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SpotLIGHTS on the Tree of Love 2017

 

 

Welcome to Emmaus’ “Spotlights on the Tree of Love.” Each day from December 1 to December 24, we will share a photo of a donor, volunteer, friend, or employee that embodies the community’s relationship with our organization. Check back each day to see our latest spotlight.

December 1, Pentucket Bank

For more than 20 years, Pentucket Bank has been a supporter of Emmaus’ mission. Over the last two decades, the bank has donated close to $60,000 to Emmaus, supporting events like Cycle for Shelter and “Stepping Out with the

Valley Stars.” In 2017, Pentucket Bank signed on to be Emmaus’ first “D’Youville Center Partner” supporting the programming at the D’Youville Center for Social Justice—the Emmaus Explorers and the Empowerment Project. Members of the bank also serve on Emmaus’ gala committee.

“Emmaus is excited that Pentucket Bank signed on in 2017 to be the first “D’Youville Center Partner” and really appreciated Chuck Walker’s willingness to be a featured speaker at this year’s successful “Paving the Road Home” Breakfast,” said Emmaus’ Director of Philanthropy Gretchen Arntz. “We applaud Pentucket Bank for its deep commitment to community and value our long-standing friendship.”

 

December 2, Thursday Mitch’s Place Chefs

Volunteering is always better when you can do it with family.

That’s what sisters Leslie Fonseca and Suzanne Miller discovered when they started volunteering each week at Emmaus along with their mother Irene Dumas. For just over a year the trio has been coming every Thursday afternoon to cook a meal for the 30-35 guests at Mitch’s Place Shelter.

“We love doing it,” said Leslie as she was preparing a salad recently. Her mother was making an apple crisp for dessert and her sister was prepping baked haddock.

“We get to spend time with our family while helping others,” Suzanne chimed in.

The trio said at first they were nervous about cooking for so many people without a set recipe and without always knowing what food would be available for them to work with. But now they look forward to the mystery that awaits them each week in the kitchen.

Rachel Thompson, program director at Mitch’s Place and Jericho Safe Haven spoke highly of the family.

“It’s so wonderful to have two generations of a family work together to serve those in need,” Rachel said. “Their service is invaluable, as it allows the staff to concentrate on providing needed services to the clients, instead of using that time to prepare a meal.”

 

December 3, Ann Schaefer and her Mary Kay Team

The Emmaus Empowerment Project provides the parents, mostly single mothers, at the Emmaus Family Shelter with programming that helps them gain self-confidence and skills to move beyond homelessness. To treat the moms the Empowerment Project has hosted Spa Days where the women can relax and truly pamper themselves.

Ann Schaefer and her Mary Kay Team have been an integral part of these Spa Days. Ann’s team is amazing—helpful, welcoming and knowledgeable. At the most-recent Spa Day this past October they offered facials, make-up consultations, taught the women how to do their own make-up that enhanced their already beautiful features, and offered simple self-care solutions.
Additionally, Ann and her team donated $500 worth of products to the women enabling them to practice the skills they learned at home.

“The women were able to walk out of the sessions with a newfound confidence,” said Cindy Malynn, D’Youville Center Director. “We are grateful for all of their generous contributions to the Empowerment Project.”

Pictured at right is Ann and her team member Wendy.

December 4, Massachusetts Service Alliance

The Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA) is an organization committed to increasing the number of people engaged in meaningful volunteer opportunities across Massachusetts that are both fulfilling for the volunteers and that meet critical needs in our communities.

Since 2014, the Massachusetts Service Alliance has supported Emmaus financially through numerous grants totaling close to $65,000. Some of these grants have allowed Emmaus to develop and build our innovative Emmaus Explorers Program—an after school and summer educational and enrichment program children ages 5-12 who are currently residing in our family shelter.

In addition, support from the Massachusetts Service Alliance has allowed Emmaus to host a Martin Luther King Day for five consecutive years—this year’s event will be held on Monday, January 15 at the Trinity Episcopal Church on White Street in Haverhill. Emmaus is the only organization in Haverhill that hosts an MLK Day of Service.

MSA has been a wonderful partner for Emmaus. Most recently MSA invited Emmaus to participate in a training program to become a certified Service Enterprise Organization through the Points of Light Foundation in 2018. A Service Enterprise is an organization that leverages volunteers and their skills to successfully deliver on its social mission.

