Charity Blog

GOOD NEWS NEW ENGLAND | MARCH 28, 2021

Happy weekend, everyone! Here is your positive news roundup from around New England for this week.

PAULIE’S PUSH FOR A PURPOSE

Paul Veneto poses with the beverage cart he’ll be pushing from Logan Airport to Ground Zero.

One former flight attendant is pushing a beverage cart from Logan Airport all the way to Ground Zero in New York City in honor of the flight crew that lost their lives 20 years ago on September 11th. The goal? To bring comfort to the loved ones of those lost and properly honor those who fought bravely on board. “The thought of a family member just being murdered on an airplane for the last 20 years, if I could erase that out of their head they could go to bed at night knowing they were heroes. They absolutely were heroes that day.”

“These are the first first responders,” explained Veneto, who as a former flight attendant himself knows firsthand the feeling of an emergency in the air. “You know when there’s trouble on board on airplane, no matter what it is, you can’t pick up the phone and call the police. You can’t call the fire department, you can’t call anybody. You gotta solve the problem up there, or else it’s over.”

Veneto says he has struggled every year on the anniversary of the attack with the loss of friends he now knows as heroes. His goal, 20 years later, is to make others aware of the sacrifice the brave men and women on board gave on that fateful day. “The crew that I knew on Flight 175, the one that hit the second tower, that plane is bank and almost misses the tower. And I swear deep down in my soul that they were trying to take that cockpit back, the crew. That’s where the country came together, right there, at 30,000 feet.”

With this thought continually in the back of his head, Veneto made the decision five years ago to begin training to bring his plan to life with that same goal in mind: comfort for the families, and honor for the crew. “If I have to push a beverage cart from Logan Airport Boston all the way to Ground Zero New York, then that’s what I’m gonna do.”

SEARCHING FOR STELLA: LOST DOG RETURNED HOME

It was a casual day working from home in the backyard for JR and his dog Stella when a delivery truck arrived. Anxious to protect her home, Stella leapt for the gate-and hit the latch just right to let the gate swing open.

JR and his beloved dog, Stella.

Frantic, JR attempted to bring Stella back inside. Yet she had quickly dashed after the truck down the street, and JR heard the devastating impact of his beloved dog being hit by a car. The driver stopped, but when he looked down she was nowhere to be found.

“That started a night of where we last thought she was, we searched.” After days of searching deterred by weather, JR was able to begin working with a tracking dog to help find Stella. That’s when he learned she had somehow been able to travel 8 miles while injured before her tracks began to cross. Determined to find her, JR continued the search efforts with the help of the his community who he credits with helping bring her home after nine difficult days. “I know a lot of people traveled down into the wilderness of Mashpee trying to find her, and I think that actually pushed her out of where she was.”

Thankfully, all of their hard work paid off. “It was Saturday night a little bit before seven and my phone rang. It was someone saying they found Stella!” he recalls excitedly. With her picture posted on several missing pets sites and JR updating her last known location by the tracker, someone had been able to recognize her when she turned up near a local kennel. “The woman said, ‘Are you missing this really sweet dog that’s hanging out in my kennel?’ and I said yes! Yes, I am!”

Though it was a long time apart, JR says he’s just happy to have her home. “Nine days later, we may never know what she did for those nine days. But I’m just so thankful and so grateful for everyone who helped.”

FALMOUTH ORGANIZATION HELPS BRING INSPIRATION EVERYWHERE

For many, the thought of asking for help can be a challenge. For one Falmouth organization, making life easier for others has already begun to erase that stigma.

“Our main goal is to try and fill in gaps of need in the community,” says Samantha Bauer of Inspiration is Everywhere. “People can come to us when they need help with anything. No matter what it is, there’s nothing too big or too small.” From help shoveling a driveway to sitting beside patients as they endure chemotherapy treatments, starting their own small food pantry and even creating an office space that offers alcohol-free open mic nights, Bauer says they try to meet every need brought to their attention. “We realize that, you know, there are a lot of really good non profit organizations out there, but not everyone qualifies for those services. There are people who fall between the cracks.”

From help with informational services to helping the elderly around the house, rides and even coordinating supply drives, every piece of the organization’s puzzle revolves around one goal: bringing the Falmouth community together to help one another wherever necessary. “If we can partner you with someone (or an organization) that can meet your needs that’s great, if not we use our community volunteers to fix whatever is wrong in your life.”

An Inspiration is Everywhere volunteer helping to organize drive supplies.

