Lunenburg officials cut the ribbon on a new outdoor space for seniors at the Adult Activity Center at the Eagle House. The project, which involved upgrades for active and passive relaxation, only began this past June and was finished in time for an official opening on Oct. 11.
Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts
LEOMINSTER — As the city hopes to be soon designated a federal disaster area, Mayor Dean Mazzarella is urging people to file a claim for any damages related to the Sept. 11 storm as soon as possible.
He noted during his 9 a.m. morning briefing that they have received over 400 claims so far and that they are “getting familiar with this process.”
“Best thing we can do is if you sustained any kind of damage, fill out one of these forms,” Mazzarella said, noting that claim forms can be found on the city website or picked up at City Hall. “It’s important that you fill one of these out.”
He said claims can be made for basically anything that was destroyed by the flooding – home damage including flooring, electrical panels, furnaces, hot water tanks, and appliances, personal belongings, even vehicles – and stressed that people need to get anything that is wet out of their homes as soon as possible “to eliminate the risk of mold.”
“Flooring, carpet, get those wet boxes up. They will turn to slime,” Mazzarella said. “Take lots of pictures and get them cleaned up. This week’s task is to get everything up and get it dried out.”
He said to “watch out for scammers who are going to charge you a lot of money” and that if people aren’t sure if they are being scammed or who to use, they can call his office at 978-534-7500 ext. 0 for recommendations.
People can also call the Crisis Cleanup Hotline at 978-219-6107 if they need assistance with damage from the flooding and Emergency Management has sandbags available to grab and can help pump out basements.
“A lot of people lost everything. Not only did people lose things that are important to them, they lost space,” Mazzarella said in reference to flooded finished basements. “If you need sandbags and you can’t get there, let them know.”
The mayor said that “some people may qualify for a Community Development Block Grant” and that the city will be setting up an event to provide information on relief resources available.
He said 20 dumpsters recently delivered to Doyle Field were filled to the brim with debris and that they will have more dumpsters there “all week.”
He talked about the risk of fire with electrical panels that were submerged – “when they dry out, they become like wicks” – and said to “get rid of everything wet.”
“This is a recipe for disaster. Get those fans and dehumidifiers going.”
Mazzarella said they had flooding in the basement of City Hall and at his downtown business, Main Street Gift & Cafe, and that like most, doesn’t have flood insurance for his business. He urged people to install a check valve and that it is “worth the investment.”
“If you have a basement and you finished it off, I strongly, strongly, strongly advise you to put in a shut-off valve. You can close it when you know a storm is coming, open it up again after. When we put that in, we never had a problem again at the (old) police station.”
He asked people to look out for each other and help those in need, especially “seniors who may need help.”
“Let us know and we will go and check on them,” said Mazzarella.
Monday marked one week since the Sept. 11 storm dumped 11 inches of rain on the city within a few hours, causing massive flooding and widespread damage to city, business, and residential properties, roadways, the commuter rail, and more.
Mazzarella mentioned the rainfall on Monday and said that “the ground is obviously saturated, but we have checked the rivers…and they have subsided.”
“We are going to be careful and watch this. Rain today, rest of the week; looks like recovery week for us.”
He said crews worked on the railroad all weekend to “build a drainage system” and that they are hoping this week to get more sinkholes filled, open roads back up, and get more people back to their homes.
Lawrence and Lancaster streets are back open but the bridge on Exchange Street is closed for now until state officials “can take another look at it.”
School is back in session and the two schools “hit the hardest” by the storm – Leominster High School and Northwest Elementary School – will be visited this week by insurance adjusters and others who will also assess additional buildings and areas.
“We are moving as quickly as we can,” Mazzarella said. “We want to be organized when FEMA arrives.”
He praised school district staff for working to maintain some sort of normality for the students in the wake of the disaster.
“Everyone is chin up, happy face and kids follow. They adapt much better than we do.”
He thanked everyone who has donated to the Leominster Relief Fund set up in collaboration with United Way of North Central Massachusetts, Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, and Greater Worcester Community Foundation, organizations that will be matching, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000.
“Ten dollars, twenty dollars, thousands of dollars, amazing, thank you,” Mazzarella said of the donations pouring in. “It is going to help out a lot of people.”
He emphasized that “businesses are open” and asked people to visit them.
“It has been tough….many of them suffered,” he said of businesses across the city who are facing great loss. “If you can get to a restaurant or small business, please do. We have some detours here, but we will get you around. It keeps them churning.”
Mazzarella highlighted that the 30th annual Johnny Appleseed Festival on Sept. 23 “is on” and that Sholan Farms “is open.”
“When you face a crisis like this and everyone comes together…community, that’s what makes us special here. People are willing to help out and that is very important. Johnny Appleseed festival is on, a celebration of community spirit, and we are ready to go.”
