Press Release regarding Afghan families

With support from an organizing group of civic and faith-based community leaders, a public gathering will convene on Tuesday, November 16th at 7 pm to organize volunteers and identify resources to assist several refugee Afghan families resettle in Gloucester and neighboring Cape Ann towns. The group, to be known as “Allies of Our Afghan Allies” in acknowledgment of the support many of these refugees gave to American efforts in Afghanistan during the past twenty years, will meet in Rockport at the Congregational Church on 12 School Street.

Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Reverend Rona Tyndall and Reverend  Alice Erickson (both of the West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church, UCC), former Mayor Bruce Tobey and others have held a series of planning meetings to lay the framework for this gathering. “We came together because we recognized the need to help families who find themselves in our country after fleeing their native land with little more than the shirts on their backs,” said Mayor Romeo Theken. “Ours are communities that help those in need, and now is the time to step up.” 

“The Afghan refugee families are temporarily living on U.S. military bases waiting for processing and clearance. When they leave the bases, they will face a tight housing market,” added Rev. Tyndall. “The national median rent rose to $1,302 in September, up 15% from a year ago, and costs are even higher here on Cape Ann.” 

Rev. Erickson, who brings hands-on experience in refugee resettlement to this effort, understands the support that must be mustered. “Funds are needed to cover housing costs, including rent, utilities, and furnishings, as well as for education, employment training, clothing, food, medical care, transportation, and legal fees for family reunification.”

Any and all who can help this effort in any way are urged to attend this meeting, where fundraising, volunteer solicitation, and resource identification will be discussed. Masks and social distancing are required at this in-person gathering, which can also be live-streamed either at “Rockport UCC” on Facebook or at the “Old Sloop” YouTube channel.

“These families and their children deserve the same opportunities for success our communities offer to our kids and grandchildren,” said former Mayor Tobey. “This is our chance to be there now for those who stood with us as our allies. As they struggle to rebuild their lives, please join us in this effort.”Those who wish to donate immediately to the on-going “Allies of our Afghan Allies” GoFundMe campaign may do so either by visiting or by mailing a check, with the notation “Refugee Resettlement” in the memo line, to the West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church, 488 Essex Ave., Gloucester, MA 01930. 

34th Annual Love Cape Ann Fundraising Auction

Bid From Anywhere!

This year’s 34th Annual Love Cape Ann Fundraising Auction kicks off on Wednesday, November 10th at 5:00pm. Didn’t buy a ticket? That’s okay! Online bidding lets you bid on auction items from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Bid at an event or from any location with internet access, however only guests present at the event will enjoy the Live Auction. You can create your account to get started bidding by following the instructions below.

Early Bidding Instructions:

1.      Click hereand then click the “Get Started” button to register.
2.      Create a (NEW) Account using a computer or smartphone (this must be different than your Chamber account).

  • Shipping address
  • Credit card number
  • Your cell phone number (You can receive text alerts for the items you bid on)

 3.Verify your email address.(You will receive an email from Greater Giving and you need to click the link in your email to finish your registration) 4.Once you are logged in, Browse Packages using the menu

  • Use the ≡ to open the menu for Bids, Favorites, and Categories
  • Under Categories, you can filter (i.e. Art, Dining, Recreation/Travel etc.)
  • Favorites – Use the star ☆ to save Packages for later viewing.
  • Bids – See Packages that you have bid on already.
  • Act Now – Sort Packages quickly by No Bids, Currently Open, and more.
  • Use the magnifying glass 🔍or scroll down to search for Packages.

5.      Tap a Package to Start Bidding

  • Bid: Place a single bid at the next increment.
  • Bid More: Place a Max Bid, the system will bid in your favor until you are outbid or the auction closes.
  • Buy Now: Purchase the Package immediately.

Most importantly, have FUN!

Public Invited: Sawyer Free Library Annual Meeting on Wed, 11/10 at 6pm

The Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library Corporation will be hosting its Annual Meeting on Wednesday evening, November 10, at the Sawyer Free Library from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. The Corporator’s sign-in begins at 6:00 pm.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend this informative evening, although only Corporators can vote. Masks are required, and for those interested in participating remotely, a zoom link is also available. For more information click HERE

The Sawyer Free Library’s Annual Meeting will be from 6:30–8:00 pm on the main floor of the Sawyer Free Library located at 2 Dale Avenue in Gloucester. For more information visit

Backyard Growers seeking full-time Development Director

Backyard Growers is a grassroots community-based organization in Gloucester, MA, with a mission to build healthier, more connected, sustainable communities by teaching people to grow their own food.

We are seeking a full-time Development Director to lead all fundraising activities at our small but mighty organization. This is an essential role on the leadership team that will enable us to maximize our impact in the community and achieve our mission.