“Last year alone, close to 700 volunteers served at Emmaus,” said Gretchen Arntz, director of philanthropy. “We clearly fit the bill as a Service Enterprise and we thank MSA for recognizing that and for its continued support.”

 

December 5, The Savings Bank

Over the past 15 years, The Savings Bank, with nine locations, including two locally in Andover and Methuen, has been a tremendous supporter of Emmaus, donating more than $45,000 to support our many programs. The Savings Bank (TSB) has been a steadfast sponsor of Cycle for Shelter and the Emmaus gala “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars.” Emmaus has also received several grants to support Mitch’s Place from TSB Charitable Foundation. Here is a photo of our Director of Philanthropy Gretchen Arntz accepting the most-recent grant from TSB Charitable Foundation.

In addition, Emmaus is delighted to have Raichelle Kallery, Senior Vice President, Senior Retail Banking Officer (pictured below presenting the check to Gretchen), as a long-term Board Member and current Board Treasurer.

We thank The Savings Bank for being a great partner and friend!

December 6, Dunkin’ Donuts and the Scrivanos Family

Gus Scrivanos and his family who own more than 100 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises with seven stores in Haverhill, presented Emmaus with a $10,000 check today, the second large donation from the family in the past year. This donation came on the heels of a $25,000 initial donation made by Dunkin’ Donuts and the Scrivanos family in December 2016.

These donations allow Emmaus to continue to provide services to the community’s most at-risk individuals and families.

In addition, have been delivering donuts EVERY DAY for the last year to the Emmaus Family Shelter. The families and kids love seeing the donut truck arrive!

“Their donation is such a blessing; this will help so many people find a solution to homelessness,” said Emmaus’ Executive Director Jeanine Murphy. “We are very thankful to have this wonderful business partnership with Dunkin’ Donuts. We are so grateful.”

Pictured from left to right is Gretchen Artnz, Emmaus’ Director of Philanthropy, Jeanine Murphy Emmaus’ Executive Director and Greg Williams and George Scrivanos representing Dunkin’ Donuts and the Scrivanos family.

December 7, Sue Cullen

Sue’s first introduction to Emmaus was five years ago through Emmaus’ signature fundraising event, Cycle for Shelter. Her friends participated and she thought she would give it a try. Ever since that first ride, Sue has been a loyal friend and supporter of Emmaus’ mission.

“Wow does this event shine,” Cullen said about Cycle for Shelter. “It is well organized, has many volunteers, and the kindness and gratitude that Emmaus gives to all who participates is heartfelt.”

Sue has been riding in Cycle for Shelter for six years and is the team captain for the High Vibration Wellness team. This year her team raised $5,662, coming in 3rd among 19 teams. Sue rallied her team coming up with unique ways for them to raise money like through a Pampered Chef fundraiser.

Sue, who is also a Reiki Master, also volunteers her services at the Empowerment Project helping the mothers relax and find peace during the program’s annual spa day. Most-recently she made a pitch to her clients and friends to support Emmaus on #GivingTuesday.

“Emmaus’ programs are exemplary and they stay true to their goal to teach, inspire and uplift people so they can live a purposeful life,” Sue said.

“Sue has a wonderful heart and really believes in what we do,” said Emmaus’ Event Manager, Margot Regan, who works closely with Sue during Cycle for Shelter and Emmaus’ other events. “She is always thinking about what she can do to help us so that we in turn can help more people rebuild their lives.”

Pictured is Sue (center) with members of her High Vibration Wellness team.

December 8, Jessica Winiecki and Susan MacGregor

Jessica Winiecki began volunteering for Emmaus almost two years ago. She had just bought a house in Haverhill and decided she wanted to make a difference in someone’s life because she felt so grateful for what she had been given. She researched homeless shelters in Haverhill, and her search brought her to Emmaus.

“I am so lucky and blessed for what I have, and I couldn’t continue to be selfish with my time when there are people who are not in my position,” Jessica said.

Jessica can be found serving at Mitch’s Place every Thursday night. She has also volunteers at Emmaus’ “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars” fundraising gala and she volunteered her services as a Sign Language interpreter at the Emmaus Family Shelter this past spring and summer helping a guest who was hearing impaired.

