“We Serve” ~Lions Club International Motto

Recently I visited the Polish Club to sit in on a meeting of the Bridgewater Lions Club. I received a warm welcome and witnessed the group’s camaraderie first hand. Mike Courtemanche, the club’s incoming treasurer, gave me an overview of the group’s 90 plus year history and its ongoing work in the community.

As a service organization, the Lions Club is unique: they are the largest charitable organization in the world, yet the group has no administrative overhead. In the words of Bridgewater’s Club President Jim Campbell: “We’re one of the few charities that if you give 100 dollars, 100 dollars goes to charity.”

Globally, the Lions Club focuses primarily on eye health, research, and treatment. Locally, our Bridgewater Lions seek to fill the community’s needs as well, often responding to specific requests for help. Recently, the Lions did just that, installing a ramp for an anonymous disabled Bridgewater resident.

Wheelchair-bound and in need of frequent dialysis, their mobility was extremely limited. With help from the folks at Ben Ellis Towing and members of the local Laconia Lions, the Bridgewater Lions brought the ramp from Laconia, New Hampshire and installed it at the resident’s home.

The addition of the ramp has dramatically improved their quality of life. Though the ramp is valued at over $9000, the Bridgewater Lions were able to purchase it for much less from the private individual from New Hampshire. The seller was able to take a tax deduction due the 501C3 charitable status of the Club.

Other recurring projects of the Bridgewater Lions Club include an annual children’s fishing derby, decorating Bridgewater Common with Holiday Lights, providing scholarships worth $1000 to Bridgewater-Raynham high school graduates, and the ongoing use of the district Eyemobile and Spot Camera for early detection of many eye related issues. An effort to install a pickle ball court at the Senior Center is also underway.

The Bridgewater Lions Club raised over $14,000 in their fundraising efforts just this past year.

The Bridgewater Lions Club welcomes and openly encourages more volunteers to join their ranks and be a part of their essential community projects. The Lions meet at 6:30pm on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month from September 2018 to June 2019. Their meetings are at the Polish Club, located at 123 Spring Street. Anyone can attend a meeting. To learn more, you can also visit www.thebridgewaterlions.org.

Respectfully Submitted,
Daniel Flockton

Images Courtesy of Mike Courtemanche.

We Appreciate You!

It’s Volunteer Appreciation at the Council on Aging! A special Luncheon was held on June 6th for those who volunteered 20 or more hours from July 2017 to June 30, 2018. Together they’ve logged in over 3,400 hours. Their “gift of time” is worth $70,890 to our town.

Attorney Jason Rawlins from Bridgewater was one of 7 volunteers who received the Volunteer of the Year Award. He gives his time one day a month with free legal advice to seniors and family members in Halifax. He’s been doing it for over 6 years!

Jason Rawlins, far right


Marie Burke, middle

Also recognized was the Counselor of the Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE) program, Marie Burke. She received the SHINE Award for giving many volunteer hours at the COA on Tuesdays for the past 6 years. She has helped many seniors with health insurance, medications & costs, getting them on the most beneficial plan, etc.

Thank you for all you’ve done!

Images and Story Courtesy of Barbara Brenton
and the Halifax Council on Aging

St. Thomas Aquinas Outreach Program Changing Lives for the Better

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord” 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12 lines 4-5.

St. Thomas Aquinas Parish features this Bible quote on its Outreach page. I spoke with Kathy Palmieri who facilitates the program. It is currently operating with 17 volunteers who make themselves available as often as needed. Kathy explained to me what that meant:

Aid is provided on a broad spectrum. For example, they may transport a person to and from appointments, help tidy up a home, or direct them to helpful resources, like an inexpensive furniture destination.

Kathy shared one special memory of a woman who she called “Pollyanna” because she was always so remarkably positive. Several years ago, the volunteers drove Pollyanna to see her husband, who was in the hospital rehabilitating.

“They became part of the family,” Kathy said of those they help, “you just grow to love these people. You grow to really know them. There’s a bond.”

Outreach made sure that Pollyanna visited her husband every day, seven days a week, for a year.

“She called us her angels,” Kathy said. “But we were very blessed to know her.”

In that way, all the volunteers conform to the needs of those who come to them. Right now, the Outreach is happy to provide a “meal train” for a local Bridgewater family frequently commuting to Boston for medical service. The volunteers cook and deliver meals to the family, hoping to reduce their general stress.

“For me, it’s rewarding,” Kathy concluded. “There’s really no better gift for myself. It brings me a lot of joy.” She said that her fellow volunteers would agree with that sentiment.