Right now, Bauer says their current focus is on providing luggage for local children that are between homes. “A lot of kids who get taken into DCF custody have to put their stuff into a trash bag. So we’ve been collecting duffel bags and backpacks for those kids so that they have their own luggage and they don’t have that sort of message that ‘you’re trash’.”

In realizing the needs of others, Bauer says their office has expanded. Today, Inspiration is Everywhere also hosts events such as paint/craft nights, open mic nights or concerts, and other events. Her goal? To help offer a safe place for those who are under 21 looking for a new outlet, those struggling to find affordable activities, or someone who actively trying to avoid drugs and alcohol. “I get it, we live in a tourist economy and we have to cater to, you know, where the money comes from. But the people who are here all year, the people who don’t fit that sort of economic mindset-they’re not just here to spend money, they’re working three jobs and they’re exhausted at the end of the day and struggling to be here and to just exist. Those people need support. Those people need to feel seen; they need to be accepted.”

To learn more about Inspiration is Everywhere, Paulie’s Push or to hear Stella’s story, watch the full episode below:

Charity Blog

Good News New England | Sunday, March 7th, 2021

While random acts of kindness happen every day all over the world, this week’s roundup features three people from Norwood, Abington and Falmouth that have gone above & beyond to bring smiles to strangers.

MAN CAUGHT IN THE ACT OF KINDNESS

Meet Deputy Chief John “Jack” Glynn of Abington Fire Department that was caught in the act of kindness after laying down as much cash as he could to cover coffee for patrons at a local Marylou’s. While he’d intended to stay anonymous and just enjoy watching the smiles he put on people’s faces from the background in memory of several people in his life he has lost, a friend in the shop sniffed him out as the culprit. His photo began to circulate on Facebook through an organization called Annie’s Kindness Blankets to which Glynn is very close, and it was revealed that he donated in honor of Anne Marie Varney, Alex Kokoros, and Sgt. Michael Chesna. When asked what inspired him, Glynn responded that sometimes it just plain feels good to see someone else smile. “With what I do for a living, you can see the worst of things,” he explained, “Through the darkness, you can see light if you look for it.”

KNITTING FOR A CAUSE

When two friends Lesley & Francey began knitting to pass the time at the start of quarantine, they never imagined one year later they would be dedicating entire rooms of their homes to store donated yarn. Yet once they began donating their plush pieces to veterans in need after an ask for help at Lesley’s temple, the pair found they couldn’t stop. “Then we decided, ‘Well, let’s do something for somewhere local’. Francey found a nursing home in Norton, and that’s when we began making the blankets and pouches that go on walkers,” explains Lesley. Yet they didn’t stop there – their mission is now expanding not only to include other care facilities, but knitting blankets for premature babies that are entering into foster homes. “The first time we went to drop stuff off at the nursing home, the Director of the nursing home actually cried,” says a smiling Francey. “It’s such a win-win-win. I mean, we clearly are winning it’s been our sanity through COVID. You know, we can sit for hours and do this, together and apart. For the people who donate, I think people feel really good about it; they feel like they’re participating and for the recipients, it’s also a huge win.” You go, girls!

To hear more about this week’s stories, tune in to Episode 8 below! What else is in store? Get your weekly motivation by JT who talks this week about helping and accepting help from those around you. I also have a #FreshLookFriday I’ve been SO EXCITED to share with you – it’s a living room before & after showing you how I decorated our space and the one tip I have for falling in love with any room in your home.

Charity Blog

Good News New England | February 28th, 2021

Okay first of all..how has it already been one year of this Covid chaos? Somehow, it’s happened, and today I’m giving a HUGE shout out to YOU for powering through. No matter what you’ve gone through, no matter has changed (or not changed that you really wanted to), YOU are strong and brave just for surviving this year. That had to be said before anything else – but now, let’s move on to a few things that will make you smile today!

BOSTON CANNONS, LOCAL RESTAURANT GROUP OWNER SUPPORT QUINCY YOUTH SPORTS

This week in Quincy, Boston Cannons Lacrosse Executive Chris Rucker teamed up with restaurant group owner Donato Frattaroli to make a generous donation to Quincy & North Quincy High Schools coordinated thanks to some help from the Pigskin Gala Fund. The $4,000 check, presented at Frattaroli’s Boardwalk Pizza, will send funds directly to the joint Quincy-North Quincy boys’ lacrosse program, the Quincy High School girls’ soccer program, the Chris “Chief” McCallum Scholarship Fund & Stuart Slicis Memorial City of Presidents Scholarship Fund. “We’re hoping these donations will help Quincy’s student athletes and college-bound young adults achieve their goals on and off the sports field,” says Frattaroli.

