Archives for July 2016

Community Endowment of Lexington Distributes $30,000 to Local Nonprofits

From left to right, Leslie Zales; Marcia Gens, LexGWAC; George Murnaghan, Lex Eat Together; Ricki Pappo, LexGWAC; Susan Schiffer, LexFarm; Allison Guerette, LexFarm; Gerard Cody, Lexington Office of Public Health.

From left to right, Leslie Zales; Marcia Gens, LexGWAC; George Murnaghan, Lex Eat Together; Ricki Pappo, LexGWAC; Susan Schiffer, LexFarm; Allison Guerette, LexFarm; Gerard Cody, Lexington Office of Public Health.

Grants Will Aid Health & Human Services, Ecological Well-Being, And Community Building Initiatives

June 10, 2016: The Community Endowment of Lexington (CEL), an endowed fund of Foundation for MetroWest, recently hosted its third annual Grant Award Ceremony at the Lexington Community Center where they distributed $30,000 to four local nonprofit organizations in the areas of Health & Human Services, Ecological Well-Being, and Community Building. To date, CEL has granted more than $80,000 to 13 nonprofit organizations serving the Lexington community.

Leslie Zales, outgoing CEL Chair reflected on a “pioneering year”, especially in the areas of fundraising and community awareness. “It is truly wonderful watching this initiative take hold in Lexington – from the generosity of the community in response to the Leslie and Colin Masson Challenge to the diversity and number of organizations working to enrich our town, including tonight’s grantees.”

At the event, the Chinese American Association of Lexington, Lexx Restaurant, and Finnegan Development were recognized for their vision, commitment and community support as CEL Civic Founders. Additionally, the event celebrated the service of retiring board members Pauline Benninga, Lisa Spitz and youth representative to the Board, Hannah Cutler.

2016 Grantees:
• Lexington Community Farm Coalition ($10,000)
To enable the organization to move to the next level in their growth, providing consulting services for board development, an analytics dashboard, and a business plan for long-term planning across the different program areas.
• Lexington Global Warming Action Coalition ($7,500)
To run a large scale “Sustainability Fair” coordinating initiatives by and for Lexington town government, businesses, and residents highlighting health, energy, resilience, and sustainability in the face of climate change.
• Lexington Office of Public Health ($7,500)
To do a quantitative tick survey in order to assess the risks to the community and provide an educational public health program for residents about tick-borne diseases.
• Lex Eat Together ($5,000)
To pilot a transportation program for greater and broader access to their weekly dinners by those who do not have access to needed transportation.

About the Community Endowment of Lexington:

The Community Endowment of Lexington, an endowed fund of the Foundation for MetroWest, promotes a spirit of philanthropic giving to help enhance the quality of life for all Lexington residents now, and for the future. CEL is a permanent grantmaking source of funding to support our community needs and opportunities, and provide ways for donors to give back or leave a legacy to our community. For more information, visit

About Foundation for MetroWest

Established in 1995, the Foundation for MetroWest is the only community foundation serving the 33 cities and towns in the region. We promote philanthropy in the region, help donors maximize the impact of their local giving, serve as a resource for local nonprofits and enhance the quality of life for all our residents. Since inception, the Foundation has granted $11.6 million to charitable organizations and currently stewards more than $16 million in charitable assets for current needs and future impact.

To learn more, please or call 508.647.2260.
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Men Paid $1…

Courtesy Photo of the early members of The Lexington Field and Garden Club

Courtesy Photo of the early members of The Lexington Field and Garden Club


The Lexington Field & Garden Club was founded in 1876. It began with men at its helm. They were the community leaders with a heritage of good bloodlines, intellectual superiority, and economic success. Their wives addressed them as “mister,” and most belonged to the mainline Protestant churches.

Lexington was primarily a farming community. It began to prosper when the Lexington and West Cambridge Railroad, later the Boston and Maine Railroad, began its service in 1846
In 1875 as the 2,277 Lexingtonians prepared to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Battle on the Green and welcome Ulysses S. Grant and his cabinet to the festivities, a letter to the relatively new Lexington Minuteman pointed out that the area in front of the railroad depot was most unattractive. It soon became apparent that a permanent association was needed to improve our streets and open spaces, and the Lexington Field & Garden Club (LFGC) was organized. Matthew Merriam was its first president.