Susan MacGregor joined Jessica at Mitch’s Place about a year ago. Susan is a school teacher at Pentucket Lake School in Haverhill, and she learned about Emmaus after the school did a food drive for Emmaus.

According to Jessica, “Denise coordinated the partnership, and we became fast friends.”

Susan, who attends Emmaus’ annual breakfast and “Stepping out with the Valley Stars,” said volunteering at Emmaus has put things into perspective.

“You give back—you help others,” said Susan.

“Jessica and Susan are the ultimate Thursday night team at Mitch’s Place. The staff knows that we can count on them to show up every week and serve dinner to our guests with a warm smile and kind words. We are so appreciative of their dedication and commitment,” said Denise Arnold, volunteer and gifts in-kind manager.

December 9, Susan Gleason and Charles Monroe

Cycling brought Susan Gleason and Charlie Monroe to Emmaus. Charlie started riding in Emmaus’ signature fundraising event, Cycle for Shelter in 2011, and his wife Susan joined him in 2013. Susan, who served for years as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Haverhill even started a team with the church. Together the couple, and their team, has raised thousands for Emmaus through this event.

Two years ago, inspired by Emmaus’ mission, and their love of cycling, the Susan and Charlie joined the Cycle for Shelter Planning Committee.

This past fall, moved by the work Emmaus is doing with parents, especially single mothers, at the D’Youville Center for Social Justice, the couple gifted the program $10,000 becoming the first D’Youville Center Champion.

“It’s rare to find people like Susan and Charlie who are so deeply committed to making a difference in the world. They are always so positive and eager to find new ways to support Emmaus,” said Emmaus’ Director of Philanthropy Gretchen Arntz. “Their 2017 leadership gift of $10,000 to the D’Youville Center for Social Justice is the most recent shining example of their phenomenal dedication to our organization. Susan and Charlie – we cherish you both!”

Pictured here are Charlie and Susan with their daughters Rachel (left) and Emily (right) and their granddaughter Thea at 2015’s Cycle Shelter.

December 10, Cummings Foundation

This past spring Emmaus became one of 100 non-profits awarded a $100,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation as part of its annual “100K for 100” grant initiative. This grant, which will be payable over three years, will allow Emmaus to hire a street outreach worker to engage, assist and connect unsheltered adults to housing and community services in the Lower Merrimack Valley, focusing initially on Haverhill, Amesbury and Newburyport.

“We are so thankful to The Cummings Foundation for this grant award,” said Emmaus Executive Director Jeanine Murphy. “It will give Emmaus the opportunity to take our level of service to those in most need to the next level and enable us to seek solutions for the most difficult to serve within the homeless population—those who live on the streets.”

The Cummings Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in New England. It has awarded more than $100 million in grants in recent years. It primarily supports nonprofits in Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties in Massachusetts, and it has a special interest in Rwanda.

The Foundation’s hallmark initiative is the “$100K for 100” grant program, which awards $10 million to Greater Boston nonprofits annually.

“Together, I am confident we will be able to impact so many lives in our community,” Murphy said. “My deepest gratitude to the trustees of the Cummings Foundation for their vision in supporting our social justice mission.”

Pictured here is Emmaus’ Director of Philanthropy Gretchen Arntz and Board Treasurer Raichelle Kallery with Richard C. Ockerbloom, former president and chief operating officer of The Boston Globe and current trustee of the Cummings Foundation at the Cummings Foundation’s #100Kfor100 Grant Winner Celebration earlier this year.

December 11, Aaron’s Presents

For the past year, Aaron’s Presents, an Andover non-profit, has selected Emmaus to be the one of the recipients of its generosity. The organization gives young kids opportunities to dream up and carry out a project that benefit others while gaining valuable leadership and project management skills in the process.

This past spring youth from Aaron’s Presents donated more than 40 backpacks filled with hygiene and personal care items to be used for the guests at Mitch’s Place Shelter. Over the summer they donated more than $500 in school supplies, including new backpacks. Most-recently, this fall, 12 teens and 8 alumni helped paint Emmaus’ Food Distribution Center.

“We are so fortunate that Aaron’s Presents have partnered with Emmaus over the past year,” said Volunteer and Gifts In-Kind Manager Denise Arnold. “This organization gives young people the opportunity to plan and execute their vision for volunteer service and making a difference in their communities. They have provided needed donations for our Empowerment and Explorers Programs, as well as helping us renovate our distribution center. We look forward to working with them on future projects.”

