Charity Blog

Good News New England | January 17, 2021

Good news, New England! For those of you that have been following along, you’ve probably noticed a slight change in the positive newscast you’ve been seeing every week. After spending nearly a year perfecting the GNE brand, testing and re-testing segments, and working around COVID restrictions that have postponed most major charity events, I’m truly thrilled to share this pilot episode of Good News New England. (If you’re looking for previous episodes of Evenings With Emmalyn, don’t worry: those are still on here, too, and won’t be going anywhere! They are all a part of the journey that has lead us here today.)

Now, let’s get on with the (good) news! We’re starting in Boston today where Sudbury native and Marvel action star Chris Evans made a generous donation that made him a hero for many families in real life. After scoring $80,000 in prize winnings for coming in third place in the Marvel Avengers Fantasy Football league sponsored by FanDuel, the funds were sent directly to Christopher’s Haven in Boston. Christopher’s Haven is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting children battling cancer and their families by providing a warm place for them to stay as they travel to Boston for treatment.

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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:

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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#StayHomeSeries: Lasers Helping Lasers

For students all over the world, college is affectionately known as “the best four years of your life”. Highly anticipated all through high school where many work hard for years to save money, get their grades up anxiously await that coveted acceptance letter, college is a time meant for studying, learning all you can about the career path of your choice, and maybe staying up a bit too late making friendships for life. Just two months short of what would have been for many seniors a celebrated graduation, the entire lifestyle of college has changed.

With many campuses closing their dormitory doors and moving to online courses for all, it is a challenging time for students who have been forced to move away from their friends and entire new, independent life. Yet for some, this drastic change of pace means more than just going home to be with families a bit earlier than they’d planned: for those who rely on resources at their college to get their work done, it can mean a loss of means to continue their studies. For those who work on campus, it can mean a loss of income to pay for their car, phone, or other bills. Far worse, for those who are international students with nowhere to go or come from a low-income family, it can mean homelessness.

“We had alumni and parents, faculty and staff reach out when the COVID-19 started to impact our student and the question they all asked was, ‘What can we do? How can we help?’ So this Lasers Helping Lasers relief fund really is in response to the community asking that question,” explains Chelsea Gwyther, Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at Lasell University. “We worked with a student who left his residence hall when this pandemic hit, and moved back with his family in a homeless shelter outside of Boston. Unfortunately, that shelter doesn’t have Wifi so this student takes his 18-year-old car and drives a couple of times a day to a Mcdonald’s parking lot so he can participate in his online classes. The determination of that student is just incredibly inspiring to all of us, and we’re committed just like he is to making sure that all students have access to a great education at Lasell.”

So far, alumni and friends of the college have gone above and beyond in their generosity to help support the local students. “The response has been absolutely phenomenal. Over $85,500 has been donated for this fund and that is going to go directly to helping students who are impact by this and helping the institution manage unplanned expenses by the pandemic.”

Interested in donating? Watch my full interview with Chelsea below to learn more, and visit https://www.lasellalumni.org/s/61/16/index.aspx?sid=61&gid=1&pgid=2068 to make your donation!

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#StayHomeSeries MASK. MATCH. CHALLENGE!

Who’s up for a challenge you can do from your couch?! Everyone? Okay, good.

Let’s start by introducing you to David, the Founder of DocPPE that launched an incredible new startup in response to the need of extra masks not only on our front lines, but in our communities. A software developer for 20 years who has founded his own companies and attended law school, David was inspired by his wife who witnessed the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) herself working as a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital. As she continuously shared her concerns, David being an entrepreneur himself felt compelled to do something.

“From start to finish, we’ve been doing this for four weeks. I had the first design done in 4 days, tested within five.” David’s team, which consists of several family members, friends & manufacturers, also includes his wife: she donated her two weeks’ vacation time to devote it instead to getting the necessary supplies out as quickly as possible. “We’re working night and day to get these things out,” he explains. “My wife is a great woman and donated her vacation time to make masks. I don’t know how you get much better than that, to be honest.”

An American-made product with a facility right at home in Boston, David says he’s been taking calls constantly. “It’s crazy because we have a live chat on the site so it comes to me directly. I’m the one who answers, I’m the one who’s there and people are like: Are you real? Ae you in America? Is this a real thing?” The skepticism, he says, is understood. “Because everybody buys this stuff online and they’re not getting it, they want that assurance that they’re actually going to get what they pay for.” To ease concerns, David has taken to giving out his personal cell phone number. “We’re for the people, by the people.”

