August, 2018

Community Outreach

Posted in Community on August 16th, 2018 with No Comments

Being able to help is a part our human responsibility.

Blistered Shishito Peppers and Soy Citrus Ponzu Sauce, Togarashi Spiced Scallops with Summer Succotash and Rustic Little Neck Chowder with Crispy Tempura Haddock… just a few of  the items you will find on the menu at Allie’s Beach Street Cafe located at 35 Beach Street in Manchester-by-the-Sea.  Family owned & operated, the full-service restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner featuring French Bistro inspired cuisine. Allie’s is (newly) owned and operated by New Jersey natives Glenn and Allie Varga who discovered  the north shore while Allie attended graduate school at Northeastern twenty years ago.  A former Sommelier at the Four Season, Glen especially is thrilled to impart his 18 years experience at Allie’s Beach Street Cafe, the couple’s second north shore culinary endeavor, a sister restaurant to the popular Pleasant Street Tea Company in historic downtown Gloucester.

Glenn and Allie will be sharing some of their culinary talents as Family Services of the Merrimack Valley welcomes Allie’s Beach Street Cafe  to our First Annual A TASTE OF THE REGION, a fundraiser for our Essex County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program.  The evening will feature the signature cuisine of some of the north shore’s top chefs as well as a silent auction and a special guest speaker.  The goal for the A TASTE OF THE REGION is to raise crucial funding to recruit and train volunteer advocates so that all child victims in Essex County have a strong, dedicated volunteer to advocate for them in court.  The evening of wonderful food and community will also offer guests the chance to learn more about the important work our CASA advocates do in the service of children and families of Essex County.  Tickets are $25, per person.  We caught up with the couple in the height of their busy summer season to learn more about why they give back…

How did the Café begin?
Since 2007, Glenn and I had been proudly serving the Gloucester community organic coffee, hundreds of teas from all over the globe, and food offerings ranging from decadent chocolate cake to wholesome veggie wraps at Pleasant Street Tea Company.  All the while, Glenn has been interested in opening a full-scale restaurant in the north shore.  The opportunity to purchase Beach Street came about last summer, and we opened in November.  In addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner Allie’s Beach Street Cafe also offers a full Espresso & Tea Bar, fresh-baked items, quick counter breakfast and lunch service and a full bar featuring an all French wine list, Craft Cocktails and Beer.  Centrally located in historic downtown Gloucester, our Pleasant Street Tea remains a twice daily stop and chat cafe for everyone.

Three kitchen utensils you are never without?
Good wine, Good music, and an imagination!

Can you speak a little about the importance of giving back to the community?
I enjoy opportunities to give back to my community. A large part of Pleasant Street Tea Company has been community involvement. Having raised our two children here, this community is very important to us and being able to help is a part our human responsibility. I am happy to have my restaurants be part of the community and using them as part of an outreach means a lot to me.

Essex County CASA is a program of Family Services of the Merrimack Valley.  We recruit, train and supervise volunteers from the community to advocate for children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, in the Lawrence, Newburyport, Salem and soon the Lynn Juvenile Courts.  For additional information on tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please contact CASA Director Sylvia Struss at 978-744-3000, or e-mail Sylvia at [email protected]  Family Services of the Merrimack Valley and CASA are extremely grateful for the community support of friends like Allie’s Beach Street Cafe.  We could not deliver the programs and services to children and families without their continued generosity.  Please come out and join us on Thursday evening September 27 for A TASTE OF THE REGION!  Purchase tickets here…

 

Happy to Give Back

Posted in Community, Donations on August 8th, 2018 with No Comments

Local Businesses Team Up for A TASTE OF THE REGION

 

Turtle, Truffle, Bark! is designed to take some of the mystery out of making chocolates at home.  It’s also the title of a new book by the Proprietor of Turtle Alley Chocolates, Hallie Baker.  A turtle is traditionally a pecan-studded, chocolate-covered caramel patty.  But in the book, and in her shops, the author transforms the treats combining cashew, pecan, almond, or macadamia,  in milk, dark, or white chocolate – clusters, exquisite barks, and original signature confections.  Located in historic Gloucester, Massachusetts, with a second store in Salem, Massachusetts, Turtle Alley’s reputation for warm, personal service and the finest, freshest hand-made chocolates is based on these simple principles: use natural ingredients, finest grades of chocolate, real butter, fresh cream, imported nuts and spices, and handcraft small batches for the “freshest taste experience available anywhere”.  Ms. Baker will be sharing some of her sought after sweets next month as Family Services of the Merrimack Valley welcomes Turtle Alley Chocolates to our First Annual A TASTE OF THE REGION, a fundraiser for our Essex County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program.

The evening will feature the signature cuisine of some of the north shore’s top chefs as well as a silent auction and a special guest speaker.  The goal for the A TASTE OF THE REGION is to raise crucial funding to recruit and train volunteer advocates so that all child victims in Essex County have a strong, dedicated volunteer to advocate for them in court.  The evening of wonderful food and community will also offer guests the chance to learn more about the important work our CASA advocates do in the service of children and families of Essex County.  Tickets are $25, per person.  We caught up with Ms. Baker (a Rhode Island native who discovered the north shore while attending Montserrat College of Art in the late 1980s) in the height of her busy retail season to learn more about why she gives back…

How did Turtle Alley begin, and how long have you been in business?  Any treats you are known for specifically?
I opened Turtle Alley in 1999 in Gloucester, then opened one in Salem in 2002.  We’re known for our turtles.  Our originals (bacon pecan, cranberry pecan, blueberry cashew, aloha, chipotle, almond ginger) are often imitated, but we are the real deal.