December 12, Terry Stonecipher

Terry Stonecipher began volunteering weekly for Emmaus three years ago. At that time, Terry said that he was looking for a volunteer opportunity in the community, and that other non-profits he had visited didn’t quite fit his niche. His friend suggested Emmaus as a volunteer opportunity, and the rest is history. Today, Terry is a beloved a loyal volunteer, donor, and friend of Emmaus.

“I just want to help Emmaus do what has to be done,” says Terry.

Every Tuesday, Terry picks up large food donations from Hans Kissle and brings the food to Mitch’s Place. Later in the day, he helps to organize and distribute food to Emmaus clients at the Emmaus Food Distribution Center. In addition, Terry attends the Emmaus Road Home Breakfast each year.

“Terry is one of our most invaluable volunteers. We know we can count on him every Tuesday to pick up the food donation from Hans Kissle in the morning and then return to our distribution center that evening,” says Denise Arnold, Volunteer and Gifts In-Kind Manager. “Terry has a special bond with our food bank clients. He greets them by name and knows what items they like. When he was out for some minor surgery, our clients signed a card that we sent him. That, in and of itself, tells you what a cherished member of our volunteer team he is.”

December 13, The New Hampshire Ladies

“Do you like to cook, and do you want to help people,” were the simple words that Emmaus placed in the Carriage Town News classifieds 25 years ago. This ad is what brought four strangers from New Hampshire together to start serving once a month at the original Emmaus building – 105 Winter Street. Alice, Regina, and Jan are now a team of three, and they have never missed serving one single meal at Emmaus.

“It’s funny. Each of us answered the ad and all of us are from New Hampshire,” Regina said with a smile.

“We met at Emmaus and became the best of friends. We were meant to be together,” added Jan.

The New Hampshire Ladies, as they are affectionately known to the staff at Emmaus, often go out to eat together after they serve their meal at Emmaus.

In 2002, the Emmaus Family Shelter at 150 How Street opened and The New Hampshire Ladies moved to the new building, too. Today, The New Hampshire Ladies cook and serve American chop suey each month, and reminisce about the changes over the years as Emmaus has grown. The family shelter has grown from a small kitchen and dining space that served 10 families, to a larger space that provides food for 54 families.

“The New Hampshire Ladies are really committed to Emmaus. They are the sweetest ladies, and they always have a smile on their faces, said Gelenni Garcia, family advocate at the Emmaus Family Shelter. “They also make sure that everyone is fed before they leave. They ask about who was unable to come to dinner, and make sure that they have a plate, too.”

December 14, Linc and Mackenzie Jackson

Linc and Mackenzie Jackson began volunteering at Emmaus this spring. This father-daughter duo distributes food from our new Mobile Food Distribution van twice a month, providing supplementary food for Emmaus clients living in apartments in the community.

“We both reached out separately. Mackenzie wanted to get involved with children, and I thought that I would be volunteering in Mitch’s Kitchen,” said Linc. “It’s been fulfilling for me to be able to help in some way and provide any small benefit that I can, but I feel like I am the one who is benefiting the most.”

Mackenzie added, “Everyone here has been so awesome in allowing us to help and they make it really easy. It’s fun and rewarding to give back.”

Mackenzie who goes on mission trips to Honduras each year wanted to do something in her community. “It worked out and the timing was great,” she said.

The Jackson family also provides monetary donations to Emmaus, and when Linc’s children were younger, the family would donate food at Thanksgiving and gifts during the holiday season. They also served as Rest Stop Captains this past summer for one of the rest stops along the Cycle for Shelter route.

This holiday season, the Jackson family is also providing gifts to two families in Emmaus programs. We thank them for their ongoing generosity.

December 15, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Hampstead, NH

For 27 years, volunteers from St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Hampstead have been cooking and serving meals at Emmaus. Today, volunteers prepare and serve dinner once a month at the Emmaus Family Shelter. Recently, Jane, Bob and Joyce served a special holiday meal and bought a set of knives to donate to the kitchen.

Jane has been volunteering at Emmaus the longest—10 years.

“I have learned that you don’t just feed people’s bellies, but you feed their hearts,” said Jane. After she serves the meals, Jane likes to bring books to read to the children and talk with the mothers.

“I love connecting with people,” she added.

