The posts on this page are from a variety of Salem blogs and the views expressed are those of the individual blog author.

June 12th, 2013

Morelli Family Launches Foundation to Support Transplant Patients

Stacey and John Morelli at their home in Braintree with their dog Milo. They also have three sons – Griffin, Tyler and Joshua.

Last March, John Morelli underwent double transplant surgery, receiving a heart and liver during an 18-hour procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Preparing for the surgery and then recovering – re-learning to eat, stand, walk and even write again – meant weeks in the hospital. It meant that his wife Stacey and sons Griffin, Tyler and Joshua spent many hours and days away from their home in East Braintree, and when they were home, everyday routines like baseball practice and making dinner became a challenge. 

Fortunately, support from the community poured in. A group created Friends of John Morelli that held a fundraiser prior to his surgery, and others prepared meals, created a schedule to give rides to practices and games for the Morelli boys and purchased vouchers for the family to use when visiting the hospital.

Those efforts, and the experience meeting other patients’ families who did not have the same kind of support system, prompted John and Stacey to create the Transplant Foundation of New England.

They launched the organization last month and have started helping their first transplant candidate, a local man named Francis Buckley who has been awaiting his second heart transplant since September at Mass General.

With the assistance of a team that includes Morelli’s cardiologist, several business associates and friends, the foundation’s aim is to offer support, financial and otherwise, to members of the transplant community. This ranges from giving families gift cards to restaurants and grocery stores, to helping offset medical bills and providing transportation and childcare.

Morelli, who has a management background, including a stint at The Red Cross Blood Service of New England, created a detailed plan for the foundation, including guidelines on how it will operate and a lengthy list of responsibilities for the board of directors.

The vision, as outlined by Morelli on the organization’s website, is to keep operating costs at or below 25 percent. He projects first-year funding to hit $500,000, increasing to $1 million in year two and $2 million by year five.

The foundation, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, will partner with corporations, seek grants and vendors, and also look for individual and group donations.

Anyone looking to contribute can do so at http://transplantfoundationofnewengland.org/donation.html.

June 7th, 2013

Feeling a Bit Down? Seven Things to Help Inspire You

What's Your Mountain, Boston?

Is daily life really so tough? Well, yes, it can be.

Here, though, is to keeping things in perspective. For more than a month now, Patch and Grape-Nuts have teamed up to present stories about your neighbors – neighbors who have faced challenges that would seem insurmountable to many of us. 

But not to the people we’ve featured in this series, Journeys.

Not surprisingly, the stories have generated dozens of comments on Patch and on Facebook: “Great story…” “Thanks for sharing…” “So wonderfully inspiring…” 

And, so, here they are again. Great stories shared to inspire. Take a look at what these people have faced. Then click on the story to see their responses. And, feel better about things.

Local Woman Helps Run Girls Soccer Club in Haiti

For Taryn Silver, what began as a 10-day trip to Haiti in 2011 turned into a new home and close to 50 new friends.

A former Sharon resident, Silver helps run the Association Sportives des Jeunes Filles de Fond des Blancs (The Sports Association of Young Women of Fond des Blancs), a girls soccer club in the rural town of Fond-des-Blancs, about 70 miles west of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

The club offers an opportunity that Haitian women rarely get due to lack of funding, time and also due to the cultural roles Haitian men and women often play. 

___

Cleanup Organizer Sees a Future of Smaller Footprints

Pat Conaway is “kind of a nut” about the environment, and when he retired from teaching in 2008, it didn’t take long for him to find a number of productive ways to spend his time. He now sees hope in the young people who help him clean trails, waterways and roadways.

“I wanted to get people fired up about the environment, to try to encourage citizens to get involved locally,” he said.

___

Home Sales for the Love of Rescued Animals

Three years ago while on the Internet, Weston real estate agent Leslie Mann read a story on the Internet that horrified her: A female pit bull-type dog named Turtle had been abandoned in a wooded area in the middle of winter. 

Badly injured, Turtle showed signs of being a bait dog, one used to test the fighting instinct of a potential fight dog.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston stepped in to help, and nursed Turtle back to health through six months of treatment at Tufts Veterinary Hospital in Walpole. The story was enough to inspire Mann to raise about $6,000 for Turtle’s treatment.

And even though Turtle is now on the mend, Mann and her husband, both agents with Gibson Sotheby’s Realty in Weston, are donating $1,000 to the ARL from every home sale they make in the area.

