On Thursday, August 18 at 5:30 pm, Tom Skwierawsk, Executive Director for Community Develpment and Planning, Fitchburg and Marc Dohan, Executive Director, NewVue Communities, will faciliate a discussion about the Riverfront Park drafts stage plans. The discussion will take place at RiverFront Park.
The meeting will include a vote for approval of the minutes from last year. Those minutes are available for your review: Annual Meeting Minutes 2020.
With the beautiful courtyard of the Fitchburg Art Museum as the background, NewVue’s Community Stewards gathered on Wednesday evening, June 2, 2021, to celebrate their individual accomplishments as well as their impact as a collective group of caring and committed members of the community. NewVue’s Steward Training Program is designed to provide residents with leadership development training in areas of their choice (Community Organizing, Mental Health, Children with Special Needs, Public Health, Art and Culture, and Clinton Cohort). Many stewards were recognized for completing multiple trainings, a testimony to their interest in serving as advocates, leaders, and volunteers in the City of Fitchburg and throughout the region. The program graduated 83 Stewards who participated in trainings in the Fall/Winter 2020 and in Spring 2021. The 21 participants who completed the Fitchburg State University Resident Leadership Institute were also recognized.
The common theme for many who spoke was set in motion by William Cortezia, Associate Professor at Fitchburg State University and FSU Resident Leadership Institute Coordinator. His warm welcome to graduates and guests included acknowledging the overwhelming joy everyone felt being able to attend an in-person event. Live streaming of the event was provided for those stewards who were unable to attend the event in person.
Meredith Geraghty, Program Officer at NewVue welcomed the audience and close-knit group, offering a congratulatory message focused on the incredible difference stewards have made during the past year. Stating that the notable accomplishments of the stewards are too numerous to include them all, Meredith offered the following examples. “You worked in partnership with ReImagine North of Main, Transformative Development Initiative and Team Better Block to implement a successful community art and performance event – the Leap Year Lights Festival at the Riverfront Park in February 2020. You organized one of the few virtual National Night Out events, convening over 350 residents to talk about issues of racial justice with Fitchburg’s Mayor, Chief of Police, and District Attorney. Parents within the Fitchburg Public Schools benefited from over $55,000 in food and educational supplies as a result of the collaboration of Inform Fitchburg with the Fitchburg Arts Museum and the Fitchburg Public Schools.”
Stewards, some of whom have ventured out to start up their own nonprofit organizations, spoke about the skills, knowledge and support the steward program provided, allowing them to be better informed as they developed their service mission and pursued a nonprofit status. Beth Robbins is President of Fitchburg Roots, a community-driven nonprofit organization that seeks to humanize Fitchburg’s history and the families who have chosen to settle there. When asked about her experience as a steward, Beth said, “NewVue has helped shape my connections within the community, provided a structure for leadership, and encouraged stewards to take initiative. I have watched fellow stewards pioneer meaningful projects that build bridges for our community. As steward classes and the Fitchburg State Resident Leadership Institute continue to develop leaders, we will know no bounds in how our communities will flourish.”
The Steward-based nonprofit organizations working to become tax-exempt 501(c)3 organizations are Fitchburg Loves the Children, Inc.; Fitchburg Roots, Inc.; The Thurston Consort, Inc.; Inform Fitchburg; and The Fitchburg Language Learners.
Anyone interested in becoming involved in NewVue Communities’ Steward Leadership Development Program is encouraged to reach out to Francisco Ramos, Director of Community Organizing, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in the FSU Resident Leadership Institute can contact William Cortezia at email@example.com.
In its fifth consecutive year, Fitchburg will celebrate National Night Out, an annual campaign sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch that brings police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. Fitchburg will join over 16,500 communities from all 50 states and US territories in hosting activities aiming to develop safer, more caring neighborhoods by enhancing the relationship between community members and law enforcement.
While the event’s original goal to build community has not changed, many elements of this year’s National Night Out will be different from previous years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event, which is typically celebrated on the first Tuesday in August, was rescheduled to Tuesday October 6, 2020. Another change is that the event will take place on a virtual platform and be broadcasted through Facebook Live instead of being held at Lowe Park.
Coming on the heels of peaceful demonstrations denouncing police brutality in Leominster and Fitchburg, and a virtual celebration of Juneteenth, this year’s National Night Out will help to continue a community conversation emerging in the region right now related to contemporary issues of racial injustice.
Organizers of Fitchburg’s National Night Out include representatives from NewVue Communities, the Fitchburg Police Department, ReImagine North of Main, the Yo Daddy Doe Sho, and the ARTivism Initiative. The planning team, in a collaborative effort, has developed a full itinerary including the following discussion panels:
- The 6 Pillars for XXI Century Community Policing;
- Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in City Government and Services;
- and Strategies to Improve Communication Between the Police Department and the Community.
