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Bellingham Business Association Honors Scholarship Recipients, Unsung Hero

Jun 28, 2019 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
story & photos by Pamela Johnson, Bulletin Publisher

Perhaps the most rewarding night for members of the Bellingham Business Association is the organization’s Awards Night.

Two $1,500 scholarships are awarded to high school students from Bellingham. Both scholarship winners this year were female; one recipient was a graduate of Blackstone Valley Tech and the other of Bellingham High.

The group also names an Unsung Hero and presents him/her with a plaque of appreciation for their efforts in the Bellingham community. The Awards Night events took place at Lowell’s Restaurant on the Bellingham Mendon line.

Scholarship Recipients Named

The scholarship recipient from Blackstone Valley Regional Technical Vocational High School was Jennifer DeWolfe; and, according to BBA President John Orthman, “She has maintained a part-time job throughout high school at Flipside Gymnastics in Medway, teaching gymnastic fundamentals to children ages 3—12."
"She has also donated significant amounts of time to Flipside Gymnastics for various children’s programs and special events. In addition, she has been an active member in the SkillsUSA Chapter at BVT, contributing to efforts such as the repair of outdoor furniture and equipment at the Hockomock YMCA’s summer camp, volunteering at community suppers, and helping raise money for larger community events.”

Jennifer has been described as hard working and as someone who pays attention to detail; such qualities have allowed her to be successful in rigorous honors and AP classes. They have also helped her “bounce back and regain her center when she loses her balance,” as happened this past year when her mother suffered a stroke and additional burdens were placed on the entire DeWolfe family.

Orthman said, “This award is especially gratifying to our membership because her father is a past member of the BBA Board of Directors and an active participant in all of the organization’s activities.” 

He noted that Jennifer will attend Framingham State University in the fall and major in Hospitality Management.

Kayla McEvoy is a graduate of Bellingham High School, where she finished in the top 10% of her class. Her accomplishments are significant.

She was a National Honor Society member during both her junior and senior years. She has raised money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and participated in the Kids PanMass Challenge.

Kayla’s community service activities have also included food drives, toy drives, and the Bellingham Senior Center/National Honor Society Seniors Prom.  

Kayla and her twin sister, Kristina, have raised money for a local non-profit organization called Balance and Service K9s (BASK), an organization that trains service dogs, free of charge, for veterans and first responders who suffer from PTSD. Together, Kayla and Kristina raised over $3000 for BASK and are single-handedly responsible for the organization’s name recognition around Bellingham and the Metrowest area. 

Orthman noted, “This list is far from complete and barely makes a dent in recognizing this young woman’s contribution to our community.”

Amazingly, all this activity gets done despite a chronic and painful medical condition that is constantly disruptive both to Kayla and to Kristina, who also has the condition. High School and routine activities are laced with regular visits to Boston Children’s Hospital, regular treatments for their chronic conditions, and multiple medical bills. 

“Despite these pressures, Kayla never views giving up as an option; and education and future goals have kept her focused and motivated to succeed,” said Orthman. Kayla will attend Stonehill College and major in health science.

Kevin Grupposo Named 2019 Unsung Hero

Kevin Grupposo is quick to roll up his sleeves when a specific project needs attention, and he functions without fanfare. His volunteer work spans three-plus decades, including 27 seasons coaching and serving on the board of directors for Pop Warner football, youth basketball and Little League baseball; and 17 years as a Bellingham High booster club member in basketball, football and golf. 

He announced football and basketball games and hosted a sports talk show for Bellingham’s cable TV station, ABMI; he has coached BHS basketball at all three levels and currently is the jayvee team’s assistant; and he’s vice-chairman of the high school’s Hall of Fame Committee.

From 2014 to 2016 he worked as an assistant to the BHS athletic director for a meager stipend.
The father of four sons (Jeff; Sebastian, who died a day after his birth; Keith; and Peter), Grupposo launched his athletic journey in 1984 when his oldest son (Jeff) began playing Pop Warner football. At a practice, Grupposo met Don Floyd, one of the organization’s coaches. 

“Don asked me if I would be attending future practices,’’ Grupposo recalled. “I said ‘Yes’ and Don said, ‘Congratulations; you’re now my defensive coordinator.’’’

What followed was a ten-year association with Pop Warner football. Grupposo coached, served on the board of directors and finished as the group’s president his last two years. The personable Grupposo also became a valuable asset for youth baseball and basketball.

When John Simpson stepped down as president of youth basketball, Chip Leedes, Jim Jennings, Grupposo and his wife (Mary Louise) ran the league for five years. Leedes and Grupposo became certified referees, officiated in the league, and taught rules to coaches. In baseball, Grupposo coached T-ball, farm league and Little League teams for seven years.

Kevin Grupposo’s knowledge of and association with so many of Bellingham’s blue-chip athletes and his personable manner made him the perfect choice to be the master of ceremonies at the first Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony last November. His delivery and recollection of the inductees’ achievements impressed everyone.

Semi-retired—he still works two part-time jobs—Grupposo plans to stay involved as a high school basketball coach and to stay connected to his town. 

“I promised my late son that I’d always work to make things better for the kids in my community,’’ he noted in an interview for Ken Hamwey’s “Where Are They Now” column.

When presented with the award, Grupposo joked that he had a few things he wanted to say, but that he’d keep it brief because the Bruins’ [ill-fated as it turns out] game 7 would begin shortly.

“Sometimes kids just need some help getting through—a pat on the back or someone to tell them they’re doing well. Maybe sometimes you talk to their parents,” he said. “The coaches at Bellingham High School try to mold these kids—not after themselves, but to be good citizens. Many of the parents are working two jobs to put food on the table, and getting kids to practices can be a problem.” 

He noted, “Volunteering doesn’t cost you anything, and there is no better feeling than when a kid comes up to you after many years and thanks you for the impact you had on their life. If more people volunteered, the world would be a much better place.”






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