Overall responsibilities include:

  • Developing and executing our annual fundraising plan with the goal of raising $450K+ annually, and with a focus on building our major donor base 
  • Communicating fundraising goals throughout the organization and equip staff, board, and committee members to reach them
  • Generating new ideas that increase revenue and donor loyalty
  • With Program Director, co-managing the Communications & Outreach Manager to advance development goals through external communication

Learn more here.


The Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library Corporation will be hosting its Annual Meeting on Wednesday evening, November 10, at the Sawyer Free Library from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. The Corporator’s sign-in begins at 6:00 pm.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend this informative evening, although only Corporators can vote.

Masks are required, and for those interested in participating remotely, a zoom link is also available. 

The meeting will start at 6:30 pm with welcoming remarks by the President of the Board of Trustees, Mern Sibley, and the Mayor of Gloucester Sefatia Romeo Theken, followed by Library Director Jenny Benedict reporting on the current state of the Sawyer Free Library. 

Since the 2019 Annual General Meeting, plans for the 2025 Sawyer Free Library and Saunders House have been further developed. Principal architect Matt Oudens of Oudens Ello Architecture will be presenting at this meeting the latest designs for revitalizing and reimagining the buildings through a renovation of the existing building and a 15,000 sq. ft. addition. 

In addition the Mary M. Weissblum Volunteer Award is given each year in honor of one of the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library‘s (SFL) outstanding volunteers. This year, the prestigious award will be presented in memoriam to Sharon Pablo for her two decades of service to the Library. She served on the Board of Directors in several capacities and then continued to be actively involved with the Library. 

The Sawyer Free Library’s Annual Meeting will be from 6:30–8:00 pm on the main floor of the Sawyer Free Library located at 2 Dale Avenue in Gloucester. For more information and the Zoom link, please visit

Panel Discussion with All Five 2021 Agatha Award Nominees for Best First Novel on 11/3 at 7pm

Virtual Presentation: This Wednesday, November 3,  7:00 PM – 8:15 PM 

Meet the country’s best new mystery writers in this all-star panel discussion featuring all five nominees for this year’s Agatha Award for Best First Novel — Esme Addison (A Spell For Trouble); Tina deBellegarde (Winter Witness); Mary Keliikoa (Derailed); Erica Ruth Neubauer (Murder At The Mena House); and Laura Jensen Walker (Murder Most Sweet).  Bestselling, award-winning author Catriona McPherson will serve as moderator.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Tewksbury Library. Presented by Sawyer Free Library in collaboration with a number of Massachusetts libraries.


For more information go to or call 978-325-5500

Virtual Event with 2021 Agatha Award Nominees

The Open Door Honors Outstanding Volunteers, Local Groups At Virtual Event 

No Eggs Benefit Serves as Alternative to Autumn Breakfast 

Pat, left, and Tom Cronin, of Gloucester, are The Open Door Unsung Heroes of 2021. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door) 

GLOUCESTER — As the pandemic wore on this year and local people continue to face hunger insecurity day after day, an army of volunteers and community organizations have played a key role in keeping their neighbors fed. 

The Open Door 2021 Community Award Winners, announced at the nonprofit’s virtual No Eggs Benefit event, have made a profound difference in hunger relief amid the evolving pandemic and as programs of the nonprofit have continued to adapt to meet the hunger needs of the community today. Hundreds of dedicated volunteers and organizations help The Open Door deliver on its mission, and the following awards recognize only a few each year.

“This year, our award-winning community partners and local heroes demonstrate what can happen when people really care about their neighbors and have the compassion and grit to get things done,” The Open Door President and CEO Julie LaFontaine said. “As we strive to get a foothold on the pandemic, these individuals have been instrumental in consistently providing good, healthy food to our community. We are deeply thankful to each of them and are pleased to honor their contributions to our mission.” 

The 2021 Community Award Winners are as follows: 

  • Helen Muise Community Service Award Winners: Mari Bergeron, of Gloucester; Jessica Lanier, of Rockport; Rosemary Gibbons, of Gloucester; and Lisa Alcock, of Gloucester.  
  • Mari Bergeron: Bergeron is the Senior Director of International Content Licensing at EBSCO Information Services, volunteered pre-pandemic and returned in full-force when COVID-19 hit. Packing groceries in The Open Door Fulfillment Center and delivering groceries, she has demonstrated herself to be a natural leader with a profound drive to help keep people fed.  
  • Jessica Lanier: Retired from a career in the film industry and as an Art History Professor, Lanier started volunteering in February. A regular, hardworking volunteer in the Fulfillment Center, she consistently goes above and beyond, often taking on extra hours to get the job done and get groceries packaged for pickup and delivery on-time.  

“I think to give your time is the most valuable thing because nobody has enough time,” Lanier said. “I leave here feeling like I did something meaningful. I just love it here. I’m going to volunteer forever.” 