Gelenni Garcia, advocate at the Emmaus Family Shelter, spoke highly of the volunteers from St. Christopher’s—especially Jane.

“Jane is a very sweet woman and likes to provide us with a diverse menu to expose our families to new foods. She takes her time to learn what the clients like, and attempts to provide that for them each month. She never seems to bring the same thing, which is something that the clients look forward to. When they see her, they are always interested to see that she brought.”

St. Christopher’s often bakes cookies for dessert, and the parish also donates baby items and maternity clothing to Emmaus several times throughout the year. In addition, the St. Christopher’s Outreach Committee makes a large yearly purchase for the Family Shelter based on need.

December 16, Pam Perreault

Pam Perreault first came to Emmaus two decades ago as a member of the Cycle for Shelter planning committee. After taking some time off from volunteering to focus on her family, Pam found her way back to Emmaus in 2015. She started volunteering at the Emmaus Food Storage and Distribution Center and then joined Emmaus’ Gala Committee, becoming one of the key planning committee members for this very successful annual event.

In addition to serving on Emmaus’ gala committee, along with her parents Richard and Lucine Goudreault, owners of Goudreault Farm in Plaistow, NH, Pam has donated floral centerpieces for Emmaus’ “Paving the Road Home” Breakfast. Pam has also served as a guest presenter in the Emmaus Explorers program.

Pam and her husband Bob also support Emmuas financially, serving as sponsors for Emmaus’ gala, and in 2015 the couple joined the Road Home Giving Society. Their son Luke also volunteers at Emmaus as part of the St. Michael’s Church (Exeter, NH) youth group.

“Pam is a tremendous blessing to Emmaus,” said Events, Marketing and Communications Manager Margot Regan. “She is always willing to help and never seeks recognition. She’s a kind soul and I am so grateful that she found her way back to Emmaus.”

December 17, Rev. Jane Bearden, Trinity Episcopal Church

Rev. Jane Bearden, pastor of the Trinity Episcopal Church around the corner from Emmaus, has been a good friend to our organization since arriving in Haverhill several years ago. Rev. Bearden has been fiercely committed to improving the quality of life for residents of the neighborhood where Emmaus and the church are both located. Under her leadership, the church established innovative and high-quality programming including the Marigold Montessori School and Dinah’s Place for victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking. Many of our families have benefited from these programs.

Trinity Episcopal Church has offered financial support to Emmaus for more than 20 years. Under Rev. Bearden’s leadership, our partnership has blossomed. Since 2015, the church has hosted Emmaus’ annual MLK Day of Service, the only one of its kind in the city. This successful event attracts more than 100 volunteers and serves 150 – 200 community members each year. Rev. Bearden has also participated in our annual Tree of Love lighting ceremony on two occasions in recent years offering heartfelt and inspiring blessings.

“Rev. Bearden has provided tremendous leadership to the Trinity Episcopal Church and its members over the past several years. She is deeply committed to community service and has opened up the church as a resource for Emmaus clients and low-income neighborhood residents,” said Emmaus’ Director of Philanthropy Gretchen Arntz. “As Jane gets ready to retire in January 2018, we wish to express our gratitude and wish her well as she transitions into the next phase of her life.”

Pictured below is Jane with Emmaus supporters State Rep. Andy Vargas (left) and Doug Edison (center) at this year’s “Tree of Love” lighting ceremony.

December, 18, Northern Essex Community College

Since the inception of Emmaus in the mid-1980’s, Northern Essex Community College has been a strong community

Photo by Allegra Boverman.

partner and staunch supporter of Emmaus’ mission of helping those in need. Emmaus’ largest fundraising event, Cycle for Shelter, has taken place on the campus for almost all of its 30 years. This past October the college hosted Emmaus’ Annual “Paving the Road Home” Breakfast in the Hartleb Technology Center. NECC President Lane Glenn served as the event Emcee. In 2016, Lane also volunteered his time as one of the celebrity dancers in our spring “Stepping out with the Valley Stars” gala. Lane has followed the precedent set by former NECC president David Hartleb who served as president of the Emmaus Board of Directors for more than 10 years.

Each year, hundreds of students, faculty, and staff serve in many of our Emmaus programs. Emmaus was one of the original community organizations actively engaged in the college’s Community Engagement/Service Learning initiatives. Through this connection, Emmaus staff are often invited into classes to educate the students about homelessness and ways that they can be part of the solution locally.