So, what’s this challenge we’re talking about? If you are able to donate anything from $5-$500 (of course, more is always welcomed!), David will match that donation of masks to go to either front line workers or Navajo Nation, who do not have access to PPE. “If you donate 500, we’ll match it with another 500. When friends start sharing with friends making this a competition to get it to healthcare workers on the front lines.” The response so far, he says, has been overwhelming as they have partnered with Blue Sky Entertainment to get well-known athletes like Andrew Raycroft & Charlie Coyle to show their support. “Everybody’s starting to come out and they want to help. It’s so nice to see the communities, the personalities and different celebrities come out and want to help people.”

So far, DocPPE has been able to donate supplies to Boston hospitals such as South Shore, Beth Israel, and Mass General Hospital. Want to join in and help? Donate here and challenge a friend to do the same!: https://docppe.com/donations/

Charity Blog

Mermaids on Cape Cod: How A Cape Cod Artist Is Using Her Talent To Help Feed Fellow Residents

CAPE COD, MA- With all of the heartwarming stories coming to the forefront these days, it’s not rare for me to tear up a time or two at hearing how so many local heroes are stepping up to help their neighbors. It is, however, rare for me to do so several times in just one call. That’s what happened when I spoke with Shari, “Chief Executive Mermaid” behind Mermaids on Cape Cod. Getting to know Shari over the years as we bumped into each other at local festivals, the “Mermaid Truck” gal always had the cutest setup of all the vendors. Her mobile truck, set up so anyone could hop on and shop great local outfits, jewelry and accessories always had me leaving with something!

Mermaids on Cape Cod Founder & Chief Executive Mermaid, Shari.

Yet in talking with her this week, I saw another side of Shari I had never seen before. Instead of being her laughing, contagiously bubbly self, she was heartbroken for her fellow artists and fiercely determined to make waves of change. “In March, I was at the Boston Flower Show and they were closing it and packing up due to the virus. They had said they weren’t going to close, but turnout was so low and things were just starting to happen, so they had to. Everybody was crying and having a tough time, and that’s not usually what the vibe is there. It was very dark and sad, and I couldn’t fathom what this would be like,” she explained. “The woman next to me looked at all her stuff and realized she didn’t have another event to go for four months, and all of her creations that she’d worked so hard on were perishable. We looked at each other and said, ‘What are we going to do?’ and I said, ‘I’m going to figure this out.’

After going home and racking her brain of how she could help those that just lost their entire livelihood all night, Shari said she remembers seeing the sun rise the next morning was suddenly inspired. “I saw sunrise with the trees and just said to myself, ‘I need to rise up.’ I started drawing rough waves, the sun rising up, the waves rising up, and realized in this distressing time we need to create some joy and rise up together.” After watching many of the funds created for such smaller local artists going to larger corporations, Shari knew what she had to do. “I’m going to raise some money. And it’s not going to be for big companies or big organizations.”

Quickly, Shari began reaching out to local organizations to guide her in her mission and fellow artists responded. “Steve at Cape Cod Textile, he came in and said, ‘Let me design something and if you sell them, I’ll just give them to you so all the money can go where it needs to.’ The Cape Cod design was him.” Pointing to a long sleeve shirt and sweatshirt in our Zoom call (which she’d tied together to hold hands and I’m not crying, you’re crying), she explained that the 15 stars on the flag design were placed to represent each of the towns on Cape Cod where in each, local artists reside. How have the sales been?

“I’ve cried a lot in gratitude,” Shari admits. “We’re shipping 500 pieces a week, which is stressful as well as keeping my business afloat working till 10-11pm at night and waking up at 7am. But with every package, I say thank you to the customer and thank you to God.” The humble artists refuses to take most of the credit, however. “This is from our community, your community, not us. The money is just from them,” she explains of how the funds from each purchase go directly towards local food banks in Sandwich & along the South Shore. “$500 keeps the food pantry alive for the community. If you give them $1, they can go to the Boston Food Bank and get 20 cans of corns to stock the shelves here. So far, we donated $1000.”

Want to help be part of the effort and grab some custom-made Rise Up swag yourself? Visit the Mermaids on Cape Cod website at https://www.mermaidsoncapecod.com/ and check out Shari’s full video interview below.