 On behalf of Family Services of the Merrimack Valley and Essex County CASA, thank you so much for pitching in with our First Annual Taste of the Region.  Why CASA?  Had you any previous association with this program?
I’ve not had any previous association, but considering what you do… it’s a no-brainer.  Anything that can help empower and protect those who are less fortunate (and perhaps don’t have a voice that can be heard) is something we gladly support.

Your website advises, “Life is short, sin a little…”  Care to expand on that philosophy?
I believe you go around once.  That being so, I think you should have the treats!  All of them!

Can you speak a little about the importance of giving back to the community?
Whenever we can help out, we try to.  We wouldn’t be in business without the support of our community (ies), and are happy to give back whenever possible.

Tempted to craft some chocolates of your own?  “It really isn’t  overwhelming if you have someone to guide you,” offers Ms. Baker.  Thus, the purpose of her book!  “I totally loved writing the book, just as much as I love making candy myself.”  Pick up a copy of Turtle, Truffle, Bark! at either Turtle Alley location, or at Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

Essex County CASA is a program of Family Services of the Merrimack Valley.  We recruit, train and supervise volunteers from the community to advocate for children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, in the Lawrence, Newburyport, Salem and soon the Lynn Juvenile Courts.  For additional information on tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please contact CASA Director Sylvia Struss at 978-744-3000, or e-mail Sylvia at [email protected]  Family Services of the Merrimack Valley and CASA are extremely grateful for the community support of friends like Turtle Alley Chocolates.  We could not deliver the programs and services to children and families without their continued generosity.  Please come out and join us on Thursday evening September 27 for A TASTE OF THE REGION!  Purchase tickets here…

 

HERE They Truly Feel Part of a Family…

Posted in Community on August 1st, 2018 with No Comments

Eulogio is a single father in Lawrence.  He speaks little English.  His bright smile rarely dims despite the daily challenge of raising a boy all alone in a culture that is new to him.  Just after arriving here in the Merrimack Valley, he took a bad fall and broke his leg.  That detour further added to his struggles.  But, it also prompted him to seek out the support of other parents.  Now, each Wednesday morning he gathers at the Family & Community Resource Center on Broadway in Lawrence with other local parents and caregivers to exchange experiences and to root for one another through Family Services’ Parents Helping Parents series.  In that company, he has found a home and makes it a point to attend each and every meeting – even arriving an hour early!

At a recent Parents Helping Parents support group session, he is sporting a green cap that reads “Lucky Hat” and is seated beside another father who is new to the Merrimack Valley.  He is a first-time participant encouraged by his wife to join the group as they together navigate the parenting of a rebellious teenage daughter.  The father is slow to speak up, spending much of the conversation listening intently to the kind attention the group offers to the couple’s situation.  “Most people that come here feel very alone. They are new to this country and are maybe working two jobs,” offers Luz Toledo, a former teacher and the program’s volunteer facilitator.  “They have issues that come up with their kids, and they have no place to turn for help. THIS is a place where they can feel that everyone is rooting for them. HERE, they truly feel that they are part of a family.”  A family, where everyone is welcome.

Parents Helping Parents had its beginnings in 1972 with the concept of uniting parents in a supportive and safe environment to talk about problems they were having with their children and to learn new parenting strategies from one another.  Its prevention philosophy is grounded in a self-help model based on the belief that parents are capable of developing their own solutions when given the space, encouragement, and community resources that they need.  Thus, it is the parents themselves who largely decide the direction a conversation will take during Parent Support Group meetings.

Hailing from Peru, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and beyond, the Family Services’ group shifts in size and shape from week to week, but generally there is a core gathering of six or so parents on hand.  The (bi-lingual) sessions begin with social conversation, introductions of new faces and a review of the Parents Helping Parents nine “reglas”, or rules.  They include such agreements as: “all cultures are heard and respected”, “every person has to have hope” and “every belief must be respected”, and they form a code to which all participants faithfully adhere.  The reglas are an essential component in the group’s life as they emphasize the importance of hearing the opinion of everyone in attendance.  As the sessions unfolds, participants are extended the opportunity to share whatever experiences are coming up for them in their roles as parents.  The issues presented are often typical challenges involving discipline and incentives for good and bad behavior, but their parenting challenges are often complicated by the acclimation to a new culture.  The meeting facilitators monitor the discussions that follow the group conversation while also weaving in information on outside parenting resources available within the community.  “In the group, by sharing and listening to other people’s parenting challenges, participants can magnify their own perspective,” Ms. Toledo points out.  In observing the gathering, one cannot help but notice the genuine concern they all share for one another’s well being.

Through a combination of trust, mutual support, honesty, and collective wisdom, involvement with Parents Helping Parents can become the foundation for a parent’s own personal growth and change.  A Parent Support Group is a place where folks can come to talk about your experiences and gain feedback without being judged or criticized.  The group can help others to develop positive parenting solutions in a respectful environment.  If you yearn for help and support to improve relationships with your children, a Parent Support Group might be the place for you.  Please contact Family Services’ Family & Community Resource Center at: 978.975.8800 to learn more about their next scheduled Parent Support Group.  “Parents Helping Parents is like family to me,” says Eulogio after eight weeks of perfect attendance, and everyone shares in his salute as the program facilitators award him a moment of recognition.  “We are here to help point parents in the right direction by creating a safe space in which we can share resources with them.  When you feel support from someone else, you can feel stronger,” shares Toledo as she closes the meeting and bids farewell to the newly empowered parents she sends home.