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.
FITCHBURG: DJenny Pierre announces the Grand Opening of Banm Santee, an organization with a mission to provide health support and quality education to all individuals. Banm Santee, meaning, “give me health,” provides Certified Nursing Certification training in both English and Spanish and can support students speaking French and Haitian Creole.
Banm Santee was initially created in Haiti in 2010 under the ownership of DJenny Pierre and is now based at 483 B Electric Avenue in Fitchburg. The company’s founder is experienced as an LPN and medical technologist in addition to teaching CNA courses. DJenny is certified as a CNA and CPR Instructor.
Banm Santee focuses on education with a diverse network by respecting an individual’s cultural background and ensuring person-centered care. “Our graduates will be confident, competent, and compassionate nursing assistants and will be serving the healthcare community proudly. Our graduates will see patients as a whole,” said DJenny Pierre, Owner at Banm Santee. The business currently focuses on CNA courses, CPR classes, and Continuing Education classes for CNAs.
The Banm Santee Grand Opening
on May 15th at 483 Electric Avenue will be a celebration that
includes a ribbon-cutting at 1:00 p.m. by Fitchburg Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale and
State Representative Michael P. Kushmerek. Refreshments and appetizers will be
Ray Belanger, Director of
Small Business Assistance at NewVue Communities, worked with DJenny Pierre on her
comprehensive business plan. “It is
clear DJenny places great importance on the quality of health of others and
impacts that quality with her commitment to the course offerings and student
experience at Banm Santee, said Ray. ‘DJenny was a pleasure to work with.
NewVue Communities is pleased to announce that our most recent affordable housing project, The Carter School Apartments in Leominster, will receive the coveted 2021 Paul and Niki Tsongas Award from Preservation Massachusetts. The award celebration, slated for Thursday, May 20, will recognize projects that have displayed the highest level of commitment to historic preservation in Massachusetts.
The Carter School Apartments is also included in the pool of projects to be selected as the People’s Choice Award through a popular vote campaign. Join us in voting HERE as many times a day as you like.
Learn why the Carter School Apartments project is so remarkable.
A beautiful, stately building that sat vacant and badly deteriorating for over 20 years until it was rescued and restored, Carter School Apartments is the embodiment of preservation. Originally known as Leominster High School, it was designed by the locally prominent Worcester-based architectural firm of Frost, Briggs & Chamberlain. It is Leominster’s most elaborate public-school building. In 1963, the building was renamed to James G. Carter Middle School. In 1985, it was reorganized as an administration building for the School Department until 1995, when it was sold to a private party and remained vacant.
A Classical Revival-style red brick and granite structure, Carter School is an impressive five-story building encompassing 63,000 square feet. A brick boiler house and smokestack totaling 2,100 square feet complete the site, located in a picturesque, open setting in a residential neighborhood. When NewVue Communities, Davis Square Architects, and the project team first surveyed the building, because of its quality design and craftsmanship, the exterior was in good condition and the masonry well preserved. However, interior access was extremely limited due to the structurally compromised conditions from major water infiltration, stemming from the failed roof. Some floors had collapsed on one another, preventing safe building entry, and a cherry picker lift was required to inspect the upper floors.
The project team worked creatively to develop the best strategy to retain the school’s original character-defining features while creating quality housing. Classrooms were transformed into a mix of 14 one-bedroom units, 21 two-bedroom units, and four three-bedroom units featuring spacious layouts, high ceilings, and large windows allowing for an abundance of natural light. In the center of the building, former spaces such as the auditorium, cafeteria, and administrative offices were converted to common areas for resident gatherings and community space, fitness space, and storage. The boiler house was repurposed for additional storage space. Many historic elements were salvaged and re-installed, such as the original front and side doors, window and door wood trim, hardwood flooring, and chalkboards.
Exterior envelop and heating systems were brought up to modern standards. The massive brick walls and roof received spray foam insulation, and the original single-paned wood windows were replaced with double-paned windows that closely match the original, yet are vastly more energy-efficient. The original heating plant, a coal-fired boiler that fed huge arrays of steam pipes, was replaced by heat pumps which use a fraction of the energy, shrink the carbon footprint, and provide air conditioning. The building proudly received Enterprise Communities’ GREEN Communities certification.
