Bellingham Business Association Hosts Annual Non-Profit Night
Oct 30, 2018 06:00AM
● By Pamela Johnson
Tina Marie D'Asti (SEPAC) & Jennifer Altomonte (300th Anniv. Comm)
story & photos by Pamela Johnson, Bulletin Publisher
D'Asti Explains the iCan Shine Organization's Programs
Every year, the Bellingham Business Association (BBA) invites representatives from two or three local not-for-profit organizations to attend their October dinner meeting and speak to business owners about the services they provide to the community. At this year’s October meeting, held at Lowell’s Restaurant on the Bellingham/Mendon line, Tina Marie D’Asti attended, representing the Bellingham Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), and Jennifer Altomonte represented the Bellingham 300th Anniversary Committee.
D’Asti spoke before the meal was served. She described the iCan Bike program that was held in June in the Bellingham High gymnasium (see Aug. 2018 issue of the Bellingham Bulletin, "Bellingham SEPAC Hosts iCan Bike Camp”). In coordination with the Friends of Hopedale SEPAC and iCan Shine, the Bellingham SEPAC hosted their first bicycle camp for individuals with disabilities. D’Asti noted the profound influence that helping children with disabilities learn to ride a bike had on the high school students who had volunteered to help. That event took over a year and a half of planning, partly because they wanted to hold it in the BHS gymnasium and had to wait to book the location.
According to D’Asti, the iCan Shine organization also offers iCan Swim classes. She is looking for a facility that will offer the use of their pool, hopefully for next August. BBA members suggested a local college and a high school, both of which have pools and swim programs, that perhaps D’Asti could approach. The program would run similarly to the bike program: a weeklong experience comprising five sessions of seventy-five minutes each day, teaching six children per session how to swim. Volunteers would partner with the same student for one session each day (they would not need to be present for the entire day).
For more information on SEPAC, visit Facebook.com/BellinghamSEPAC or email D’Asti at BellinghamSEPAC@gmail.com. Information on iCan Shine can be found at https://icanshine.org.
Altomonte Speaks about the 300th Anniversary Committee
After dinner, Jennifer Altomonte, chairperson of Bellingham’s 300th anniversary executive committee, gave an overview of the efforts taking place to plan a year-long series of events to “Commemorate where we came from, celebrate where we are today, and leave a legacy for tomorrow”— the committee’s mission statement. Altomonte, a School Committee member, spoke with passion about this opportunity to leave a mark in Bellingham’s history. She distributed a list of events being planned for the year, which will culminate in an anniversary banquet in November 2019.
Altomonte described a program called "Bellingham Gives Back," in which plastic bins will be placed at various locations to collect 300 items per quarter to benefit local organizations such as the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, the Bellingham Public Schools Food Pantry and Bellingham veterans. She asked members in attendance to consider placing a bin in their place of business and promoting the initiative to their customers. (For more information, email BellinghamGivesBack@gmail.com.)
Altomonte reminded members that the town will celebrate Old Home Days, July 19–July 21, rather than the usual July 4th celebration (for more information, email BellinghamOldHomeDays@gmail.com).
She noted that the Bellingham Public Library will host an event in September 2019 to celebrate its 30th anniversary at its current location as well as the 125th anniversary of the founding of the town library. (FYI, the Bellingham Bulletin will celebrate its 25th anniversary in November, having published its first issue at the time of the town’s 275th anniversary.)
As planning progresses, more details about other upcoming events will be published in the Bulletin and in other local newspapers as well as on myFM. Altomonte encouraged everyone to “like” the Bellingham 300th Anniversary Facebook page, which is regularly updated. For general information, email Bellingham300@gmail.com.