___

Death of Abandoned Dog Spurs Legislation Effort

One resident’s efforts to find justice for a lab that died after being abandoned in a foreclosed property resulted with the filing of a bill to protect animals in similar situations.

“This is the bill that I want,” said Lyn Gorka, a local real estate agent and animal rights advocate, who had spoken out for such a bill after being moved by the story of the 2-year-old Phantom that died after being abandoned in a foreclosed apartment. “I have been praying for this bill for two years and I am very, very happy. I want this law passed. I don’t want this to happen to any other dogs.”

___

Months After Heart Transplant, Woman Seeks To Give Back

It’s not every day that a person gets to experience both sides of being an organ donor. 

But that’s exactly what happened to Jane Tecce. After her son’s death at the age of 24, his organs were donated. And now, Tecce is recovering from a heart transplant she received nearly two years ago, when she also received a kidney transplant. 

“My kids are starting to have kids now,” Tecce said. “I’m being a grammy. I can’t imagine not being here.”

___

Cancer Survivor Rides for Charity

In a 2001 motor vehicle crash, Gina Utegg sustained a serious brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and had to relearn many life skills that most people take for granted.

Then, in 2009, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. 

Now, Utegg has opened up about the obstacles she’s faced and what inspired her to overcome them.

___

Tell Us: What’s the Biggest Challenge You’ve Ever Faced?

But what about your biggest challenges? 

In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic scaling of Mount Everest, Patch wants to know from readers across the country: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to overcome? 

June 4th, 2013

Turning Tragedy Into Motivation To Make a Difference

2012 MM Journey recipient, Elaine, enjoying a surprise visit from Wally The Green Monster!

It’s the news nobody wants to hear. The realization that one you hold so dear is facing the end of their days.

Life-threatening illnesses have a huge impact on those afflicted and the loved ones around them. Caleb Ginsberg of Amherst, New Hampshire experienced this for himself five years ago when, not just one, but three of those closest to him were diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer in the same week.

His grandmother. His aunt. A good friend who he considered family. All of them facing the reality that their lives will be cut short.

The overwhelming feelings of sadness and fear could have broken Ginsberg and his family, but something much different happened. A realization that these final moments were not to be a downward fall into despair, but a forward journey to be cherished.

In 2008, Ginsberg and his family came together to help other families come to the same realization with the founding of the Motivating Miles Foundation.

Beginning Their “Journeys”

Ginsberg and his mother Sarah Ramsey started Motivating Miles to focus on an aspect of illness that is often ignored during traditional medical care: the mental and emotional well-being of the patient and family.

“This really changes everyones’ world and we wanted to figure out something we can do to create positive experiences and help in this process of acceptance,” said Ginsberg. “It is such a ripple effect that turns everyones’ world upside down.”

The inspiration came from a 60 Minutes special on  “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, where a professor facing terminal illness explained that facing death is a time to truly live.

With this in mind the focus of their foundation had become clear. First to provide a series of positive, uplifting experiences to the patients and loved ones so they can truly live in the moment. Then document the experience so the family can cherish these one-of-a-kind memories.

Motivating Miles has so far guided sixteen families on “Journeys” that capture the legacies of their lives in ways as unique as the people themselves. The foundation covers all bases for anything  that brings a family together for a positive experience.

A family in Maine had two sons with Huntington’s Disease, a terrible neurological disease that cripples the body, and wanted them to spend their last years with family. There was no room in the house, so Motivating Miles raised money to have the basement renovated to bring this family together.

A young girl in Milford was able to take a road trip to Utah with her family to spend time with her grandparents before she passed away. Motivating Miles paid for the RV rental, provided toys and games for the trip and helped with other expenses.

Read more Motivating Miles Journeys

Moving Forward

Dream trips, week-long cruises and other amazing efforts are supported by Motivating Miles and the many donors and volunteers who help make them possible.

So much positive and loving energy born of a period of tragedy overcome through strength.

His grandmother is still with him, but Ginsberg’s aunt and friend have since passed away from their disease. Yet he moves forward (literally) to continue the efforts of Motivating Miles through fundraising.

He and other volunteers have covered over 2,000 miles through marathons and other athletic challenges to raise money for these wonderful Journeys. This is on top of other fundraising efforts through events and online donations.

Ginsberg said he feels fortunate to have so many volunteers dedicate time and money in this grassroots effort to bring joy to the lives of others. The foundation has taken off to a place that not even he expected.