In 1876, the club adopted a constitution that stated, “the object of this association shall be the care and protection of trees and shrubs in the streets and public places of Lexington and the improvement of the town by the planting of additional trees and ornamental plants, the study and development of the natural resources of this vicinity, the cultivation of taste in arboriculture and horticulture and the discussion of these and kindred subjects.”

The club was incorporated in 1891, but long before that it was making its mark on the environment. From its inception, the group focused on improving the appearance of the disreputable train and freight area, which dominated the center of the village. By 1886, the Boston & Maine Railroad had opened double tracks to Boston and back and eventually provided train service 22 times a day, each way. Unfortunately, all those trains led to disreputable mess of railroad ties, coal bins, and piles of wood in the center of Lexington.

The LFGC also sought to beautify the islands at Hancock and Bedford Streets, Pleasant and Massachusetts Ave, and Lincoln and Concord Streets. To this day, the LFGC beautifies these and many other islands. In 1887, it was willing to assume care of the Common on condition that the town provide $150/year while the club gave $50/year. Under its authority, the hay-covered Common, often filled with cows, became a beautiful historical park.

Many new technologies, such as commuter trains and trolleys, were improving daily life, yet the increasingly mechanized environment led to social reformers calling for the construction of parks and recommending physical exercise as a way to ward off stress. Enjoying this new focus on leisure, the club members took many field trips to explore their environs. In 1875, 51 members went to a field meeting at Shaker Glen (off Woburn St.). Mrs. G.O. Whiting organized a committee to provide saucers for the ice cream furnished by the club, which also provided lemons and ice to make lemonade. Forty-four members traveled to Franklin Park and Arnold Arboretum in Boston. When they arrived at the park, they boarded four large park carriages to visit the principal points of interest and enjoy the views of Blue Hills.

A 36-year old patent attorney, Frederick L, Emery assumed the presidency of the garden club in 1904. In September of that year, the Club acquired land now known as Hastings Park and raised the funds necessary to grade and adapt it. During his tenure, he began to petition the railroad to sell the land to the town. By late 1921, Boston & Maine agreed to sell it for $20,000. In 1922, the area became known as Depot Square, but after Emery’s death, it was renamed in his honor. In his will he left $5,000 to the town with the income from the bequest to be spent by the garden club to beautify his Lexington.

Initially and until the 1950s, the men paid dues of $1.00 while the women paid only 50¢. Although the club was founded in 1876, it did not have a female president until Mrs. Hollis Webster was elected in 1933, some 57 years after its founding.
Since 1955, all the presidents were women, but they are listed as Mrs…until 1988. Then they became known without any personal title. Today, you see the LFGC women working on the islands, holding the Arbor Day ceremony, or getting ready for their grand plant sale.

Looking around Lexington, you can see many signs of the club’s work: Emery Park, Captain Parker’s statue, The Cary Library Garden, the Hancock-Clark House Herb Garden, the Munroe Tavern Colonial Flowers, St. Brigid’s Mary Garden, and all the many civic gardens. This year the club has been working with the US Post Office to beautify their grounds.

As the twenty-first century progresses, its leaders are looking for a way to involve more newcomers and men, once again, the club and its activities. They are planning a pruning workshop and a program on stone walls to attract men to the club.

For further information, please visit the Lexington Field & Garden Club’s website ( or its facebook page.

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LHS Peer Leaders Spread Hope, Health, and Strength

By Joan Robinson, MSW, LYFS Board Member

BEGINNINGS Last fall, Lexington Youth and Family Services (LYFS) committed to hosting and funding Sources of Strength (SOS), a program designed to build self-confidence, define one’s own strengths, and know when and where to seek help. Seven high school students who are members of LYFS Youth Advisory Board, were asked to identify diverse groups and leaders at LHS. They then invited 46 LHS students and 13 adults to attend a daylong training event. In November of last year, this mix of students and adults spent a powerful day learning how to help others and more consciously use and further develop their own Sources of Strength. This prevention program with proven results increases teens’ connections with adults, builds resilience, and develops protective factors called Sources of Strength for navigating adolescence and life.

