BBA Recognizes Community’s Nonprofit OrganizationsOct 29, 2015 06:00AM ● By Steven Chisholm
Shown (L-R) are Kimberly Cohen, Cindy McNulty, Sue Ranieri & Deb Cornelius
At their October meeting, held at Lowell’s Restaurant in Mendon, the Bellingham Business Association (BBA) recognized contributions to the local community made by three nonprofit organizations.
Bellingham Touchdown Booster Club
Representing the Bellingham Touchdown Boosters were Webmaster/Program Coordinator Jean Kates and Social Media Coordinator Deb Cornelius (club President Jamie Godfrey and Vice-President Dawn Baxter were unable to attend). Kates identified the changes facing the organization this year with the implementation of a new coaching staff and team logo. Adding to these changes, Kates said, “We really wanted to have a fresh start with the way the whole team [is involved] with the community. For the first time this year, the football team marched in the Memorial Day parade. That’s the kind of community involvement that we’re proud that the new coaching staff is trying to promote with the team.” She said that the players are learning a lot about being upstanding members of the town and are successfully representing the school through community involvement.
To usher in this change, the team ordered new uniforms this year. According to Kates, they had seen an increase in student athletes participating in the football program this season, and there were not enough of the old uniforms in decent condition to outfit the team. The Boosters planned some extra fundraising to help the team pay for those uniforms, including selling team fan wear and pizza during the town’s 4th of July celebration and organizing a community wiffle ball tournament. Kates also revamped the team website, www.bellinghamfootball.com, to generate newfound excitement from fans. Furthermore, Kates and Cornelius help with ticket sales at the games, where a percentage of the sales is set aside for the team.
Also new this year, the Boosters generated an innovative fundraising effort: painting the field’s “B” logo on participating donors’ driveways. Cornelius said, “We’ve done just under 150, and we’re still painting. It’s very exciting. We ask for a minimum donation of $30. Businesses have been getting involved, and it’s great to see them in town supporting [Bellingham/Blackhawks] pride.” As a result of the new changes to the football program, Cornelius said, “It seems like we have had what used to be traditional Thanksgiving Day [game] attendance at our home games so far this season.”
Hockomock YMCAFollowing the Boosters, the Senior Director of Association Health Innovation, Kimberly Cohen, and the president of the Bellingham Education Foundation, Cindy McNulty, represented the Hockomock YMCA. McNulty began her introduction by saying, “The thing that’s exciting about being here is hearing the stories about how you have evolved, and I think there’s a shift happening in Bellingham, which is very amazing to be a part of. I really feel like we’re trying to come together as a community. We’re trying to be smarter about how we ask people for help.”
To counter the common misconception of the YMCA’s being just a place for children’s activities, McNulty said, “It’s really a lot more. One of the biggest initiatives for the end of this quarter and next year is to be very purposeful in connecting with the Bellingham community.” She addressed the first of the organization’s new initiatives for this year, called Workplace Wellness. “The Y wants to partner with you and your business so that you can offer—through us—a discounted membership so that your employees are living healthier lives,” said McNulty.
In line with the goal of Workplace Wellness, many of the initiatives for this year had to do with combating obesity. Kimberly Cohen outlined the Healthy Food Access Initiative, saying, “One of our goals through 2017 will be to partner with food pantries to make sure everyone has access to healthy foods, especially low-income families…to help end obesity and help prevent type 2 diabetes.” She went on to say, “We help schools implement programs like the Safe Routes to School, which is a before-school walking program.”
Cohen also noted that offering discounted or covered services to struggling families is another way the YMCA supports the community. For instance, she relayed the story of a mother who required serious brain surgery. As a result of the mother’s long absence, the Y provided free summer camp for her child to allow him a sense of normality. Furthermore, Cohen described an anti-bullying initiative called Adventures in Respect. “Every year we provide free programs that are [aimed at] anti-bullying in our communities.” She explained that the initiative uses activities designed to promote teamwork among the participating students. “Everybody is different and [we teach children] to respect and understand those differences... that’s how we all start to get along, and teaching those life skills is very important,” said Cohen.
Cohen concluded her speech by covering the last of the proposed initiatives for the year: “A final initiative that we focus on at the YMCA is the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention initiative. We partnered with an international organization to bring this to life. The Darkness to Light Organization helps educate—free of charge—child sexual abuse identification training.”
Wrentham Developmental Center Christmas PartyFinally, BBA member Sue Ranieri spoke on behalf of the 46th Annual Wrentham Developmental Center Christmas Party taking place on Dec. 4. “It’s all funded by donations,” she said. “We raise money and buy, probably, 700 presents by the time we’re done.”
Describing the participating students’ roles in the event, she said, “We have about 150 students from the middle school that help out that day, and they’re in charge of taking care of the guests who come, who have very serious disabilities.” She went on to say, “It’s a great party for the guests who come, but an even better party for the students because they really get a good feeling of what it means to be community-involved and to do something good for others less fortunate than they are.”
The BBA concluded the evening with a round of applause for those who support the community through nonprofit organizations.
The November meeting of the BBA is traditionally its “Taste of Bellingham,” where local restaurants offer members samples of their specialties. This encourages businesses to order locally when providing refreshments for various business functions. For more information or to participate in the Taste, email BBA Secretary/Treasurer Sue Grady at [email protected].