And the journey is also personal. Each family he reaches out to has given him a renewed outlook on  life.

“Death is an important to talk about, but not many people are comfortable addressing it. I have developed the ability to talk to other families about it, and have been amazed at how relieved the family members are to have somebody come in and not hide from it. Families are used to it being the elephant in the room.”

He is happy to see families lifted from “doom and gloom” and transition into a feeling of positivity. They see that they don’t have to run from the disease, and this lesson has not been lost on Ginsberg.

“We are going to help, we are here and we are not going to run away,” he said. “That was something i couldn’t say five years ago because I would have been the person running in the other direction.”

Jump In

Stories are shared on the Motivating Miles website and Facebook page during the start of each Journey. Based on the description of their current Journeys, you may know someone who might be able to give a hand and enhance the experience for the families.

Donations are always accepted and can be made through their website.

Motivating Miles is a collaborative effort of volunteers who help organize, fundraise and find resources to craft each journey. Anyone looking to join is encouraged to contact the foundation to explore volunteer opportunities.

The Journey Review Committee includes Ashley Blake, Emily Ginsberg, Annie Elliott, Elizabeth Waldron, Kristine Kennedy, Marc Smith Lucienne Foulks, Andrea Crocker and Colin Desnoyers. Notable fundraisers include Tiffany and Adam Jacobs.

For more information please contact  Caleb Ginsberg at cginsberg@motivatingmiles.org(603.721.9764) or Sarah Ramsay sramsay@motivatingmiles.org (603.721.9767)

May 29th, 2013

Over the Hump: 6 Items to Help You Through Wednesday

What's Your Mountain, Boston?

 

Are Wednesdays really so tough?

Well, yes, they can be.

Here, though, is to keeping things in perspective. For more than a month now, Patch and Grape-Nuts have teamed up to present stories about your neighbors – neighbors who have faced challenges that would seem insurmountable to many of us. 

But not to the people we’ve featured in this series, Journeys.

Not surprisingly, the stories have generated dozens of comments on Patch and on Facebook: “Great story…” “Thanks for sharing…” “So wonderfully inspiring…”

And, so, here they are again. Great stories shared to inspire. Take a look at what these people have faced. Then click on the story to see their responses. And feel better about your tough Wednesday. 

Local Woman Helps Run Girls Soccer Club in Haiti

For Taryn Silver, what began as a 10-day trip to Haiti in 2011 turned into a new home and close to 50 new friends.

A former Sharon resident, Silver helps run the Association Sportives des Jeunes Filles de Fond des Blancs (The Sports Association of Young Women of Fond des Blancs), a girls soccer club in the rural town of Fond-des-Blancs, about 70 miles west of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

The club offers an opportunity that Haitian women rarely get due to lack of funding, time and also due to the cultural roles Haitian men and women often play. 

___

Cleanup Organizer Sees a Future of Smaller Footprints

Pat Conaway is “kind of a nut” about the environment, and when he retired from teaching in 2008, it didn’t take long for him to find a number of productive ways to spend his time. He now sees hope in the young people who help him clean trails, waterways and roadways.

“I wanted to get people fired up about the environment, to try to encourage citizens to get involved locally,” he said.

___

Home Sales for the Love of Rescued Animals

Three years ago while on the Internet, Weston real estate agent Leslie Mann read a story on the Internet that horrified her: A female pit bull-type dog named Turtle had been abandoned in a wooded area in the middle of winter. 

Badly injured, Turtle showed signs of being a bait dog, one used to test the fighting instinct of a potential fight dog.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston stepped in to help, and nursed Turtle back to health through six months of treatment at Tufts Veterinary Hospital in Walpole. The story was enough to inspire Mann to raise about $6,000 for Turtle’s treatment.

And even though Turtle is now on the mend, Mann and her husband, both agents with Gibson Sotheby’s Realty in Weston, are donating $1,000 to the ARL from every home sale they make in the area.

___

Death of Abandoned Dog Spurs Legislation Effort

One resident’s efforts to find justice for a lab that died after being abandoned in a foreclosed property resulted with the filing of a bill to protect animals in similar situations.

“This is the bill that I want,” said Lyn Gorka, a local real estate agent and animal rights advocate, who had spoken out for such a bill after being moved by the story of the 2-year-old Phantom that died after being abandoned in a foreclosed apartment. “I have been praying for this bill for two years and I am very, very happy. I want this law passed. I don’t want this to happen to any other dogs.”

