Local Collaborative Effort Touches Homeless Communities in Greater Haverhill and Greater Newburyport

Local Collaborative Effort Touches Homeless Communities in Greater Haverhill and Greater Newburyport

I would like to take a moment and share with you a project that we are doing to help and support those who live outdoors. Today, folks may find themselves in situations, or struggles that are far out of their control. Things that can drastically change and affect their life – sometimes even leaving them living outdoors.

A volunteer group called Merrimack Valley Hope Mission provides bagged lunches to these folks on a weekly basis every Friday afternoon at a park in Haverhill Mass. On Friday August 31 we are looking to not just provide them with a bag lunch, but also some hygiene products.

Maintaining personal hygiene is extremely important for several reasons. Keeping a good standard of hygiene helps to prevent the development and spread of infections, illnesses and helps maintain a good level of mental and physical well-being. Hygiene products are one of the most sought after items by our friends who live outdoors.

I’m reaching out to you today to see if you would consider sponsoring a hygiene kit for either a man or woman. We have organized a gift list on Amazon that have kits for less then $15 and the location for which the kits need to be shipped to is already set. Your support is appreciated by many and will make a huge difference in the life of an individual who lives outdoors.

Thank you for your time and consideration!!

Amazon Link to sponsor Hygiene Bags :


Yankee Homecoming Veterans Luncheon 2018

Yankee Homecoming Veterans Luncheon 2018


The 2018 Yankee Homecoming Committee is excited to announce the Annual Yankee Homecoming Veteran Luncheon. This luncheon aims to bring our Veterans and their guests together to make new friends, provide on-going resources, and to acknowledge the service that our Veterans gave to this great country. The Veteran Luncheon will be located at the Hope Community Church, 11 Hale Street, Newburyport, MA on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 from 12 noon – 2 pm. We would like the community to extend a special thanks to our luncheon sponsors: Fairway Mortgage, Hampton by Hilton, and Domino’s Pizza.

The program of the luncheon is as follows: Ret. Brigadier General Paul G. Smith will be the Master of Ceremonies for the luncheon. The Guest of Honor is Army Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Zeke Crozier of Handy-Cappin’ will speak about his service related injury and the power of art therapy and recovery. There will be number of guests speaking and sharing about Veteran Resources, Benefits, Programs and their Military Service. Challenge Coins will be gifted to Veterans during a special presentation ceremony. 

The Veteran Luncheon has been hosted during Yankee Homecoming for the last 10 years, and managed by Korean War Veteran, Frank Ventura. “Our Veterans are our own National Treasures,” shared local resident and Yankee Homecoming Committee Member Donald Jarvis. “Whether returning recently or during WWII where are eldest Veterans are from – we thank our Veterans for their service and honor them for continuing to share their stories and love for country.”

Further details of the luncheon’s programming are as follow: 

Master of Ceremonies: Brigadier General (retired) Paul G. Smith


Brigadier General Smith served as Assistant Adjutant General and Land Component Commander of the Massachusetts National Guard from 2012 to 2014. He commanded Joint Task Force Massachusetts during numerous emergencies including the Western Massachusetts Tornado, Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy, Winter Storms Nemo and Saturn, and the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings. His duties also included Army force development initiatives, such as suicide prevention, drug abuse reduction, sexual assault prevention, resiliency building, and development of diversity programs. He was instrumental in developing United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Republic of Paraguay. During his 35-year military career, he commanded forces at the platoon, company, battalion, and brigade levels. General Smith is a 2005 graduate of the United States Army War College and has served as a visiting instructor there since 2006.

Guest of Honor: Army Staff Sergeant (Retired) Zeke Crozier of Handy-Cappin LLC

Staff Sergeant (Retired) ‘Zeke’ Crozier joined the United States Army in 2004 and served a full nine years. Zeke deployed to Pakistan, Africa, and twice to Afghanistan. In 2011, Zeke was in country only 41 days when his helicopter crashed, and he was severely injured. This life-threatening injury left him retired young and uncertain of his future, until an unknown passion became art therapy. That therapy turned into a business called Handy-Cappin. Zeke donates many pieces to national charities. His artwork brings people happiness and hope, as he continues to serve in a different way. On Wednesday, August 1, 2018, Zeke Crozier’s artwork will be featured at the Inn Street Artisans Revival where his artwork will be displayed and sold.

