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 | 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 24, 2021

There has been a whole lot of good going on this past week, with collaborations for charity happening across nearly every industry. From sports to fashion, fighting food insecurity to making dreams come true, here’s a roundup of positive news stories you might have missed.

You might know Kemba Walker for his mean moves on the court, but outside of the game he’s been teaming up with a company called Body Armor to give the Boys & Girl’s Club of Roxbury a much-appreciated makeover in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Just by using his leverage as an athlete to raise awareness, Walker has brought attention to the fact that the Yawkey Club could use a little love – and you can help. By just voting for the Boys & Girls Club of Boston in the competition (you can do so in the Body Armor link above), you’ll be helping Walker to create a happier space for local children to play in. Want to do more? They’re also accepting donations that will go directly to the cause.

Have you been wishing for some Kendra Scott in your life? Coming up on January 27th & 28th, you can grab a new look and give back at the same time through her partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Massachusetts & Rhode Island. On January 27th at 6pm, the charity & company will collaborate through a virtual style and shop session highlighting the Make-A-Wish capsule collection. The session, hosted by wish recipient Gracie will discuss not only her personal experience with the foundation but also showcase some of Kendra Scott’s latest looks as you shop. To be sure your proceeds are going directly to the cause, make sure to use promo code GIVEBACK-0R8O while shopping on January 27th & 28th either online or in-store at Legacy Place.

Moved to action after watching students struggle with food insecurity during the pandemic, a Student Support Coordinator in Bridgewater named Christy came up with a plan to make sure no child went hungry. Today, her initiative has grown to a statewide program feeding any child up to age 18 that is missing the meals they would normally have if school was in session. The bright pink grab-and-go bags that boast the slogan “I love school meals” are free for pickup at various locations, so to find one near you (or, if you’re in the fortunate position to donate to the cause) visit projectbread.org/gethelp.

Looking for more on these stories or ready for some weekly motivation by JT’s Chronicles? Watch the full episode below!:

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.