___

Months After Heart Transplant, Woman Seeks To Give Back

It’s not every day that a person gets to experience both sides of being an organ donor. 

But that’s exactly what happened to Jane Tecce. After her son’s death at the age of 24, his organs were donated. And now, Tecce is recovering from a heart transplant she received nearly two years ago, when she also received a kidney transplant. 

“My kids are starting to have kids now,” Tecce said. “I’m being a grammy. I can’t imagine not being here.”

___

Cancer Survivor Rides for Charity

In a 2001 motor vehicle crash, Gina Utegg sustained a serious brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and had to relearn many life skills that most people take for granted.

Then, in 2009, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. 

Now, Utegg has opened up about the obstacles she’s faced and what inspired her to overcome them.

___

Tell Us: What’s the Biggest Challenge You’ve Ever Faced?

But what about your biggest challenges? 

In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic scaling of Mount Everest, Patch wants to know from readers across the country: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to overcome? 

May 28th, 2013

Local Woman Helps Run Girls Soccer Club in Haiti

Taryn Silver (left) and Molly Klarman (right).

 

What began as a 10-day trip to Haiti in 2011 for Taryn Silver turned into a new home and about 50 new friends.   

Silver, a former Sharon resident, helps run the Association Sportives des Jeunes Filles de Fond des Blancs (The Sports Association of Young Women of Fond des Blancs), a girls soccer club in the rural town of Fond-des-Blancs, about 70 miles west of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Silver moved to Haiti in 2012 to work for the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation in Fond-des-Blancs.

It was there where she met Andover native Molly Klarman who had started the club last year.

“On the streets and fields in Haiti you almost always see only boys playing soccer. This club offers the girls of Fond-des-Blancs a chance to play soccer, exercise, and have fun,” Silver said in an email to Sharon Patch.

“We have 53 girls on our roster. The ages range from 13-22 with a few girls who are older (24, 26, 28). All of our girls are in school and live within a 35-minute walk to the practice field,” she said.

The club offers an opportunity that Haitian women rarely get due to lack of funding, time and also due to the cultural roles Haitian men and women often play, Silver said.

“Most girls that go to school have tons of chores they are responsible for doing after school. Including getting water, cooking food for the family, doing laundry and taking care of younger siblings,” she said.

“I think it has mainly been for boys because of the gender roles in Haitian culture. We hope this club will help to shift those in the community and offer the girls a chance to be in the spotlight,” said Silver.

When it first began the club had 20 girls. This year the roster has more than doubled in size.

“Molly and I visited the schools in the community [in January] to invite new girls who might be interested. We thought we might have 25 girls interested, but now we have over 50 and girls keep showing interest,” said Silver.

Silver said the club has been a success because it is fun for the women and it gives them confidence.

Some of the girls shared why they like soccer and what the club means to them.

The following are statements from some of the girls in the club that have been translated from Creole into English:

Marie Danise Azor – 16 years old

“I want to play soccer, because I love it so much. It is something important and that’s reason I want to play soccer. For me it mean the biggest thing as a young woman in Fond des Blancs and I would like to be a player, I would like if we find sponsors, and we can find a lot of support. Thank you!!!!”

Rachel Polica – 18 years old

“Hi! I want to say why I like soccer:

Soccer is my favorite sport and it the only one that I like. I play it and I watch it, but I don’t have enough opportunity for that. I give it my time anyways because I love it so much, and it open my mind and I learn better. It makes me not get sick very often, for all that I love soccer so so much.”

Dialanne Guerlande – 17 years old

“I’m Dialanne I can tell you I started to play soccer when I was 7 years old and I love it so much. I feel proud, sometimes when I’m playing some people want to discourage me, but that never works especially my parents, but that never works. I want to say some things. I’m in the club and I don’t get anything, I’m proud of myself. I am smart, and for me what I want to do for the club and I want to thank Taryn and Molly because they make us popular, I want them to encourage me more. I don’t ask anything. I want the club to go far and I would like to visit some other towns in Haiti.

The important thing for me is I love soccer for life I love it, I love it, I love it, but please encourage me more that I can come for the club, and I want us to be more popular.

Thank you so much for your help.”

Sarafina Joseph – 15 years old

“I love soccer because it is interesting for me to play. It is a good sport and I really like to play soccer. I would like to be a good player in soccer and I love it. I want the soccer team to be a reality and the other young women that is interesting I advise them to come play soccer with us. Thank you so much.”

