’s a cause that is close to the heart for Kelsey Roth, General Manager of Exhibit A Brewing in Framingham, who explained how he began volunteering with the organization just last year at their summer games and was inspired to bring the Polar Plunge Challenge to his own backyard. “I was just blown away by what they do to help people with intellectual disabilities and create such a great environment for them. So often, people who have intellectual disabilities are always focused on the things they CAN’T do. But for the time that they’re out there doing these activities, it’s really focused on what they CAN do that day and for those people, it’s a life changing moment.”

Thanks to the combined efforts Kelsey, Exhibit A’s Head Brewer Matt Steinberg and just over 50 fellow plungers, Fundraising and Events Coordinator for the Special Olympics Meghan O’Neil reported $8,500 was raised. “This goes towards the venues, athletes’ uniforms, equipment, lift tickets for skiers, things like that,” she explained. “This helps them focus on competing and having fun and meeting new people, so we’re really excited for the support that comes from the community.”

Also contributing to the plunge in a more unique way was a company called The Spa Wagon, a mobile sauna with an inside temperature of 190 degrees. As someone who is notoriously known for always being cold (I will always be #teamsummer), this caught my attention INSTANTLY and I just had to learn more about the fact that yes, you can actually have your own personal sauna brought virtually anywhere a truck & trailer could fit. “Originally, we’re from the Ukraine and it’s part of our culture since we were kids to go to saunas and try to get some quality heat. That’s one of the things that we were missing here, so we try to bring that culture here and give it to the public,” says Klim Gotovkin, who donated part of the day’s proceeds directly to Special Olympics MA. Of course, I had to go inside myself and check it out-and it did not disappoint! With steam billowing out each time you opened the door, it was a perfect way for those dressed for summer to get some much-needed warmth after the chilly dip.

Outside, the beer garden featured Exhibit A crowd favorites like the Cat’s Meow, Demo Tapes, and Goody Two Shoes. Inside, more craft options were on tap to pair with food from local restaurants to keep plungers warm (like the delicious Shepherd’s Pie made by Red Heat Tavern that I may or may not have had several mini-cups of. You know, because they’re mini, so no calories, right?!). The brewery’s presentation didn’t disappoint: those who participated in the challenge were invited to dine under perfectly hung string lights at a buffet set up alongside the giant tanks and canning line to make for a unique dining experience. Bummed you missed out? Not to worry-Exhibit A is known for hosting several shindigs throughout the year in the same setting, so just keep an eye on their website for the next upcoming event.

Want to see for yourself how much fun you can have giving back at their next event? Check out my vlog post below-don’t forget to hit SUBSCRIBE while you’re there! 🙂 To join in the next plunge, sign up for the next Special Olympics MA Polar Plunge on their website at: https://www.specialolympicsma.org/events/fundraising-events/polar-plunge/

Life’s A Beach

FALMOUTH- Growing up on Cape Cod, I’ve certainly been no stranger to Dino’s Sports Bar in Mashpee. Known for their delicious pizza, great music and lively atmosphere (including an AWESOME patio in the summertime), it came to me as no surprise when Mary Ann Singersen, President of the ALS Family Charitable Foundation, told me how Dino himself made sure they had the perfect location for their “Life’s A Beach” fundraiser.

“I came up with this years ago, I actually wanted to do a winter beach fundraiser ON the beach,” she explained of how her Caribbean-themed vision came to be. “But the expense of that was too much.” With the weather being 38 degrees the night of the annual bash, that would have certainly been while beautiful, a bit chilly. Yet inside Dino’s Sports Bar that Saturday night in Mashpee, nothing could have felt more like summer. Tropical drinks, leis nearly everywhere, straw “cabana” style tables, and a summer bbq-style buffet line inspired nearly every guest in the room to dress appropriately. The dance floor was truly a sea of Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses, and Lilly Pulitzer dresses as partygoers danced the night away to the sound of The Baha Brothers. It’s events like these that help the ALS Family Foundation continue their work of supporting local families as they fight their battle with ALS. “We’ve been doing this for 19 years, and helping families all along the way,” says Mary Ann. “We do things like we have a vacation fund, so we send families what often times is their last vacation together,” she explains, including how for one patient, the fund was flexible enough with each individual family’s needs to be used for a daughter to fly to visit her father who is currently battling with ALS since he is not able to travel to see her.

Focusing on the specific needs of the entire family is something that holds the utmost importance to Mary Ann. “We have a scholarship fund so we help kids of ALS families go off to college, we have a children’s program where we send out gift cards for Christmas time and for back to school shopping.” Why focus on the children, you might ask? “This is a very, very expensive disease. So the kids, many times, their needs tend to fall through the cracks a bit. We pay for summer camps, we pay for dance camps..we even have a respite program that gives the caregivers a chance to breathe,” explaining that at times the strain of ALS can be similarly hard on the caregiver as it can be for the patient. With the “Getaway For A Day” program, the foundation brings in a respite worker for a day so a caregiver can go to the spa for the day-all expenses paid.

