Charity Blog

Good News New England | February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine’s Day! Let’s start sharing the love this week by diving into some positive news collected from around New England.

Meet Carl the Cardinal: while he might not technically be able to fly, this former tree stump’s look has definitely been taken to new heights thanks to some TLC from a Marlborough, MA couple. Once considered an eyesore, Carl now brightens up the metro west community to bring smiles to all who pass him by. Watch the video below to meet him!

As someone who has personally cried in a cold walk-in during horrible shifts as a server, this next story absolutely warmed my heart! In Boston, one well-known brewery has stepped up to the challenge of supporting restaurant workers who have been some of the hardest hit financially by the pandemic. Samuel Adams Brewery and the Greg Hill Foundation teamed up to launch the Restaurant Strong foundation, and so far have been able to raise over $7 million to help industry workers stay afloat. To hear stories from recipients & learn more, check out tonight’s episode of Good News New England below:

Charity Blog

Good News New England | January 31, 2021

Ever wonder where your money goes when you bid on a really that really sweet sports memorabilia through the Boston Red Sox Foundation? I’ve got your answer: the foundation recently announced their January 2021 grant recipients, and the well-rounded list of charities benefitting from all those generous donations is impressive. It touches on a number of different causes, including some you may never have heard of.

-Artists For Humanity: Provides paid employment in art & design for under-resourced teens with dreams.

Dignity Matters: Collects and distributes feminine hygiene & personal care items, ensuring they are allocated to those with the greatest need.

Support The Soupman: The Soupman brings not only soup to our homeless, but also provides warm clothing and everyday necessities.

Also this week: If you like Tito’s Vodka, you might be about to love them a little bit more (if that’s even possible!). This week, the well-known brand partnered with Chill Kitchen & Bar out in Marlborough, Massachusetts to donate one hundred meals to staff at UMass Memorial Marlborough Hospital. The effort was coordinated to thank the front line staff for all of their hard work throughout the pandemic.

Lastly, a community coming together has raised enough money to help cover medical expenses for AJ Quetta after the teen was seriously injured in a hockey tournament for Bishop Feehan High School. Quetta suffered a serious head injury during the January 26th game, and thanks to quick action just two days later the Greg Hill Foundation was able to put together a fundraiser to help his family through this unimaginable time. While the fundraiser had a goal of $10,000 the Greg Hill Foundation would match, they quickly surpassed that goal to provide the family with over $140,000 (as of the airing of this episode). Great giving work, guys!

To hear more about the stories and JT’s Positive 5 to motivate you for this week, catch the latest episode below!:

Charity Blog

Good News For January 10, 2021 | Evenings With Emmalyn: Episode 11

Here’s your weekly roundup of positive news from around New England!

In Norwood, one little girl’s act of kindness brought big smiles to the faces of first responders at Norwood Police & Fire. Jaylynn, daughter of the owners of Keegan’s Jewelers in Norwood, came up with a unique idea to both support local business and say thank you to those working on the front lines during trying times. She decided to make a “give back board” that featured gift cards for each of the officers and firefighters to try out a new restaurant and get a cup of coffee free of charge. Not even going to lie and tell you these are “allergies”, these are COVID times and honestly I’m just tearing up over here at her thoughtfulness and in looking at pictures of the first responders so clearly smiling under their masks!

On Martha’s Vineyard, one man is making some pretty big waves in the non-profit sector by giving back through every sale he makes. The owner of Feiner Real Estate and Chairman of the Chilmark Housing Community, Jim Feiner has had the unique perspective of being able to see both wealth and need on the small island. This experience, he says, is what inspired him to find a way to incentivize buyers to become what he calls “impact investors” by offering each buyer that comes to him the opportunity to donate 10% of his commission to the island charity of their choice.

To learn more about these stories, check out January 10th’s newscast below:

Charity Blog

Good News for Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 | Evenings With Emmalyn: Episode 10

Kick off 2021 with some GOOD news! The first week of 2021 has given us much to be grateful for and has already boasted both large and small acts of kindness that made a huge impact to their own local communities.

Let’s start on Martha’s Vineyard, where an anonymous customer that shops at both Cronig’s and Stop & Shop decided to pen a heartfelt letter thanking the grocery stores for continuing to be absolute lifelines for the small island even throughout the pandemic. The letter reads, “You have braved Covid to keep stores clean and safe, and shelves stocked to meet our needs…we could not live here without the tireless and courageous efforts of essential service workers like you.” Inside the letters handed directly to management at each store was a $100 bill for each of their employees, an act that one manager says brought his staff to tears. (Honestly, it kinda got me going, too!)