Nicole Pierre – 20 years old

“I like to play soccer because it a nice game. It helps me to be healthy and have resistance especially when I’m running, my health is normal I don’t get sick often.

I had some experiences in the women’s soccer last year is I played in some games in Port au Prince, Fond des Blancs, and I played in my school too. I play defense.

Now, I feel I have more encouragement and more strength to continue to play soccer because I found a club to play, and that’s why I ask God to always to give the soccer club’s leaders opportunity, and protect all the girls in the club. We can progress. I would like that we can play with clubs from other countries, and we will have more experience. I love soccer.”

Rosena Bernadel – 15 years old

“I love to play soccer because I love it so much it really interesting me play and it a good sport, I want to be a good soccer player.

Thank you so much.”

Judette Fils-Aime – 18 years old

“I love soccer because it really interesting for me to play, and it is a good sport. I really like to play it, and I would like to be a good soccer player. I want the club to be a reality and other young woman should come to play soccer. I am really thankful to the people who created the club. They left to come in Haiti and interest us to play soccer and become good players and please encourage us more that we can keep going. Ok thank you.”

Currently, Silver and Klarman are asking for donations to the club to help provide the girls with things like snacks, water, uniforms, cleats, transportation, linesmen, referees and a small stipend for the three coaches.

So far, they have raised over $4,000 are are hoping to reach their goal of $6,000 soon.

“Donations have been coming from family and friends and their networks,” Silver said.

“The money is being used to provide the girls with water for practice and a small snack,” she said. “We think this is important as the girls are expending a lot of energy during practice and often do not have the opportunity to have more food in their households.”

To make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/1zy0ro.

“I think this club is a good thing for the girls as it allows them a safe, comfortable space for them to learn to play soccer, to exercise, and to have fun,” Silver said.

“I think it is important for the girls to have an activity that is only for girls and where they are free to act carefree and have fun like girls their age should,” she said.

May 21st, 2013

Cleanup Organizer Sees a Future of Smaller Footprints

Cleaning up the Coolidge Hill Summit.

 

Pat Conaway admits he is “kind of a nut” about the environment, so when he retired from teaching in 2008, it didn’t take long for him to find a number of productive ways to spend his time. 

“I wanted to get people fired up about the environment, to try to encourage citizens to get involved locally,” said Conaway, founder of Big Hearts, Little Feet. 

A nearly constant presence on area roadways, trails and waterways, Conaway can be found leading groups of volunteers, including many students, to pick up trash, improve trails and remove invasive species.

From beer cans to soda and coffee cups, trash tossed by the roadside washes into local rivers and, if left alone, eventually finds its way to the ocean, where scientists have found plastic particles outnumber zooplankton that sustain fish and other species.

But Conaway believes the real source of the trash is a societal disconnect. 

“My personal philosophy is that this all has a lot more to do with our relationships. We have disconnected ourselves from each other and other creatures that we share this planet with. We are all encased in our own little bubbles and forgot how we can impact each other and the earth. We need to work on repairing those relationships.”

At 67, Conaway thinks up-and-coming generations are being raised to be more mindful of their connections to the world around them.

“I think it’s starting to change a bit,” he said. “I am very hopeful that the universe is starting to bend a bit.”

For those who want to help, Conaway has several ways to get involved.

His Trail Buddies group meets two mornings a week to do improvements on open space properties–they are also in the process of planting 100 red Oak seedlings. His Recycling Buddies program needs volunteers who can empty the recycling bins he has placed alongside public trash receptacles in Natick.

And through Big Hearts, Little Feet, Conaway frequently organizes groups that remove trash from trails and waterways, something you can watch here. For instance, local business MathWorks Inc. annually sends Conaway dozens of employees to help clean trash from Fiske Pond. 

Conaway can be reached at bpconaway@gmail.com, or through Big Hearts Little Feet at the Lake Cochituate Watershed Council Website

“There are a lot of big global environmental causes out there. What I try to do is get people to start looking at their own backyard and community first. Once you create that awareness, that’s when things start to change.”

May 14th, 2013

Home Sales for the Love of Rescued Animals

Turtle the night she was found in December 2009.

Three years ago Weston real estate agent Leslie Mann read a story on the Internet that horrified her.