TWO GRATEFUL FRIENDS SUPPORT OTHERS BATTLING CANCER

We’ve all heard of paying it forward, but two grateful friends took that mantra to the next level. When close friends Lee & Gwen learned they were each battling a different type of cancer in 2014, the pair says they felt grateful to have each other during an incredibly challenging time. As they recovered, they realized a new mission: to help others who may not be so lucky to have such support. That’s when their foundation, Two Grateful Friends, was born to donate baskets for anyone going through cancer treatment (at no cost regardless of financial need) that cater to each individual’s diagnosis. The organization also offers grants to those who are struggling financially as the staggering costs of cancer begin to add up.

The charity’s Executive Director Kim Paratore knows firsthand the devastating impact cancer can have on a family. Her own family’s heartbreaking experience and the loss of her beloved husband is what she says opened her eyes to just how costly cancer can be. “My husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at age 48. He was healthy, a non-smoker, went to the doctor every year and wasn’t feeling well for a couple of weeks. He died 10 weeks later after treatment at Mass General. But during that time- we had great insurance, we had friends and support -I saw firsthand the amount of bills.” Paratore recalled standing at the pharmacy counter filling prescriptions and being shocked at the cost of treatment. “There would be times when I would go to CVS and fill three prescriptions. Even with the co-pay, because of the advanced cancer drugs -they weren’t generic, you couldn’t get a $6 prescription-sometimes it would be $75 copays times three. Then they would change the medicine and say, ‘Oh next week don’t take that because that gave you a fever, take this’. Now it’s another $150.”

This experience changed her entire perspective on families battling cancer. “I used to think, ‘Why do people have fundraisers at the VFW or Gofundme pages when someone is diagnosed with cancer? Don’t they have health insurance?’ But people that have cancer have extraordinary bills, extraordinary circumstances where they don’t feel well enough to work; they don’t feel strong enough to go into an office and put in an 8 hour day. They need to take a nap, their treatment makes them sick, or they have these bills and that’s really where we come in,” she explains. “It’s not (that) people that have done anything wrong or not saved money, this can be financially devastating for someone to have a cancer diagnosis. Now to be stressed that your lights will be shut off? I can’t even imagine layering that on top of a breast cancer diagnosis.”

To make a donation or request a basket for someone you know who is battling cancer, visit www.gratefulfriends.org.

AMESBURY WOMAN REFLECTS ON HONORING LATE DAUGHTER THROUGH TAMMI’S CLOSET AS FOUNDATION CLOSES ITS DOORS

After losing her daughter Tammi in a tragic accident, Betty Vitale was determined to find a way to honor her late daughter by helping other young women. One afternoon, after donating her daughter’s prom dress that she’d struggled to part with, the grieving mother found her answer on how to do just that. “10 years after my Tammi had died, I finally decided I could let her dress go. So I brought it up to the East Boston high school, and by the time I got home which was like 10 minutes-somebody had taken the dress. It had fit somebody perfectly.”

This experience gave Betty the inspiration she needed to found an organization to help make this dream come true for other young ladies in need of a prom dress that otherwise could not afford it, and Tammi’s Closet was born. “7 weeks later, I’m open. I opened up with like maybe 70 dresses,” she recalled. “When I started it, I just wanted to keep my Tammi’s name going. She was only 19 when she died and had just gotten engaged to be married two days before. I remember the first dress I gave out, the mother was like, ‘It was either pay my rent or get my daughter a prom dress and I had to pick pay the rent.’ She said now, she got both. I can remember the fluttering I got in my heart, and I thought wow, this is going to help some girls.” For the first two years, Betty says things went very well and each night, she’d recap the day over a cup of tea on her porch telling Tammi how many girls she had been able to help.

Yet on April Fool’s Day of their third year, Betty came in to notice something was off. “I noticed some dresses were missing, and I thought the girls that volunteer for me had hid them on me. But they all said ‘No, they didn’t’. Somebody had come in and taken about 15 prom dresses,” she had learned. “I was heartbroken. They were free, why would anyone take them? I would have gave them to them, you know?” Fortunately, the theft left Betty a blessing in disguise. “I reported it to the police, and within 3 hours my phone starts ringing. There were news trucks everywhere, and I started getting dresses sent to me- 900 dresses by the end of the year! I didn’t know what I was going to do with them all!” she recalls, laughing. “I put out there on Facebook that I needed help with storage, and a couple called me up and said, ‘We’ll be there tomorrow, you can put them in our warehouse free of charge’.”