Challenge Coins 

Each year, the Yankee Homecoming Committee present a special token of appreciation to our Veteran’s. This year a custom Yankee Homecoming Challenge Coin has been made to present to every Veteran as a token of appreciation. Traditionally, Challenge Coins are a symbol of hard work and a job well done — a token of thanks for the achievements in a soldier’s life. Each Challenge Coin has its own story. 

Any questions regarding the Veteran Luncheon, please email Donald Jarvis at Veterans@yankeehomecoming.com

Please note the change in venue. At times, some Veteran’s may struggle with dependency and PTSD challenges. The committee has opted to choose a venue which allows for the greatest level of safety for our Veterans, and most handicap accessible. Our number one priority is the safety and well-being of our Veterans.

About Yankee Homecoming 

Yankee Homecoming is a week of innovation, talent and energy that fills Newburyport featuring a broad range of events and exciting activities. This annual celebration offers fun and exciting events for all. Local Newburyport residents and thousands of visitors descend upon Newburyport, allowing performers, artists, vendors and small business owners a chance to shine. From downtown entertainment, fireworks and more, there is no shortage of family-friendly activities to explore throughout the week, including free waterfront concerts, theatrical performances and food vendors serving the best New England bites. For more information, visit http://yankeehomecoming.com

Thanks to our Sponsors

American Flag Vending Machine

American Flag Vending Machine

Currently I am working on that I’m looking for advice, and guidance on. I’m in a bit of jam and would greatly appreciate anyone interested in helping or have ideas please feel free to share.

In 2017 I started a volunteer group called Preserving Newbury, and last year we started a Community Flag Retirement Box which is located at the Byfield Fire Department. The high volume of flags the box continues to collects got me thinking – where are people replacing their flags? Why can’t they do it right here at the same time when they retire their flag? (FYI – several thousand flags have been connected at this location since 2016).

I tossed around this thought to a few people and then the idea came up of taking an old newspaper vending machine and converting into selling American Flags. So I reached out to the Daily News of Newburyport and explained to them the idea and within a few weeks they had an old newspaper box for the project.

Currently there is a bit of a learning curve that I am stuck on, and I’m hoping I can reach and connect with the right people to help and assist. These newspaper box were meant to accept change – I need to be able to have the ability to take payments larger then a few dollars and still have the ability to unlock the box. I have a few ideas on what a “P.O.S – Point of Sale” could look like for the box, but it’s beyond my knowledge on how to make it work. If someone is interested in helping with this piece please let me know. There are some people who I’ve been suggested to connect with and am working on connecting with them, but I feel the more people working on this the better the suggest.

In regards to where this vending machine will be placed, I have spoken with the Newbury Fire Chief about placing it next to the flag retirement box at Byfield Fire. He will be bringing the discussion before the board at the department for a vote and discussion. However, I would like to have and see more then one those out in the community in highly visible and trafficked locations. I’ve been eyeing possible locations Newburyport, Amesbury, and Haverhill while I have been out driving around.

With regards to the flags, the cost, and the profits. I have been talking with the flag company I use to purchase the grave marker flags that go out for Memorial Day. What I am going for is American Flags that are full size (4’ x 6’ or 5’ x 8’), embroidered, and packaged individually in boxes (which will allow them to be stacked in the vending machine respectfully. Yes, all the flags will be Made in America – just like the flags we place at the veteran graves in Newbury. We are currently looking at purchasing our American flags from MassCOR – the flags would be made here, in Massachusetts through a rehabilitation program offered by the Department of Corrections.

My goal is to keep the cost of the flags around the same price you would pay for them at the store. So it’s fair and reasonable. All proceeds from the sales of the flags would go and support the care of veteran graves. Which would only need to cover the cost of supplies as the work itself would be done by volunteers. Who have been properly taught and trained by the guidelines Preserving Newbury was taught from Historic Gravestone Services.

I am currently looking to partner up with a veteran organization (501c3) on this project and I have already started talking with a organization about this project. I feel this vending will be a great way to honor our veteran’s and our flag. The flag they once protected, now protects them and cares for them as they once cared for the flag. Each vending machine would be in honor and memory of a veteran killed in action.