What makes Carter School’s transformation particularly special is the love, support, and pride from the community and local, state, and federal elected officials. Carter School enjoyed a long history filled with the community’s young students, providing education to many who remember the building fondly; some of those very same students have gone on to become residents. The significant alumni turnout of both students and staff at the community meetings and groundbreaking event made it clear to see just how much of an investment they had for their alma mater’s new chapter in life.
CONGRATULATIONS TO A WELL DESERVING PROJECT AN INCREDIBLE DEVELOPMENT TEAM!
On November 19, 2020, NewVue Communities’ Community Organizer, Francisco Ramos, received one of the most distinguished awards at the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations’ (MACDC) Annual Meeting. Honored as the recipient of The Ricanne Hadrian Award, Francisco’s work exemplifies the dedication and commitment to building economically and racially just communities through resident engagement.
Named after a staunch champion for community organizing and
former Deputy Director of MACDC who passed away in 1996, The Ricanne Hadrian Award
recipient is chosen through nominations submitted by community development
A resident of Clinton Massachusetts, Francisco joined
NewVue Communities in October 2018, bringing a wealth of knowledge and
experience to his role as community organizer. His work history includes
working with several Massachusetts organizations such as Health Care for All,
the EDCO Collaborative, and United Interfaith Action, as well as various
community-based organizations in Chicago.
Marc Dohan, NewVue Executive Director said, “throughout Francisco’s career, he has been building a program model to train and empower community residents by engaging them in topic-specific trainings based on interests within the community. Our Community Stewards program started with Francisco’s arrival to NewVue and since that time, the impact of the program has been meaningful and longstanding. Our art stewards created festivals, painted murals and revitalized back alleys. In response to COVID, a group of stewards helped scale up the number of meals served by the North Central Massachusetts Faith-Based Coalition to homeless families from 200 to 1,600 per month. The education stewards partnered with the school department to foster parent engagement and to empower families of children with disabilities. And in response to George Floyd’s murder, stewards helped organize marches, Juneteenth celebrations and a National Night Out event with the Fitchburg Police Department to talk about racial justice. These examples are just a small piece of the difference made by Francisco and stewards.”
Following the MACDC
Annual Meeting, Francisco stated, “I
thank everyone at MACDC for honoring me with this award. It is received on
behalf of all the stewards that have completed the NewVue Communities trainings
in the first two years of the leadership development program. The success of
our work in Fitchburg and the North Central region is directly related to the
commitment and volunteerism that the stewards have displayed. Their countless
volunteer hours completing trainings, visioning projects, implementing them and
creating social change, impacts our communities now and certainly for the
future. The success of my work as a community organizer would not have been
possible if it were not for the stewards. Thank you to everyone who celebrates
this work with me.”
On Friday, October 30, 2020 NewVue Communities and Fitchburg State University held a virtual graduation ceremony for community members who have stepped up to complete trainings to benefit their own professional development, but more importantly, to prepare them for roles of servant leadership in the community.
Alex Rodriguez, Organizer Steward and a recent graduate said, ” I have had a great experience and opportunity. It was great to be with like-minded individuals who want to make a difference. It was very refreshing especially in the world we are in now. I look forward to growing with the stewards and the community.”
Marc Dohan, New Vue Executive Director offered words of gratitude. “Thank you for taking the time to invest in yourself. By investing in yourself, you have made it possible to create change and make the world a better place. You are positioning yourselves to be better artists who will make the world more beautiful and better organizers who will make the world more just. You are taking care of your own financial future so that you can get out of debt, buy a car or a home or realize another dream. And many of you are thinking about the next generation by becoming education stewards and stewards for children with disabilities. We are so proud to be connected to the work that each of you do. Thank you”
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:
Pillars for XXI Century Community Policing;
Inclusion, and Representation in City Government and Services;
Strategies to Improve Communication Between the Police Department and the
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