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.”