I spoke with one local family, the Lawrences, who now attend every event they can to give back to the very foundation that once helped them in their great time of need. “The money doesn’t just go to research. It goes back to the families,” says Zach Lawrence. “They have hospital furniture lease programs if you need a wheelchair or a shower chair,” he explains. As a child, Zach Lawrence and his brothers were the recipients of several donations from the foundation including Celtics tickets, gift cards, and other experiences their mother Ann says helped them to have a sense of normalcy through what otherwise was a challenging time for the family. “When my husband was first diagnosed with ALS, friends of us found this little gem for us,” she explains.

Sadly, Ann’s husband passed away three years into his battle. Yet throughout the fight, the family was grateful for opportunities provided to them through the ALS Family Foundation that helped them through.”When they were younger they got to go to the Celtics game, they got to be regular children. When there wasn’t a normalcy in the family, that was a day for them to be normal children. So it was very beneficial for them to be around other children going through the same thing,” says Ann, as her family now continues on to help others.

Nights out like these are proof that giving back to others doesn’t have to be tiring or expensive. In fact, it can just plain be fun! For just $30 at the door (at a place where let’s face it, you would TOTALLY spend $30 on pizza and your beverage of choice anyways), you not only had access to their buffet, but also a conga line, limbo contest, and the chance to win raffle prizes like Stephen Gilmore & James White shirts or a Samsung Galaxy tablet, or a YellowTail cooler & beach umbrella.

Want to get involved in their next event? See what it’s like inside ALS Family Foundation Fundraisers in my vlog below, and check out their website https://alsfamily.org/ to get into their next event early!

Cape Cod Police K9 Fundraiser: Warm Hearts Support Cold Noses

YARMOUTH- When I was young, I remember being taught that “to be on time, is to be late”. While some days being ‘on time’ can be easier than others for all of us, the moment I turned the corner into The Yarmouth House parking lot for the Cape Cod Police K9 Fundraiser that lesson was staring me straight in the face. I realized that while the event may have had only minutes before it began, it was already a challenge to find a parking space: something that I believe speaks to just how strongly supported the organization is.

This comes as no surprise, however. From the day that I first met Joe for lunch at a local Panera Bread, his passion for his mission was crystal clear to support local K9 officers & their partners. “I know firsthand because I was a handler, the dogs will give their life for the handler. I think they need 3-4 years to retire and be a dog again, but when the dogs retire the departments won’t pay for them anymore. So my foundation, the vet sends us the bill and we pay the vet bills,” he explains, remembering the moment he first realized he wanted to take on the task of helping others to keep their retired partners healthy. “I think I woke up at two in the morning with this idea wanting to start a 501c3,” he says, chuckling. Yet the work he’s been able to accomplish is no joke, and Ambrosini says he feels fortunate to continue to receive such overwhelming support that helps make his dream of caring for others a reality. “One year, I skipped (the event) because I felt bad for all the people donating to us. Then I was getting phone calls, asking me, ‘Why didn’t you call us?’ I said, ‘I was trying to give you a break!’ and they said ‘No. There are some foundations we give to, and you’re one of them’.”

One of those sponsors is Joseph Carr of Josh Wines, a local Dennis resident himself that travels back and forth from Cape Cod to California to produce his well-known label. “He came in, introduced himself-I didn’t know who he was-he brought this big bottle of wine and he said, ‘I want you to have this and use this in the raffle. I’m going to California, when I come back I’ll get ahold of you-I want to help you with your foundation,” A Cape Cod resident himself, Joseph Carr has continued come back every year since. This year, Carr brought with him the number one selling wine in the country: Josh Cabernet Sauvignon. As he signed bottles, he answered the burning question I’ve had for a long time as a Josh wine drinker myself: Who is Josh? “Josh is a brand that was dedicated to my late father, he was a lumberjack in Vermont,” Carr explained. “That was his nickname-his real name was Joe, but he used to race stock cars and had a bunch of guys that would call him Josh,” Carr said with a smile.

Why does Carr continue to donate to the Cape Cod Police K9 Relief Fund? With several uncles having served on the force, Carr understands just how much of a toll it can take on both humans and their K-9 partners. Talking with Ambrosini, we learned there are currently 14 dogs currently being cared for with the help of the foundation. “Just recently, from the town of Yarmouth’ an officer’s dog ate a towel and he didn’t digest it, so they had to go in and get it. That was roughly $4,000, and if you have a dog-or any kind of animal-if you have to bring them to the vet, it’s not cheap,” says Ambrosini.

Want to learn more about the Cape Cod Police K9 Relief fund or get on board for their next event? Visit their website at: https://capecodpolicek9.org/ and make sure you check out the video below!

