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Five Central Mass. towns designated Green Communities
The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission announced that Douglas, Leicester, New Braintree, Webster and West Boylston have achieved Green Communities designation through the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Green Communities program.
As a result, the towns will receive a combined award of $758,345 as well as eligibility for competitive funding. Individually, their designation awards are as follows: Douglas, $145,940; Leicester, $158,800; New Braintree, $127,285; Webster, $180,885; and West Boylston, $145,435.
Established under the Green Communities Act of 2008, the program helps Massachusetts cities and towns implement clean energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs and strengthen local economies.
Janet A. Pierce, executive director of CMRPC, said, “We are thrilled to witness the effect this program is having in Central Massachusetts. With the Baker-Polito Administration as its champion, Green Communities is creating tangible change.”
All Green Communities commit to reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years.
Red Cross, Dunkin’ Donuts offer $5 DD card for January blood donations
For the 11th year, the American Red Cross and Dunkin’ Donuts will partner in January to help increase blood donations and reward generous donors.
Through the Dunkin’ Donors Make a Difference campaign, all those who come to give blood or platelets in January at Red Cross blood drives in Massachusetts will receive a $5 DD Card good through Feb. 28.
“Donating blood or platelets helps to save lives, and with Dunkin’ Donuts’ support, we can help ensure hospital patients receive the transfusions they need,” said Donna M. Morrissey, director of national partnerships, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “We appreciate the dedication that Dunkin’ Donuts has given to our mission for more than a decade.”
The $5 DD Card can be used toward the purchase of any item at participating Dunkin’ Donuts. In addition, the DD Card features a Red Cross logo, is reloadable and can also be enrolled in the DD Perks Rewards program.
Fidelity Bank holiday branch gifts support local causes
Leominster-based Fidelity Bank this holiday season gave $500 to each of its 10 full-service branches — in Worcester, Leominster, Fitchburg, Gardner, Shirley, Barre, Millbury, Paxton and Princeton — for staff to contribute to the charity of their choice.
“The annual gifts to our full service offices are one of the best ways we use our LifeDesign Community Dividend,” Fidelity Bank Chairman and CEO Ed Manzi said in a statement. “Each year, I enjoy learning about the important local causes the branches decide to support.”
The Worcester branch decided to support Veterans Inc. Paxton staff chose Abby’s House in Worcester, a shelter for homeless women and children. Staff at the Leominster Connector selected the Montachusett Home Care Corporation, while the Leominster Main Street branch donated its gift to the Leominster Spanish American Center.
Staff at the Fitchburg branch chose Karing 4 Kidz, the nonprofit started by a young Fitchburg girl in 2011 in partnership with Blessings in a Backpack. Each weekend the group provides what are called “kidpacks” full of food to needy elementary school students who rely on school lunches for their lunches during the week.
Gardner’s gift went to the Winchendon Community Action Committee, a nonprofit assisting people in crisis. Shirley staff decided to support Friends of Shirley Seniors. Barre’s funds went to the historic Number 4 Schoolhouse, where community events are held.
Millbury staff gave the $500 to the Millbury Lions Club. Princeton staff selected the National Education for Assistance Dog Services, which trains and places service dogs for people who are deaf or have a disability.
Canon lawyer in Rome retained to help save Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The Mount Carmel Preservation Society has retained a canon lawyer in Rome to advocate for the church’s reopening. Allessia Gullo of the Gullo law offices will argue the appeals parishioners have brought both against the suppression of Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Ann Parish and the permanent closure of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church building itself, according to a statement from the Mount Carmel Preservation Society.
Additionally, in order to ensure that Worcester’s historic Italian Baroque/Renaissance style church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel remains a Catholic sacred space, the Mount Carmel Preservation Society will seek broad public support for a plan to create a shrine to Our Lady of Mount Carmel within Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. The plan, according to the statement, is a central part of the appeal recently filed by parishioners with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy against Bishop Robert McManus’s decision to permanently close the church.
The society believes a shrine with a Marion Devotion is the best future use for the church, as it allows the church to continue serving as a Roman Catholic sacred space in the heart of a rapidly developing section of Worcester.
The success of the appeal brought by former parishioners who are members of the Mount Carmel Preservation Society against the permanent closure of the church — something which must be achieved prior to it being possible to develop a shrine — hinges on the ability of the society to raise sufficient funds to prove to the Vatican that it is capable of continuing to maintain the church as a Roman Catholic sacred space.
To support the society’s efforts to save the church, people are invited to donate or reach out to participate as an in-kind volunteer. Visit www.preserveourladyofmountcarmel.org for more information.
Vaillancourt Folk Art honors three employees
Three local employees of Vaillancourt Folk Art recently celebrated work anniversaries. William Anderson of Holland and Lisa Mickunas of Millbury both celebrated 20-year anniversaries, while Katherine Johnson of Douglas celebrated 30 years.
“We’re a true two-generation family business, but when you consider everyone who’s worked with us over the years it’s great to see that most of them stay. Our average employee has been with us for nearly two decades — an average that was reduced due to a new hire in 2017,” said Gary Vaillancourt, who owns and runs the business in Sutton with his wife, Judi.
Mickunas started her career with the company in 1997 in the finishing department. Over the years, she worked in shipping, operations, and now paints in the studio. Gary Vaillancourt said, “Her dedication and adherence to quality make her indispensable.”
Anderson, a formally trained master painter, also joined the company in 1997. “He is efficient, concise, and able to do the most difficult pieces,” Gary Vaillancourt said. “When Judi designs the intricate limited editions, Bill gets first crack.”
Johnson started in the shipping department when she joined Vaillancourt in 1987. “Since then, Kathy has blossomed into one of our more valued painters,” Gary Vaillancourt said. “She’s been adding the finishing touches to production chalkware for years. Although she is not formally trained, her eye for quality and detail are outstanding and vital to our success.”
United Way receives $30K to support relocation relief for Puerto Rico
Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico/Massachusetts Unido por Puerto Rico announced last month it had approved sending more than $1 million to grassroots organizations in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico, the latest in what will be an ongoing effort to support relief, reconstruction and relocation efforts through 2018.
The grants announced comprise $1,005,000 in funding to 40 organizations. Twenty-seven organizations, receiving a combined $740,000, are focused on grassroots relief and reconstruction in Puerto Rico. The remaining $265,000 is designated for 13 organizations that provide frontline support for families and individuals displaced from Puerto Rico to Massachusetts.
One of the 13 is the United Way of Central Massachusetts, which received $30,000 to support relocation efforts.