  • Rosemary Gibbons: Gibbons has volunteered with The Open Door for about six years, most recently in the Fulfillment Center. She says her parents instilled the value of giving back early on in her life, and she is known for her acute attention to detail and the care she brings to each shift. 
  • Lisa Alcock: Alcock has been volunteering at Second Glance since 2015. A retired High School English teacher, this summer she found herself tapping into her skills as an educator to support a F1rstJobs grant recipient, a recent high school graduate with autism spectrum disorder who spent about 15 hours a week at Second Glance. Staff at Second Glance nominated her for the award in honor of the sincere thought and consideration she put into her mentorship role. 
  • Charlotte Pope Service Award: Kent Knight. Knight, of Gloucester, became a volunteer shortly after his wife, Lisa Soli, passed away from ALS at the age of 58 in May 2020. He knew there was a need for food assistance as a result of the pandemic, and started delivering groceries. He is known as a dedicated volunteer, who is always happy to lend an extra hand and step up when help is needed. 
  • Unsung Heroes: Pat and Tom Cronin. Pat Cronin, of Gloucester, volunteered pre-pandemic, and she and her husband, Tom Cronin, of Gloucester, signed up to deliver groceries as a driver and delivery person duo when COVID-19 hit. She continues to volunteer regularly. In September 2020, Tom Cronin got even more involved and over the course of ten months put in countless hours to help The Open Door research and implement SmartChoice ™ at The Open Door, which launched this June. The new online ordering system connects clients today to more food choices than ever before to expand both access and equity. The Cronins have made a significant difference in connecting local people to good, healthy food, not only in 2021 but for years to come.  
  • Sustainability Partner of the Year: Rockport Mortgage Corporation. Rockport Mortgage Corporation was nominated for this award because of their expanding role in supporting local hunger relief efforts. A long-time supporter of The Open Door, Rockport Mortgage Corporation kicked it up a notch during the pandemic to sponsor fresh fish from local business Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester. Now, every other week, our Friday Fish Community Meals is a standout favorite among clients.  
  • Outstanding Community Partner: Institution for Savings. Institution for Savings was nominated for this award for their steadfast desire to alleviate hunger in the communities they serve and the extraordinary steps they have taken to make a meaningful impact, keeping people fed with good, healthy food. Institution for Savings has had a long and hands-on role in supporting the mission of The Open Door. Along with ongoing financial support from programs to capital campaigns, pre-pandemic, Institution for Savings staff regularly participated in corporate engagement at The Open Door, from preparing Community Meals to participating in annual bowl paintings for the Empty Bowl Dinner, and holding food drive collections at their local offices. 

For more information about The Open Door 2021 Award Winners and their impact on local hunger relief, visit 

About the Virtual No Eggs Benefit Event 

Pre-pandemic, annual volunteer award winners were honored at The Open Door Autumn Breakfast. The Open Door is not holding the in-person event this year due to the ongoing, evolving pandemic. However, The Open Door is honoring its awardees and their stories through its virtual alternative: the No Eggs Benefit! Along with the volunteer stories, local sponsors have contributed $25,000 to match every donation dollar-for-dollar. To donate to help local families stay hunger-free this holiday season and beyond, or learn more about the No Eggs Benefit, visit  

Donations are being matched by sponsors of The Open Door including the Institution for Savings, John Rando, Tom and Kristin Zarrella, Joset Corporation, Cape Ann Lobstermen, Pratty’s C.A.V., Building Center, Cape Ann Savings Bank, The Pratt Team, Bob and Carolyn Stewart, and CSL. 

About The Open Door  

The mission of The Open Door is to alleviate the impact of hunger in our community. We use practical strategies to connect people to good food, to advocate on behalf of those in need, and to engage others in the work of building food security. 

Founded in 1978, The Open Door is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit and community food resource center for low-income residents of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton, Boxford, Rowley, Topsfield, and Wenham. In 2020, The Open Door helped stabilize the lives and health of 9,681 unduplicated people from 4,703 households through the distribution of 2.46 million pounds of food, amounting to 2.05 million meals. Requests for food assistance during this pandemic year were up 27 percent. 

For more information, visit


Mari Bergeron, of Gloucester, is a 2021 Helen Muise Community Service Award recipient. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door) 
Jessica Lanier, of Rockport, is a 2021 Helen Muise Community Service Award recipient. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door) 
Rosemary Gibbons, of Gloucester, is a 2021 Helen Muise Community Service Award recipient. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door) 
Lisa Alcock, of Gloucester, is a 2021 Helen Muise Community Service Award recipient. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door) 
Kent Knight, of Gloucester, is the 2021 Charlotte Pope Service Award recipient. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door) 
The team at Rockport Mortgage Corporation. Rockport Mortgage Corporation is The Open Door 2021 Sustainability Partner of the Year. 
Institution for Savings President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Jones. Institution for Savings is The Open Door 2021 Outstanding Community Partner. (Photo Courtesy of The Open Door)