Community Stories

Senator Stephen Brewer1Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation, Inc. will honor long-serving former state Senator Stephen M. Brewer as the 2015 Harold E. Drake, Jr. Citizen of the Year at its annual Foundation Dinner on April 9 at Mount Wachusett Ski Area in Princeton. Outstanding MWCC students who receive foundation scholarship funds also will be honored.

“Senator Brewer worked tirelessly to serve the needs of his constituents in Central and Western Massachusetts, and has long supported efforts that benefit students of all ages in our region,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “His commitment to serving others epitomizes the virtues of civic engagement that are incorporated into the educational experience at Mount Wachusett Community College and also reflects our values as an academic institution. His leadership and dedication over the years have been monumental, and we are delighted to recognize him as the 2015 Citizen of the Year.”

Senator Brewer retired last fall following 26 years in the state Legislature. After serving as a selectman in Barre and as a legislative aide to Senator Robert D. Wetmore, he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1988 and to the state Senate in 1996. Most recently, Senator Brewer chaired the powerful Senate Committee on Ways and Means and served on the Senate Committee on Ethics and Rules and the Joint Committee on Rules. Previously, he served as Senate vice-chair of the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture, as vice-chair of the Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee, and as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Safety.

Senator Brewer earned his baccalaureate degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he recently joined the faculty of the Center for Public Policy and Administration. He earned a master’s degree in history and government from Assumption College and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy from MWCC during the college’s 2008 commencement. He is a resident of Barre, where he lives with his wife, Valerie, and is the proud father of their two daughters, April and Audrey.

The Harold E. Drake, Jr. Citizen of the Year Award is presented in memory of Harold E. Drake, treasurer and former president of Royal Steam Heater Co. and Lynde Hardware & Supply, Inc. The award recognizes community members who exemplify Mr. Drake’s extraordinary commitment to the North Central Massachusetts region.

Tickets to the annual foundation dinner are $75 per person, and proceeds go directly to student scholarships. A social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required and may be made by contacting Jo-Ann Meagher at 978-630-9387 or jmeagher@mwcc.mass.edu.

 

Photo 7GARDNER About two dozen volunteers climbed aboard their spin-bikes at 9 a.m. on Sunday and began pedaling, and — with the exception of a short break now and then — they didn’t stop for the next three hours.

The event, held at the MWCC Fitness and Wellness Center, was the 7th Annual Pedal to End Cancer, a New England-wide indoor cycling fundraising event to benefit the American Cancer Society. Event Coordinator Lori Pucko said the school’s involvement in the event began seven years ago when a member of the fitness club was diagnosed with cancer.

“We thought it would be a nice way to raise some money, and we’ve just been doing it every year,” Ms. Pucko explained, adding that the event raises several thousand dollars in donations annually. “We’re up to over $30,000 over the past six years.”

Ms. Pucko, who is also the group fitness manager at the center, said the event is one that club members look forward to each year, an indication of just how many lives are touched by such a terrible disease. “This event is super-important to them. They have loved ones that have passed, and some of our own members are still struggling,” Ms. Pucko explained.

Participants this year were pedaling in recognition of Diane Guertin of Hubbardston, a fellow fitness center member who is battling cancer for the second time and currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment. “(Diane) actually called me Friday night from UMass to wish us good luck,” Ms. Pucko said.

“She has participated in this event every year, so we’ve been taking pictures and videos and we’re going to send them to her.” Participants were allowed to form teams of three to reduce their pedaling time to a more manageable hour, according to Ms. Pucko. Short hydration and bathroom breaks were also permitted. Ms. Pucko said the event, which this year featured food donated from Hannaford’s Supermarket and Papa Gino’s, had grown over the past seven years. This year’s event also featured music and videos provided by Platinum Productions of Lunenburg, and massage therapist Sharon Godin of Orange donated her services to participants.

After a moment of silence to remember those lost to the disease and to recognize survivors who are still battling, fitness club member sang an emotional version of Amazing Grace.

Sunday’s event raised nearly $5,000 and concluded on a touching note, as participants attached personal messages of remembrance or encouragement to about 20 helium balloons, went outside and released them to the sky.

