HOPE

Gail Steele

Professor Gail Steele

Professor Gail Steele, director of Theatre at the Mount, not only will be recognized with a community service award during the House of Peace and Education’s annual Celebrating Women event, she’ll also share the stage with one of the country’s greatest performers, Rita Moreno.

The Grammy, Tony, Emmy, and Oscar winning performer will headline the annual event to raise awareness of women’s issues and funding for House of Peace & Education, Inc., a non-profit serving women and children in North Central Massachusetts. This year’s event will take place on Thursday, May 21, at Great Wolf Lodge of New England in Fitchburg.

Under Professor Steele’s supervision TAM has received local, regional, and national acclaim. In her 38-year career, over 2,500 individuals have appeared in TAM productions and over 8,000 have participated in summer drama and choir programs. Many have gone on to pursue their own careers in theatre after literally growing up at Theatre at the Mount. In addition to her work at TAM, Professor Steele has shared her expertise and been active in many organizations throughout the community.

HOPE empowers women and children by providing employment and educational skills, and nurturing self esteem, so they can to transition into independence. Because HOPE is a no-fees organization, it must raise considerable funds each year to continue its many services.

This year’s event begins at 5:30 p.m. and consists of cocktail hour with cash bar, dinner, a performance by Boston’s Divas with a Twist, presentation of awards, and finally Rita Moreno’s inspirational story through spoken word and song. Tickets are available in advance only: online at www.hopegardner.org, by calling 978-632-0400, or stopping in at the HOPEful Boutique at 33 Parker Street in Gardner.

In addition to the HOPE Celebrating Women Award, in April, Professor Steele received the Community Leadership Award from the ARC of Opportunity of North Central Massachusetts for her leadership and creativity in launching a sensory-friendly theatre performance for families who support children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities or on the autism spectrum.

Celebrating Women: An Evening with Lisa Whelchel, will take place Saturday, April 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center theatre at MWCC to benefit the House of Peace & Education, Inc.

MWCC is the premier sponsor for this event along with HOPE, an organization that works directly in the community to provide underserved populations of women and children with a safe place to explore their talents, learn new skills and succeed.

Whelchel, an actress, author and speaker will share her inspirational story of overcoming transition and not losing herself in the process. This theme in her life goes back to her early days as a child star on “The Facts of Life,” and also can be seen in her recent role on “Survivor.” 

The event will also feature YouTube sensation Michael Buckley, as well as recognition of two local local women, Alberta Bell and Paula d’Entremont, for their community service.

The gala will include a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, dessert buffet and more. Tickets for MWCC students, faculty and staff are available at a discounted cost of $75. for tickets, contact Lois Cox at lcox@mwcc.mass.edu.

Members of MWCC’s Phi Delta chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society recently presented a donation to the House of Peace and Education from proceeds raised during the chapter’s ninth annual Project Graduation.

The $300 donation was collected through the sale of Commencement DVDs in conjunction with the college’s Broadcasting and Electronic Media program.

“We truly appreciate this,” HOPE Executive Director Christian Orobello told the chapter members during a visit to the college. “The money you  raised will send a child to summer camp who would not be able to go otherwise. The good you’ve done and the effort you put in really grows within HOPE. We could not exist without the people of greater Gardner.”

In addition to this donation to HOPE, the Alpha Beta Gamma business honor society also raised funds for the nonprofit organization through a recent bake sale.

Pictured from left, Julie Graziano; Michelle Peters, chapter secretary; Megan Reiser; Elizabeth Reiser chapter president, HOPE Executive Director Christian Orobello; MWCC Professor Michael Greenwood, PTK faculty advisor; Karen Duchnowski, Project Graduation co-chair; MWCC Executive Vice President Ann McDonald; Fagan Forhan, Director of Experiential Learning Opportunities & Civic Engagement and PTK Faculty Advisor; Stevie Burwell.