Mentoring Corps for Community Development

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.”

2016 Invention Convention Competition

MCCD members help students build a working prototype – January 2016

MCCD helps judge the 2016 Invention Convention entries

MCCD awards books to the top 6 winners at the June 1, 2016 Board of Education Meeting

2016 NESS AmeriCorps Financial & Career Counseling

AmeriCorps Students Feedback:

  • “You guys have made me feel better about being an adult!”
  • “It was great to be able to focus conversations on the questions we had. I feel better prepared, with more strategies and ideas for resumes, job searching and interviewing.”
  • “This was incredibly valuable! I really enjoyed networking with the MCCD representatives and picking their brains about the best ways to present yourself to future employers.”