MISSION AND METHODS The primary stance of SOS is positive, focusing on resiliency rather than trauma. Historically communities come together after a tragedy, while SOS hopes to encourage the LHS and Lexington community to come together to prevent tragedy. When students feel there is a supportive environment–a safety net–they are less likely to feel alienated.
Consequently, they are less likely to get involved in self-destructive behaviors, and more likely to ask for help with their feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.
As the year has progressed the SOS peer leaders, with the guidance of LYFS director Erin Deery, have developed a number of activities aimed at improving connections between students and with trusted adults. Some activities have been directed towards encouraging students to recognize and define their own Sources of Strength. They may feel more comfortable to reach out to family, friends, a trusted coach, minister, teacher, the school nurse, etc.
Any peer leader program must have adults talking with students: the students know what is going on, and the adults have experience with the world at large. The hope is that both the students and the adults will “spread the word” about the importance of talking with, not at, each other to the community of Lexington. This process is designed to remind students that they are not alone, and to destigmatize asking for help.

LEXINGTON SOS VISION With the committed and creative leadership of LYFS Adult and Youth Board members, together with the energy and dedication of the developing peer-to-peer social network, it seems possible to positively change Lexington youth norms and culture. This collaborative effort is supported by the schools, town, and many community groups and, with continued support, it could become a comprehensive wellness program impacting many people and touching every corner of our community.
As the LHS 2015-21016 school year comes to a close we asked two SOS peer leaders have crafted descriptions of two SOS activities: The Teacher Appreciation Progect and The Compliment Project, they carried out to to improve the LHS community environment.

Lexington High School teachers wear yellow Sources of strength bracelets in support of the program.

Lexington High School teachers wear yellow
Sources of strength bracelets in support of the program.


Approachable teacher mentors are key for a healthy high school culture.

LHS Student and Peer Leader

A core part of students’ lives is mentors — adults or older individuals in whom students put their trust. Whether it be a teacher, a parent or guardian, a sibling, or a guidance counselor, a mentor is an important Source of Strength for many. In times where guidance is needed, students will often turn to an adult for advice.

Ideally, the school environment should be a place where adults are encouraged to help students with their lives, where students feel completely comfortable turning to any adult for support—a place where, no matter where you look, there is always someone smiling, ready to hear what you have to say. Lexington High School is a community in which individuals can find the best help they need if they ask for it. However, many students are unable to find guidance because they are simply unaware of where to go for help.

Inspired by a project originally created at MIT, the Teacher Appreciation Project was Sources of Strength’s way to recognize teachers for being outstanding mentors. Each student Peer Leader nominated one teacher he or she felt was a person who was not only a role model but a trusted adult who students would be able to talk to if they ever needed someone. The 45 nominated teachers selected by the Peer Leaders each received a yellow wristband that read: “Tell me about your day,” signifying that they were approachable. The nominated teachers did not hesitate to wear their wristbands. In the Arts and Humanities lounge, teachers who received the bright yellow bands proudly waved their arms in the air, joyfully exclaiming, “Ooh, I got one of these!”

In an interview with English teacher Mr. Olivier-Mason, he explained how he felt honored to receive one of the yellow bands. He thought the bracelets helped to remind people of overcoming the “professional relationship” between teacher and student — that this can and should be more of a “human relationship.” He continued on to say that even if students don’t need to approach teachers about something, “There is comfort in knowing that if they did want to, people are there.”
At the end of the project day, the nominated teachers were told to gather outside the building for a group photo. Teachers walked out into the sunny school courtyard, looking confused about where to go. Amidst the afterschool buzz in the Quad, student peer leader Bill Gao directed all the teachers to one area as other students bustled around. The teachers smiled and laughed, some holding up their wrists to flash their yellow bracelets at the camera. Even Principal Laura Lasa, left a meeting to join in for the photo.