The Gardner News 3/2/2015

Stephen Landry, News Staff Writer

 

 

business plan competition group photo cropped

Teen entrepreneurs Matthew Aronson and Rachelle Wailes, pictured center among fellow competitors and several judges, took first place in MWCC’s business Plan Competition with their FLEXFIT stretching device.

A team of Leominster teenagers came a step closer to manufacturing an exercise device designed to improve flexibility and prevent injury, after taking first place in MWCC’s Business Plan Competition. During a close, but friendly competition, three finalists presented their proposals to a panel of judges during the evening event on Feb. 24 in the North Café.

The panel of judges comprised of local business and community leaders concurred that each finalist presented strong, well-researched plans, though the KRAM Wellness Group, which is gearing up to manufacture its first product – a mobile compact stretching device called the FLEXFIT – edged out the competition.

St. Bernard High School freshmen Rachelle Wailes, Matthew Aronson and their number one supporters (their parents) impressed judges with the mobile stretching device. The team developed the device while competing in the eCYBERMISSION STEM national competition as middle school students. They began the process after consulting with Dr. Lyle Micheli, noted director of sports medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. The team, which also includes classmate Kathryn Schatia who was unable to attend the event,  won $2,000, plus an assortment of consulting and professional services.

Karen Kiver Patalan of Boylston received $1,000 and professional services as the second-place winner for her proposal to expand her electronic medical record software service. Patalan, a registered dietician, created the KaiZen RD EMR expressly for registered dietitians in private practice. The product eliminates the need for paper charts while producing professional client and physician notes as it electronically bills for free, all during the patient visit.

Third prize went to Jonathan Tyler of Shirley, a business major at Fitchburg State University, and Daniel Lafond of Fitchburg, who graduated from Fitchburg State with an economics degree, who impressed the judges with their proposal to open the region’s first e-hookah lounge for patrons ages 18 and above. The duo proposed the Absolem Lounge (named after the hookah-puffing caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland) to provide an alternative nightlife and entertainment venue in Fitchburg. They received $500, plus additional prizes.

MWCC launched the competition in November during National Entrepreneurship Month to help stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit in North Central Massachusetts.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and that’s particularly true in North Central Massachusetts,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “We’re very grateful to our sponsors and judges who also support local businesses and start-ups.”

The competition’s premier sponsor was the office of Ronald M. Ansin. The Sentinel & Enterprise was the media sponsor. Competition judges and sponsored also included Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke; Tina Sbrega, president and CEO of GFA Federal Credit Union; Linda Racine, executive vice president of Rollstone Bank & Trust; Jim Bellina of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce, and Tom Mutti of the office of Ronald Ansin. The North Central Massachusetts and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce also served as sponsors.

“It was a very close competition,” said MWCC Associate Vice President of Workforce Development Jeremiah Riordon, who served as emcee and coordinator of the contest.

In addition to the cash awards, prizes included advertising and consulting opportunities, free credit and noncredit courses at MWCC, graphic design services, consultations with marketing and legal experts, and business supplies.

 

WHC-30The Wicked Hangin Chads, a Boston-based reggae fusion band influenced by Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff among others, will perform a free concert Saturday, March 14 at Mount Wachusett Community College.

The concert will serve as a live training event for students enrolled in MWCC’s Media Arts and Technology program, as well as provide hands-on experience for college students in other disciplines. High school students visiting the campus prior to the concert have been invited discover how the world of music and broadcasting intersect by participating in event set up.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. in the theatre of the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center. Doors open at 7:30 and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Husband and wife Rick and Celia Chadwick have been performing together for more than three decades, joining talented musicians from as far away as Dubai and as diverse as a West African drummer and a traditional Indian instrumentalist. They formed the Wicked Hangin Chads six years ago, offering a mix of original reggae, reggae hybrid and ska with a Latin blues flavor. The band has summer residency at the Barking Crab restaurant in Boston and has played numerous venues over the years including the Hard Rock Cafe.

“We do one concert a year as a training event for students enrolled in five different courses,” said John Little, chair of the Media Arts and Technology department. “In their chosen disciplines, they take part in promotion, set design, lighting, recording, photography, video camera operation video directing, video editing, audio mixing and mastering, poster design, and product design.”

“I’m thrilled to have a seven piece reggae band as our act this year. They will provide our video and audio students a wonderful challenge. In the weeks that follow these annual concerts, we regularly hear from our students that the concert was the most beneficial day of their entire time at college. And THAT is music to my ears,” Little said.

Media Arts and Technology student Trevor Buckingham, a musician who has performed with the Chads, recommended the band for this year’s performance.

During this public event, concert attendees agree to be recorded in the audience in photos, video and/or audio for DVD, Internet, television and other promotional materials. The resulting Blu-Ray/DVD will be offered by the band to their fan base, run on cable access channels, and will be used by MWCC in promotional pieces.

“The Wicked Hangin Chads are absolutely thrilled to be working with the faculty and students of Mount Wachusett Community College and we are humbled by the attention and the focus that we are getting,” said Rick Chadwick. “We’re very thankful and happy to be part of it. The DVD we’re going to have as part of this performance is going to be paramount to our promos.”

 

 

 

 

Gail Thomas

Gail Thomas

MWCC is celebrating Women’s History Month with several events in March.

On Thursday, March 5, author and poet Gail Thomas will present a poetry reading at 12:30 in the North Café. Thomas has published two books of poetry, No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley, (Haley’s) and Finding the Bear (Perugia). Her poems have appeared in more than 30 literary journals and anthologies. She has won the Robert Hearst Prize and the Pat Schneider Prize for poems that appear in her book, Waving Back, which will be published by Word Tech’s Turning Point imprint in 2015.

Thomas is the recipient of writing and teaching grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and was awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross. She was a founding artist and trainer for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Elder Arts Initiative and has collaborated with artists across the state for workshops and performances. Thomas has led community writing workshops at schools, hospitals, libraries and senior centers, as well as private poetry craft workshops. Thomas is a learning specialist and teaches at Smith College.

In conjunction with the Student Life Film Series, the documentary “Malala: A Girl from Paradise” will be presented on Wednesday, March 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café. This documentary is about Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee who survived an assassination attempt at age 15 for her determined efforts to defend girls’ education in Pakistan, after the Taliban outlawed schools for girls in her native Swat Valley.

The Women’s HerStory Project will return with a display in the South Cafe. Students in Professor Susan Goldstein’s Journalism 1 class and the office of Student Life will display photos with feature articles of MWCC faculty and staff who play an important role in the lives of students. The women featured in the HerStory project will be recognized during a Women’s Appreciation Day event on Wednesday, March 26.

Singer-songwriter Christa Gniadek will perform during the Women’s Appreciation Day event on Wednesday, March 26 from 12:30 to 1:30 in the South Café. Described as a performer with the robust, velvety vocals of Norah Jones, the folk-pop elements of Anna Nalick and the quirky poeticism of Ingrid Michaelson, Gniadek’s minimalist musical style and clever lyricism is unexpected even in someone mature beyond her 24 years.

 

Business GroupMassachusetts business owners, presidents and human resources professionals are invited to attend a free North Central Massachusetts Resource Forum on Thursday, March 19 from 8:30 to 10:30 at Mount Wachusett Community College’s Leominster campus, 100 Erdman Way.

Sponsored by MWCC, the event will include representatives from the college, state agencies, the city of Leominster and regional Chambers of Commerce who will present information on the amenities, benefits and incentives available to businesses of all sizes.

Rosemary Scrivens, Central Regional Director for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development’s Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) will present the variety of business resources, expertise and tax incentive programs available in the Commonwealth, including how communities can provide Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) agreements for businesses.

Lisa Marrone, Economic Development coordinator for the city of Leominster, will present on how to apply a multi-faceted approach to achieve municipal economic success. She will share her view on building the vitality of a downtown core and neighborhood centers through the creation of new business and retail opportunities; connecting entrepreneurs and property owners with public financing opportunities; and supporting and enhancing connections between a city’s many economic generators.

Paulette Carroll, Director, and Scott Percifull, Business Service Representative for the North Central Career Center, will discuss On the Job Training grants, job postings and fairs, assistance with on-site and off-site recruiting and labor market information.

Joe Mello, Rapid Response Coordinator from the Division of Career Services, will speak about layoff aversion & management, pre-layoff services and layoff services designed for companies. He will also discuss the Massachusetts BizWorks program.

Jeremiah Riordon, Associate Vice President of MWCC’s Workforce Development division will present on corporate training, professional development and educational opportunities including state-funded program guidelines for Lean and leadership training to advance skills, enhance productivity and profitability.

John Henshaw, Ph.D., Dean of Workforce Development at MWCC, will discuss pre-employment training programs for advanced manufacturing and quality.

Roy Nascimento, Jim Bellina and Melissa Fetterhoff, presidents/CEOs of the North Central Massachusetts, Greater Gardner and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce respectively, will share information about the benefits and services provided through membership, such as increased visibility, networking, educational and marketing opportunities, health insurance and alternative lending.

John Harden, Economic Development Specialist with the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation, will discuss how it works with companies, legislators, state agencies, chambers of commerce and MWCC to assess the needs of business and enhance regional economic planning and growth throughout Northern Worcester County.

Continental breakfast and coffee will be provided. Register for the free forum online at mwcc.edu/continuing or call 978-630-9179.

 

MWCC 2015 COMECC UWNCM campaign 1

MWCC employees donated $61,978 to the 2015 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign (COMECC) and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. Pictured from left, President Daniel M. Asquino, MWCC COMECC chair Connie Helstowski, Phil Grzewinski, President of the United Way of NCM, and campus campaign coordinator Nancy Thibodeau.

Mount Wachusett Community College faculty and staff have donated $61,978 to the 2015 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign (COMECC) and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. Over the past five years, college employees have contributed more than $309,000 to aid those in need.

“I am very proud of the generosity our faculty and staff demonstrated during this campaign and past campaigns,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “Collectively, the contributions made by Mount Wachusett Community College employees greatly benefit residents in our region and throughout the Commonwealth. This represents a huge investment in our communities,” he said.

The annual campaign at MWCC is coordinated by the college’s Human Resources office, with Director of Payroll and Benefits Connie Helstowski serving as campaign chair and Staff Assistant Nancy Thibodeau serving as campaign coordinator.

Established in 1984, COMECC gives state employees the opportunity to support private, nonprofit health and human services and environmental organizations. Each year, more than $2 million is raised statewide to assist children, families and communities in Massachusetts, as well as national and global charitable endeavors.

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Veterans Services Director Bob Mayer

Veteran services officials from colleges and universities throughout the country had the opportunity to learn about Mount Wachusett Community College’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success during a recent national conference.MWCC Director of Veterans Services Bob Mayer was selected to present on “Student Veterans’ Centers: Designing to Implementation to Upgrading,” during the 2015 NASPA Veterans Conference Feb. 8 – 10 in Louisville, KY.

Mayer, a veteran of the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard, participated on the panel with administrators from the University of Arizona, the University of South Florida, Bowling Green State University, and Keiser University. His remarks focused on the growth of the college’s Veterans Success Center and its partnerships with Veterans Administration and local and state veteran support groups to augment services to students.

The 2015 NASPA Veterans Conference was designed to provide a forum for experienced professionals focusing on institutional policy, programming and other emerging issues in serving military students and veterans.

 

MWCC New Trustees Feb 2015

Four community leaders have been appointed to MWCC’s Board of Trustees. Pictured from left, President Daniel Asquino, Suzanne Farias, Amanda Landry, Sheila Daly, Board of Trustees Chair Tina Sbrega and Kenneth Tomasetti.

Four community leaders with professional experience in community healthcare, manufacturing and social services have been appointed to the Mount Wachusett Community College Board of Trustees.

Sheila M. Daly, president and chief executive officer of Clinton Hospital, a subsidiary of UMass Memorial Health Care, has been reappointed to the board. New appointees are Kenneth C. Tomasetti of Princeton, owner and president of Advanced Cable Ties in Gardner; Suzanne Farias of Westminster, general manager of the Double Tree by Hilton in Leominster; and Amanda Landry of Leominster, community outreach specialist at HealthAlliance Hospital, Leominster.

“We are very fortunate to have these dedicated community leaders join our Board of Trustees, said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Their leadership and expertise will be an asset to the board, the college and the community.”

Daly, a resident of Hubbardston, was initially appointed to the board in 2008. Among numerous professional and community affiliations, she is a corporator of Hudson Savings Bank, a member of the Clinton Rotary Club and the Massachusetts Association for Healthcare Quality. She is also a volunteer with the National Ski Patrol.

A nurse by training, Daly previously served as the hospital’s vice president of patient care services and director of clinical services. She is a graduate of the former Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Atlantic Union College and a master’s degree in human services management from Worcester State University, and advanced certification from the National Association for Healthcare Quality.

A Central Massachusetts manufacturing executive with extensive industry experience, Tomasetti launched Advanced Cable Ties in 1991. He previously served as vice president of manufacturing at Catamount Manufacturing in Orange and plant manager for Dennison Manufacturing in Fitchburg and Medical Polymers, Inc. in Canton. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Plastics Technology from Lowell Technological Institute, which is now part of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Among his community activities, Tomasetti serves on the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce and is a past chairman, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Gardner Visiting Nurses Association.

Farias has extensive experience working in the region’s hospitality industry, currently as general manager of the Double Tree by Hilton and as general manager of its predecessor, Four Points by Sheraton. Among her many community and professional affiliations, she serves as chair of the Johnny Appleseed Trail Association, on the board of the United Way of North Central Massachusetts, and on the supervisory board to the IC Federal Credit Union Board of Directors. She is a member and past president of the Professional Conference Management Association New England Chapter, a former member and past chair of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, and recently served as co-chair of the chamber’s CEO search committee.

Farias earned a bachelor’s degree in education from American International College.

Prior to joining HealthAlliance earlier this year, Landry served as public relations specialist and mentor recruiter for LUK, Inc. in Fitchburg, and previously served as a Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA. Among her community affiliations, Landry serves on the MWCC Alumni Association board, the LUK Mentoring Advisory board, and volunteers as a LUK mentor and for the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry.

She earned an associate degree in Human Services from MWCC and a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Fitchburg State University.

 

Nate Haney

MWCC alumnus Nate Haney, now a stage manager at ESPN, recently shared his career experiences with current students.

How do you get from Studio B in the basement of Mount Wachusett Community College to the advanced television studios at ESPN? MWCC alumnus Nate Haney shared how he did just that during presentations to Media Arts and Technology students on February 5 at the college’s Gardner campus.

Haney, a 2006 graduate of MWCC who now works full-time as a stage manager at the Bristol, CT-based sports station, shared how he navigated the journey from classroom to dream job and what it’s like to work for the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

Internships, networking, volunteering and making the most of every opportunity that comes along were among the key tips he shared.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of internships due to the competitiveness. Be bold and daring, but not pushy. Make the most of every opportunity to learn and to network. Even if it’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday, do it. It will be worth it in the end,” Haney said. “Make yourself valuable, indispensable and unexpendable and great things can happen.”

Haney received his degree from MWCC in 2006 and transferred to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams to earn his bachelor’s degree. He started in the industry as an intern at WCVB Boston-Channel 5, then went on to work for four years as a freelancer and part-time seasonal studio technician for New England Sports Network, covering the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins.

After enduring a six-hour interview at ESPN, he was hired as a stage manager in February 2013, starting off on the station’s Sports Center. He is curently in training to become an associate director.

The MRT department, formerly known as Broadcasting and Electronic Media, developed a speaker series more than five years ago to introduce current students to industry professionals and hear first-hand about various aspects of the industry, said Associate Professor Joel Anderson. “We’re always excited to invite our alumni back to share their experiences in the field.”