The panels will be interspersed with art-sharing, storytelling, and performances touching on themes of human experiences and healing during this unprecedented year. The event will also include a virtual resource fair.
Ernest Martineau, Chief of Police for the Fitchburg Police Department and planning committee member said “National Night out 2020 will look drastically different from previous years, however the message of police community relations will be loud and clear. Established in 1984 as a bridge between law enforcement and the communities we serve, now more than ever we see the importance in this relationship.”
Event organizer, Meredith Geraghty from NewVue Communities said “My favorite part of National Night Out has always been the resource fair. Our community’s health and safety depend on the quality of our law enforcement as well as access to housing, healthcare, education, healthy food, and art. This event highlights many of the great organizations and services that exist in the region. This year we are seeing new, young community leaders who are participating in NewVue’s Community Stewards program and are stepping up and taking the lead on this event. “
Derek Craig aka Yo Daddy Doe said “I want to focus this year on broadening the conversation with first responders and the communities they serve as well as provide a platform for those who are participating in this event to speak, listen, and observe. This will be as interactive as possible; from questions for the panelists to information and contacts to our resources here in North Central MA. As an artist and activist, I feel personally responsible for providing this platform to people who look like me and to make this as constructive and relatable as it has been in previous years.”
NationAll residents of Fitchburg and the surrounding communities are invited register to attend the event at https://tinyurl.com/FitchburgNationalNightOut . Any organization or individual who wants to highlight a resource or service within the community during the event should email Francisco Ramos at Framos@nvcomm.org. Deadline for art submissions and resource fair materials is September 30th, 2020 at 11:59pm
Thursday, June 25, brought 65 guests to the NewVue Communities virtual 2020 Annual Meeting. Leominster Mayor, Dean Mozzarella, guest speaker for the evening, offered a very positive overview of NewVue’s purchase and rehabilitation of the former Carter Jr. High into what is now 39 affordable housing units in the Carter School Apartments. “NewVue has an amazing team. I have 27 years of being involved in these projects and the work on this building was remarkable. We have a historic building that now offers sorely-needed housing in a nice area of Leominster. It really shows that if you have the right team you can accomplish anything,” said Mayor Mazzarella.
A short business meeting included the renewing of the following board members to a three-year term: Jay Bry, Christina DiRusso, Thomas Gray, Erin Nano. Laura O’Kane, the newest board member voted on Thursday, has served on NewVue’s real estate committee for three years and works at Geronimo Properties in Leominster. Laura is a resident of Fitchburg.
Three awards recipients were recognized at the meeting. Wingate Companies, NewVue’s housing management company for the past 8 years, received the Community Partnership Award.
Commenting on the award, Michael Martin, President of Wingate Companies stated, “we are truly honored to receive NewVue’s generous recognition of our dedicated Wingate staff. We are so proud of their commitment and compassion especially when recent circumstances have been so uniquely challenging. Such dedication is only possible because Wingate and NewVue share a true partnership and we look forward to an even stronger alliance over many more years to come.”
Stacey Fenton, a former Fitchburg resident and NewVue Public Education Steward, was recognized posthumously with the Luz Sanchez Resident Leadership Award. Close friend and fellow Steward, Luisa Fernandez, said “Stacey actively participated in the fight for education in Fitchburg. She had a great vision of what she wanted and an enormous strength to achieve it. Thank you, Stacey, for this huge life lesson that you gave us,” said Luisa.
Jackie Mastrangelo, Small Business Developer at NewVue had the pleasure of presenting a new award, Small Business of the Year, to Stacey Sparrow Murphy, owner of Art on the Rocks. “ NewVue selected Art on the Rocks not only for their impressive small business growth but also for the ability of Stacey and her husband to stay current, accessible and operating full time during COVID-19 and surpassing her business goals during the most recent six months. Stacey strengthened her business through offering social media video classes,” said Jackie. Art on the Rocks is in their tenth year of operation.
Marc Dohan, Executive Director, reported into the Zoom meeting from Carter School and assured guests an appropriate ribbon cutting ceremony would take place when guidelines allowed.
Marc provided an overview of the Agency’s work during the past year with a focus on the impact of COVID-19 and the staff’s timely response in shifting NewVue services to meet the ever-changing needs of clients Face-to-face homeownership and financial classes and coaching went virtual as well as the technical assistance offered by the small business team. Community organizing continued to be strong, just different, also counting on virtual meetings.