The purpose of the Teacher Appreciation project was to commend teachers for being trustworthy adults who are making a difference in students’ lives. This appreciation is meant to encourage nominated teachers to continue to be supportive, to celebrate positivity in the classroom and to inspire other teachers to mentor their students as well.

LHS, Sources of Strength Peer Leaders used this event to advocate for strong, healthy relationships between students and teachers. The next step is to familiarize more students with the bracelets so that students can actually feel comfortable approaching a teacher for help, and have the opportunity to form a special bond with a trusted adult.


Creating a more positive and communal environment at lhs is one of the cornerstones of sources of strength.

LHS Student and SOS Peer Leader

One of the goals of Sources of Strength is to create a more positive and communal environment at LHS and SOS decided to create a one-day project to do just that.
In early March each member of SOS came to school with a sheet of paper and a simple task. The sheet read, “compliment someone in your next class who you wouldn’t normally talk to.” Each member of SOS went to their first class of the day, gave someone a compliment and passed on the sheet. The idea was that the person who received the compliment would then go on to compliment someone in their next class and hopefully start a chain of positivity.
Although this project was non-tangible and we couldn’t measure how much of a success it was, we hoped to have done a small part in creating a more positive and supportive environment throughout our school. In the future, SOS hopes to reach out to not only students but also other adult members of the community and challenge everyone to be someone’s source of strength.

LHS PEER LEADERS FROM SOURCES OF STRENGTH CONTINUE TO WORK FOR A LEXINGTON WITH LESS STRESS Pictured above from Left to Right: Emily Lo, Julia Kan, Shira Harris and Maya Joshi-Delinty

Pictured above from Left to Right: Emily Lo, Julia Kan, Shira Harris and Maya Joshi-Delinty

Lexington Youth and Family Services Sponsors Sources Of Strength
and continues to offer free and confidential counseling

LYFS is a safe and confidential place to talk and get support. If you or someone you know is having a hard time – feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed; using/abusing drugs and alcohol; having trouble at home; having suicidal thoughts, come in and talk to us! We will listen and can help.

LYFS is located on the side of First Parish Church on the Lexington Battle Green. Open every Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm (September – June) or by appointment. We have a private entrance, office and waiting area, and offer confidential therapy to teens free of cost!

How is LYFS funded? LYFS receives funds from private contributors in the community and grants from the Foundation for MetroWest and CHNA 15. It is a 501(3)(c) tax deductible organization.

Make checks out and mail to:`Lexington Youth and Family Services
c/o First Parish Church / 7 Harrington Road / Lexington, MA 02421
For questions please email our Treasurer: Bill Blout,at

LYFS is located at First Parish Church(private entrance on right side of church), 7 Harrington Road, Lexington, MA
Call or Text: 781-862-0330
Director/Clinician: Erin M. Deery, LICSW

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Swing Night at LHS

Swing Night Organizers and Pura Vida Project Members, Catherine Fiore’17 (L) and Allie Antonevich’17 (R)

Swing Night Organizers and Pura Vida Project Members, Catherine Fiore’17 (L) and Allie Antonevich’17 (R)

By Ami Stix
Lexington High School’s annual Swing Night – an evening of fun with part of the proceeds going to the pura vida project, a student-run, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and young families throughout Central America.

Swing Night 2016 celebrated, once again, the classic American sounds of big band and swing with three hours of live music and dancing. More than 100 guests of all ages took to the dance floor in the Fiske gymnasium as the LHS Big Band, Jazz Ensemble and special guest, The Beantown Swing Orchestra took to the stage.

The evening was a delightful experience for those who could remember this uplifting music from their youth and for those that were new to the Big Band genre. The Boston Lindy Bomb Squad kicked off the evening with a lesson, teaching the basics to those born long after the boom in Big Band had ended.

The Boston Lindy Bomb Squad kicked off the evening with a lesson, inspiring young and old to take to the dance floor and swing!

The Boston Lindy Bomb Squad kicked off the evening with a lesson, inspiring young and old to take to the dance floor and swing!

