19 Dec

Stewards Celebrated at Awards Dinner

FITCHBURG:  On Wednesday, December 18, 2019, staff from NewVue Communities along with city officials celebrated the accomplishments of 11 Art Stewards and 10 Public Education Stewards. Stewards in both programs are selected for their interest in serving their community in leadership roles.  The award ceremony and dinner took place in the Hammond Hall at Fitchburg State University.

The Community Organizing department of NewVue Communities, under the direction of Francisco Ramos, trains residents to be leaders and changemakers in their communities.

Both the Art Steward Training and the Public Education Training series are designed to drive social action in the community.  The focus of the training is helping individuals to increase their awareness of, and to build their skills in, civic engagement.

Event speakers included: Mayor Stephen DiNatale; Marc Dohan, Executive Director, and Meredith Geraghty, Program Officer, both from NewVue Communities; Joseph Ferguson, Director for ReImagine North of Main Initiative,and, Joseph Bowen, Community Steward and Fitchburg Cultural Council Chair.  NewVue Communities Board Members and Stewards Quenton Chestang-Pittman and Evelina Paulino spoke about their experience as stewards and encouraged others to move the community forward with their creativity, energy and commitment to making a difference.

“Not only wast he Art Steward Program an opportunity to learn about what other creative people were doing in this area, what they had done successfully, or what they were hoping to do in the future, it was also a chance to connect with kindred spirits.  It was an opportunity to connect with fellow community members who had a common ambition to make Fitchburg a city that not only celebrates the arts but thrives on it,”stated Jessie Olson, Membership and Events Manager at the Fitchburg Art Museum.

Mayor Stephen DiNatale addressed the audience and spoke of the importance of partnerships in the City of Fitchburg, offering examples of past and current projects that have a positive impact on the city.  Mayor DiNatale called on a few members of the audience to speak about what they had learned through the Steward leadership program. Monica McNamara, Fitchburg resident and Art Steward said, “I learned a lot. I’m anxious to make things happen and to have a strong and talented team to join me. I’m excited to make things happen.”

Some Stewards have already moved forward with some concrete projects to impact the local community. Emmanuella Demosthenes, a Health Steward participating in the event, organized an event called Salsa On The Riverfront, which taught salsa classes at the Riverfront Park last summer free-of-charge to promote active living and usage of our parks. With the winter upon us, she will be holding salsa classes at the Fitchburg Art Museum during the month of January 2020, and is planning to go back to the Riverfront Park during the summer of 2020.

Several Public Education Stewards graduating last night have also taken their first steps in impacting the community by organizing a project called Inform Fitchburg, an organization of Fitchburg parents educating parents, and by joining the Parent Advisory Council within the English Acquisition Department within the Fitchburg Public School. A group of Art Stewards also graduating last night wrote and submitted a grant proposal to Mass Development trying to secure funding to open Affordable Art Studios for local artists in the downtown area of Fitchburg. Finally, a group of Stewards have also began a Voter Registration Campaign to promote electoral participation in the city.

Those who are interested in learning more about participating in the Steward Leadership Program at NewVue Communities can contact Francisco Ramos at framos@nvcomm.org.

27 May

Small-business lessons from four who know Owners share advice at NewVue annual meeting

Reprinted from the Sentinel and Enterprise

By Anna Burgess, aburgess@sentinelandenterprise.com
UPDATED: 05/26/2016

FITCHBURG — At the NewVue Communities 36th annual meeting on Wednesday, NewVue Executive Director Marc Dohan emphasized the importance of economic success to community success.

Their organization was founded, he said, in response to the closing of many factories in the area.

“Economic development is in our blood,” Dohan said.

NewVue Communities also focuses on housing improvements, health and wellness of local residents, and community involvement, but this year’s annual meeting centered around small businesses.

NewVue accomplishments in the past year include counseling 109 businesses, and assisting 20 businesses to secure $2.1 million in loans.

Owners of four of these businesses — Fitchburg consignment store The Man Cave, Fitchburg and Leominster barber Luxury Cuts, Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, and Fitchburg restaurant Beemers Pub — spoke on a panel at the meeting.

They shared lessons from their experience as business owners. Here are their top three tips:

1. Do your homework before you open.

“You really have to get educated as much as you can,” said The Man Cave owner Marta Albizu.

Beemers owner Pete Cote said to be aware of business regulations ahead of opening.

“I don’t care what business you’re in, the government regulations are going to kill you if you don’t do your homework,” he said.

“And make sure you have a business plan, make sure you have a bank behind you, make sure you have enough money to open.”

Luxury Cuts owner Carlos Rosado said creating a business plan was important for “exposing the challenges” of the business, to better prepare for these challenges.

Albizu agreed, saying having a plan made her “more confident” when opening.

2. Get creative when tackling challenges.

Al Rose, the owner of Red Apple Farm, deals with unpredictable factors like the weather in operating his business. He can’t control the weather, so he has instead tried to diversify the business. This means diversifying location, like selling regularly at a market in Boston, and diversifying product, like making cider doughnuts and other year-round foods.

Albizu said a challenge she has faced in the past year is not generating enough revenue to be able to pay an employee besides herself.

Her creative solution, now in progress, is to work with Fitchburg State University students looking for business internship experience.

3. Use resources in the area.

All four business owners said working with NewVue Small Business Director Ray Belanger was a huge help.

Albizu said he helped her negotiate rent with the landlord, submit a loan application, and do other pre-opening work.

Rose said making a business plan with Belanger gave him “concrete goals and a concrete direction.”

Cote agreed.

Rosado also said he found North Central Chamber of Commerce a very helpful resource. He attended several of their workshops when he was first opening Luxury Cuts, and said he learned a lot about long-term financial planning for a business.

Rosado, who Dohan said was one of the first NewVue business clients, had one extra piece of advice for would-be business owners: “Pick something you love. If you don’t love it, you’ll quit when things get hard, and that shouldn’t be an option.”

Follow Anna Burgess on Twitter and Tout @AnnaBurgess18.