If you are interested in helping make this vending machine, or you have ideas you would like to share pertaining to the vending machine please feel free to contact me via email – donnie@preservingnewbury.com

Merrimack Valley Hope Mission – Winter Outreach

What a truly amazing day it was today at GAR Park in Haverhill. Merrimack Valley Hope Mission was able hand out personal hygiene products (covering everything from toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorant, razors and more), sweat shirts, pants, socks, sneakers, backpacks, over 100 pairs of new Timberland boots, about 150 sandwiches, couple cases of MRE’s, blankets, sleeping bags, quilts, and so much more. This was all made possible by over 100 different resources and people donating stuff

On top of all of this it was truly great to be able to connect with and learn about 5 homeless veterans that are either living in someone’s shed, or on the streets in Haverhill. Looking forward to connecting them to different resources and benefits to help get them back on their feet.

Everyone who was part of today we made it special for a lot of people. Over 100 people made a positive impact on so many in a way that none of us may ever understand. Thank you Joe D’Amore for starting Merrimack Valley Hope Mission… and bringing us all together! I am honored and privileged to be able to help.

Santa Visits, Veterans Wreaths, and a Christmas Party at a Celtics Game. December 2017

Community Santa Home Visits in Newburyport and area Selective Dates in December (1 – 24)

Don’t miss the opportunity for your child to have Santa, Mrs. Claus or one of Santa’s Elves stop by for a home visit. Santa will be taking time out of his busy schedule to visit good children in the Greater Newburyport Area. The visitors from the North Pole will arrives with gifts, take some Santa Selfies and photographs, and listen to the children’s wish lists. The Santa Home Visits program has been running for three years in the Newburyport and surrounding area. Another similar Santa gift giving group in the area is Ozzie’s Kids in Haverhill who delivers more than 600 gifts each year to Haverhill’s residents. Visit http://www.CommunitySanta.org and Message Santa’s Elves to schedule your special visit

Newbury Wreath Laying Ceremony — Saturday, December 16 at 11 am

Remember. Honor. Teach. On Saturday, December 16th at 11 am, we are seeking volunteers to place wreaths on Veteran gravestones at seven Newbury Burial Grounds and Cemeteries. To volunteer in the wreath laying ceremony, help place the wreaths in the cemeteries, or other volunteer needs leading up Wreath Day please contact us at newburywreaths@gmail.com.

Boston Celtics Acknowledge Vietnam Veterans on December 23.

This year, the Boston Celtics are hosting a special event celebrating the heroism and acknowledging the service of more than two dozen Vietnam Veterans. Nominate your favorite Vietnam Veteran (can self-nominate or a loved one can nominate) to be entered into a lottery to win one of sixteen tickets. The featured game is on Saturday December 23 at the TD Garden with the Boston Celtics taking on the Chicago Bulls. Requests can be submitted via email to Don Jarvis at jarvis.don@gmail.com or to Andrew LaCourse at andrew.lacourse@comcast.net.

Emergency Medical Care for Veterans Become Discussion in Massachusetts

As you may already know, since January 2016 I have been working with numerous State Representatives and State Senators on improving Emergency Medical Care and Services for Veterans on the state level. Although this is a Federal level issue, I feel it’s important for Massachusetts to continue to be the leading example on addressing some many important issues. 

On Wednesday, October 25 at 2pm in Hearing Room B2 the Veterans and Federal Affairs committee will be hosting a Public Hearing on ‘An Act establishing emergency medical services for veterans’ – Bill H.2765. This public hearing testimonials will be shared with the committee either in person or presented in a letter. This legislation would make it so all veterans could utilize local emergency rooms for medical emergencies at no expense to the veteran. In the cases where the VA won’t pay the emergency room bill, and the veteran does not have health insurance then MassHealth would cover the cost of treatment. Not everyone who served in the military qualifies for VA Healthcare, not all veterans are eligible for VA Healthcare, and the VA is not obligated to pay for emergency room visits. 

This is can be a huge stress and burden for the veteran, or hold them back from getting their medical emergency addressed because they fear having to deal with the bill. Those who do seek treatment without coverage can face bad credit for not being able to pay for the bill. This legislation will help avoid all of those issues, and will allow veterans get receive emergency medical care with no bill.  

When we are in an emergency our veterans are there for us, now it’s time for us to be there for them when they are in an emergency. I feel we owe it to our veterans to have their backs when they need us most. 

I am seeking veterans who would be interested in showing their support in favor of this bill with a testimony. It would be great if we could throw a lot of support behind this legislation, either by you in person to the State House and testify or provide a written testimony which would be delivered to the Committee. 

I will need all written testimonials by Monday, October 23. 