Furthermore, members of the college community and student-led clubs frequently conduct food and toiletry drives, holiday gift drives and specialty drives. Recently, based on their understanding of the effects of cold weather on people’s breathing and respiratory health, students in the respiratory therapy classes collected scarves for Mitch’s Place Shelter guests.

“Emmaus is eternally grateful for the amazing support that we receive from President Lane Glenn and his team at Northern Essex Community College throughout the year. We couldn’t ask for a stronger, more receptive community partner,” said Gretchen Arntz, Emmaus’s Director of Philanthropy and long-term member of the NECC Service Learning Advisory Board.

Pictured are members of NECC’s administration at Emmaus’ “Paving the Road Home” Breakfast earlier this fall and NECC student volunteers who served a meal a Mitch’s Place kitchen before meeting with guests to discuss their health needs and concerns.

December 19, Islamic Society of Greater Haverhill

Last fall members of the Islamic Society Of Greater Haverhill were looking for ways to give back in their community. They called Denise Arnold, Volunteer and Gifts In-Kind Manager at Emmaus and she jumped at the opportunity.

“I was sitting at my desk thinking, what can we do for our community? We just wanted to give back,” said Lachen Khiyaty. “I said, ‘Denise, what can we do?’ And she gave us a list and we provided it.”

In addition to hosting a large food drive for our Food Distribution Center, members of the society cook and serve a delicious meal once a month at Mitch’s Place. They also ran the food tent at this year’s Cycle for Shelter fundraising event in July.

“We want to put a smile on those faces,” Lachen said. “We are so grateful for what we have and we just want to share that. We will do anything we can do to help.”

“All of us at Emmaus, both clients and staff, have benefitted greatly from our ongoing partnership with the local Islamic Society,” said Denise Arnold, Volunteer and Gifts In-Kind Manager. We are so appreciative of their ongoing support and are truly thankful for all they do to support our community.”

Pictured from left to right is Lachen, Marwan Bouhanda and Youssef Tayb

December 20, George C. Wadleigh Foundation

The George C. Wadleigh Foundation has supported Emmaus over the past three decades. The first foundation grant was used to convert 100 Winter Street into Gilead House in 1989. For the next 23 years, Emmaus served individuals living with mental illness and substance abuse at this property. Since 2012, 100 Winter Street has been used to house low-income individuals, many of whom were formerly homeless as well as our AmeriCorps VISTA members.

The Wadleigh Foundation has been one of the most consistent and generous supporters of our organization. Several significant capital grants have been made to support construction of the George C. Wadleigh Center at 127 How Street, the Emmaus Family House at 150 How Street, and Evergreen Place at 41 Welcome Street. Other generous capital grants have been used to make significant repairs and renovations to existing Emmaus properties. Throughout the years, the Wadleigh Foundation has also offered funds to support operating costs at our shelter programs.

Pictured here are the Wadleigh Board of Directors, made up of community leaders who share a deep commitment to the City of Haverhill. Aside from making significant financial gifts to Emmaus for almost 30 years, members of the Wadleigh Foundation’s Board of Directors regularly make significant personal and professional contributions to our organization.

“The Wadleigh Foundation has made a huge impact in the Haverhill area over the past three decades. Their Board members are fully engaged in the community and are always willing to lend their expertise and energy to non-profit organizations like Emmaus, said Emmaus Executive Director Jeanine Murphy. “The Wadleigh Foundation has been a key partner in Emmaus’ growth since the mid-1990’s. We are very grateful to them for walking alongside Emmaus and people in need for close to 30 years.”

Pictured here is the Wadleigh Board of Directors: Tom Mortimer, Wadleigh President Chuck Traver, Richard Cammet, Michael Hart, Zoe Veasey, Bill Kluber, Kara Kosmes, Joanne Sulis, Scott Cote, Peter Carbone.

 

December 21, Burju and Victor Perez

It’s hard not to be in awe of Burju Perez. Burju, along with her husband Victor, are world-renowned salsa dancers who have traveled the globe entertaining people with their art. They also own Burju Shoes. Sold all over the world, Burju designs comfortable dance and street shoes with a unique and fun sense of style. Plus, they are amazing parents to two young children.

