Mentoring Corps for Community Development

Posts from the ‘Newsletter’ category

Quarterly Newsletter – March 2018

The first quarter was active. Laura Lee Miller-Bowes was invited to join the board. Some board members have met with other candidates, including one who attended one of our sessions. Dick Shriver’s “temporary leave of absence,” mentioned in the fourth quarter 2017 Newsletter, was ignored…by Dick.

Organ Transplants
Much time was spent determining how to raise awareness of the need for live donors – ethical, safety and health concerns. As well, a segment was planned for the drivers-ed program at the LOL high school, with students taking key roles. “Donate Life Day” will be celebrated at the Old Lyme town hall, with Richard Jones speaking, along with a doctor from Hartford Hospital who works in the organ transplant area.

Led by Dick Shriver, Dennis Powers and BJ Bernblum, many on the board provided help to a single mother who is in financial trouble. Advice and support have been provided, plus a day was spent cleaning her house and sprucing up her property in preparation for possible sale. Gerry Guild provided reports on another client who continues to struggle with health and financial problems, and who relies on contact with Gerry and others. Mary Seidner of the LOL Youth Services Bureau brought to our attention the needs of another family that is in need of humanitarian aid.

Work Vessels for Vets held a gathering in Mystic to celebrate a 10th anniversary, which was attended by Dennis Powers and his wife. Dennis Powers and Frank Gaglio have been heavily involved in Bikes for Kids: helping re-vamp the board, helping to plan the 2018 Bikes-for- kids charity rides, and working with David Fowler in terms of the operation. John Forbis, as Treasurer of 9-Town Transit, reported that 40% of their operating budget comes from the state; because of the state’s financial condition all expansion plans are on hold.

MCCD members, led by Dennis Powers, began their annual job of helping AmeriCorps interns with resume writing and interviewing skills. These are individuals employed by NESS (New England Science & Sailing) and who work with students at the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London. John Forbis, wearing his Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC) hat, met with Ed Sweeney of the Leadership Academy in New London regarding a Science and Nature program to be scheduled for the school year beginning fall of 2018. This would be for 7 th and 8 th graders. Financing, it is hoped, will come from the Community Foundation for Eastern Connecticut. MCCD was involved in the formation of the RTPEC.

Richard Jones, Gerry Guild and Deborah Andreas presented “Organ Transplants Save Lives” to four sessions of two combined health classes at LOL high school. A live donor, Ryan Lee, joined them for the first presentation.

Hall’s Road Project: The Town-appointed committee for the Halls Road Improvement Project, chaired by BJ Bernblum, is seeking professional planning advice from the Yale Urban Design Workshop. It is also looking into becoming a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district, where funds from tax dollars resulting from increased property valuations can be used to finance infrastructure and to encourage investment and development. This is a project conceived five years ago by former MCCD board member Michael Perks, and subsequently promoted by the entire MCCD board.

MCCD has consulted with HOPE (Homeownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere), on whose advisory council sits Mark Robinson, in connection with its proposed affordable housing project in Old Lyme. It was left undecided as to whether MCCD wants to serve as an advocate for this initiative.

Small Business
MCCD has been consulting with Debbie Loper, whose business is named OuttaVue and which manufactures security shades for school classrooms, regarding the expansion of her business. MCCD has been invited to make a presentation at the Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce dinner meeting on April 10.

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.