Please share this request and note with any veterans you may know. 

Thank you!

Wreath project stretches to 3rd year…

For the third year in a row Preserving Newbury will be hosting Wreaths Across America in Newbury Massachusetts. Wreaths Across America is a national nonprofit organization founded in 2007 to continue to expand their annual wreath-laying ceremony which started at Arlington National Cemetery and now stretches to cemeteries all around the country. This program was started by a Maine businessman, Morrill Worcester. Wreaths Across America was able to provide every headstone at Arlington National Cemetery a wreath for the first time in 2014 – 227,000 in total. This year Preserving Newbury’s goal is to provide a wreath for every Veteran grave within the town’s limit – 600 in total.

Preserving Newbury understand that we have Veterans’ Day in the fall and Memorial Day in the spring. However, our service members sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedom. In many homes across the United States there sits an empty seat for a loved one who is serving, or a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. This is why our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach. This mission last all year round – not just for a single day. Throughout the year, Preserving Newbury works numerous ways to show our veterans and their families that they are never forgotten. 
When a volunteer places a wreath on a veteran’s grave we encourage them to speak that Veterans’s name aloud, and thank them for their service and sacrifice. In Newbury we have veterans who have served in just about every war and conflict that the United States has been part of – from American Revolutionary War – to the current conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
Stretched amongst 7 burying grounds and cemeteries there are 600 veterans and one resting place of an unknown civil war solider. With Newbury being founded in 1635 some of these veterans served and played a critical role in the American Revolutionary War and the founding of our country. It would serve as a great honor to place a wreath at every veteran headstone within Newbury. If we go over our goal the remaining wreaths will be placed at veteran graves in surrounding communities. 

Engaging Students in South Byfield Cemetery. 

For the 3rd in a row Don’s community group ‘Preserving Newbury’ will be working with Triton’s Football and Soccer team. Every year Preserving Newbury can be found working in cemeteries making sure the veterans graves look great for Veterans’ Day and Wreath Day in December. 

The last couple of years these young athletics from Triton have done community service at the First Parish Burying Ground. Their day generally consisted of raking, clearing brush, pull weeds and basic lawn care maintenance. This year Preserving Newbury will be teaching these students the art of cleaning gravestones.

 Earlier this year Preserving Newbury was taught by a professional Ta Mara Conde from Histroic Gravestone Services on how to clean gravestones. These students will learn the same techniques. 

Town should adopt tax break program for veterans

Earlier this year, I proposed to the Newbury selectmen that they should consider adopting a program to help veterans who own property in town. 
Now, I have a question for the residents of Newbury: Would you be in favor of the town of Newbury adopting M.G.L. Chapter 59 Section 5N — “Reduction of property tax obligation of veteran in exchange for volunteer services”?

By adopting this Mass. General Law, Newbury can establish a program to allow veterans, or a spouse of a veteran in the case where the veteran is deceased or has a service-connected disability, to volunteer to provide services to the town.

Now, in exchange for their volunteer services, the town will reduce the property tax obligations of the veteran. This reduction will be in addition to any exemption or abatement of which otherwise they are entitled to.

The veteran (or spouse) cannot be credited more than the current minimum wage of the state’s minimum wage per hour rate. The reduction of the property tax bill may not exceed $1,000 in a given tax year.

The town would have the power to create local rules and procedures for implementing this program in a way that is consistent with the intent of this program if they choose to adopt this program. It is important to note that adopting this program cannot cause a reduction of workforce or replace existing staff and or positions.

The amount of money reduced of the veteran’s property tax is not considered income, wages or employment. While they volunteer for the town, the veteran will be considered a public employee for the purposes of Chapter 258 and their services will be considered employment for the purposes of unemployment insurance as provided in Chapter 151A.

The selectmen by vote may change the exemption in this program by: (i) allowing a representative for the veterans who are physically unable to provide services to the town; or (ii) allowing the maximum reduction of the property tax bill be based on 125 volunteer hours in a tax year, rather than the $1,000 maximum reduction.

Would you be in favor of Newbury adopting this program? We already have one similar to this for senior citizens in town and some of our surrounding communities have already adopted it.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, at Newbury’s Special Town Meeting, there will be a vote on whether the town should adopt this or not. I personally think the town should; it would be a great way for the town to show their appreciation and support for veterans.

Thank you all for your consideration on adopting this program in the town of Newbury. This is a small gesture to our veterans in town.