Mentoring Corps for Community Development

Quarterly Newsletter – December 2017

Our founding father Dick Shriver announced in October he would take a “temporary” leave of absence to focus on a personal business project, Swallow Watch. He does, however, expect to stay involved with several on-going projects, as this report makes clear. Board members Susan and Frank Cummiskey will be spending more time in Boston (and Ireland) with their daughters, so have resigned from the board. The board is actively considering new members.

Board member Frank Gaglio attended his first board meeting for Work Vessels for Vets, an organization MCCD, and particularly Frank Gaglio, have been involved with for the past couple of years. Led by Dennis Powers and Frank Gaglio, MCCD is working with Bikes for Kids in a number of areas, including management assistance, board composition and governance. Richard Jones and Gerry Guild, working with the LOL school system, helped arrange a talk to the driver’s ed. program on organ donation.

MCCD’s involvement with the Invention Convention program is in its third year. Four “Guppy Tank” sessions were held with four MCCD members. (A “Guppy Tank” session is where the contestants present their inventions, and constructive criticism is offered.) A total of 35 entrants went to the LOL judging on December 7, with Dennis Powers and Richard Jones among the judges. Three to four inventions from each of the two schools were chosen to enter the regional finals, to be held in March. We offered merger advice to the United Cerebral Palsy of Eastern Connecticut as well as business advice to MARC of Middletown, which is making soaps.

Dick Shriver, John Forbis and Dennis Powers met several times with Lauren Ash and the HOPE Partnership regarding their effort to create more affordable housing in Old Lyme. We helped them develop a presentation to neighbors and key people from Old Lyme about their plan to develop
approximately 50 housing units on a property located near I-95. The workshop was held November 14 and provided HOPE with useful input.

Early in the quarter, Dick Shriver and BJ Bernblum reported that Kate McCoy of the New London public school district had reached out to let them know that all the administrators and teachers who had been involved with MCCD’s work last year were no longer at the school. At the last meeting of the quarter, Dick mentioned that Kate McCoy included him (and MCCD) on an e-mail explaining that a Youth Leadership Academy will be created to include all Renzulli and STEM students at the Bennie Dover Jackson School, which also houses four magnet schools. The Leadership Academy will be for students in grades six through twelve. They would like MCCD’s involvement in the 2018-2019 academic year.

On October 24, Dick Shriver e-mailed a “final report” on client Upper Pond Farm. In it he noted that the business now has two farm locations and has grown into a successful operation over the past three years. Besides, they helped repair a greenhouse at the LOL middle school, and they brought to the Bennie Dover Jackson School in New London a miniature farm to explain to students how food is grown, harvested and delivered.

During the quarter John Forbis prepared a client-information sheet and the decision was made to join the Chamber of Commerce.

MCCD continues to work with new clients, ranging from individuals and non-profits to small, for-profit businesses – to help our community sparkle, to “provide expert assistance to those in need.”

Our Enrichment Series Topics and Speakers

Richard Shriver
Estimating the GDP and GDP per capita of the United States

Thomas Swarr
Carbon Footprints, part I and II

Dr. Mac Mummert
Veterinarian and her dog

Ralph Wood
The 7 habits of successful people, Parts I and II

Richard Shriver
The Cold War, its start and the pathway to MAD

Phil Rosenthal
A career writing music and performing as a member of a world class band

Ralph Wood
Determining your personal mission

Richard Shriver
How and why the Cold War ended, and its aftermath

Ralph Wood
How to understand fact from fiction

Geoffery McLean
The latest news from Pluto

Laura Lee Miller Bowes
Fashion: logos, product development and marketing

Geoffery Dellenbach
Patents in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Eleanor Robinson
Designing a LEEDS-certified environmentally-sound community

Robert Jennings
The Monty Hall three-door probability problem

Michael Perks
“Where am I?”: Finding one’s latitude

Prof. Jo Marie Kasinak
The Horseshoe Crab

Robert Reynolds

Robert Reynolds

Steve Plant
Growing seafood (oysters)

Ralph Wood
Mistake proofing

Dr. Richard Pantalone
General surgery

Joe Damon
Living with traumatic brain injury

Quarterly Newsletter – March 2017

The end of June marked the completion of five years in the life of MCCD, offering a moment for reflection. Being a board member of MCCD has many advantages, among which are working with individuals, mentoring students, advising small businesses and attending meetings at places like New London ARC, the Lighthouse, United Cerebral Palsy and Middletown ARC. The latter are reminders of our great good fortune of having been born without physical or mental handicaps, and of how lucky we have been, thus far, of avoiding debilitating accidents and disease. Those meetings are revelatory, in that they tell us there are angels on earth who devote their time and energies to helping those whom so many of us ignore. We are fortunate to be able to peer through this window onto a scene of grace and compassion.