Joe Andruzzi Foundation Gala Shines Light On The True Cost of Cancer

BosBabes Collaboration

FOXBOROUGH- The moment I walked off the escalators at Gillette Stadium for the 12th annual Joe Andruzzi Foundation Gala, there were two beacons of light waiting to greet me: champagne, and Lite-Brite. Yes, you read that correctly-the childhood toys many of us played with growing up had been stacked to create an impressive light-up photo backdrop, encouraging you to contribute by adding in your very own Lite-Brite from a pile conveniently waiting nearby.

It didn’t take long to learn why the well-known charity had chosen to partner with the childhood favorite. The theme of the evening was “Illuminate”, shedding light on the true cost of cancer-something the Andruzzi family knows all too well can be staggering for most patients.

Jen Andruzzi, CEO & Founder of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation (shining bright in a GORGEOUS glittery dress, I may add) described her experience as she and her husband, a former New England Patriots player, navigated his devastating diagnosis. “Joe was hospitalized for 50+ days, and every day I was there probably once or twice, and you’re in and out of that parking garage. You’re paying to go in, you’re paying to go out. You’re paying for all of these extra expenses and at the same time you have all of your expenses that you are accustomed to,” she explains. “We were fortunate that we are in a position where we can afford it, but many of our friends we grew up with could not.” This experience lead Jen to create a foundation that donated directly to those suffering from cancer to help them pay for everyday expenses while managing the unexpected cost of their diagnosis, understanding that in Joe’s own words, “Nobody plans for cancer”.

Yet the couple didn’t just share their own story: they also invited several of those who have directly been able to benefit from the foundation’s mission to share their personal journeys as well. One man, whose wife was suffering from cancer, shared how his family went from stable to struggling in a matter of months. “My beautiful wife is Tracy. 5 years ago and seven months into our marriage, Tracy was diagnosed with breast cancer. As her caregiver, I now had to juggle high-running emotions as well as a 50% reduction in family income,” he said, not a dry eye in the room as he described her heartbreak in leaving the job that she loved as a teacher to focus on her recovery. “This is the true cost of cancer,” he said in closing, only to be honored by an outpouring of applause.

“Cancer finds you,” Joe said in a one-on-one interview speaking directly to his experience fighting the terrible disease. “It finds anybody. We’re there to step in to help pay for those home bills that sometimes are forgotten about-mortgage, rent, utilities still need to be paid and the people that are putting money aside just not to pay for their medication but food on the table. We want to step in there to help them pay for that food so they can get their medication.”

To learn more about the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, visit their website: https://joeandruzzifoundation.org/

Roland’s House Celebrates 30th Annual Evening of Giving

MARLBOROUGH- Back in 1989 when the first annual Evening of Giving to benefit the local Marlborough shelter now known as Roland’s House took place, organizers Roland Simoneau & his wife Joan likely did not predict that 30 years later not only would the annual benefit still be going strong, but the holiday spirit stronger than ever. Yet the couple had witnessed a need in their community for upgrades to the shelter, formerly located in the Walker Building basement, which today now rests on Mechanic Street serving as an emergency shelter for the community.
“After 30 years, everybody continues to come out,” says local resident and organizer Trish Pope who admits the event is part of what first made her fall in love with the strong sense of community. “It’s the first thing I jumped on board with when I moved here to Marlborough, which made me totally entrenched in the city.” It’s clear to see why the event is still such a hit today: if it’s not coming to take a chance at winning one of their coveted raffle prizes that’s drawing you in, it just may be to enjoy a bite at all the best restaurants in Marlborough under one roof. From sweet treats like a hand-torched caramel brûlée to savory soups or freshly made authentic tacos, it’s simply impossible to try everything in one round. The Vin Bin Cafe, located just at the corner of Main Street, made sure they came prepared for the crowds. “We cut in half six foot long subs. This is a Muffaletta, it’s a New Orleans style Italian sandwich with olive salad, provolone cheese, salami, ham, olive oil and vinegar,” explains Vin Bin Chef Mike Lombardi as he and his wife Hannah served up slices to each and every smiling face they saw.
Yet that same contagious, positive energy was seen from booth to booth. Owner of Chill Kitchen & Bar, John Logomasini, explains why. “It’s good to be a part of the community, and I love to show that appreciation. It’s a gathering of great people,” he said smiling ear to ear as he served up samples of Chill Kitchen’s hearty ravioli.
Even Mayor of Marlborough Arthur Vigeant couldn’t stay away from the festive fundraiser, praising the efforts of Chairman Bob Kays to keep the tradition alive.
“Bob Kays and his team has been doing this for 30 years-I think he was like 20 years old when he started doing this.”
When asked about his favorite dish of the evening, Mayor Vigeant admits he was just getting started but did enjoy Zarape’s, a local authentic Mexican restaurant that was just one of many who stepped up to give back. “It’s a big effort from just about all of the restaurants in the community. A lot of people step up to the plate to take the opportunity to keep the shelter open.” Throughout the evening, residents contributed by bringing local hygiene products that were then taken to the local shelter while funds raised over the years have contributed to major renovations that continue to keep the shelter a warm and clean beacon of hope for those in need.
Watch more from the 30th Annual Evening of Giving below: