Community Stories

Faculty at Thoreau cabin

Faculty participating in the NEH Summer Academy tour a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond in Concord.

In late May, a group of 30 MWCC educators spent a day walking the trails at Walden Pond in Concord, where 19th century author, philosopher, naturalist and abolitionist Henry David Thoreau lived in a cabin for two years, two months and two days writing his most famous works.

The visit was part of a week-long summer academy to prepare for an upcoming year-long, multi-disciplinary learning project devoted to the author’s influence and relevance to students today. In 2013, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded the college a challenge grant of $500,000 to endow the “MWCC Humanities Initiative” to deepen and sustain quality humanities programming and curriculum in North Central Massachusetts. The grant will be matched with funds raised by the MWCC Foundation to endow the initiative over the next six years. Thoreau’s Walden or Life in the Woods is at the center of the Humanities Project first year’s theme. Other authors and topics will be selected in subsequent years.

“The summer academy was very successful,” said English Professor Michelle Valois, chair of the college’s General Studies department and coordinator of the NEH grant project. “Faculty had the opportunity to collaborate on teaching and learning and they had the chance to grow intellectually. For some, Thoreau was new ground and they embraced the chance to be a student again. We also explored active learning, developing new ways to engage students in class discussion, and collaborative group work.”

Thoreau considered himself as much a scientist as a poet, Valois said. His scientific observations and inquiries are still relevant today and have given rise to the “citizen science” movement. He was also deeply influenced by Eastern religious and philosophical thought at a time when globalization was not a buzzword. And of course, Thoreau, the creator of the modern concept of civil disobedience, provides a perfect vehicle for examining the power and responsibility of the individual citizen in a healthy democracy, she said.

The academy provided guidance and inspiration as participating faculty prepare to integrate Thoreau and his works into cross-college disciplines, including English, biology, business administration, nursing, sociology, graphic design, early childhood education, photography and math.

Summer Academy Walden group photo

Professor Michelle Valois, coordinator of the new MWCC Humanities Initiative, leads a discussion during a faculty visit to Walden Pond in Concord, where Henry David Thoreau penned one of his most famous works, Walden or Life in the Woods. The book will be the focus of the Humanities Project’s first year’s theme.

Guest speakers and faculty participants presented lectures throughout the week. Michael Frederick, executive director of the Thoreau Society, spoke of Thoreau’s views of eastern philosophy and non-violence. Thoreau Society board member Susan Gallagher, associate professor in the political science department at UMass, Lowell, presented “Mapping Thoreau Country,” which followed Thoreau’s extensive travels through New England. Corinne Smith, author of, “Westward I Go Free: Tracing Thoreau’s Last Journey,” spoke on “Thoreau’s Relevance for Today.”

Several events, which are free and open to the public, are planned for the upcoming academic year including book discussions, lectures, a presentation by a Thoreau re-enactor, student presentations and a fundraising walk replicating Thoreau’s 1842 ascent up Wachusett Mountain, which was described in his  essay, A Walk to Wachusett.

“Wachusett is, in fact, the observatory of the state,” Thoreau wrote in his essay.

“That’s quite an honor for our little mountain, just as the NEH grant is an honor for our college,” Valois said.

 -         Alexander P. Moore

Dental programs tour June 2014

Incoming dental hygiene freshmen Paulette Hachey, Jessica Charron and Monica Kwan check out an operatory during a tour of MWCC’s new dental programs center in Fitchburg.

MWCC’s dental programs moved to spacious, new quarters in June, giving students, faculty and patients plenty to smile about.

The dental programs are now located at 326 Nichols Road in Fitchburg, adjacent to the original site at HealthAlliance Hospital, Burbank campus. The new facility is housed within the Community Health Connections’ newly opened, $20 million Fitchburg Family Community Health Center and continues a long-standing partnership with CHC that enables students to work with dentists and patients.

“It’s new and a pleasant, professional and inviting environment that welcomes students and patients alike,” said dental programs Director Anne Malkasian. “It’s a nice, welcoming facility to deliver good quality care in.”

The new space accommodates the growing dental programs, Malkasian said. In addition to containing the program’s seven operatories used for patient care, the new facility provides a larger classroom, designated space for space a dental materials lab, a library, offices and storage.

Students enrolled in the college’s part-time, evening dental assisting program will begin using the new facility this summer. Second-year dental hygiene students and freshmen entering the full-time, dental hygiene program in September had the opportunity to tour the new site on June 18 during their program orientation.

“The building is beautiful and we’ve all been very excited to start our second year here,” said continuing student Tasey Lemieux of Gardner.

Paulette Hachey of Fitchburg, who began her academic studies at MWCC as an English as a Second Language student, is excited to begin her dental hygiene program in the new facility this fall.

“It’s beautiful in here. It looks more like a dentist’s office than a school.

Malkasian, who plans to retire in the fall, said the move to the new location was a rewarding chapter in her career. She praised the CHC and its new chief executive officer, John DeMalia, for bringing the project to fruition and enhancing medical care for area residents.

“This is the medical and dental home for thousands of patients and it’s nice to have a beautiful facility for them,” she said.

During the past academic year, students in MWCC’s dental programs conducted fundraisers to contribute to the Community Health Connections Homestretch campaign to provide for additional clinical space and other building improvements. For more information about the campaign, visit www.thehomestretchcampaign.org.

2014 relay tv

President Daniel Asquino and other members of MWCC’s Relay for Life team were among the 2,155 participants in the 24-hour walk to raise funds for the American Cancer Society in support of research.

Mount Wachusett Community College students, staff and faculty were among the 2,155 participants who walked to raise funds for the American Cancer Society in this year’s Greater Gardner Relay for Life.

The 159 teams raised more than $444,000 during the 21st annual relay, held June 13 and 14 at MWCC’s fitness track. Participants and survivors walked to support loved ones battling cancer and in remembrance of loved ones who have passed.

MWCC’s relay team, chaired by Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob Labonte, Professor Susan Goldstein, and campus police Lt. Melissa Crouteau, received overwhelming support from students to walk the entire 24 hours.

LaBonte thanked the college community for supporting MWCC’s team, including Theatre Technical Director and Set designer Jeffrey Boisseau, who created the team’s giant television booth in keeping with the event’s television theme this year.

The MWCC Alumni Association also hosted a team.

“Every member of the Alumni Association Relay Team has experienced firsthand how cancer affects our friends and loved ones. On our team we had at least one cancer survivor and others who have been caregivers and all of us have known someone who has fought and won, or fought and lost, a battle with cancer,” said Mark Geoffroy, vice president of the MWCC Alumni Association. “I’m so glad that Mount alumni were able to come together for this great cause.”

Over the past two decades, the event has raised over $12 million making it one of the most successful relays in the country.

-          Alexander P. Moore

 

 

Congressman Jim McGovern

Congressman Jim McGovern

With more than 50 million Americans living in poverty, including nearly 27,000 residents of North Central Massachusetts, the 50-year War on Poverty remains a critical national and local issue.

On June 13, more than 250 local and state leaders, students, educators and community members gathered in Leominster for the symposium “Poverty at Home/Reasons for Hope.” The event, sponsored by the Montachusett Opportunity Council in partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University and the North Central Massachusetts Minority Coalition, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Economic Opportunity Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Guest speakers included Congressman Jim McGovern and Ronald G. Marlow, Massachusetts Assistant Secretary for Access and Opportunity. Panelists and participants discussed current economic trends in the region, explored the causes of poverty, and provided inspiration to change the patterns that lead to poverty.

In North Central Massachusetts, 26,889 people are living in poverty and an additional 35,204 people are classified as “low income,” according to information provided by MOC.

Presenters emphasized that overcoming poverty in the region, state and nationally will require a concerted effort among public agencies, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions and the private sector.

MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, who served on the panel “Creating Hopeful Communities,” spoke on the importance of education in lifting families out of poverty, beginning with early childhood education, a strong foundation in K-12 schools and higher education.

President Asquino emphasized the national need for a paradigm shift in how education is viewed. Instead of being treated as a private benefit for individuals, education should be recognized for the public benefits it provides. Access to higher education should be an opportunity for all.

“We need to get back to treating education as an investment, and not an expense,” he said.

VFW scholarship donation to MWCC Foundation

Members of Ovila Case Post 905 Veterans of Foreign Wars recently presented a $1,000 donation to the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation to support scholarships for student veterans. Pictured, from left, Commander Howard Sands, President Daniel M. Asquino, Service Commander Kenneth Fournier, board member and past commander Don Progen, and MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse.

The Ovila Case Post 905 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Gardner recently donated $1,000 to Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation’s Veterans Memorial Scholarship.

President Daniel M. Asquino and Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse accepted the generous donation from VFW Commander Howard Sands, Service Commander Kenneth Fournier and board member and past commander Don Progen, and thanked the post members for their continued support of MWCC and student veterans.

The scholarship was established to recognize the important role played by MWCC in ensuring that the sacrifices and service of veterans who served the country will not be forgotten.

Scholarship funds are awarded to new or returning full-time students who were honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces or are currently serving in the Reserves or National Guard.

2014 Gateway and Pathways graduates

2014 Gateway and Pathways graduates

From the age-old wisdom of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to the reflections of teenagers wise beyond years, the May 27 graduation ceremony honoring 48 dual enrollment students at Mount Wachusett Community College offered a blend of insight and inspiration.

Students enrolled in the Gateway to College program and the Pathways Early College Innovation School, offered in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, were lauded for their accomplishments by educators, family members and friends gathered in the college’s Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center theatre. As dual enrollment students, the graduates all completed the requirements for their high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credits or an associate degree.

“As I reflect on your accomplishments, one thing comes to mind and that is that you are going to be successful, for a variety of reasons, but one in particular. You have taken a different path to graduation. You decided to be nontraditional, you decided to think outside the box and be creative. All of these skills are going to be beneficial to you,” MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino told the graduates.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it,” he said, quoting van Goethe. Determining one’s calling, the president continued, can be difficult in the face of many changes, compromises, demands of time and the constant interruptions of living in a fast-paced world. “So dream,” he said. “Set aside some time for deep reflection and insight.”

Mahar Superintendent of Schools Tari N. Thomas praised the graduates for their strength and tenacity, otherwise known as grit.

“Grit is defined as sticking with things over the long term until you master them,” she said. “Research shows when it comes to achievement, grit is determined to be as essential as intellect. Research is now showing our grittiest students, the ones who are working hard with the greatest amount of determination, are the ones realizing the greatest success and even the greatest GPAs. All of you are unique and strong. You’ve demonstrated the grit necessary for high achievement, scholarly success and more. You’re hard working, tenacious and diligent and it will pay off.”

Gateway valedictorian Zoe Greim shared her personal story of adversity and triumph. Diagnosed in high school with Multiple Sclerosis, she viewed the news as a “wake-up call” to take charge of her life and not waste a minute of time. Disenchanted with the high schools she attended, she enrolled in the Gateway to College program at the advice of a guidance counselor and was named to the dean’s list or president’s list during all three semesters at the college. This fall, she will transfer to a university in Florida to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“We need to see life is too short to sit around and wait for good or bad things to come to us. We need to go out and make things happen. I know we can all do that, since we all made the decision to come here. We need to strive to be the best we can be. If you want something, go get it and don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way,” Greim told her fellow graduates.

Pathways valedictorian Erin Leamy reflected on the diverse paths each student took to reach their graduation day, as well as the common traits they all share.

“We all had something in common that inspired us to leave high school early and get a jump start on college. For some, it was simply time to move on. We no longer felt academically challenged. For others, high school had become stale, and we were looking for a fresh start. I can’t help but wonder how many diverse paths each of our lives will take – how many ways we’ll be challenged, and how each of us will respond to those challenges.”

Joseph Benavidez , who graduated in 2009 from the Gateway program and earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts from MWCC in 2010, was the keynote speaker. After graduating from MWCC, he transferred to Salem State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2013 and is now working as a journalist.

“Tonight, you are all warriors after a battle. You’ve earned your high school diploma. Some of you have already received college degrees as well. It took sweat and hardship to get here and that deserves a round of applause.”

Deborah Bibeau, assistant dean of transitions programming at MWCC, praised the partnership between the college and the school district. “As a testament to the long-term collaboration with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, this summer we’ll be preparing for the new Pathways students entering the program’s fifth year of operation, and new Gateway students entering the program’s ninth year of operation.”

