29 Jun

2020 Annual Meeting a Success

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.

Wingate’s Leominster and Fitchburg Housing Management team.

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, former Fitchburg resident and Public Education Steward passed away last April

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.

Madeline Mendoza, Housing Services Manager, with some of the May 2020 Homebuyers Class graduates.

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.

Derek Craig, Art Steward and organizer of the June 5, Fitchburg march

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.”

9 Jun

NewVue Celebrates NeighborWorks America

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!

9 Jun

First Liabilities to Assets Home Made New

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.

Before

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.

Ready for Sale

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.

29 Apr

NewVue Small Business Client Earns Big Recognition

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

NewVue Communities Director of Small Businesses, Ray Belanger
and Small Business Developer, Jacqueline Mastrangelo

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.