Emmaus Event Manager Margot Regan first met Burju Perez at the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce’s

W.O.W. conference in April of 2014. She knew instantly that Burju would be the perfect person to help her with an idea she had for a unique fundraising event. Burju was all-in and Emmaus’ gala “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars” was born.

“She never hesitated,” Margot said. “She was on-board from day one, and each year keeps striving to make the event even better. She really cares about Emmaus and it’s a joy to work with her.”

Burju Perez is the creative director and one of the presenting sponsors of “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars.” She coordinates the professional dancers, dance styles, shoes, costumes, music, lights and more. Burju and Victor have served as featured performers, partners and coaches. Victor was also a judge at last year’s event. The couple has donated countless hours to making “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars” a success and we cannot thank them enough.

The 4th Annual “Stepping Out with the Valley Stars” will take place on Saturday, April 7 at Blue Ocean Music Hall and seats will go on sale at noon on January 3. We hope to see you all there!

December 22, Cora Mae and James Murphy

Cora Mae (Mickey) and James Murphy of Newburyport are long-standing supporters of Emmaus. They are original and sustaining members of the Road Home Giving Society, contributing at least $1,000 annually over the past 14 years. Aside from making generous financial contributions on a yearly basis, Mickey and Jim have consistently attended all of our special events. Their smiling faces and positive feedback provide encouragement and morale support to our staff and volunteers.

“Mickey and Jim are wonderful people,” said Gretchen Arntz, Emmaus’ Director of Philanthropy. “Mickey is such a lovely woman. She often sends hand-written thank you notes to me and my staff members after our events. These sweet and thoughtful notes mean a great deal to all of us.”

Emmaus’ Executive Director Jeanine Murphy is very proud of her parents, Mickey and Jim Murphy. Jeanine often talks about how her parents instilled strong values in her and fueled her desire to help those in need. Jeanine always acknowledges her parents in her speech at Emmaus’ annual breakfast.

“As I reflect over the teachings of my own childhood, I was truly blessed to witness numerous expressions of kindness from many generations,” Jeanine said. “My parents, who are now in their 80s, still bring meals to their ‘elderly’ neighbors and continue to be there for me whenever I need them. I am proud to call them my parents and hope they know what a bright light they continue to be for everyone at Emmaus.”

December 23, Birthday Wishes

Each month some children who call Emmaus home will celebrate their birthdays and we are so grateful for a local organization that makes sure each child feels special during their birthday month. Birthday Wishes has been bringing birthday parties to the Family Shelter for children ages 1-17 once a month since 2010. The birthday girls and boys receive special presents, get their own individual birthday cake and all party guests play games and get goodie bags. For children living in some of Emmaus’ off-site shelter units, Birthday Wishes provides a “Birthday-in-a Box” that includes all the items needed for a party–including cake mix, cake pans, and more!

Alexia Andriaopoulox, (far right), age 16, is the Party Coordinator at the Emmaus Family Shelter. Her mother, Kristen Andriaopoulox, first read about Birthday Wishes in a magazine years ago and as Alexia was too young to volunteer, she started assembling goodie bags and “Birthday-in-a-Box” packages. Two years ago, Alexia became the Emmaus Party Coordinator.

“When I was younger, I had a lot of great birthday parties and I wanted other kids to have that experience,” Alexia said. When Alexia started as a Party Coordinator, she recruited her friends Caitlin, 15, Erin, 16, Tara, 16, and Cindy, 16.

“We really always appreciate their continued understanding and support of our families and their situation,” said Denise Arnold, Volunteer and Gifts In-Kind Manager.

This month a little girl at the Emmaus Family Shelter was able to celebrate her birthday with the Birthday Wishes team. She enjoyed getting her face painted, playing with her friends and doing crafts. When asked what her favorite part of the party was, she said, “I really liked the cake!”

Thank you to Birthday Wishes for everything you do for the children who call Emmaus home!

December 24, The Emmaus Staff

“Since 1987, Emmaus continues to be blessed with an incredible hard working and compassionate staff! Each day our staff finds solutions for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. They do their challenging jobs with grace and kindness, leading the way for successful paths for everyone we serve.

It has been my privilege to work alongside such competent dedicated colleagues!

Please join me honoring our staff for another year of service!

Happy Holidays and Blessings in 2018 to all!”

–Jeanine Murphy, Emmaus Executive Director