Mount Wachusett Community College graduates

Graduates Lindsey Arnold and Kathleen Craigen.

In a Commencement address peppered with accolades and advice, University of Massachusetts, Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan praised the graduating Class of 2014 for their achievements and offered words of wisdom as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

Mount Wachusett graduates receive “a better education” than most college and university graduates, Meehan said, because in addition to mastering their academic subjects and overcoming challenges, they learned how to be great human beings through the college-wide emphasis on civic engagement.

“You have unprecedented means to engage with your communities, and indeed the world,” he said during the college’s 49th Commencement on May 21. This year, MWCC awarded 857 associate degrees and certificates to 786 graduates.

A first-generation college student, Meehan earned his bachelor’s degree at UMass Lowell while working full-time as a janitor, then went on to graduate school and served seven terms in Congress before becoming chancellor of his alma mater.

“Some of you are the first ones in your families to get a college degree. Some of you are new immigrants that have come to the United States. Some of you got married earlier and raised families and have come back to college to earn your degree. But all of your collective experiences have made you stronger, and I want you to know there is nothing you can’t accomplish if you set your mind to it.”

Meehan concluded his address with key tips for the graduates, urging them to be great listeners; commit themselves to lifelong learning to keep pace with a rapidly changing world; to never compromise their integrity; to follow their passion; and be humble and always remember their roots.

President Daniel M. Asquino commended the graduates for their ongoing commitment to improving the world around them through education and service, noting this past academic year, MWCC students collectively devoted more than 144,000 hours of service learning and volunteerism to their communities.

“My wish for you is that you use your education to continue these pursuits and to improve your life, that of you family and friends, and that of your community, state and your nation and that you manifest an overall behavior that enlarges your circle of good,” he said.

Chevenee Reavis and President Daniel Asquino

Alumna of the Year Chevenee Reavis and President Asquino on Commencement day.

Alumna of the Year Chevenee Reavis reflected on her memories while a student at the college and shared experiences about her career path since graduating in 2000 with an associate degree in Business Administration.

“What I remember most about being here at the Mount was learning about myself and what I had in terms of character and in terms of conviction.”

Reavis, who began her studies as a dual enrollment student and transferred to Emerson College for a bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications, now serves as director of strategic initiatives for the global organization Water.org, raising awareness about the water crisis affecting 2.5 billion people worldwide.

The nonprofit, co-founded by CEO Gary White and actor Matt Damon, has transformed thousands of communities in Africa, South Asia and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation to more than one million people.

“We have an enormous mission and vision and that is to see the day when everyone in the world has access to safe drinking water and the dignity of a toilet,” she said to a round of applause. “It does sound so basic, and yet I think many of you here know it is unfortunately not the reality for everyone around the world. We’re not waiting for a cure. We’re not waiting for a scientific breakthrough. We know the cure – it’s engineering. We’ve known how to deliver safe water and adequate sanitation for hundreds of years.”

At MWCC, Reavis said, she learned what this year’s graduates are also learning – that they can create their own path in life.

“Whatever step this is for you, whether you’re going to another school, or this is a stepping stone in a job, or a personal goal, be really proud of yourselves.”

Jillian Johnson was presented with the Trustees Award for her service this year on the MWCC Board of Trustees. The President’s Key Award for academic excellence was presented to Natural Resources major Seth Pease and Business Administration major Nina Margand. Kathleen Matson and Bryan Sanderson were presented with the Dean’s Key, which is awarded for outstanding community service. Emerita status was presented to Biology Professor Christine Kisiel.

The 2014 Service above Self Award was presented to Attorney Charles A. Gelinas, Sr., for his ongoing leadership on many North Central Massachusetts initiatives.

For more photos, click here to visit MWCC’s Facebook page.

Congressman Jim McGovern

Congressman Jim McGovern will be among the symposium’s keynote speakers.

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Economic Opportunity Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Montachusett Opportunity Council, Inc., in partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University and the Minority Coalition will host the “Poverty at Home/Reasons for Hope” symposium on June 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  at the DoubleTree in Leominster.