What she read was the story of Turtle, a female pit bull-type dog who had been abandoned in a wooded area of Hyde Park in the middle of winter. She was badly injured and barely clinging to life — showing all the signs of a bait dog, one used to test the fighting instinct of a potential fight dog.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston stepped in to help Turtle — she was found near Turtle Pond Parkway — nursing her back to health through six months of treatment at Tufts Veterinary Hospital in Walpole.

“I was just horrified by [the story] and said, ‘We have to do something for her,'” Mann said. At the time, she held a Spin class fundraiser and sold T-shirts, efforts that brought in about $6,000 for Turtle’s treatment.

Today, Turtle is happy, healthy and living blissfully with her adopted family, all facts that make Mann smile.

“I think it’s just something about how sweet she is after everything she’s been through, it just caught people’s attention,” Mann said of her affection for Turtle. “It certainly caught my attention.”

But Mann’s appreciation for the work of the Animal Rescue League continues even now.

“They just are so amazing,” Mann said. “Turtle is alive today because … people raced out in the middle of the night and got her help. They go and rescue animals nobody else would rescue.”

Even though Turtle doesn’t need her help anymore, Mann and her husband, Kyle, both agents with Gibson Sotheby’s Realty in Weston, want to continue supporting the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

For the remainder of the year, they will donate $1,000 to the league from every home sale they make, in Weston and beyond.

“They’re just such an amazing place,” Mann said. “They don’t just put the animals in the shelter and hope somebody comes and adopts them. They do a lot to help them get adopted.

“I’m really excited about the organization.”

More information on the Manns’ efforts is available here.

May 7th, 2013

Death of Abandoned Dog Spurs Legislation Effort

Phantom, the dog found dead in a foreclosed Hudson home, was a 2-year-old purebred Lab.

A resident’s efforts to find justice for a lab that died after being abandoned in a foreclosed property have culminated with the filing of a bill to protect animals in similar situations.

“This is the bill that I want. I have been praying for this bill for two years and I am very, very happy … I want this law passed. I don’t want this to happen to any other dogs,” said Lyn Gorka, a local real estate agent and animal rights advocate, who had spoken out for such a bill after being moved by the story of the 2 year-old Phantom that died after being abandoned in a foreclosed apartment.

Gorka said abandoned animals in foreclosed properties is ongoing and being reported by other brokers throughout the region.

“I want this to be called Phantom’s Bill,” she said. “I’ve been working on it for almost two years and I haven’t given up … with this bill in place, more animals will be saved.”

The bill that would provide protections for abandoned animals in foreclosed and abandoned properties in Massachusetts was filed Wednesday night.

The bill, filed by State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), is titled An Act protecting abandoned animals in vacant properties (SD.618). It specifies that abandoned or foreclosed properties must be inspected for abandoned animals by the landlords or foreclosing owners within five days of properties being vacated.

‘I filed [the bill], to help provide protection and prevent further harm to abandoned animals in properties that have been foreclosed or vacated,” said Sen. Eldridge who worked with the MSPCA on the bill.

If any abandoned animals are found, the the landlord or foreclosing owner would be required to notify an animal control officer. The bill does not make the landlord or foreclosing owner further responsible for the animal.

Phantom’s owner was never charged. Hudson police said that there was a miscommunication and not enough evidence to prosecute, said Gorka.

“I’d like to see that case reopened,” she said.

She has petitioned the Hudson Police and the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office to open the investigation again. She started an online petition to collect signatures in an attempt to sway the police department and district attorney. She is still collecting signatures here.

May 1st, 2013

Months After Heart Transplant, Woman Seeks To Give Back

Jane Tecce

Jane Tecce has the unique perspective of having experienced both sides of being an organ donor.

Years ago after her son’s death at the age of 24, his organs were donated so that others could have a new chance at life. Now, Tecce herself is still recovering from a heart transplant that she received some 16 months ago. She also received a kidney transplant at that time.

“My kids are starting to have kids now. I’m being a grammy. I can’t imagine not being here,” she said in a recent conversation with Patch.com. Tecce said that she was first diagnosed with heart disease about 12 years ago.

Tecce moved to Lynnfield two years ago and grew up in Wakefield, graduating from Wakefield Memorial High School. Her family owns Santoro’s in Peabody, she reported.

Her motivation to help spread the word about becoming an organ donor is not limited to just her own experiences. Tecce lost one brother, David, to heart disease when he was 51 and waiting for a heart transplant. A younger brother Jimmy, reportedly had a heart transplant in 2000 at Tufts and lived for eight years after that.