Across the pond in Falmouth, a mother of six has been busy trying to keep her children happy, healthy, and learning – a well known challenge many have experienced throughout this pandemic. Her solution? Tiana Gualtieri began creating “Play-Doh” boxes unique to each child, all fitting a different them. “Decorated dough makes homemade play doh kits that stimulate creative play. I include sensory items, crafts, and anything else to use your imagination,” she explains. After noticing how happy the activity made her own children, Gualtieri began reaching out to other parents who might be interested in boxes for their own children – and wound up connecting with local officials to help sponsor boxes for students. “Before the holidays as a Falmouth community, we were able to sponsor over 18 classrooms with individual play-doh activities,” says Gualtieri, who now says she’s looking forward to connecting with other parents and has opened the door for anyone who’d like to sponsor a box for a child to continue the trend.

Closer to Boston, the owner of Alba Restaurant in the seaside City of Quincy is celebrating his 30th year of living in America after working his way through the industry in Boston to finally open his own location. With this in mind as he approached the holiday season, owner Leo Kaka wanted to do something special to thank his employees for working so hard to keep his doors open during the pandemic. He did: to the tune of $30,000 in bonuses to his staff he was able to give after tallying up all the businesses’ gift card sales of the season.

To learn more about these stories or hear JT’s motivational message for this week on JT’s Positive 5, watch the full episode below! Be sure to like & subscribe to “Evenings With Emmalyn” to automatically get good news alerts every week.

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Evenings With Emmalyn: Episode 8

Thanks for watching Evenings With Emmalyn, a show dedicated to sharing good news and positive vibes featuring “The Positive 5” by motivational speaker JT of JT’s Chronicles, and a new #FreshLookFriday segment every week dedicated to ways you can bring those good vibes into your own home. If you like watching good news, please like this video & subscribe to this channel to stay up to date with the latest happy stories!

Charity Blog

Evenings With Emmalyn: Episode 7

Thanks for watching Evenings With Emmalyn, a show dedicated to sharing good news and positive vibes featuring “The Positive 5” by motivational speaker JT of JT’s Chronicles, and a new #FreshLookFriday segment every week dedicated to ways you can bring those good vibes into your own home.

#FreshLookFriday

#FreshLookFriday: Holiday Hot Toddies Recipe

Looking for a recipe to spice up the holidays? We’ve got the perfect festive blend that not only screams New England, but can be made with our without booze to keep that holiday cheer under control (or let it loose-after all, it is 2020!).

While we made this recipe in a small crockpot, it can also be made on the stove as long as you keep the heat on low, keep stirring occasionally, and add an extra cup of cranberry juice.

Here’s the recipe:

2.5 cups cranberry juice

Honey (as desired)

1 inch ginger

peeled 2 cloves (you can sub several dashes of powder)

1/2 an orange, sliced

1/2 cup cranberries

3 cinnamon sticks (save more for decoration!)

Rum (if desired, add as much as you’d like being careful not to overpower other flavors!)

Charity Blog

Evenings With Emmalyn: Episode 6

Latest episode is now up on YouTube featuring JT’s Chronicles and some good news from Food Baskets MV, Boston Bruins Foundation & more!

Charity Blog

Evenings With Emmalyn: Episode 2

Featuring a local Cape Cod woman giving back to those who have been isolating for medical reasons with a fun outdoor activity, a Quincy Police Officer who surprised a local family with a very special pizza delivery, and of course your weekly motivation with JT’s Positive 5!

Charity Blog

#StayHomeSeries: Local Wedding Planner Donates Time To Brides Whose Weddings Have Been Cancelled

A couple’s wedding day is one they look forward to from the moment they realize they’ve found “the one”. The months (or for many couples, years) of planning leading up to the big day can be a whirlwind of emotions from excitement at the moment of proposal & celebrating milestones in selecting the perfect vendors, to the more stressful times in juggling family emotions, vendor contracts, finances, and somehow staying on the same page with your significant other. Yet no couple could have possible prepared for the shock of a global pandemic changing every detail they’ve worked so hard to perfect. For those couples going through the heartbreaking decision of cancelling, postponing or drastically changing the happiest day of their lives, it can take a heavy emotional toll. That’s where one wedding planner saw she had an opportunity to help.

When I first met Sandy Brooks of Timeless Event Planning on the steps of the Harborview Hotel in Edgartown, I somehow felt that I had not just hired a wedding planner, but was about to make a good friend. As we casually sipped mimosas overlooking Lighthouse Beach where my husband & my engagement photos were taken, Sandy and I went over every detail of what our dream wedding day would look like. By the end of our conversation, it was impossible to imagine that just an hour before our new wedding planner had been a total stranger and there was no doubt in my mind that she was the person I trusted to guide our wedding planning journey.