He closed out his 868th briefing, a morning tradition that began during the pandemic, with an update on Covid numbers, which he said “are going up, be careful. One is too many.”
And then he played the upbeat song “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” by McFadden & Whitehead.
“Keep the spirit,” Mazzarella said. “We are keeping an eye on the weather and trust me, we are prepared. We are going to be just fine. We are going to help people out. Ain’t no stopping us now, that’s who we are.”
SHIRLEY – From being an acclaimed journalist to political activist, Gloria Steinem, well-known throughout the world as one of the most influential leaders of second-wave feminism will be speaking right here in our own backyard, thanks to the Speaker Series run by Alison Tocci, owner of the Bull Run Restaurant.
In partnership with Tocci, the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts is pleased to welcome Steinem at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 12, at the Bull Run Restaurant, 215 Great Road.
Proceeds of the event will benefit the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts who could not be more thrilled to share the room in conjunction with the campaign launch of their North Central Mass Women‘s Fund.
The Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts is launching a campaign to build a $1 million endowed Women’s Fund for North Central MA “and we are so lucky to be featuring Gloria Steinem at our campaign launch event on March 12, at the Bull Run Restaurant,” said Erin Thomason, Director of Philanthropy, Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts.
“We are not just hosting a legend, we are building momentum in our mission to establish a Women’s Fund in North Central Mass to support the women and girls in our community, now and forever – specifically in the areas of education, financial literacy, health, and community,” Thomason said.
Thomason said this campaign is especially important to the community as it is the first of its kind for North Central Massachusetts.
“No other endowed fund exists in this area specifically to provide funding to women and girls programming in perpetuity,” she said. “Most other regions already have a women’s fund. North Central Massachusetts does not. We need to change that.”
Individual tickets to this event are currently sold out, however, there is a small amount of reserved seating left; corporate sponsors and individual donors are still being sought.
“Hosted at the historic Bull Run Restaurant, doors will open at 10 a.m. for brunch with the speaker program beginning at noon,” Thomason said.
The spotlight will be on Steinem, conducting the interview on stage will be Cyndi Stivers, senior curator at TED, the New York–based media and conference nonprofit devoted to “ideas worth spreading.”
The Community Foundation will have an opportunity to make some remarks introducing the launch of the Women’s Fund campaign and inviting those in attendance to participate in making history here in North Central Massachusetts.
“There is a dearth of programs in North Central Massachusetts aimed at helping women and girls reach their full potential,” said Stephen Adams, president of Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts. “While other regions have had women’s funds for many years, there is no such fund in here. This fund will help build an infrastructure of empowerment for women and girls in the area.”
Despite all the advances over the decades, Adams believes far too many women and girls in North Central Massachusetts feel constrained by social pressures and limit their aspirations to traditional women’s roles and careers.
Well-paying careers in manufacturing, transportation, construction and many other fields are still viewed as off limits by most girls,” he said. “Women and girls and their parents need to understand that gender is not a legitimate barrier to pursuing a girls’ dreams.”
It is Adams’ hope that Steinem will draw attention to the capital campaign among the 300 attendees and the broader public that learns of the event.
“Ms. Steinem has been at the forefront of the effort to open doors of opportunity for women and girls for more than 50 years,” Adams said. “Her passion, intellect and her engaging communication style hasn’t wavered, despite the many setbacks and the slow pace of change.”
Steinem was a founder of New York and Ms. magazines, and is the author of “The Truth Will Set You Free”, “But First It Will Piss You Off “, “My Life on the Road”, “Moving Beyond Words”, “Revolution from Within”, and “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions”, all published in the United States, and in India, in “As If Women Matter”. Her forthcoming book will focus on the Black roots of feminism.
She co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Free to Be Foundation, and the Women’s Media Center in the United States.
As links to other countries, Steinem helped found Equality Now, Donor Direct Action, and Direct Impact Africa.
For her writing, Steinem has received the Penney-Missouri Journalism Award, the Front Page and Clarion awards, the National Magazine Award, the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Writers Award from the United Nations, and the University of Missouri School of Journalism Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism.
In 1993, her concern with child abuse led her to co-produce an Emmy Award–winning TV documentary for HBO, “Multiple Personalities: The Search for Deadly Memories”.
She and Amy Richards co-produced a series of eight documentaries on violence against women around the world for VICELAND in 2016. She is the subject of Julie Taymor’s biopic, “The Glorias”, which premiered in Fall 2020.
In 2013, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. In 2019, she received the Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum.
“The energy in that room will be unmatched,” said Thomason. “We not only get to welcome one of the most famous feminists of our time, but we also get to share the excitement of the Women’s Fund initiative. If there was ever an inspiring moment for members of this community to push for the support of our women and girls, it would be this one.”
Donations may be made by contacting Erin Thomason at CFNCM or visiting cfncm.org/donate-now/cfncm-womens-fund.