Mentoring Corps for Community Development

Posts from the ‘Newsletter’ category

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.”

Quarterly Newsletter – March 2016

During the quarter, Harry Sedgwick, a founding member of MCCD, resigned from the board; so is now our first Member Emeritus. He will be sorely missed. In February, we welcomed two new board members: Susan and Frank Cummiskey joined as new board members in February. They had been attending meetings regularly for the past couple of months, and had contributed generously to our organization for some time.

Working on educational programs dominated much of the time of MCCD members during the quarter: helping students prepare for and then helping to judge Old Lyme’s Middle School Science Olympiad;
helping fifth-grade students with the “invention-convention” program in Old Lyme’s two elementary schools; and lining up speakers and preparing programs for the STEM program at the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London, along with a concomitant program at New London’s Renzulli Academy for gifted students. At the request of the LOL school, half a dozen MCCD board members have devoted an hour a week to mentoring Middle School students. Additionally, career counseling was provided those who wished it, at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library in Old Lyme, and preparations are underway for a repeat of last year’s career training seminar to AmeriCorps volunteer teachers at NESS (New England Science and Sailing Foundation). It is our belief, along with those of the officials at AmeriCorps, that our myriad experiences can be used to help young people write resumes and prepare for jobs with mock interviews.

We were asked to help out with Work Vessels for Vets (WVV), a non-profit based in Noank, Connecticut. WVV is an eight-year old organizations that helps veterans start or continue businesses. An owner of a franchise business in Old Lyme asked for our help in terms of increasing revenues. MCCD remains committed to helping the community sparkle: that means working with schools and other educational organizations, for-profit businesses, eleemosynary groups, individuals and families who can benefit from our mentoring.

Quarterly Newsletter – June 2015

With the finish of this past quarter, we completed three full years. Without meaning to brag, we feel we have accomplished a lot. We devoted parts of a couple of weekly sessions to looking back with the purpose of better organizing ourselves. Board member John Forbis put together a list of our current and former clients into half a dozen groups. They fall into six main categories: Schools, For-Profits, Not-for Profits, Humanitarian, Town and Career Counseling. The For-Profit category is further broken down between start-ups and existing businesses. John also developed a grading system that allows us to see how we are doing versus the client’s expectations and how the client is doing compared to the suggestions we had made. John is a tough task master. Of the 66 individuals, school and town programs, businesses and non-profits we have worked with, only sixteen received a better-than-average grade.

There are 14 initiatives with two public schools – the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London and the Lyme-Old Lyme School system. Of those, seven have been completed. In New London, the projects are primarily related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and consist of teaching programs we have developed. In the Old Lyme schools, our work has been more diverse, ranging from mentoring, to judging at their “invention conventions” to helping out at their Summer Academy.

In the for-profit category, we have worked with a number of small and mid-size businesses. Of the twenty businesses we have worked with, two are prospective, six on-going, four in limbo and eight have either been completed or our work was terminated. The breadth of businesses has been both interesting and challenging. In a few cases, it has been found that brain-storming sessions are what the client really needs. Regardless, for those of us who have spent their lives in the private sector, it is good to see that entrepreneurship is alive and well in South Eastern Connecticut. Working with these people provides a sense of the joy that work brings, and the pride that comes from being one’s own boss.

Within the non-profit arena, we have on-going relations with several of the nineteen groups we have met with. In some cases we have successfully completed a project and invited back to assist with another phase. In other cases, either we failed or the client chose not to take our advice. Among those with humanitarian needs, our doors are always open. We have helped half a dozen individuals, people who have been victims of storms to those who have suffered bouts of depression and/or substance abuse.

We have been moving to more formalize our relationships with town officials, inviting the First Selectperson to attend our meetings on a quarterly basis. In these cases, projects are often long-termed; so measuring success on a quarterly basis is not meaningful.

We feel good about the good we are doing and look forward to finding more volunteers for the opportunities we see that abound in this corner of Connecticut.