Acknowledging the incredible work of the Carter Apartments development team, Marc was able to walk guests through the condition of the building prior to construction and the character and beauty of the current building with before and after construction photos. “Thank you to our terrific contractor, Hutter Construction and our design team led by Davis Square Architects for making this all happen,” said Marc. The New Liabilities to Assets project was also highlight.
Marc included in his comments his reaction to the recent events in our country leading to marches in some of the cities and towns across our service footprint – offering his steadfast commitment to ensure NewVue is an active participant in the solutions to end social injustice. He spoke specifically about how structural racism in housing has made it harder for Black Americans to purchase a home.
In closing, Marc stated, “none of what we do at NewVue can be accomplished without partners, funders, and donors. You energize us with ideas, inspire us with your action and fund the work that we do every day. Our board guides us through these turbulent times, and both encourages us and holds us accountable. We couldn’t do what we do without our great staff. Thank you all for taking the time to come out tonight and thank you all for providing me with hope.”
If you are connected in any way to the work of NewVue Communities, then you have been impacted by the great work of Neighborworks America. This week, the 240 plus community development organizations in our nation, like NewVue Communities, are celebrating all that we can accomplish as a result of the supportive structure Neighborworks America provides its members. June 6 – 13, is Neighborworks Week and NewVue is proud to be a member.
Neighborworks America offers quality resources, demonstrating their commitment to affordable housing and safe neighborhoods. Their technical assistance, including peer exchange opportunities, as well as training and leadership development, position community development centers to be current in best practices and promising strategies as they plan work related to affordable housing, economic development, and community leadership. “We make regular use of the learning resources made available to employees,” said Marc Dohan, NewVue’s Executive Director. “The conferences, webinars, and various peer learning groups are excellent. They are designed specifically for our work and that makes for strong and worthwhile training opportunities.”
Financial support through grants is an important way that Neighborworks America demonstrates an interest in the progress and success of each member. Their funding helps NewVue leverage additional funding so we can achieve our mission. Learn More about NeighborWorks support of our Liabilities to Assets program.
Self evaluation is key to any successful nonprofit and Neighborworks makes available applicable tools to measure progress and evaluate data that makes for better informed planning and decision making.
Bottom line – we value NeighborWorks America and the impressive, supportive and professional relationships we have established as a result of our membership. THANK YOU Neighborworks America!
Our newest program, Liabilities to Assets has completed the first home, rehabbed and made beautiful for an income eligible family. The house is located on Lorchris Street in Leominster. Liabilities to Assets is a pilot project and partnership between NewVue, the Department of Housing and Community Development and the five municipalities of Athol, Gardner, Leominster, Fitchburg and Clinton.
This program was made possible, in part, through the support of Neighborworks America. A grant from Neighborworks provided the much-needed initial funding for this project that identifies abandoned houses causing blight and rehabilitates those houses. The program provides families with incomes between 60% and up to 110% of the area medium income an opportunity to purchase an affordable home.
Neighborworks’ grant, in support of NewVue’s expansion and growth, funded the legal, financial and feasibility studies, housing assessments to start the 121A Plan (cataloguing potential homes) as well as staff and administrative startup costs. That initial investment has resulted in the recent completion of the first home on Lorchris Street and positioned NewVue to move forward with other houses in the region.
Hired in March of 2019 as the Director of the Liabilities to Assets program, Anne Reitmayer oversees the transformation of each home beginning with identifying qualifying houses through to the sale of the rehabbed home. Anne, who has spent most of her career in real estate stated, “this program is making a difference, it’s important work that benefits neighborhoods, the new homeowner and our economy. The value of this program can be measured well beyond the joy it will bring to the new homeowners, although that is my favorite part.”
NewVue has additional homes under development in Fitchburg, Leominster and Athol.
Being recognized as a Small Business of the Year by the Small Business Administration is a big accomplishment. NewVue Communities’ Small Business client and Cleartech Group President, Tony Fields, has much to celebrate as the recipient of the 2020 Minority Owned Small Business of the Year for Massachusetts Award.
“The SBA was great, but it was NewVue Communities that helped me with financial projections. What it would take to make it. Goals to hit, services to focus on and revenue generating activities,” stated Fields in the Sentinel and Enterprise April 29, 2020 article.
Ray Belanger, Director of Small Business at NewVue described Tony as one who epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit by being true to his mission, clients, and employees. “We are certainly excited for Tony and Cleartech Group, but not at all surprised by this deserving award.”
Read more about Cleartech Group and Tony’s personal and professional journey that led him to this impressive achievement. Sentinel Article
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Water Mill Tenants enjoyed the first “Game of Life” Club event focused on family finances and budgeting with guest speakers from American Consumer Credit Counseling and Hometown Bank. To learn more, contact Madeline.