Over the past three months, we worked with existing clients, began interacting with new ones, entertained guests, received recognition from the Town of Old Lyme and were highlighted in an article in “The New London Day.” We started an endowment (the Lattomus Fund) with a gift of $7,700.00 from the dissolution of the Delbasid Foundation, thanks to the foundation’s directors and to Dick Shriver of our board. We elected officers, attended a “fair” in Lyme, updated the website and decided on a budget – all in all, a busy quarter. A decision on liability insurance was deferred.

In terms of officers, BJ Bernblum and Dennis Powers were elected to serve as co-chairs, with Gerry Guild staying on as treasurer and Janet Olsen as secretary. We are an organization with few expenses. Nevertheless, we felt compelled, after five years, to prepare a budget. Maintenance of our website has been in the able hands of our secretary’s son, with her as supervisor.

On May 25th, we were invited to attend the Old Lyme Schools annual awards banquet at Great Neck Country Club in Waterford. One of our members, John Forbis, was honored as a Friend to Education for his work with Nila Kaczor of the Old Lyme School System, in assisting with Invention Convention.

April is designated nation-wide as National Donate Life Month. A ceremony at the Old Lyme Town Hall prominently featured our organization. Board member, the Reverend Cannon Mark Robinson who is rector of St Ann’s Episcopal Church in Old Lyme and who last year received a kidney, was featured along with residents who have given, received, or who are in the queue for transplants. Special thanks go to board member Dr. Richard Jones who has been principally responsible for shepherding those in our community who need transplants, expediting their paper work, working with hospitals and acting as advocate. Two residents who had been looking for transplants – a kidney and a liver – received them at the end of the quarter.

Our work with Work Vessels for Vets persisted, with the consequence that one board member Frank Gaglio will join their board. We also conducted the final session for NESS (New England Science and Sailing Foundation) volunteers in New London. We were charged with helping them gain interviewing and resume-writing skills. We continued to meet with a photographer/artist, to help with his plans to bring unity to cities through photographic exhibits. Six out of thirteen winning Old Lyme students we helped in “Invention Convention” were invited to the state trials, with one making it to the nationals. All thirteen students received a book on innovation at the June 7, 2017 Board of Education meeting, with their name and invention noted on a bookplate. Frank Cummiskey and Dennis Powers are leading the effort with Bikes for Kids. They have completed their search for a manager for their October 1st Bike Ride fund raiser and are now working on Board governance.

We began work with new clients, including a for-profit small business in Old Lyme, HOPE (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) of southeastern Connecticut, Middletown ARC and United Cerebral Palsy of southeastern Connecticut.

Quarterly Newsletter – June 2016

Our board expanded by one, with Dr. Richard Jones joining us. Richard is a retired obstetrician who spent his entire medical career at Hartford Hospital. He lives in Lyme with his wife Carol.

Certain administrative procedures were addressed. At the end of the quarter, last year’s officers were re-elected: Co-Chairpersons, B.J. Bernblum and Dick Shriver; Secretary, Janet Olsen; and Treasurer, Gerry Guild. MCCD is beginning to participate in more community-outreach projects, and is increasingly being recognized as a critical cog in the region’s affairs. B.J. Bernblum created a revised Organizational Structure, which was approved by the board. In a bid to simplify and better organize our efforts, we created four support groupings: Counseling; Student Support; Humanitarian, and Non-profit and Business.

All four areas were active during the quarter: Susan Cummiskey and Dennis Powers led a group of MCCD board members that spent part of two days with ten AmeriCorps student-volunteers. These individuals have spent the past year at NESS working with young inner-city school children for a nominal stipend. The goal was to help them enter the workforce, by helping them in preparing resumes and prepping them for interviews. The program was well received.

Education, as it does most quarters, dominated our time. Michael Perks, Dick Shriver, Dennis Powers, Gerry Guild and John Forbis played critical roles. Thirty 5th grade students from Mile Creek and Lyme Consolidated, who participated in “Invention Convention,” presented their projects. Six were chosen to receive awards from MCCD. All six went to the state championship. Two of the students participating in the “Science Olympiad” came in 3rd and 5th in regional competition. Dick Shriver has already begun lining up speakers for nest fall’s STEM program at the Bennie Dover Jackson middle school in New London.

Richard Jones did yeoman’s work in the field of humanitarian work, guiding an Old Lyme resident through the difficult and emotional process of an organ transplant.

Frank Gaglio coordinated our on-going effort in terms of working with Work Vessels for Vets, a non-profit organization based in Noank that helps veterans who are interested in and have aspiration and concrete plans for new businesses. They do so by offering contributions of material or machinery (work vessels) for those that qualify. All board members worked with a local entrepreneur who is in the early stages of a new (to them) franchise operation.

Many other individuals and organizations took advantage of our services during the quarter. The returns we get are the feelings of knowing we have helped someone, or some group, out. As always, we try to live up to our mission, which is to help make our community “sparkle.”