“I’ve been on both ends of it. That’s what I feel is important,” she said.

According to Tecce, organ donors and recipients actually interact somewhat routinely through email and letters if they wish to do so – although this typically won’t happen until a year or so after a transplant. In her own case, she met her donor’s family, who were from Rhode Island, on the one-year anniversary of the transplant, something she described as “very emotional.”

Those who receive an organ transplant will face an elevated risk of infection in the months after the procedure, and Tecce recalled having some setbacks in the early going. “In the last six months, I’ve done really, really well,” she said, adding that she also hopes to return to work while also potentially doing some speaking and information tables for the New England Organ Bank.

“I want to remember the people that gave me this chance,” said Tecce.

To learn more about becoming an organ donor, visit the New England Organ Bank’s DonateLifeNewEngland.org website here.

April 27th, 2013

Tell Us: What’s the Goal You Are Working on Right Now?

What's Your Mountain, Boston?

About this sponsorship: Patch has teamed up with Grape-Nuts cereal on this “What’s Your Mountain” campaign to find inspirational stories in our towns and celebrate folks who have affected positive change in their lives and communities.

A life without goals is like a journey without a destination.

In May 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary aimed high: the top of Mount Everest, Earth’s tallest mountain. Then he famously became one of the first climbers to reach the summit. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of Hillary’s epic goal achievement, Patch has partnered with Grape-Nuts’ “What’s Your Mountain” campaign, inspiring today’s adventurers to strive to reach their own goals.

Setting a goal is the first step towards achieving your ideal future. Want to look great at your high-school reunion next fall? Maybe your goal is to start a three-day-a-week exercise regimen, or to get back to your high school dress size. 

Whatever your big-picture vision, experts agree that having a clearly defined goal is necessary for lasting change: A goal gives you something to work for, and something to celebrate. 

So whether you are trying to get fit, vowing to read more or maybe spending less, we want to know about it! What summits are you trying to reach? 

Share your goals in the comments section below or upload a photo that shows us how you are getting there. 

April 16th, 2013

Cancer Survivor Rides for Charity

What's Your Mountain, Boston?

About this sponsorship: In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s historic ascent of Mount Everest, Patch and Grape-Nuts are teaming up to highlight those who inspire people around them to climb their own mountains.

Gina Utegg has experienced her share of challenges, but they seem to only make her stronger and more determined. In a 2001 motor vehicle crash, she sustained a serious brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and had to relearn many life skills that most people take for granted.

In 2009, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Here, Utegg openly talks about the obstacles she has faced and what inspired her to overcome them.

1. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve taken on?

The biggest challenge in my life is being a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. That may seem like a simple goal, but I am a survivor of multiple life-threatening events and it is not always easy to do things like I did before injury, disability and cancer. The important people in my life are my main focus and they keep me focused. Our family also believes in giving back, and we have hope for the future. As part of this challenge, we train and fundraise for charities that have been critical to helping the cancer and disability communities which I am a member of. I ride a recumbent bike (due to spinal cord injury) to raise money and awareness for many charities, such as World T.E.A.M. Sports, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Livestrong, the Pan Mass Challenge and more.

2. What inspired you to take on this challenge?

I sustained serious injuries in 2001, as I was a victim of a life-altering motor vehicle crash. This incident left me with injuries from head to toe and placed me into a new category called disabled. I was fortunate enough to relearn some key life skills (walking, talking, riding adaptive bikes and being). In 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Through these medical life tests, I became even more determined to advocate, be a spokesperson and role model, and try to help raise money and awareness for great charities that help so many people. My inspiration is and always has been my family and all the friends that I have met and/or lost on my own journey. I ride my recumbent with passion, purpose and with the thoughts and memories of so many with me. They inspire me to try my best.

3. Did you succeed?

To succeed in what I do, I am honest, true to myself and my beliefs, and put myself out there so people can understand what it is like to be a survivor. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else, and I make the best of what I have. I do not want people to feel sorry for me for being disabled or living with cancer. I would much rather just talk and demonstrate the positive aspects of life-altering experiences. In my travels and charity events, I meet so many inspirational and lovely people. That is a large part of how I stay motivated. The single most important reason for my success is I have a great husband and daughter (and family) who love me so much and who encourage me to want to live life to the fullest. We have been through a lot and I had to start my life over again. The bottom line is that I am alive and we will continue to navigate through adversity. That is success to us. Hopefully we can help other people through life’s challenges too.