The event will focus on current economic trends and causes of poverty in the region and provide inspiration to change the patterns that lead to poverty.

The North Central region is home to 26,889 people living in poverty and another 35,204 individuals who are classified as “low income” or living between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.

“As concerned citizens of the North Central region, it is important that we come together to discuss the causes and effects of poverty and to take action toward the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating poverty in our community.” said Kathleen McDermott, Executive Director of the Montachusett Opportunity Council, Inc.

Sponsors of the event have assembled a cross section of practitioners, economists, researchers, policymakers and others for a discussion on how poverty impacts our community and innovative strategies for ending it. Featured keynote speakers include Congressman James McGovern, 2nd Congressional District and Ronald G. Marlow, Assistant Secretary for Access and Opportunity, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The luncheon keynote address will be given by Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter, Andrea Elliott of The New York Times.  Ms. Elliott will highlight the living conditions of those living in poverty and how policy can have an impact on improving the lives of those impacted.

“It is heartening to see such a broad spectrum of community leaders, policy makers, educators and other committed partners gather to address the causes of poverty that persist in our country and in our region,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, who will be among the panelists.

“I am particularly encouraged by the mix of enthusiasm and expertise that participants are bringing to the table to collectively address the needs and solutions in our North Central Massachusetts community.”

The first panel session, “Where We Are: Faces of Poverty,” will include Noah Berger, President, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center; Kathleen J. McDermott, Executive Director, Montachusett Opportunity Council; and Janet Boguslaw, Research Scientist/Senior Lecturer/Associate Director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. Topics of this panel will include: income inequality, minimum wage, local/state poverty statistics and health status indicators, health disparities and the role of public policy.

A second panel session, “Creating Hopeful Communities” will examine innovative methods of addressing poverty and highlight some examples such as collective impact models, neighborhood revitalization, education/job readiness, housing and homelessness and community development.  Moderated by Tamar Kotelchuck, Director, Working Cities Initiatives, Regional & Community Outreach Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, panelists will include Aaron Gornstein, Undersecretary, Department of Housing and Community Development; Dr. Daniel M. Asquino, President, Mount Wachusett Community College; Ascala T. Sisk, Director, Stabilization Initiative, Neighborworks America;  and Emily Gorin Malenfant, Director, Foundation Strategy Group.

During the luncheon, the Reasons for Hope award will be presented to Ronald M. Ansin for his exemplary contributions to the community to improve the conditions of those living in poverty.

Tickets to the event are $36. To register, contact the Montachusett Opportunity Council at 978-345-7040, ext. 14.

 

 

Chevenee Reavis 2014 Aluma of Year

MWCC’s 2014 Alumna of the Year Chevenee Reavis

Chevenee Reavis, director of strategic initiatives for the global, nonprofit organization Water.org, has been named Mount Wachusett Community College’s 2014 Alumna of the Year.

In 2000, Reavis simultaneously earned an associate degree in Business Administration and her high school diploma as a dual enrollment student. A member of MWCC’s Honors Program, she went on to graduate summa cum laude from Emerson College with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Marketing. Since then, she has carved out a career as an international strategy, innovation, and public affairs executive advancing social justice around the world in such areas as health, economic equality, and access to clean water and sanitation.

We are delighted to welcome Chevenee Reavis back to Mount Wachusett Community College as our 2014 Alumna of the Year,” President Daniel M. Asquino said. “She arrived on our campus as a teenager with a thirst for knowledge, so it is fitting that she now devotes her time, energy and talents helping quench the thirst of those in need around the world. She truly is an inspiration.”

At Water.org, Reavis leads the organization’s global advocacy efforts and New Venture Initiative. Founded by actor Matt Damon and CEO Gary White, Water.org has transformed thousands of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation to more than 1 million people.

She recently co-led an innovative multi-media campaign that includes the celebrity-studded, comedic online “toilet strike,” which features Damon, U2 front man and philanthropist Bono, actresses Jessica Biel and Olivia Wilde, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, and others raising awareness to the cause by pledging to “not to go to the bathroom until everyone in the whole world has access to clean water and sanitation.”

In January 2013, Reavis scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with fellow advocates, educators, musicians and celebrities during Grammy-nominated musician Kenna’s annual “Summit on the Summit” to further advocate on behalf of the 2.5 billion people worldwide affected by the water crisis.