This was a major turning point for the organization, that was finally able to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony last year on her new space. Betty says she had been so excited, she’d poured her own money into furnishing the store to make it look like a real boutique-only to be forced to close weeks later due to the pandemic. “My heart broke for these girls,” says Betty, who held out hope only to be disappointed with the 2021 season. “This year, we didn’t know if there were going to be any proms.”

Sadly, disaster was about to strike again for the Vitale family. The building she has lived in for years was sold, and the new landlord went up in rent by more than she and her husband could afford. Despite her best efforts in searching for something her family could afford, the Vitales were ultimately forced to leave the state altogether and move in with family in Florida. This meant Tammi’s Closet would be no more. “I had to make the decision on closing it, and it was the hardest decision I ever made. I felt like I was saying goodbye to my Tammi all over again. There’s a lot more girls out there I wanted to help,” Betty said tearfully, reflecting on the many young women she and her husband have helped walk out of Tammi’s Closet with sparkles and a smile. Thankfully, one buyer stepped in to take most of her inventory to start a similar program for other women – and Tammi’s Closet, though not by name, will live on in spirit through the dresses given to other young women in need.

To hear more about these stories, watch this week’s episode 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

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.

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

Headbands for Heroes: Local Business Owner Helps Those Who Help Us

BOSTON- When Shop The Cue owner Lindsay Reilly watched a heartbreaking video of a New York nurse taking off her mask to reveal raw and bleeding her ears after wearing protective equipment all day long, she knew she had to do something to help. As Reilly saw the nurse fashion a homemade headband after a long, 12 hour shift, she had one thought. “There was a nurse spending their time when they get home after a 12 hour shift to put buttons on a headband to solve their problems. We should be able to do that, especially since I had a sewing background and a sewing machine,” explains Reilly.

Quickly, Reilly and her team at Shop The Cue got to work on headbands that could be used to protect the ears of those wearing masks by holding them together with buttons. “We had such a powerful network platform, I just asked myself: How can we use that to make a difference in the most impactful way with these headbands?” Once the word of her good work got out, the response grew overwhelmingly as nearly 600 orders flew in within a matter of days. Despite the positive reaction, this meant a bit of a struggle for Reilly. “I’d order fabric or buttons and it wasn’t coming as expected so the need got bigger. We got bombarded with orders,” she explains. It didn’t take long for the shop owner to realize she was going to need an extra hand in getting them together. “There was no way we could keep up.”

As a small business, Lindsay says it’s been a whole new ball game working in a situation where the products are newly developed and an immediate need. “Normally, you develop a product, market it, produce it and we have time to do that. In this case, one of my girls is going through all of the emails of people who are really in crucial need of these.” Watching the order numbers go up as their material stock and the ability to fulfill orders quickly went down, Shop The Cue’s network made a plea for help on social media that brought in an outpouring of support from the community. “Everyone in the community reached out, small businesses or friendly neighbors or Cue supporters to help build kits. We created kits for people to pick up on the curbside to help sew them within a matter of days.” One gentleman named Chris of Custom Sports Sleeves in Worcester approached Lindsay and her team with a generous offer that would help her not only reach her goal to fill current orders, but keep production going strong for the new ones flowing in. “He said ‘Hey, I have the material, we’re local and we can do this for you in a day. What do you think?’ Immediately I just said ‘You are an angel, and yes!'” Other businesses like Christa Hagearty of Dependable Cleaners and a local salon owner in Quincy also stepped up to help out. “It’s really the small businesses that are coming together, and that’s where the impact that’s being made the most.”

Looking closely at every order coming in, she began to notice urgent requests for headbands are now coming from outside the healthcare field as well. “The last few days, I would say we’re noticing that it’s not just the nurses. We’re having people from police stations, a local bakery who needed headbands baking all week for Easter weekend, we have one restaurant that just bought 50 of them because workers for takeout are wearing the masks as well.”

Yet the response from those that have received their headbands reminds her every day that their hard work is worth every minute. “They send us before and afters of their ears of how much it was helping them, how they love seeing the small businesses come together. It’s the little things, and being a small business I can see if there is any sort of problem and fix it that day.” The only problem Lindsay says she’s encountered: trying to get to everyone as quickly as she can, without those in the most dire need paying a dime. “We’ve had to do completed -or not completed-at least 2,000 headbands just after week one,” she explained. “We have a fund that people donated to so nurses don’t spend a dollar, but if you’re reaching out to buy one for a friend or family member you can do that as well.”

Are you or is someone you love in need of a headband? Head on over to Shop The Cue to get yours or request one for a front-line worker here: https://shopthecue.com/collections/giveback