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October BBA Meeting Focuses on Area Non-Profits

Oct 31, 2014 06:00AM ● By Marjorie Turner Hollman

Shown (L-R) are BBA President John Orthman, Suzanne Ranieri, Loaves & Fishes Director Laura Salany, and Susan Nichols from the Metrowest Visitors Bureau.

As it traditionally does each October, the Bellingham Business Association (BBA) focused on non-profit organizations in this area. The meeting was held at Lowell’s Restaurant on the Bellingham/Mendon line, and speakers included Laura Salany, director of Loaves and Fishes food pantry at St. Blaise in Bellingham; Susan Nichols, of the Metrowest Visitors Bureau; and the BBA’s own Sue Ranieri, sponsor with her family of the Wrentham Developmental Center Christmas party, now in its 45th year.

BBA president John Orthman recapped recent events, which included a new initiative, the BBA’s “after hours” networking gatherings, which was kicked off with a gathering at PJ’s Bar and Grill. Over 20 members gathered to get acquainted and learn more about what we can do to support each other’s business efforts.

Orthman also welcomed seven new members to the BBA: Ruthie’s Soda Fountain—Michelle James; J. Brian Day—Cathy Dipilato; Khoury Industries—Tony Khoury; Tupperware—Mary Jo Eagan; Ava Anderson Non Toxic by Marijayne— MJ Stojanowski; Twelve Fine Food & Spirits—Frank Caridi; The Greenhouse Wood Fire Pub—Rick White.

Laura Salany provided BBA members with an update of how the local food pantry is doing, and how the BBA and its members can support efforts to help those in need.

“We’re very successful,” Salany said. “But that success comes with a down side—it means that many people are hungry. We don’t ask people to pre-qualify; if someone says they are hungry, we will give them food.” Salany noted that some program participants come weekly, others monthly, and still others when they need it.

“We either have to turn people away or grow,” Salany informed the BBA members. “Our donor base has grown to include a lot of businesses, civic groups, and more. We see a lot of Rhode Island residents, and recently received a grant from a Rhode Island organization.”
She continued, “We’re trying to formalize our procedures and are now looking for a board of directors.” She finished up her brief presentation by saying that the food pantry “needs Christmas in July.” She said, “We’re very low right now and are looking for regular partners—businesses who will sponsor donations regularly—any kind of regular commitment is appreciated.”

Susan Nichols, from the MetroWest Visitors Bureau, began her presentation by posing a rhetorical question: “Why would any visitor come to MetroWest?” She then voiced the argument “I don’t own a hotel; why should I care?” Nichols then provided a compelling argument for the importance of visitors to the MetroWest economy. She provided the definition of “visitor” as someone who drives more than 50 miles to get somewhere. “And what is the area of the state that gets the largest number of visitors?” she asked. “MetroWest.” She then explained that shopping is the number 1 reason people go on trips. “And when they shop, they stop along the way. It’s all about getting people to open their wallets in MetroWest.”

Nichols explained that her job is to help get the word out and remind residents what is in our own back yard. “We’re the official cheerleader for the region,” she concluded.

Sue Ranieri wrapped up the evening by providing a brief history of how a religious education project 45 years ago has become an annual event. “Each year a member of my family has played Santa for the residents of the Wrentham Developmental Center,” Ranieri said. “We host about 50-55 residents and have about 150 volunteers who help out. Each resident gets about 10 presents. The kids who help show a different side of themselves than their parents have seen.” This year’s event will take place at the Bellingham Memorial Middle School on Friday, Dec. 5. (See related article "Wrentham Developmental Center Christmas Party Set for Dec. 5.)

The BBA’s next meeting, Taste of Bellingham, will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 6-8 pm, at J. Brian Day’s offices at 240 Maple Street, with music provided by The Musicutter. Tickets are $10 per person, and all Bellingham business owners or those who live in Bellingham and own a business elsewhere are welcome.

The BBA ( is a nonpolitical, nonsectarian, nonprofit organization comprising business owners and self-employed individuals situated in and around Bellingham.




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