Prior to joining Water.org in 2010, Reavis spent a decade advancing the missions of leading foundations, government agencies, Fortune 500 corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Her public and private sector experience includes working with ACCION International’s Center for Financial Inclusion, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Global Health Council, Management Sciences for Health, Pfizer, Inc., Starbucks Coffee Company, State Street Bank, and Unitus.

Reavis said she is thrilled to be selected for the award and for the opportunity to return to MWCC for commencement.

“I felt so comfortable at the Mount. It was a community that cared about my advancement,” she said.

Raised in a military family and a former resident of Ayer, Reavis came to MWCC in her junior year of high school. She credits a guidance counselor at Ayer High School for introducing her to the dual enrollment program, which was a pivotal opportunity in her life.

“The decision to attend Mount Wachusett clearly changed my path. As a result of my time there, I transferred to Emerson College in Boston. I consider it to be a really important part of my story.”

 

Charles A Gelinas Sr MWCC SAS Award

MWCC’s 2014 Service Above Self Award recipient Charles A. Gelinas, Sr.

Community leader and long-serving volunteer Charles A. Gelinas, Sr. is the recipient of Mount Wachusett Community College’s 2014 Service Above Self Award. The award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions within the 29 cities and towns that make up the college’s service area, will be presented during MWCC’s 49th Commencement on Wednesday, May 21.

A partner in the law firm Gelinas & Ward, LLC, Attorney Gelinas has supported the region and community in a wide range of capacities, including as a founding member, current member and past chair of the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, and as a member and past chair of the Leominster Education Foundation. In addition, he has served as chair of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, as chair of the United Way of North Central Massachusetts, as a former trustee and vice chair of Fitchburg State University’s Board of Trustees, and numerous other community and civic organizations.

Projects with which Gelinas has been involved include the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, the Fitchburg State University Recreation Center and the development of the Community Foundation that now controls assets in excess of $35 million and annually distributes $500,000 to nonprofit organizations and charitable causes.

“We are proud to present this year’s Service Above Self Award to Attorney Charles A. Gelinas, Sr., who has been a driving force behind countless initiatives that have enriched our community,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “His spirit of generosity and willingness to share his time and talents exemplify the importance of engaged citizenship and the difference one person can make in the world.”

A native of Fitchburg who now resides in Leominster, Gelinas said that he is honored to receive the award to promote awareness of the importance of community service and leadership.

“Civic engagement was a core family value and so participating in community organizations that promote the public good and a higher quality of life in our region was a natural path to follow and one that has been extremely satisfying and rewarding on a personal level,” he said. “

“Ultimately, we are all in this together and need to share whatever talents and resources that we have for everyone’s benefit. And so, I am genuinely pleased to receive this award from Mount Wachusett, not so much from a point of personal pride but rather to promote civic engagement as a value worthy of public honor and to encourage a culture of leadership among the college’s students who are the next generation to confront our regional challenges.”

The altruism of the Gelinas family spans generations. Charles’ father, A. Andre Gelinas emigrated from Canada, became a U.S. citizen and served in World War I, before establishing the law firm in 1923. He also served as Special Justice of the Fitchburg District Court and then as District Attorney for Worcester County and was involved in numerous community organizations and civic groups. The family patriarch also was one of the founders of the IC Federal Credit Union, and chaired its board for 50 years.

The Fitchburg District Courthouse is named in honor of Charles Gelinas’ father and brother, Andre A. Gelinas, former Presiding Justice of the Fitchburg District Court and former Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court who likewise was committed to numerous community organizations. A majority of the family’s farmland on Pearl Hill in Fitchburg was donated to Fitchburg State University to be held in perpetuity as conservation land.

Gelinas earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the College of the Holy Cross, followed by a master’s degree in English Literature from Assumption College and his Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School.

He and his wife, Janis, who also works at the law firm, have three children and six grandchildren. Their son Justin Gelinas and his wife Ashleigh also practice law with the Leominster firm; daughter Kristin Howlett, a member of the Leominster School Committee also works at Gelinas & Ward, and their son Charles A. Gelinas, Jr. practices law in New York City.