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.