Respectfully Submitted,

James Holbert

For more information, visit the parish’s website.

3rd Annual Tutu Run and SparkleFest: A Big Thank You, from the Sydney Craven Memorial Fund

Words can not express the amount of gratitude that we have for a SUCCESSFUL 3rd Annual Tutu Run and SparkleFest on Saturday! We couldn’t have pulled it off with out the amazing sponsors, volunteers, and sparkle squad! Each year just keeps on getting better as we work on spreading that sparkle from one kid to another.

Everything was absolutely amazing. From our amazing sponsors (*at the event ) SPARKLEFEST: *Commonwealth Pediatric Dental, Pediatrics Pleasant Hill, Cowlicks & Pigtails Child Care Center*, Old Colony YMCA – East Bridgewater*, Michelle’s Studio Of Dance, South Shore Women’s Health*, Bridgewater Savings*, South Shore Bank*, Scappini & Pina, P.C.*, New York Life Insurance Company*, Stylin’ Kids Salon Mansfield*, Rob Peters Entertainment *, Poppee & Co, Kiwanis Club of East Bridgewater *, Dooley Disposal Services, LLC., Market Basket W Bridgewater, Team Pace, Good Samaritan Medical Center, Busy Bee Jumpers *, Pony Town Parties*, Just Desserts Bakery & Cafe *, Paula Coffey Dance*, Clean Portable Restrooms*, Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union – MCOFU Pipes and Drums*, Philadelphia Insurance Companies*, P&H Travel, Amy Reichenbach Photography*, East Bridgewater Commercial Club-EBCC, Burts Icecream Truck, Spark Run Bike, East Bridgewater Business Association, and EB Little Vikings Summer Institute!

Special thanks to the East Bridgewater Fire Department, East Bridgewater Police Department, and East Bridgewater Public Schools, The Enterprise of Brockton, Marc Vasconcellos, WBZ | CBS Boston

Our raffle table was booming with amazing raffles and we send a special thank you to all our donations that were amazing!

The list can go on and on, but just wanted to send out one more THANK YOU to the sparklers behind the scenes, to all the volunteers, and all of you! We couldn’t put this event on with out amazing people, and supporters! Thank you once again and let’s continue to SPARKLE!

Story and Photos Courtesy of the Sydney Craven Memorial Fund.

The Church in the Woods

Bridgewater resident Rob Basler dedicates roughly four hours, sometimes more, every Saturday to a little known volunteer operation called the Church in the Woods.

Church in the Woods came to Massachusetts with Pastor Leigh Fuller, who managed similar programs in Plymouth, North Carolina, and even before that in Australia. Four years ago Leigh established Church in the Woods in Brockton, and the first stages of the program gained a foundation. It is there that Rob met Pastor Leigh

In Perkins Park, Rob describes a time when volunteers from different local churches cooperated to set up tables. Those in need took what essentials that were offered, food and clothing namely. It was Pastor Abraham Waya who was instrumental in bringing the operation indoors to the Central United Methodist Church which ultimately expanded the opportunity to offer more aid and fellowship to those who need it most.

Every Saturday the Church in the Woods volunteers open the doors at 1pm, and then serves hot soups, breads, and desserts from 2pm-4pm in the Central United Methodist Church lower level. Central United Methodist Church also provides the indoor space where volunteers distribute clothing, toiletries and everyday essentials. Those items arrive as donations from individual persons, churches, organizations, and food pantries. Volunteers are so dedicated to the work that they often buy necessities with money out of their own pocket. Volunteers also lead the worship and devotional services for the homeless.

On particularly cold nights, the Church opens as a warming station, housing an average of thirty people per night. “No one is turned away,” Rob assures. He and the other volunteers offer a warm place to stay, hot soup and food, and comforting words. “Recently we have experienced nighttime temperatures that have been so frigid, and it’s on those dangerously cold nights that our volunteers go out onto the streets of Brockton and spread the word, that nobody has to stay out in the cold as long as the Church’s doors remain open”.

“It’s uplifting work,” Rob says, “and it moves me.” Over the course of time that Rob has spent in the program, he’s connected with many people on the streets. He knows people by their first names, knows their families and friends. “Personal relationships develop because we’re sharing our stories.”

“That’s why we do it. All of our volunteers follow the tenants of the Bible. We believe what Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.’”

If you wish to volunteer or donate to this mission, you may contact Rob through his email address at rbasler7@gmail.com. Church in the Woods is often looking for staff to oversee to the care and comfort of those who spend nights at the warming station. During that time there are three shift rotations—6pm-10pm; 10pm-2am; 2am-7am.