Originally conceived as an event to raise money for various causes, Swing Night has become a staple of LHS Commencement week festivities as well as an opportunity to support a worthy cause. The first was in 2007 and called Dancing for Darfur. It featured Jazz Combo, Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Big Band. In this case, the Pura Vida Project of Lexington was the beneficiary. Families attend to support their musicians, graduates return to see friends and, increasingly, members of the community and local swing enthusiasts attend to hear some of the best live jazz west of Boston.

Above: Emily Zhang ‘17 and Ester Zhao ‘17

Above: Emily Zhang ‘17 and Ester Zhao ‘17

Alumni Involvement
LHS Alum, Frank Hsieh’89 has been instrumental in propelling the popularity of Swing Night with his tremendous 18-piece orchestra as well as spreading his passion for the elegance and vitality of this jazz form. Hsieh took jazz improvisation classes at LHS and played in various combos and ensembles. He continued playing during his time at Cornell, forming his own band as an undergraduate. An avid swing enthusiast and dancer, he decided to start a large swing orchestra upon moving back to Boston. He credits Jeff Leonard as the most influential person in helping him to reach a high level of artistry and focus as jazz musician and for inspiring him to pass on those lessons to younger musicians with his orchestra.

Special guest The Beantown Swing Orchestra

Special guest The Beantown Swing Orchestra

Now in its 10th year, the Beantown Swing Orchestra is considered to represent the future of Big Band. Hseih (pronounced Shay) founded the ensemble with a mission to promote classic big band swing music and its history to younger generations and keep this music alive for future generations to enjoy. His band, whose members range in age from their teens to their early thirties, is a continuation of the tradition of the danceable swing style of bandleaders such as Benny Goodman and Count Basie.

LHS Jazz Ensemble trumpeter, Alex Tung’19, and Belmont resident, Clare Stanley, getting ready to try out a few steps.

LHS Jazz Ensemble trumpeter, Alex Tung’19, and Belmont resident, Clare Stanley, getting ready to try out a few steps.

The LHS Experience
Justin Aramati, director of the LHS Big Band considers swing music and swing dancing critical parts of the histories of Jazz and America. A term of praise for playing with a strong, rhythmic groove or drive, swing was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1945. It was the music of orchestras, led by masters like Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, that first crossed societal barriers in appealing to young men and women of all races. “Swing Night is an opportunity for our students to experience that history in a direct and meaningful way. Getting to be a dance band for a night is fun! It’s also a way for us to connect with our community. It’s great to see so many people come out to dance,” says Aramati with a shy smile.
It is impressive to see these young musicians bring so much passion to classics that were popular with their grandparents. Music ranged from the elegant arrangements of Ellington and Carter to the playful rhythms of “Don’t Get Sassy” and “Count Bubba.” Featured student vocalist, Katharine Courtemanche was fresh and polished as she made Count Basie’s “Every Day I Have the Blues” her own.

Community Service
In the tradition of supporting worthy causes, student involvement also extends to Swing Night’s charitable partners. For the last few years, a portion of the proceeds have benefited the Pura Vida Project, a student-run, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and young families throughout Central America. The PVP is comprised of approximately forty students from Lexington High School and beyond who share a passion for Latin American culture and for meaningful philanthropy. This year’s contribution will benefit the Latin American Children’s Fund.
Student organizers, Allie Antonevich’17 and Catherine Fiore’17–with a small army of PVP volunteers–managed the logistics of the evening: staffing the event and making sure that band directors and their musicians could focus on the evening’s performance.

Both young women found the project incredibly gratifying for a variety of reasons and expressed great satisfaction in being part of an effort that brought the community together for a common purpose. “I like that we are working for a cause outside of LHS. It’s something that is bigger than all of us,” Ms. Fiore pointed out. Swing Night represents Lexington at its best: its students, its music program and the ever-present desire to give back to the community. The evening has become a multi-generational celebration of culture, music and the sheer joy of dance. If you missed it this year, make sure your dancing shoes are shined for next June.

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