While you’d never know it based on the personal attention she gives to each and every client to make your wedding the only one just like mine did, Sandy Brooks had 12 weddings booked for 2020. Yet with the Coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation or postponement or all major events, the bi-coastal wedding planner is now down to just four left on the books: and she understands better than anyone how painful her clients’ decisions to cancel or postpone have truly been. Engaged to be married herself June 20th, 2020 on Martha’s Vineyard, Sandy too had that difficult decision to make. “I have a different perspective on what I think is going to happen because I am a bride-to-be myself,” she explains. “I’m living everything as well and so for me, it’s about my business, but it’s also about being fair to my clients.” With her wedding date right around the corner, Sandy knew that not only she but all of her other brides would have to act fast.” The second I moved my wedding, I promised my July brides I’d call them first and explain my decision and why. Even if the ban is lifted, there will most likely be restrictions on events and we just can’t see us having the wedding we have been creating the past two years. My fiance’s family, groomsmen and friends are coming from CA which makes us worried. His parents are 70 years old and my dad has been sick the past ten years, making this decision even harder.”

As she has been navigating the re-booking of her own wedding while continuing to guide her clients, Sandy began to receive message after message with brides-to-be all asking the same question: What do we do? “There’s a lot of brides on the island that were getting married on our same  weekend, and people asked how I made my decision.” While normally consulting a wedding planner is a paid service, Sandy found she couldn’t turn away from the brides’ cries for help. “The first thing I had to ask is: Do you have a wedding planner? I didn’t want to step on any toes!” she explained. “I wanted to be a friend to these girls because if they can’t even afford a wedding planner, who do you come to? Your photographer or florist might have an answer of what they think based on their business, but I’m actually engaged and going through this with all my vendors, too.”

So, what advice did she give? “It’s really important to make a backup plan early and ask vendors to put a soft hold on those dates as couples will not only be competing with 2021 brides for dates, but other 2020 couples that are forced to reschedule,” explains Sandy, who was heartbroken to learn that one of her selected vendors wouldn’t be available for her new date once she rescheduled. Not only can it be stressful emotionally to lose a vendor, but there’s also the task of re-sending the stationary, re-working the guest list to adapt to any changes in who may or may not now be able to attend-all while facing any fees involved with these changes. Fees, Sandy says, can be a touchy subject with couples already spending a fortune on their dream day. Thankfully, Sandy has the unique perspective of both a bride and a vendor to help explain why some charges make sense-and others don’t. “My industry is suffering so much, which is why people are trying to keep their September and fall weddings in place,” she explains of how vendors are losing money as cancellation after cancellation of their summer events roll in. “Some want to keep waiting and waiting, but I think just being really honest on your perspective and having a plan will put their minds at ease.” For one of Sandy’s clients, a vendor had refused to move an already set wedding date. Yet suddenly, a grant became available and all move fees were able to be waived. While it can be frustrating to understand as a couple already experiencing a worst-case wedding scenario of a mandated cancellation, Sandy knows that while some clients can’t afford the extra fees, vendors are scrambling to salvage the little business they can. “I know what it feels like, so it’s really hard for me because I have to explain to my clients why they have to charge. Many vendors will need to pick up side jobs if this doesn’t end soon. Most of us live paycheck to paycheck. we are just coming out of our off-season and were really needing these events to survive.” The good news for brides? Some companies that are in a position to help are being very understanding, such as printing companies offering complimentary postcards to send out to guests with the new dates. “There are vendors out there that don’t just want money. I love talking to people and hearing stories, and telling mine. It’s a really hard time that people are going through.”

Being such a heavy subject, the reactions from those Sandy has talked to have been “extremely understandable,” she says. “The first bride I had to move, I got on the phone and she was like, ‘Wait your texts aren’t bubbly, whats going on?’ We talked it out, and she wanted to move the dates so I came to her with a plan. At first she was fine, but then she started bawling so I just knew we had to say ‘Okay, grab a glass of wine, we are going to do this together!’ ” How has Sandy advised her brides to cope with this stress? “You have to take it week by week. Start making guests lists of 50 people, then 100 people as there could be social gathering restrictions. Ask yourself, would even be the wedding you would want?” Yet moving the dates isn’t for everyone. For some brides, Sandy says, a 2020 wedding is taking on a whole new form. “Know that you can still get legally married this year, and party the following. One of my brides is also a wedding planner, and they decided to do a styled elopement in Palm Springs,” she explains. “Have your day to bawl your eyes out about these changes, make brownies, then the following morning make coffee and make a list of ten positive things happening in your life. You WILL get through this!!”